- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2012

Battles starring micro-proportioned warriors take place on Apple’s interactive tablet, offering explosive, third-person action with the tap of a finger.

For the real-time-strategy lover who can take only a bite-sized amount of war at any sitting, soldiers Mario, Spike, Tex, Hank and their battalion will take him around the world to execute continuous carnage in Tiny Troopers (Chillingo, rated 12+, reviewed for iPad 2, $4.99).

A small team of pint-size, big-eyed dynamos (who look and sound a bit like “South Park” characters in fatigues) arrive for each mission.

A helicopter drops them into a terrain where they fight against insurmountable odds while completing objectives and looking for an extraction point.

Tap an area with your finger and the troops immediately move there. Tap on an enemy to target and they begin shooting. Drag heavy munitions (grenades, bazookas and air strikes) from an icon on the side of the screen to an enemy area and watch the fireworks.

Most important to the entire strategy is collecting command points that accumulate for completing missions and tasks or for finding dog tags and weapons of mass destruction lying around.

The points can amass quickly, but are just as easily consumed when buying a Rambo-style machine-gunner (30,000 points) or stopping in the middle of firefight to grab another health pack (10,000 points) or more grenades (5,000 points).

Remember to avoid the senseless slaughter of civilians and chickens or lose some points.

Thirty missions spread out over three chapters will exhaust the determined general as he tries to combine the right amount of ammo, specialists and weapons to survive.

Tasks can vary greatly (though killing is almost always required) and take on some uncomfortably familiar settings, such as Blackhawk Down (survive while waiting for a helicopter) and Geronimo (infiltrate a command area and kill a high-ranking enemy officer).

Or, put this in your perspective pipe: How about a mission to escort annoying journalists (who refuse to listen to orders) out of a hot zone?

Toss in the nuances of finding medals in each battle to increase soldiers’ attributes (rate of weapon fire and such), facing off against tanks, machine-gun-equipped vehicles and towers, and troops that get better the longer they survive.

By the way, the fields of battle are gorgeous and offer a realistic, animated look featuring desert rock formations, snowy landscapes, flowing rivers, barracks, villages and bridges while fighting a variety of enemy troops, including snipers and dynamite-throwing terrorists.

Do note, however, that this game is not for youngsters. Enemies die, cry out in pain, fall and leave bloodstains on the ground. Heroes perish to the cries of “I don’t want to die” as their companions scream “medic.”

Tiny Troopers is a fun and challenging game with three difficulty levels that’s perfect for the older warmonger in the family. With a $4.99 price tag, however, gamers should be a bit bugged by the push for in-app purchases. Being solicited to drop money for everything from 100,000 Command Points (99 cents) to 15 medals ($3.99) seems a bit rough for the premium price.

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