With Wild Blood, Gameloft seems to have taken a ‘kitchen-sink’ approach to the game’s design. Featuring elements from other well-known and established properties, chiefly God of War, Infinity Blade, and even some of their own games, Wild Blood is like the gaming equivalent of shake and bake. Does it all work well together? The answer to that largely depends on what you’re looking for in a game.
Wild Blood’s story is silly, but it’s just so silly that it’s worth mentioning. King Arthur, distraught over his love Guinevere’s apparent infidelity, has decided to take sides with the vile Morgana and open the gates of Hell to wreak havoc on the lands. His once-trusted knight Lancelot, together with other notable names from Arthurian legends, takes up the task to stop the doom and gloom. Hey, we’re all for a little revisionist storytelling, especially when the story is this wild.
Crazy story aside, the game’s biggest attribute is that this is Gameloft’s first game featuring the Unreal engine, and it’s a doozy. The graphics are spectacular and gorgeous. Compared to the closest parallel that Gameloft has, Hero of Sparta II, Wild Blood is a huge leap forward visually.
Rolling out the red carpet.
Levels are massive, multi-layered, detailed, and inventive. You’ll roam through gloomy, foggy forests, float high above the clouds in big, airborne cities, and fight through the very bowels of Hell (which looks like they were designed by a crazed dominatrix). The sun sparkles in lush waterfalls, ash and fire will fly around you, and cave walls will glisten from glowing mushrooms on the cavern floors. Yeah, there will be moments between fights where you’ll just want to stop and take it all in. It looks that good.
The enemies are equally impressive. They’re well-animated, and some are downright terrifying. It’s a pretty sobering sight when you walk into a room and come upon a towering, blood-soaked butcher happily hacking through the remains of some of his previous victims. When you first encounter a giant covered in massive chains and brandishing a huge hammer, your first instinct may be to run and hide.
However, you’ll be looking at most of these awesome images from a distance. The gameplay in Wild Blood is as derivative and linear as can be. You pretty much just run from point A to point B, hacking and slashing, then moving onwards. You don’t get to explore these levels in any real way.
A shining city in the clouds.
Granted, there are some thin attempts to make it seem less uninspired. On some levels you’ll have to rescue hostages, or figure out the proper order to open some gates. In a nod to the NOVA games, in certain parts you’ll man a rapid-fire ballista to fend off an onslaught of encroaching enemies. These are all fine and good, but we’ve seen this gameplay mechanic several times in the past, and repeating the same things over and over doesn’t make it any more fun.
One aspect we really did appreciate, though, was the massive amount of customization. Borrowing some of the best aspects of Infinity Blade, in Wild Blood you can upgrade everything. Your weapons, armor, character stats, and magic attacks for your weapons can all be upgraded by spending gold you collect from fallen enemies or find in treasure chests. Focusing on certain aspects can really affect how you play the game, and it’s a welcome feature that gives the player a bit more control than usual.
In another apparent nod to Infinity Blade (or Ghosts ‘˜N’ Goblins, if you prefer) once you beat the game the first time, the story doesn’t end. You’re whisked back to the beginning, your memory erased, and made to fight through the game again on a higher difficulty. We won’t spoil why you have to do this, but it’s a pretty amusing reason that keeps in line with the game’s ludicrous plot. And the campaign is pretty long to begin with, with just shy of 10 hours worth of gameplay, so there’s definitely a lot of demon hunting and avenging to be done here.
Bring it on, Skeletor.
Wild Blood also has a really fun multiplayer component. We played a little bit of the deathmatch portion, and it’s a total blast. In the deathmatch, you and some team members basically run around and try and try to hack the opposing team to bits. The team with the most kills is the winner. It runs smoothly and is a welcome alternative to the single-player game.
Wild Blood suffers from some technical issues. While they’re not deal-breakers, they are annoying.The floating camera is pretty obnoxious, with a tendency to jump around in confusing ways, sometimes to the point where we lost track of Lancelot altogether. This is especially prevalent when the action gets really heated, and the camera just bounces all over the place.
The controls are also a little sticky, and not as smooth as other games like Hero of Sparta or Dungeon Hunter. The auto-targeting with the bow is a great, though, as is Lancelot’s superhuman ability to jump from target to target without a second thought.
These problems notwithstanding, Wild Blood is a fun and fierce game. It’s just a game that we’ve played countless times before. Gameloft gets kudos for creating an original IP with a truly out-there story that doesn’t seem like a straight out copycat, but there’s just nothing here we haven’t experienced in any number of games in the past. If you’re looking for a pretty fun game that’s full of amazing sights and sounds, then Wild Blood is for you. If you’re looking for original gameplay, then you may want to look elsewhere.