When your only clue as to the location of the enemy is a tree falling or animal scurrying across the landscape in the distance, you know you’re playing a game that doesn’t overlook the details. Battle Supremacy lets players roll across the beautifully luscious landscape in yesterday and today’s terror wreaking cavalry: the tank. Created by Atypical Games, the developer behind the popular dogfight flight simulator Sky Gamblers, Battle Supremacy moves players out of the sky and puts them down on the ground among the frontlines. With a wide array of tanks and upgrades, players can bring the fight to both computer and other players alike.
The majority of the only 12 missions available revolve around simply destroying the enemy while taking an objective or defending some point or another with few other goals save maybe a pseudo race objective here and there. The inclusion of missions where players take control of planes, boats, and other ground vehicles gives a taste of the developer’s work on other titles, but was totally unnecessary and at times somewhat annoying. Considering the expectation is a game devoted to tanks, the inclusion of other vehicles was hardly expected and could have been left out in favor of more missions with more variety central to the game’s theme. However, these extra play methods are incorporated into the missions in a streamlined way for the most part with players taking control of a plane in order to provide air support or a car to track down an enemy on the run.
The AI is suitably intelligent across all of the game’s situations, in the air or on the ground, and will react similar to a player would when put in the appropriate situation: moving behind cover when fired upon and taking the most strategic route or positions. Valuable points used to upgrade your tanks can be earned in both the campaign and in multiplayer and vary based on performance. You’ll want to work your way through the entire campaign, upgrading your tanks as much as possible before trying to take on other players online, though it’s notable that even newbs can hold their own on a team against more upgraded players.
Like single player, multiplayer isn’t rife with the options that would make it truly stand out. Rather than being able to select a desired game mode or map from the many available, including King of the Hill and Team Deathmatch, players can only click “Online” and are stuck with whatever ongoing or soon to start match needs people at the time. While this does have the benefit of speeding up any wait times that might concur otherwise, it does sacrifice many options that might have been preferred. With a game in this price range it’s definitely an issue worth solving with quick match versus custom match options where the players could decide for themselves if they want to wait for their preferred game.
At the end of each match players are shown an end-of-game report… and then subsequently sent directly back to the main menu. This design flaw means that there is no way to play a match with the same players or game mode. Most of us know what it’s like to get a good lobby going in a console FPS with some fair players in a favored game mode. Being forced to start over with a different lobby after each match is a bit of a disappointment as it might have been one way to overcome the issue of not being able to select preferred game modes, allowing people to stick with the mode they were randomly placed in if it’s too their liking.
The inclusion of brigades, Battle Supremacy’s version of clans, allows for the possibility of more organized team play, but it’s hard to judge at this time whether it’s really fleshed out. Whether it’s successful or not will largely be determined by its use by players as time passes after release. That said, with excellent Facebook incorporation, it definitely has the potential to be a good road to competitive and socially fulfilling play. Text based chat also makes for a clever and surprising feature which opens up possibilities for cooperative play even while the title lacks the voice chat features indispensible when it comes to console and PC war games.
Really, the only noticeable issue when it comes to the controls is the placement of the keyboard on screen. It’s beyond counter-intuitive to place the button used to pull up the keyboard at the top of the screen when the control interface lends itself to holding the iPad from the bottom like a gamepad, using your thumbs to manipulate the onscreen control pads. Being forced to move your hand away from the control of your tank in order to send a message during combat is simply unacceptable when the fix, moving the command button from the top of the screen to one of the bottom corners, is so incredibly simple. Sadly, this issue will probably leave this feature, which might have given teams a competitive edge, underutilized.
Of the many effective features of the control interface, the fire button, while typically situated on the right during most gameplay, appears on the left as well when the player aims using the right thumb-stick. This makes firing at tanks on the move a breeze. However, what would make it even better is if it stayed on screen during all gameplay rather than appearing sporadically at the game’s determination. However, this does show that some thought was put into designing this interface for the most effective play.
The graphics are simply excellent for an iOS game and one of the best features of this title. It’s few and far between that mobile titles are so ambitious as to include the sudden onset of lightning storms and torrential rains as players roll over forests and through towns. The environment is also exceptionally interactive with buildings crumbling under the barrage of your shells, trees falling under your treads, and animals of all kinds fleeing from your path. In fact, cornering around trees and watching for wildlife is almost imperative if one wants to keep their position concealed from the watchful eyes of one’s enemies.
Battle Supremacy has a few outstanding issues that would have kept it out of the running for iOS Game of the Year had it been released just over a week earlier, but most of these are fixable with a few updates. The core gameplay and graphics are spot on and with a few more multiplayer features, a longer campaign, and some technical modifications, this is a game that could survive on platforms like XBLA and PSN; it’s simply that fun. For the price tag of $4.99 a little more content is usually expected and perhaps it will fill out more in the future.