If there’s one thing Gameloft’s good at, it’s consistently bringing console quality games to the small screen. Some of these are perhaps too close to some of the console titles out there, close enough to be labelled as clones, but for those who want to experience some of the audio visual glory that they are used to seeing on the big screen in the palm of their hands, these games have rarely disappointed.
The newest title to fit this description is Wild Blood. The first Gameloft game to feature the exceptional Unreal Engine, Wild Blood promises gory hack and slash action with stunning visuals that the engine is known for. Let’s see how well it manages to do that.
September 6, 2012
October 8, 2012
Our hero in this game is Sir Lancelot, who is having an affair with King Arthur’s wife, Queen Guinevere. When the king finds out about this, he goes berserk and sets out to destroy Lancelot, and everything in his path. He employs the services of the evil sorceress Morgana, who opens the Hellgate and sets all sorts of not very nice creatures upon the land. Oh, and she also captures the Queen Guinevere and holds her hostage. Now Lancelot has to stop the carnage going about him, kill Morgana, free Guinevere and make it home in time to catch Medieval Britain’s Got Talent. Okay, so I made up the last part.
The story is not much and just an excuse to shove that massive sword through all sorts of evil hell spawn. And Sir Lancelot is perhaps the most boring lead character in the history of gaming. He even looks like he’s slightly bored. You don’t really care if he saves the day or gets used as a mop by one of the ogres in the game. If you have played Horn that we reviewed last week, you’d know that even that young blacksmith’s assistant was more involving a character than this fancy knight. Heck, even Pac-Man was a more involving character.
Wild Blood is an action-adventure game with a third-person camera view. You use the left side of the screen as a joystick to move the character around and the right side to control the camera. The right side also has buttons for all the weapons and attacks that you will be using.
To attack enemies, you get a host of weapons, from swords to axes and a bow and arrow. You can upgrade these weapons using gold coins you collect by killing enemies, opening chests and breaking pots and barrels spread around. You will also often come across civilians who are held captive. Breaking their cage releases them and in return they give you some more gold.
Other uses for the gold is purchasing potions for restoring health and mana. You can also purchase additional powers that you can use a limited number of times depending upon your mana. These powers are usually devastating attacks that can take down enemies in one blow. You can upgrade these powers to cause even more damage.
You can also use the gold (a significant amount of it, mind you) to instantly revive yourself after you die, or you can choose to use the restart the game at the last checkpoint, which could be close by or somewhere far away. At times you have no choice but to keep replaying a significant section of the game because the damn checkpoint is just so far back and you don’t have enough gold to instantly revive yourself. This is where you might be tempted to use the game’s in-app purchase option to purchase additional gold by spending real money.
Most of the game has you running around and battling enemies. The enemies come in great variety, 20 of them in fact, and it includes some bosses. The boss battles are all well spaced out and every time you think things are getting too easy the game throws one at you. The other enemies are also quite varied in their attacks and range from mildly annoying to extreme pain in the nether regions.
Other things you do in the game involve opening chests, as mentioned before, except there is another type of chests that has you solving puzzles. The puzzles involve moving blocks around and in return you get a lot more gold than from the usual chests. The puzzles reminds strongly of the game Unblock Me, except here they are easier. These serve as a nice diversion from the usual action but they are also the only type of puzzles you’ll be solving. And they are completely optional.
While the general hack and slash action is enjoyable, there are two things that make the game fairly frustrating. First of all the joystick controls suck. This is extremely apparent when you’re trying to run, or use a special attack that involves directing yourself towards the enemies. The number of times you miss your enemies and run straight past them is not funny. Also, you can’t turn, so if you miss the enemy, you end up raging alone in some corner wasting your mana while the enemies are half a mile away from you.
Another area where the control situation crops up is when you are controlling a ballista in the game’s many moments. It would be easier to give someone instructions over the phone to control a real ballista instead of controlling one of these in the game. Even the tiniest motions moves the thing around as if it’s some pea shooter and you need to be extremely accurate to kill, which means even before you can line up your shot you are killed by the enemy, who all happen to have their own projectile attack and don’t have to deal with terrible controls at their end.
The other more atrocious problem is the camera. First of all, it seems all enemies have decided before they spawn that they are not going to be anywhere inside the view that you see on the screen. Each one appears perhaps as far away as possible, so you have to run to them to kill them. What’s worse is that moving the camera around is extremely slow. You have to keep swiping on the screen like an idiot to make the camera turn 180 degress and by then the enemy has probably moved. Half the time in the game is spent adjusting the camera and pointing it in the right direction so you can see what you’re supposed to kill. At this point you seriously start wondering if the Queen is worth rescuing and start contemplating on letting Morgana keep her as her pet.
One last issue for me that others may not have is the feeling of having done all this before. It’s not just about the fact that the game takes heavy inspiration from the God of War series in practically everything it does but more with the genre itself. The third-person action adventure genre is probably older than the real King Arthur and doing the same things again and again has become terribly boring. Bringing games that have started to feel stale on the consoles to mobile doesn’t make them any more interesting. You can marvel at the visuals for a while, but it doesn’t take long to realize you did the same basic things ten years ago.
What I’m saying is that mobile doesn’t need more recycled titles from old genres. Games like Super Hexagon that we saw last week work because they do something new and even though the game probably had 1/100th the budget of Wild Blood it will hold your attention for longer and will you have you coming back more often. We need more games like that. Not just the same old FPS, racing or action-adventure games.
There is a multiplayer mode as well, but it’s not really about skill but rather who has the fanciest weapons and armor around. If your weapons aren’t upgraded you won’t last ten seconds, even though most arenas have 4-5 players right now. Also, being against smarter and more powerful human enemies only further exposes the game’s inherent flaws.
Graphics and Sound
Having an Unreal Engine in a mobile game is a surefire recipe to have great visuals. We have already seen what this engine can do on game such as the Infinity Blade series and even on Wild Blood it does a great job. The game looks stunning throughout, especially on the new iPad with the Retina display. Gameloft has also made good use of the engine’s prowess by creating amazing level and enemy designs. In short, it all looks great.
Sound-wise there is not much to say. The soundtrack is passable (it sounds ridiculously similar to The Dark Knight Rises soundtrack in the menu where you have to solve the puzzles to open chests) and the weapon and enemy sounds are the usual affair. The dialogues are cheesier than a cheese burst pizza and the voice acting is lame. The character mouths do move this time around but they don’t move with what they’re saying. Lancelot could be swearing at you for all you know.
It might seem as if I have been harder on this game than usual but that’s just because I expect big budget games from big developers selling for big bucks to be more than just console game rehashes. It’s time mobile game developers stopped looking at what the folks on the consoles are doing and started doing something new designed specifically with the touchscreen in mind.
Wild Blood is a fine game if you don’t mind having the same sort of gaming experience that you have on the consoles. Of course, the camera and the controls still suck, but they would probably be fixed and then the game would have few real flaws. And besides, it makes for a great showcase for your hardware, particularly if you have the new iPad as the Unreal Engine gives it a nice workout. But if like me you’re bored of this genre and were looking for something new, give this one a pass.
Rating: 3/5 Pros: Great visuals, wide variety of weapons and enemies Cons: Botched up controls and camera, cheesy dialogues, lacks originality