Turn-based tactical games can be a tough sell. If the game's theme isn't engaging, or the gameplay accessible and intuitive enough to make you want to keep playing, then it's going to fail. Vandal Hearts is still my favorite turn-based tactical game, so it's going to take a monstrous effort to knock that one off my #1 list. Can Hunters 2 accomplish that mission?

The Earth is overpopulated so the only way to keep going as a species is to move to other planets. Large corporations have taken over everything (nice to see nothing has changed in the future), and bands of outlaws are hired to accomplish tasks that others won't do. Assemble your team of Hunters and accept different contracts. Accomplish the mission given to you and get paid.

Hunters 2 is a top-down turn-based game. Put your squad on the playing field and tap each one to advance or fire on an enemy. Sometimes you'll miss your enemy which is really annoying, only because it wasted a perfectly good turn. Depending on how heavy or light your armor is, you only have a certain number of moves for each man. The first time you play you'll do what I did -- run head first into trouble, get surrounded, then watch all of your men die. The second try is when you'll slow down, use strategic squad movement, and maximize viewing space to locate hidden enemies.

Pinch to zoom the playfield out and rotate. It's a nice way to see what different paths you can take to achieve your mission. Enemies are hidden in shaded areas, so each square advancement opens up more of the playfield. Like in Diablo when you move in an area and the shaded parts of the map open up. What isn't cool is when it's the enemies turn, they can come from out of nowhere and attack you, putting you at a severe disadvantage. Left one guy a little ways back? You dummy, he's probably going to die. Stick together or you'll find yourself restarting the level rather quickly.

Killing enemies and completing missions earns you more experience points. The more XP you have, the quicker you can level-up your men. When you do level-up, you'll receive a point. Use this point to learn a skill. It can be a weapon-based skill, equipment skill like first-aid, or scouting and survival techniques. It's going to take a while to unlock these skills for your guy, so I hope you've got plenty of time on your hands. What I do like is that once you've learned a weapon skill, you can use the baddest version of that weapon you can find. No need to be at a certain level to wield the weapon. Just equip it and be on your way.

You can manufacture custom weapons and armor but you can't add to those weapons or armor once you've run out of cash and you're done adding points to them. It kind of sucks because I earned more money and wanted to continue upgrading what I had made. Nope. Can't do it. You have to make a whole new one and see if you have enough money to upgrade it further than the one you made before. It's a pretty silly system. You can buy and sell weapons and armor you're no longer using or that you find on the playfield. And yes, you can rename your soldiers.

Hunters 2 is a game for the patient player. It takes a long time to level up your men, and you're going to be frustrated at how enemies can come from shaded areas up to your guys and attack. If you're guarding civilians, keep them with you or an enemy who wasn't there before will appear and kill them, causing you to start over after your profanity laced rant.

Graphics aren't bad but they won't blow you away either. Nothing really stands out, and the look reminded me of older PC turn-based tactical games. The music is so annoying and repetitive I turned it off after 30 seconds. It's generic junk, and I hated it. You also can't skip past the intro scenes which is really annoying. You can skip past the dialogue, but not the entire thing. Just give me a forward button in the next update, please.

Hunters 2, despite its flaws, is a decent game for turn-based junkies. Take your time with it, plan out your movements, and don't get too frustrated with the cluttered menu system and annoying upgrade options. I'll warn you again, this is a game for the patient. Go in without a plan and you'll be up strategy creek without a paddle.


App Store Link: Hunters 2 for iPhoneiPad | By Rodeo Games | Price: $0.99 | Version: 1.0.2 | 223 MB | Rating 9+

6.5 out of 10 arcade sushi rating