The game has four main campaigns: the Western Front, North Africa, the Eastern Front, and a fictional campaign in Antarctica, with a scenarios for both the Axis and the Allies. Each scenario is based on a major operation of the war, such as the German invasion of Norway or the British evacuation of Dunkirk, and requires completion of an objective, such as capturing a city within a specified number of turns. Maps are hex-based and are usually roughly the scale of a European country.
You control military units that include tanks, armored cars, artillery, and several types of infantry and ships. Each has different strengths and weaknesses and mobility, and many have unit-specific abilities: artillery can attack from a distance, infantry can build fortifications and facilities, and so on. Cities under your control produce money and industry resources each turn, which can be used to produce new units, repair existing ones or conduct air operations.
The variety of units is nice and the fact that infantry can create facilities like bunkers, trenches, antiaircraft batteries, etc. adds an interesting wrinkle. The user interface is fairly intuitive, though it has some frustrating omissions. The only way to see the stats of a unit is on the appropriate unit production screen, which may not be accessible to you at any given time, and there’s nothing to indicate what effect things like terrain, fortifications, or flanking actually have in concrete terms.
Unfortunately, Glory of Generals feels slow and plodding in many of the scenarios, without the strategic depth or realism that would make the slow pace an acceptable tradeoff. Everything is very abstract, and there’s not much attempt at realism here. While some of the breaks with reality are perfectly acceptable for a game that doesn’t purport to be a hardcore simulation, there are also deeper problems. Units take damage based on their casualties, for example, but their offensive capabilities don’t appear to change. Units that have only a fraction of their original troops according to their health bar fight as if they were full strength. Every time a unit is attacked, it launches a counterattack – leading to absurd situations in which a unit attacked by multiple enemies effectively has the same firepower as all of its assailants combined.
Units also have no zones of control that restrict enemy movement around them, which are the usual way for turn-based games to prevent units from dashing around enemies who would be reacting in real time in the actual battle the game portrays. Without such a mechanic Glory of Generals feels much too static, as if the combatants really are just sitting passively while they wait for the enemy to finish moving. The optimal strategy frequently involves things that would be nonsensical or impossible outside of that static context.
These are not trivial issues in a strategy game that is trying to evoke real battles and provide more depth than your typical mobile strategy time killer. There are NES games from the 1980s that got these things right.
Then there’s the pay model. Fighting the enemy on an equal basis as you advance requires unlocking higher-level units and recruiting generals who augment their unit’s abilities. This requires medals, earned from completing missions or purchased with real money. However, the medals won for completing missions are paltry, while the costs are not. Even the cheapest general requires several real dollars worth of medals. Top-tier general like Eisenhower or Zhukov require over 2,000 medals, at a cost of at least 10 real U.S. dollars — more if you don’t save money by buying in bulk by purchasing 10,000-medal packages for $49.99 each. Charging that much would be ridiculous even if Glory of Generals were free-to-play, and it isn’t. When a game already costs $2.99 to download in the first place, it’s just outrageous.
On the plus side, the graphics are great, and the terrain and units have an impressive amount of detail. The music is forgettable but the sound effects are pretty good, and you can adjust the volume of either independently, which is always appreciated. The localization is terrible – the text in the game is comprehensible but clearly wasn’t looked over by anyone fluent in English.
I can’t recommend Glory of Generals HD. It doesn’t deliver as a serious strategy game, it’s too slow and complicated to be a casual on-the-go experience, and the in-app purchases are ridiculous for a game that already costs money up front. Even with the limited choices for the genre on mobile platforms, there are much better World War II strategy games out there.