Review: Hero Academy
Title: Hero Academy
Platform: PC, iOS (reviewed on PC)
Developer: Robot Entertainment
Publisher: Robot Entertainment
Tagline: Turn based tactical battlefield featuring the lovable TF2 Squaddies
Family Friendly: Click here for more information.
Verdict: Buy it Already
When Hero Academy was released on the iPad and iPhone several months ago, it quickly became a fan favorite on the Apple devices. It was a compact title that allowed you to enter your moves, and go about your day, waiting for your opponent to respond to your moves and so on until a winner was apparent. I never thought it would have a reason to come to the PC at any point, as it is a game that is tailored around the idea of playing while on the go. However, Hero Academy has made its debut on the PC, and it is good although it loses a bit in the platform translation.
If you have not played Hero Academy on an iOS device, the premise is relatively simple. You pick a team of characters and play out on one of several 9×5 grid maps. The maps will have specific launch points for bringing new characters on to the map along with gems that belong to either team. Your goal is to either destroy the other team or destroy the gems that belong to the other team. Of course, your opponent is looking to do the same, so there is a fair bit of strategy involved with how you play your pieces and your opponent.
With the PC version, a new wrinkle is thrown into place as you immediately gain access to a new team to use on the battlefield in the form of the Team Fortress 2 characters, each with their own skills and abilities to take on the Council, Dark Elves, Dwarves or Tribe teams. As with the mobile game, you do get the Council team along with the Team Fortress 2 characters. The other teams are available as downloadable purchases through the Steam client.
While on the surface, Hero Academy seems like a simple title, there is an enormous bit of strategy if you look to be successful. At first, I would blindly walk into a game and get focused on the advancement of troops and destruction of my enemy, which left me foolishly dead on arrival. Tactics and knowledge of the different races becomes a requirement as you start to play, and winning requires a use of all of your team and special abilities in a shrewd manner.
A neat feature that has been implemented in Hero Academy, is the ability to either start games or continue them on your mobile iOS device or vice versa as long as you have set up an account with Robot Interactive. It will also allow you to import the Team Fortress 2 team at no cost into your mobile game. It seems like it is just a throw in addition, but there are many times where you only need that one move for a win, and then your wife tells you that it is time to go to the mall for some shoes. With this game synchronization feature, you can just pick up that game at the mall, shoes be damned!
Of course, the one big hitch that I have found with the Steam version is that if you want to stay up to date on your games, you have to keep the game open, regardless of what you are doing. While Hero Academy does not have a huge memory footprint, I don’t want to keep the game running in order to play a turn in the middle of another, more memory intensive game. It lacks the mobile’s ability to notify me via an alert that another turn is ready to be played.
It could also be argued that the economics of Hero Academy on Steam do not exactly make sense when compared to the iOS versions of the game. On my iPhone, I get the Council team and the game for the low cost of free, whereas it costs five dollars on Steam. New teams are also a bit out of whack, costing another five dollars on Steam, where the same teams will run three dollars cheaper. Sure, I can sacrifice a cheeseburger combo at In-and-Out and pay for the game, but it might be a bit of sticker shock for those that are coming from the mobile game. If you already own the teams on mobile, they will transfer into the game, so buying them on your mobile might be the cheaper option, at least for now.
But even with the higher cost on Steam, Hero Academy is a fun, addictive title that scratches that itch for a tactical, turn based game that you can play with your friends whenever you have the time to fit in a round. Adding in the new Team Fortress 2 team helps sweeten the pot for those that have not jumped on the Hero Academy bandwagon on their mobile and the synchronization of the games between the two devices is fantastic. Just put down the cheeseburger for a day – it will fill you with far more enjoyment and less indigestion.
- Complete synchronization with mobile client
- Addition of Team Fortress 2 team
- Quick to pick up and play
- Offers very rewarding strategy experience
- Alerts only work when game is running
- Feels a bit shoehorned from the mobile experience
- Team packs are a bit pricy
Hero Academy offers a suitable experience for family members of all ages. Parents will find the depth they want, while kids can tinker and learn about strategy and tactics in a fun and blood-free atmosphere. It does have some weapons and you do attack other players, but it is pretty sterile on that front. Kids under the age of six or seven might not get all the finer points of the game without some explanation.