Swords and Soldiers should actually be compared to tower defense games more than the hardcore real time strategies I mentioned before. Though it's still not a perfect comparison because you aren't really building towers and the view is definitely different than tower defense games that I have played. You are working from left to right in every level and the enemies are working to attack you from right to left. You have a base and the enemies have a base and the goal is (you guessed it) to take down that base before the enemy takes down yours.
The 2D plane simplifies the gameplay a lot because you know that when your soldier crosses paths with an enemy soldier they are going to battle. Nothing in the game really has much health either so it keeps the gameplay moving fast as you create tons and tons of enemies and they get taken down at a rapid pace. The way you create enemies in the game is to create some simple miners that collect gold, which you can then spend to purchase your soldiers.
As the game progresses you'll unlock the ability to create stronger troops or various other boosts to aid you such as a healing spell or faster mana generation. However, you'll start each level with none of these unlocks and you'll have to spend gold to unlock the ability to use these troops or abilities. Most are dependent on others too so the order you unlock them can often be the deciding factor in surviving a brutal wave or being wiped out. Most abilities require mana to use which is constantly being generated at a moderate pace throughout each level. Learning the right moments to use these and how to properly save up your mana can be the key factor in winning many of the games more difficult battles.
The thing that took me the longest to get used to was the fact that when you create a troop it appears on the field immediately and starts walking. So you'll never get anywhere if you just create them one by one when you get the money. You have to learn to save up money and release them in waves of your own. It's almost like being the creeps in a tower defense game more so than the towers themselves. Gathering together packs and timing their releases based on their movement speed and the time you have to wait to be able to create another one requires trial and error, but is a must.
I really enjoyed my time with Swords and Soldiers though. The campaigns were fairly short, but it was refreshing to find that there were three of them and each started from "scratch", but ramped up in difficulty based on what you had to do with the previous one. You will also find that in the later campaigns you'll fight the tribes from the earlier campaigns so you kind of know the enemies and abilities you'll face, but you then have to face the tactics that you probably used yourself. This definitely makes for a unique challenge.
Swords and Soldiers presents a pleasing experience as far as strategy games go and I think it's accessible enough that most anyone could get into it. Though it's no cakewalk to push through the end levels in the campaigns, you'll definitely have to know your troops, your enemies and have a solid gameplan. If you are a fan of tower defense games or simpler real time strategies you will find a nice chunk of content in Swords and Soldiers to keep you entertained.
Swords and Soldiers HD was developed by Ronimo Games and is available for the PC and Mac for $9.99.