Land Air Sea Warfare in Review – An RTS that is just too full-featured for the iDevice…

Real-time strategy games have had an extremely bumpy ride on the iPhone and iPod Touch. To date, not one developer has been able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that comfortable play is even possible for an RTS game on the iPhone. The closest one was probably COMMAND & CONQUER™ RED ALERT™ (TMA Review), which, unfortunately, still left a lot to desire in the interface department. And recently a new contender stepped on the arena – Land Air Sea Warfare. Can it succeed where many others have failed?

Land Air Sea Warfare, or L.A.S.W. for short, is a classic example of a Real Time Strategy game from the 90s era. One thing quite unusual for an RTS is the fact  that L.A.S.W. doesn’t have any campaign or even a simple plot to go with it. In fact it doesn’t even have any premade maps at all – just a random generator with a bunch of configurable parameters.

What L.A.S.W. has in abundance, on the other hand, is the RTS element. The game has everything – from the basic resource and power structures to various production and research facilities to super weapons to make a total of 20+ structures. One of the most original features of the game is the fact you build not only on the ground, but on water and air as well, depending on the type of building in question.

In the units department we have a similar picture: there are 30+ mobile weapons of waging war spread over the land, air and sea classes to wage destruction on your enemies. L.A.S.W. has everything, from stealth bombers and submarines to hovercraft and mega-tanks. It even has ICBM – Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles for the unitiated – to bring wrath of God onto your opponents.

And what true RTS would be complete without research? L.A.S.W. has lots of it as well! For the basic tech levels we have them purchasable at the HQ building and for the various additional bonuses there are the related R&D buildings, also available in ground, air and sea varieties.

The graphical component of L.A.S.W. is very retro, all the way from the days of the original C&C. Unfortunately the visual quality is far from the famous ancestor, with many units being hard to identify, especially on the small screen. The interface also lacks polish, with no zoom feature to speak of and the two-finger gesture used for unit selection only. For quick-access to your manpower there are also 3 preset groups – again land, air and naval, as well as a fourth one for custom assignment.

But the main issue in L.A.S.W. , as well as almost all other RTSs on the platform, is the mysterious absence of the Pause feature. Considering the enormous amount of units and buildings, as well as none distinguishable factions (you select your country, but there isn’t any difference in unit graphics) and the rather high pace of the game, playing it ultimately boils down to building as many units as possible, selecting one of the predefined groups and send them to the enemy to hope and overcome them.

Land Air Sea Warfare is a commendable effort by an indie developer, that unfortunately lacks playability on the iPhone. While all of the features of the RTS genre and then some seem to be present, the difficult to distinguish graphics, high pace of the game and poorly optimized controls make it a refuge for the die-hard RTS fan only. And the lack of any sort of campaign or even multiplayer doesn’t help much either.

With this I declare Land Air Sea Warfare officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Land Air Sea WarfareDeveloper: Isotope 244
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req:2.0
Price:$4.99App Size:19.1 MB
  • Ground, air and sea buildings (!) and units
  • Extensive tech tree
  • Random map generator for unlimited replay value
  • Only one faction
  • No multiplayer
  • No pause
  • No campaign
  • Too complicated for the average player
  • Poor interface

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