Gameloft’s one of those developers that many gamers were wondering if they’d ever see an original game from. There are a lot of complaints out there about how the company just clones other companies’ games, adds some minor improvements, and calls it good. That may be the case in some instances (though I often find they outdo the source material, such as they did with N.O.V.A, their Halo clone), but Wild Blood, their new brawler/beat ‘em up game for iOS, marks a major change for the company, as it stands completely on its own as a very enjoyable game. It may not be the most original gameplay-wise, then again, the genre doesn’t have much room for innovation, but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Wild Blood puts your in the shoes of Sir Lancelot in an alternate telling of the Camelot story. As Sir Lancelot, you’ll visit a wide variety of locales in the game, smashing and bashing your way through waves of fantastical enemies. The gameplay is simple enough, you start with a sword, which you use by simply tapping the attack icon. As you level up, you’ll unlock special power attacks, such as a fire blast, which let you deal massive punishment to your foes. As you progress through Wild Blood, you’ll unlock more weapons (the double battle axes are a favorite of mine), which also come with their own upgrade paths and combo moves.
The combat comes in fast and furious waves, and even though you’re using the virtual d-pad, which can often be a pain in other games, it responds well here. That, coupled with a well thought-out virtual button layout for your attacks, doesn’t make you feel too bad about not having physical analog sticks.
When you’re not fighting, you’re exploring a visually stunning world, crafted within the Unreal Engine for iOS. Everything in the game world enjoys a wonderful attention to visual detail that outshines even some console games. Oh sure, it’s not going to compete with the likes of God of War or Halo 4, but it’s definitely fun to show your friends the game and watch their jaws drop. Blasting through a sharply animated 10 hit combo is something to see, especially when it’s up against foes like Dragons, which fill your screen with their presence.
Wild Blood does have a few shortcomings – mostly the 3rd person camera could use some work, and some of the gameplay is repetitive. First off, the camera, which you control by sliding your finger around the right side of the screen, as if you had a right-side analog stick. That works fine, but it’s a little slow to respond, which makes combat tricky on occasion. My other complaint would be the repetitive “To get through this door, go over there, hit this switch, then go over there, hit that switch” nonsense seen in far too many games. While I’m sure it (artificially) adds to game time, it just feels tired, old, and unoriginal. Heck, I’d pay an extra buck to have an unlock that opens all areas without having to “smash the crystal to unlock this door”.
Actually, there is one other nagging annoyance with the game – the treasure chest “puzzles”. Some chests don’t just open when you tap on them, you have to complete a sliding block puzzle (like the old “Traffic” game). None of these are very challenging, and as with the area unlocking mechanic, feel like add-ons just to make the game feel longer than it really is. That said, they’re easy to figure out, and not too common.
Being a modern iOS game, where would Wild Blood be without some sort of currency system to let you buy your way through it? The game uses gold coins to unlock weapon upgrades, potions and the like, but thankfully, the developers were kind enough to not require you to buy the coins. You can if you want, but really, if you are very alert to your in-game surroundings, you’ll find plenty of breakable objects with hidden coins inside. I made it a point to not buy any coins with real-world money, and had a great time with the game just the same. Some levels might be so challenging as to make you think that buying a “Large Health Potion” might help out, but if you step back and take a good look at the level, you’ll likely find a way through without any cash-provided help. Probably the only real abuse of the cash system in the game is when it comes to dying. If you have enough coins, you can simply buy an instant resurrection, if not, you either start at the most recent checkpoint, or the beginning of the level. The problem here is twofold: first, later in the game, checkpoints become few and far between, almost, but not entirely forcing you to resurrect if you don’t want to replay the level from the very beginning and secondly, the resurrections aren’t all that cheap. If you’re dying a lot, you may have to crack your piggy bank to buy some rez’s.
Wild Blood is the kind of game that’s just a whole lot of fun. The levels offer just enough action and exploration to keep you playing, and the visuals are simply amazing. The combat combos help keep the gameplay fresh, and if you’re looking for a near-console like experience on iOS, Wild Blood’s definitely worth getting.
Audio/Visual – 5/5: Simply stunning, near-console quality graphics. A beautifully rendered game world, along with excellent character models for the heroes and monsters.
Gameplay -4/5: Simple controls, lots of upgrades and plenty of fun to be had. The “puzzles” are the only weak link in Lancelot’s armor.
Value – 5/5: For $6.99 on iPhone and iPad, you can’t go wrong here. The single-player is extensive enough to offer plenty of game time, while the online multiplayer extends the shelf life of the game significantly.
Innovation – 3/5: You’re not going to see anything nwe to the beat’em up/brawler genre here, but it’s still a huge improvement on the iOS platform for the genre
Final Score – 4/5