You’ve got to give it up for Gameloft’s unapologetic aggression when it comes to their efforts to own the App Store. Seemingly every week, Gameloft churns out high quality games in genres that have yet to be fully realized on the iPhone. While they won’t rack up awards for originality in most cases, even their most ardent critics can’t deny the consistent care and quality that goes into their products. Par for the course, Gameloft has just released the iPhone’s first 3D fighter, Blades of Fury. You’ve seen our hands-on impressions; now here’s the definitive word on this ground-breaking fighting game.
Blades of Fury is a weapons-based fighter set in a world of magic, fantasy, and the never-ending battle between good and evil. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s a script that was ‘inspired’ by Namco’s Soulcalibur series. If you’ve ever played a Soulcalibur game, you’ll feel right at home when it comes to the fighting mechanics and rules of combat. For the uninitiated, we’ll jump into the structural elements of Blades of Fury.
Unlike standard hand-to-hand combat fighting games like Street Fighter or Tekken, Blades of Fury is all weapon-based combat. Characters sport weapons like swords, short blades, axes, or bo staffs, to name a few options. As a general rule, characters with compact weapons are usually quick and able to get off blistering attacks and combinations. On the flip slide, characters with heavier weapons are slower, but their attacks are more potent and deadly.
There are a total of 10 fighters (four have to be unlocked) and we’re pleased with the cross-section of weapons that are represented. Our only gripe with the fighters are the awful voiceovers. Once you hear the character Elwyn yell ‘I fight for my family and for my people’ for the first time, you’ll be scrambling for an option to turn their spiels off. Sadly, there isn’t one.
I see your schwartz is as big as mine.
Besides the obligatory health meters that all fighters have, Blades of Fury incorporates a magic meter as well. In the natural ebb and flow of fighting, this meter builds up to allow three levels of magical attacks. Think of this consideration as a life saver to change the tide of the battle and unleash some awe-inspiring sequences.
Gameplay itself is straightforward, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Movement is controlled using a virtual joystick or D-pad, and we didn’t have any issues with responsiveness. On-screen buttons control your horizontal and vertical attacks, magic attack, and your ability to block/guard. Success can be gained by mashing on the attack buttons, but we recommend you spend time in the practice mode to learn each character’s combinations and move-sets. Besides some weird animation transitions, the flow of combat is satisfying and pulling off intended combos is a breeze.
Blades of Fury has a good amount of single player modes (Story Mode, Arcade Mode, Survival Mode, and Practice) for hours of entertainment. In story mode, each character has a storyline that revolves around their exploits to claim some mythical armor that makes its wearer invincible. The stories themselves are passable, and you’ll see some amusing clichÃ© writing here and there. Upon defeating eight opponents, you’ll reveal a character’s ending and unlock extra content in the game. The other three modes are self explanatory, and they serve as good bonus addition to the main Story Mode.
A winner is you.
There has been a lot of excitement about the eye candy in Blades of Fury, and the hype is largely deserved. It’s almost as if every trick in the book is being used here to bring near PSP-level graphical fidelity to the iPhone. The characters, environments, weapon trials, and motion blur are a few standout areas that’ll impress you. The frame rate does hiccup occasionally, but that can be easily forgiven considering the complexity of it all.
Sometimes being a first mover has its disadvantages, and unfortunately Blades of Fury is marred by some annoying bugs sprinkled all over the place. In this 1.06 release, one multiplayer mode is broken. Blades of Fury is supposed to support head-to-head match-ups over local wifi or Bluetooth, but our devices wouldn’t talk to each other using Bluetooth. In addition, we noticed some glitches when trying to use the custom soundtracks option. Sometimes the game ignored our song selections, and other times, our music played but all the game’s sound effects would shut off.
Still, Blades of Fury is a very good game that proves the viability of fighters on the iPhone platform. This isn’t a very deep fighting game, but it’s a great way to spend 10-15 minutes at a time. We’ll keep our eyes on updates to address the bugs we’ve mentioned, but we wholeheartedly recommend fighting fans to indulge in this medieval combat.