iPhone review of the day: Legendary Wars - How do you improve Plants vs Zombies? Unicorns

On iPhone
Legendary Wars
Price: $0.99/£0.59 (on sale!)
Size: 92.5MB
Get it now at the iTunes store:US/UK

The modus operandi of Legendary Wars isn't much different than that of hundreds of other castle vs. castle or tower defense games available in the App Store. Your castle is on one end of the side-scrolling battlefield, the enemy’s stronghold is on the other. You mine gems and then use the gems to create an army to defend your turf and raze the other guy’s to the ground. But Plants vs Zombies proved that adorable art and music combined with near-perfect gameplay can transcend this simple concept. And Legendary Wars was taking notes while reading Tolkien in the Ren Faire beer garden.

There are seven different upgradeable units available in the game, including wizards, elven archers, stone golems, and our personal favorite, magical unicorns. During the day, you take the battle to your enemies and attempt to destroy their castle. By night, they bring the fight to your doorstep and you are forced to defend your home.

The battles are fought in a sort of hybrid 2D/3D landscape. The two castles rest at opposite ends of the screen, and you move your characters toward each one by tapping the screen where you want them to go. However, they can also be moved into one of three horizontal "lanes". The uppermost lane rests around the middle of the screen, and the lowest one is near the bottom of the screen. The various enemies will be using these lanes as well, so strategic placement of your troops is a must. The controls are quite simple: tap the screen and your soldier moves there, tap an enemy and your soldier attacks. We found it best to control all our soldiers as one unified army, and set them to defend or attack depending on the situation.

After each battle, you will be rewarded with gems that can be used to upgrade your soldiers' skill sets, their armor, or the castle. This is not only an integral part of the game, but it's also one of our favorite things about it. Spending your gems wisely is essential, but it will be different for everyone depending on how you play the game. Some will find it best to invest heavily in archers, others will need to upgrade their mining dwarf. We're saving our gems to max out our rainbow spewing unicorn, because come on – it’s a rainbow-spewing unicorn.

Legendary Wars is a gorgeous game, simple enough for anyone to pick up and enjoy but with enough depth for the most hardcore of gamer to get lost in for hours. The controls are perfectly tailored for the game, and with numerous types of enemies spread across five locations the action never feels stale. It’s even got three unlockable mini-games, which rest like cherries on top of the delicious sundae that is Legendary Wars.

Feb 16, 2010