Qvadriga Review (iOS)
For the past week, I’ve been playing--and more importantly, enjoying--one of the most unique sports titles on the iOS system. Qvadriga is a chariot-racing sim with a fair amount of management; enough, in fact, for the site PocketTactics to call it “Football Manager for classical Roman chariot teams.”
The game is broken into two distinct phases: turn-based chariot racing and squad management.
The chariot racing is elegantly simple. Every so often, you issue a command to your driver, from accelerating to changing lanes. The effectiveness of these commands is dependent on a number of factors, including your driver and horses’s skills, equipment condition, and what the other chariots are doing.
A few commands firmly place this game in the “chariot era.” You can whip your team, which provides a temporary speed burst with the possibility of horse injury. You can whip opposing teams and drivers, but have the potential to lose your whip in the process. You can issue the collide command, which can wreak havoc all around.
Other nice touches deepen the experience. Everything has either health or a condition, including each individual horse. It is possible to lose a horse mid-race; that horse’s carcass will lay on the track, potentially causing damage to any chariot that passes over it. Chariots can overturn if you don’t execute turns correctly; likewise, their debris will litter the field.
A driver without a chariot can only do two things: hold on or run for dear life. A stunned driver won’t be given the chance to receive a command. Teams without a chariot or a driver will block up lanes as they run aimlessly around the track.
Altogether, there is a lot to experience on the track. Again, the system is deep, but relatively straight forward and easy to pick up.
The game really shines in campaign mode, where you are give a three teams, chariots, and drivers. You choose a faction and receive an associated bonus.
From there, it’s up to you to navigate the Mediterranean area, visiting different cities and hopefully winning races. Victory equals cash, which can be used to heal, replace, or upgrade your chariots, horses, and drivers. For increased cash flow, you can bet on your races or unload unneeded stuff. Cities are diverse and specialized, but travel itself costs money.
The biggest strategic element comes from mitigating damage received during a race by rearranging your team combinations. You can fix your best chariot by “resting” it, or you can gamble and hope that it comes back in one piece.
Overall, the graphics are a bit on the spartan side -- functional, but otherwise unremarkable. Graphically, this could be an online flash game.
However, the game does feature a nice set of symbols to indicate commands and skill levels. They take a bit of time to memorize, and I couldn’t find any way to look at them in-game. I caught a few misspelled words, as well.
This game is one of the most refreshing mobile sports games I’ve played in a long while. The campaign mode is deep, but the races are short enough to play while commuting or traveling this summer. The game is also tough, both in the tactical driving and the difficult task of managing your fragile team.
While Qvadriga is also available on PC, it’s a perfect fit on the iPad or Android device. Its standard price of $10 may seem a bit high, but this game will keep you racing for quite a while.