In the Swords & Soldiers universe Vikings are a little less traditional. They don’t take themselves all that seriously despite what they would say. While the humorous monologue would lead you to believe that they are fierce, battle-hardened, warriors ; their actions say otherwise. Joining these charming goofballs are the Persians and the Demons. The various characters from across these factions include stealthy Persians with cloaking abilities, spell driven demons and singing (bellowing) Viking woman with force fields. In short, Swords & Soldiers 2 isn’t lacking in the charisma department.
At its core the game is a Side-scrolling Real Time Strategy title, a genre that has many gamers perturbed at the thought. The key to what makes Swords & Soldiers 2 work so well is simple. It’s all about balance. The game modes are easy to access and can be played in quick bursts. You are tasked to build, accumulate and research units and then use these different aspects to head off towards your enemy. Your basis is trying to get a meaningful amount of gold as quickly as possible in order to start planning your approach. In the beginning stages you can (sometimes) afford to simply spam buildings, spells and warriors but this comes to an abrupt halt very early on. Foes have a range of ways to throw a spanner in the works and keep you alert. This deters the monotony of simply mining and spawning muscular brutes ad nauseum.
You will be able to fly through the campaign mode in under 10 hours, depending on how persistent you are versus how hell bent you are on completing the secondary medal challenges. If you choose the latter then be prepared to triple your game time and blood pressure if you are a completionist. Over and above the campaign there are two extra modes Skirmish and Two Player. Skirmish gives you the capability to generate your own custom battles against the AI. You can choose specific or randomised unit types over the three groups letting you compile a ‘greatest hits’ combination from the Vikings, Persians and Demons. The two player mode lets you challenge another player. Player one uses the GamePad both visually and mechanically and player 2 utilizes the TV screen. This mode alone makes the game worth every cent.
The controls come in two varying options but both utilise the Wii U GamePad. With the touch screen controls you tap on icons and use swipe gestures to execute commands. The dual-stick option requires you to hold ZL or ZR shoulder buttons in order to access a wheel- like menu that gives you access to your inventory. The latter takes a bit of time to get used to but also allows you to play the game on your TV rather than constantly poking away at the GamePad.
Swords & Soldiers 2 is without a doubt a unique experience that will charm you with its dialogue and stunning battlefield backdrops. While it truly shins as a two player title it holds up well throughout the campaign even with the occasional near impossible additional side tasks. RTS enthusiast as well as newcomers to the genre will both enjoy the depth as well as overall balanced gameplay. Swords & Soldiers 2 is as essential to the Wii U as what a beard is to a Viking.