War is hell.
So is waiting all day for it.

Alas, any iOS gamer who saw this one on the App Store and hoped to step right into some of World War II’s famous campaigns for free had better start by toning down his or her expectations. The thin veneer of that era in War 2 Victory (Out Now, Free) begins on its title screen and pretty much ends with the competing “Sieg Heil“s and “God Bless America”s flowing through the game’s MMO chat window. A better way of framing War 2 Victory would be to describe it as a deep construction and management simulation with a helping of territorial conquest on the side — think of it as SimCity with Sherman tanks thrown in for good measure.

When the player fires up War 2 Victory, the game’s server whips up an account in short order and proceeds with a quick tutorial on how to manage a small plot of land. The player’s goal is to get busy directing the construction of farms, houses, offices, and production facilities meant to transform that first grain of wheat into a self-sustaining military industrial complex. With that accomplished, the player proceeds to churn out tools of war needed to compete for some old-fashioned Lebensraum in a massively multiplayer online environment. Thankfully a rookie protection period of seven days – automatically canceled once a certain level of development has been reached – prevents longtime players from mowing down newbies right and left on War 2 Victory‘s world map.

WiSTONE’s attention to detail in their game’s simulation aspect proves nothing short of astounding, especially when War 2 Victory‘s price – or lack thereof – enters consideration. The player will need to tinker with radio towers before he or she can forge alliances or organize resource exchanges with others, and multiple layers of industry must be laid down before the first tank or warplane can roll off an assembly line. A list of hand-holding missions guides the new player in building a well rounded base prior to his or her first attempt at military expansion, but many finer details of city management are tucked deep within the system’s mass of complexities; questions about how to create bunkers and equip officers abound in the chat window. In any case, this makes for a nice icebreaker among the online clientele, and the dev team appear to have someone on hand to write system messages answering particularly obscure user questions.

What brings the simulation experience down several notches are development wait times heaped on the player in ever increasing amounts; it may take a mere second to plop a farm down, but it can take hours to upgrade a high level production facility — and some of these excruciating waits are prerequisites to dispatching troops and fully experiencing the game. War 2 Victory‘s construction wait times are a devastatingly self-defeating component of gameplay, serving no other function than to goad impatient players into In-App Purchases of diamonds that can literally be traded for time. Otherwise it appears that exceptionally patient players can take full advantage of the game’s content.

If long-dragging waits and/or IAPs become most important during the crunch time between starting the game and making one’s first military outings, then War 2 Victory‘s appeal hinges on one question: is the strategic battle system worth the time or money? Here, my heart of hearts must answer with an unfortunately resounding “no.” Encounters with enemy forces in War 2 Victory are utterly insipid affairs. Player interaction appears limited to commanding individual units into advance or retreat mode, with no clear take on maneuver warfare beyond that — a real shame considering that the breadth of the game’s city management aspect will get the player’s hopes up. To be sure, things like unit category, force of numbers assigned to a particular battlefield unit, and commanding officer experience enter into the player’s strategic concerns. It’s even helpful to dispatch reconnaissance planes to discover the composition of potential adversaries before targeting a patch on the overworld to seize. However, there’s simply not enough to do during battles to even scratch the needs of the average strategy game fan.  An ultra lean combat system might be considered advantageous by simulation vets who want to get on with the business of building new cities in seized territory, and that is precisely the key point I wish to make in this review: War 2 Victory seems tailored especially to city simulation fans, whereas fans of turn-based strategy or Real-Time Strategy games are liable to be quite disappointed.

At least War 2 Victory‘s free-to-play model has attracted an impressive user base given the scope of its content. Provided the server is up – connection reliability varies from day to day, but I found it satisfactory during my time with the game – there are always tons of people online to ally oneself with, or just chat about the rivalry between Hitler and Stalin. I found little to complain about with regard to its interface either, its various virtual buttons and sliding menus being a tad on the small side but reliable all around. As one might guess, War 2 Victory’s most attractive aesthetics are devoted to its city management screens, whereas battles are static and drab. The game lacks music outside of its main menu screen, so the player should plan on bringing some MP3s to help while away the hours.

iFanzine Verdict: War 2 Victory is less a military strategy game than one of construction and management simulation — and one meant for the extraordinarily patient at that! It’s too bad that unquestionably excessive wait times are incorporated into the game’s deep micromanagement aspect, although this might fit the bill for sim fans who don’t have time to do much more than check in on a game for a few minutes here and there throughout their day.

World War II buffs in search of tense exercises in military strategy shouldn’t anticipate a whole lot of excitement here, other than a well-populated chat room filled with fellow World War II buffs.

[xrr rating=2.5/5]