Anyone who loves playing real time strategy games online against real time humans will love Heroes of Order & Chaos. Gameloft is calling it the first true multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) for smartphones, and it's a true gem. For those unfamiliar with a MOBA, it's just like it sounds: you join other real life people to battle real life people in an online arena.

The first awesome thing you'll notice about Heroes of Order & Chaos is that it's free! Anyone can give it a try without worrying about wasting their money on a game they may potentially dislike, not that you will if you're a fan of this genre.

The game features two maps where you can play 3v3 on one or 5v5 on the other. Now, it may sound a little restrictive, having only two maps to explore, but the rest of the game is so nuanced that games stay fresh despite the small map set. There are 30 different characters to choose from, all with different colorful designs, classes, and varying abilities and strengths. You can be a fighter to protect your teammates from your foes, or a mage to help the group with crowd control, healing, or support spells. In-game shops offer a variety of gear to help customize your character for the duration of the match, meaning that each time you play, you can tweak your character a little differently to see which gear matches your chosen playstyle and character the best.

A tutorial is available to explain the basic controls, but other than that you're on your own to figure things out, and it takes a few trial and error attempts to do so. Luckily, there's an option to play a match with just computers so you can learn a little more about how to go about things before jumping into a live group, messing them up, and getting politely told to go somewhere and do something to yourself (because, fortunately, no-one is ever rude in an online video game). When first playing, you should be more concerned about learning than winning, and with so many playing options rest assured it will take a long time before becoming a master of the game. Even when you're getting clobbered, you'll be learning more about this deep, complex game, and getting better, plus the game is so much fun that losing doesn't sting quite so badly.

I loved having the option to either use a joystick or double tap the screen for movement, because double tapping is more my style and easier to use than the often finicky smart phone joystick. The graphics are beautiful and stylized, and, in my experience, stays fast and lag-free, something other similarly graphics intensive games don't manage to do. I mentioned how the game was free, but there are things to buy. Taking a note from League of Legends' payment model, every week Heroes offers six free characters to play as, but if you want a different one then you have to buy it with either the in-game coins you've earned or with real time money. You can decide how much you want to invest in the game, because there are plenty of free options to get you started with and earning coins in game is quick and easy.

One drawback for the moment is that it takes a while to connect to the server and match you in a game, but I'm betting the latter will improve as more people start playing. It's an enjoyable MOBA for smartphones and tablets that will provide numerous playing options and a nice brain workout from all the planning and strategizing with online companions.


App Store Link: Heroes of Order & Chaos for iPhone & iPad | By Gameloft | Price: Free | Version: 1.0.1 | 601 MB | Rating 9+

9.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating