If you are looking for one of the best Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games for the iPad, look no further than Land Air Sea Warfare HD. Graphics and sound combine with gameplay that in many ways is better than the original game that launched the RTS genre, Command & Conquer.
Fellow iPhoneLife contributor Nate Adcock wrote a mega-review of the iPhone version a few months ago where he describes in great detail the game's premise, control structures, graphics and sound - the whole shebang. Since my opinions of the game's foundation and addictive qualities match those of Nate's, my review will focus specifically on aspects that make LASWHD a must-have title for the iPad.
First and most obvious is the screen size. Sure, LASW on the iPhone is a great game, but the only aspect that drove me crazy at times was the small screen. Whether it was selecting the micro-sized units or discerning the multitude of friend or foe pixels on the global radar, the detail and fast-paced orders issued in the game was an area that took a bit of effort to perfect. Not so in the iPad HD release. In fact, I found controlling and issuing orders to my units was even better and more intuitive than on the old PC-based RTS's controlled via mouse and keyboard. The multi-touch lasso of multiple units combined with the ultra-smooth pan and scroll make the interface natural and further breaks down the barrier of immersion. Thanks to this wonderfully iOS-optimized interface, I envisioned myself At times to be a futuristic general commanding my armies ala Orsen Scott Card's Ender's Game.
The other aspect of the game design that sings on the iPad is the various menus and windows that the game uses to manage resources and initiate certain actions. On the iPhone, these overlays took up substantial portions of the screen to make text readable and option selection less cumbersome. With the added resolution and physical screen size of the iPad, these overlays no longer consume as much screen real-estate, thereby bringing participants closer to the action by reducing the interface impedance between player and game.
While some of the game elements are not as polished as, say, a game produced by a big budget publisher (ex: the voice effects are weak and a bit cheesy, but not obnoxiously so), the fact remains that LAWSHD is an amazing feat for a small developer like Isotope. The animations are smooth, the action is furious and the number of objects players need to manage is boggling (as shown in this YouTube video). I do miss the fact that there is no major campaign story-mode, but its lack does not terribly detract from the overall intensity and enjoyment that the game delivers.
In summary, if you are a fan of RTS games, you must get this game. If you already have the iPhone version and want an even better gaming experience, you must get this game. If you don't have an iPad and you're an RTS junkie, you must get an iPad… and then you must get this game.
A Brief Q&A with Isotope's LASWHD creator, James Bryant
MR: How easy was it to port the iPhone version of the game to the iPad?
JB: It was very easy, after having experience with the iPhone version porting to the iPad is basically a matter of utilizing the extra screen space. I modified the user interface to include more controls and show more information to the user. The iPad version also features high resolution graphics and textures which are 225% more detailed.
MR: Are there plans to incorporate Game Center into a future update of the game?
JB: Not at this time, I am going to look adding multiplayer to the game and if it is added it will probably use Game Center, none of this is definite though.
MR: What are you most impressed with (SDK, Hardware, etc.) developing games for the iOS platform?
JB: I am most impressed with ability of games to easily run on different devices (older models, iPod, iPad). Granted Apple doesn't have that many different models, but it working without any problems is awesome and makes it so much easier for a one man company like me to test. That is one serious issue that I don't like about Windows Mobile. I have 15 phones to test on and still am not even close to covering the majority of the market, and many devices have specific nuances to get software to work on them. I can easily see the same problem happening to Andriod if it hasn't already.
MR: Are there any new iOS titles that you're currently working on that you can talk about at this time?
JB: I am still working on Land Air Sea Warfare and will be coming out with an update for the iPhone version soon. After that I plan on porting my other games to iOS in the future.