It is a shame that much of the iPad games out there are Angry Birds clones. This simple style of play suits the touchscreen format, sure, but it hasn't lead to titles that you want to settle down with, put in the hours and have a proper session — it's mostly all been about quick-fix, commuter relief.
So it was with considerable joy that Esquire came across Battle Academy, from Slitherine Software — a turn-based tactical war game that owes a great deal to the genius of the classic PC Close Combat series from the Nineties.
Inspired by an original online game concept devised by the BBC, Battle Academy sees you take on more than 30 battles from the North African desert through D-Day to the to the snowy Ardennes mountains where the Allies fight to repel the final German offensive.
Beautifully using the iPad's touchscreen as an intuitive UI, you take command of a squad of troops and armour on each mission to either defend or attack various maps.
Now, this is not a game for those looking for instant action, but that is also the key to Battle Academy's success. It's a slow burn and sucks you in. You set out your strategy, commit your men and feel genuinely interested in seeing the battle through to the end as you push on into enemy territory.
But you can't send your force storming in, guns blazing – tactics must be learned and observed to win the day, playing against either a tough AI component or on multiplayer (and here you can link up with players not only on iPads, but also on PCs and Macs). Want to nail that Panzer tank? No point tackling it head on, soldier – wait till it goes past and exposes it's weaker rear armour, then ambush away and prey your men hold their nerve.
Because this engrossing turn-based style of gaming takes concentration and time, and isn't run-and-gun madness, hours pass effortlessly – and what's more you don't suffer from fragging fatigue or cramped hands that you would with a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor marathon session. Battle Academy rewards you for putting in those hours, and improves as you progress. Yes, it's pricey for an app, but this is the best game we've played yet on the iPad.
£14 on iTunes