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iOS Review: European War 3

Walter OHara
United States
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Universal
Current Price: $2.99
Developer/Publisher: Easy, Inc.
Version: 1.0.1
Size: 78.6 MB
Multiplayer: Pass and Play.
AI: Yes
Itunes link: European War 3

The Good:
European War 3 features a colorful time period, easy game play, quick battle resolution, familiar series, mechanics not much more complicated than Axis and Allies or RISK.
The Bad:
The AI not very intelligent, combat system leads to improbable results, interface clumsy and difficult, grammar in English version awful, the historical scenarios are very uneven.

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I wasn’t a huge fan of European War 1 but I decided to give this a try because I like the historical time period loosely covered by this installment of the European War series, which is roughly mid-19th century to World War I. European War 3 is a strategic level war game, of sorts, that resembles the board game AXIS AND ALLIES in many respects. Armies are icons of various troop types with different attack and defense statistics, the map is divided into several geographic areas allowing for point to point movement. Each region starts the game with a control flag of the various historical powers represented in the game. Units move from adjacent region to adjacent region, if the move is within their movement allowance. If there are now units of an opposing force in the region, the region is captured. If there are enemy units in the region, a battle ensues. Battles are simple affairs. No matter who is stacked in an area, units attack each other one at a time and defend the same way. Battles are resolved by rolling a handful of dice, with modifiers added and subtracted for existing losses, terrain, and area improvements (such as entrenchments and defensive artillery). Units need to an amphibious capability to cross water, which has to be built using CARRIERS—in this game, they carry people, cavalry and artillery, not airplanes.

Like many games in this particular genre niche, European War 3 has a rudimentary production economy to replace fallen units and build up for aggressive campaigns. This is handled with virtual cards that give your side build orders and industrial centers that where the unit will show up when produced. If you wish to build infantry units, for example, you touch the infantry card and a series of arrows will point towards the industrial centers on the map you want them to appear. You only have a certain level of industrial capacity which will limit what you can build per turn, but this can be increased by investing in technology and economic output instead of new units.

I’m trying to be even-handed here, but regrettably there were some features of this game that I did not like. Where to start? The help and tutorial seems like a logical starting point. I get annoyed at bad grammar lapses in the tutorial modules of any game—because really, isn’t this supposed to be one of the selling points of a production? An example (sic): “First of all. Production and Industry is the main support for our battle. Here is production and industry value we got” followed by a tiny finger pointing to two very tiny indicators on the top left. One a dollar sign followed by a number, the other a wrench followed by a number. I assume that’s telling me that the dollar amount is our current treasury and the wrench is .. what? Current industrial capacity? Technological level? This is a bit confusing, however, the tutorial does go on to say (sic) “Basically, they come from output of our cities and industrial zone. Touch each area and you will find these two values there.” Okay, that almost made sense, but it doesn’t tell me what factors have to change to improve these numbers. The tutorial depicts a generalized notion of how to move and fight, but all in very vague and ungrammatical language that I found unsatisfactory for its purpose. If you have a grain of sense you will be able to figure production out through experimentation and common sense, as European War 3 isn’t exactly rocket science. Still, I expect to have help be a little more… helpful.

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Next, the interface leaves a lot to be desired. The map graphics are straightforward and the graphics are well done, to a point. However, the menus, when they use text at all, use a very spindly san serif font that tends to blur into the background, and is very difficult to read. Most buttons are extremely tiny and in the top left or bottom right corners. Sometimes I found myself trying to exit a menu and repeatedly poking it, thinking the game had frozen up, until I noticed a “continue” button on the bottom right I wasn’t seeing. The cards for the “Industry/Economics/Research” menu are reasonably readable, although with very muddy graphics. Most menus appear to have been designed as language-neutral, which is admirable, but maybe a few contextual help balloons would have been nice. For the most part, the interface is a shallow learning curve, but it is a learning curve, as there’s nothing to explain it to you.

Combat mechanics are a real puzzler and sometimes a real howler. Apparently you can sink a battleship with infantry and cavalry fire in this game, which adds to the general “Shrug” factor of the design. Transports with cavalry aboard can attack as cavalry versus other ships. I really would have liked to have read somewhere what the bonuses applied to combat were; It APPEARS that fortifications gives you an extra attack dice in defense, and defensive artillery gives you two. Don’t take my word on it, please. I’m still trying to figure out the rest of it.

Lastly, perhaps the worst part of European War 3 were the scenarios and campaigns. I understand that games like these were programmed on a budget, but really, would it have been too much to pop for correct unit icons? The American Civil War scenario, dated 1862, has soldiers from either side wearing the same WWI British Tommy uniform and wielding machine guns... AND the war stretches from the East Coast to the West Coast, across the North American continent! Really? Where's the kepis? The boys in butternut and gray? My favorite scenarios were the Far Eastern ones, especially the Sino-Japanese War scenario, and to a lesser extent the hypothetical ones (England vs. the US, US versus Spain, England vs. France, etc.). A scenario and campaign EDITOR might have gone a long way towards fixing this, but it was sadly lacking. I tried two-player with my son, and he didn’t want to finish—so all I can say is the two-player pass around variant does work.

European War 3 is a clear winner of the “De gustibus non disputandum est” award. IF you like an Axis and Allies style grand strategy game or RISK clone, AND have good eyesight, small thumbs and a lot of patience for, ahem, “quirky” interface design choices, then by all means, European War 3 is for you! If you are looking for an actual grand strategy wargame with a soupçon of historicity and research, you are in for a wait, as European War 3 isn’t that game. I don’t wish to to sound overly negative here, I appreciate the effort that went into the game by the people at Easy, Inc., and there are some good ideas displayed, but the overall result did not appeal to me.

Rating: Not For Me.

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