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Over a decade ago, Nintendo brought deep, turn-based strategy to the handheld games market with Advance Wars. The cartoony military battles were a perfect fit for the Game Boy Advance, and in many ways, Rubicon has captured the same spirit on iOS with Great Big War Game. Strategy games generally work splendidly with a touch-screen interface, but it's extremely rare to find an iOS title in the genre with such a massive amount of content.
A follow-up of sorts to last year's Great Little War Game, Rubicon has expanded the franchise in a number of ways. You're still leading an army of vehicles and wise-cracking infantry into a turn-based battle, moving units along a grid-like war zone. But with 50 different missions in the single-player campaign, Great Big War Game manages to rival even PC strategy game competitors in scope. Many of the missions require over an hour of play, so there's easily 40-plus hours of action.
The single-player campaign's objectives are varied enough to keep you engaged, but if you ever grow weary of the downright hokey "story" in-between battles, Great Big War Game features a fantastic asynchronous multiplayer mode. Finding online opponents is a breeze, but the Skirmish mode allows you to practice against an A.I. adversary instead, if you'd like.
Great Big War Game isn't without its quirks. The snappy one-liners of infantry units quickly grow irritating, but the problem's easily fixed in the audio settings. Occasionally, the single-player battles are brutal in their setup, asking you to defend your General from a seemingly invincible horde. But if you're a fan of the strategy genre, you'll likely appreciate the challenge all the same.
The bottom line. Great Big War Game brings an Advanced Wars-like experience to iOS devices, with enough deep, addictive gameplay to keep you returning to the battle again and again.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later
Tons of content. Varied mission objectives. Great asynchronous multiplayer.
Obnoxious characters. Difficulty of enemy A.I. is sometimes frustrating.