Saturday, December 11, 2010

Braveheart Musings

Braveheart for the iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad (in HD flavor) comes from developer Gaijin (makers of FPS Modern Combat) and is a medieval flavored action romp with sprinklings of RTS, RPG, and tower defense... does that make any sense? Probably not but that's how I felt as I played through the game on my iPad.

Though mainly touted as an action affair, there are a lot of other elements to the tale of Sir Richard and his quest for the Holy Grail that can't really be contained in the one genre. Although there is a lot of it... action, I mean.



Health Potions are Necessary Later on
The main bulk of the story revolves around the somewhat Conan-like Richard. He's a big, brutish guy who drinks a lot- one day the royal entourage comes to his favorite watering hole to announce that the King is looking for a few good men to embark on a quest to find the legendary Grail. The drink addled Richard doesn't volunteer though- he grabs the Princess and tries to make kissy face. It doesn't go all that well.

Basically the King, instead of executing him, sends Richey to find the Grail all by his lonesome. If he can find it, he gets to live. It's a good prize when you think about it...
Crossbow in Action

Anyway, the game is played out on static battlefields- which are attractive enough. It works like this- Richard travels to a specific point on the overmap (which looks like a game board) and a big fight ensues. You have to withstand three waves of enemies to proceed and fight the occasional boss character- and it ain't easy. In fact the difficulty seems to ramp way up about half way through, delivering a swift kick to my posterior numerous times.

Now, let me explain what I meant earlier with all the genre terms.

It's kind of like an RTS in the sense that that's how you control your character. You can tap or swipe in the direction you want him to move. Controlling Richard's favorite weapon, the flail, is performed by rapidly drawing circles on the screen- this spins him around as he swings the spiked ball (or blade) and makes Richard into a Taz-like meatgrinder of death. There's missile weaponry too- like crossbows -but the spinning was what I used most.
Fire Enhancement for the Flail

Some Enemies Can Use Magic, Richard Isn't Really A fan

The RPG portion of the game is referring to the between level stuff as you can visit shops, buy 'perks', get new weapons, level up old ones, or power up Richard himself as he gets new stats. (that last part can be done during play as well.)

When I say tower defense- it's kind of a subjective thing. I felt a little defensive instead of offensive as I spun the flail around and tried to avoid incoming attacks while attempting to dole out punishment to those same attackers. Keeping just the right distance, while maintaining the spin of the weapon, and moving around the board, can prove a little tricky. This is doubly true in later levels when the action and enemies get much tougher.

Graphically, the game is pretty nice. The sprites are colorful and well made, as are the backgrounds and Richard himself. I would have liked to have seen a little more variation in the monsters. Don't get me wrong, it's not like there's three enemies in the whole game- I just would have liked to have seen more variety per level. Usually you'll only face a few baddie types on any given stage.
A Magic Attack

The cut scenes are sometimes a little too quick, consisting of one simple panel of artwork and some text. Longer scenes have a great comic book feel that I would love to see more of in a future sequel.

Sound-wise there's really nothing to write home about, but it works well enough.

The bottom line is that Braveheart is a fun game that isn't perfect by any means- but at two bucks for the iPhone and three for the iPad, it's a worthy time-passer.


Recommended (but somewhat halfheartedly)

Braveheart is available now for the iPhone/iPod Touch for $1.99 and for the iPad for $2.99

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