Autumn Dynasty

Beautiful. Intuitive. Hand-drawn. Did I mention challenging? Autumn Dynasty is all these things and more. The watercolor maps and fast-paced RTS action has a style a that few other iOS games have achieved. It takes full advantage of the iPad's touch controls: select and move troops by drawing circles and tracing their path, and move the map with an intuitive two-finger gesture. The game is set in feudal China and does a great job of balancing offensive strategy using infantry, pikeman, horsemen and catapult units, with the constant need for food generation, defensive towers, and forts to train new soldiers all while fighting battles.

Units can operate independently or in multiple groups across the map (for instance, you might confront an advancing battalion with archers while simultaneously moving cavalry around mountain ranges to flank). One of my favorite features are the research trees, which allow you to research new "doctrines" such as Fire and Arrowstorm for use in the battlefield. Interestingly, for a game with so much visual and strategic style, The story and cutscene characters are relatively weak and forgettable. However, this detracts little from the game itself. Local and online multiplayer is another tremendous feature, but I found multiplayer on Gamecenter to be very buggy and intermittent. Also, games can't be saved within a mission, and did I mention that this game can be difficult! However, such an ambitious and beautiful game deserves tremendous praise. At $6.99 it's a little more expensive but absolutely worth every cent. Highly recommended.

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