Blades of Fury cuts a mean impressive one

Posted: September 8, 2009 in Action, Arcade

Finding a good arcade fight game on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform has been tough for the simple reason that there hasn’t been one. Don’t get me wrong, there are several good boxing games, but there are times when only a good cut’em up epic sword fight will do. Gameloft’s Blades of Fury is a 3D fantasy arcade fighter that I think mostly satisfies that urge. If you’re looking for a strong storyline or even some depth, then this doesn’t have it. But, if you have a hankering for a visually commanding game that offers a fair share of fight moves, then Blades of Fury fits the bill.

Normally, I would provide a summary of the storyline, but honestly, it’s inconsequential in the scheme of the game. The reality is that Gameloft could’ve saved the money on the incoherent storyline which I suspect interns developed, and used it for better voiceovers which are also pretty poor. On the other hand, I could be wrong, and the game was intentionally made to have a cheesy feel to it especially with the overdramatic intro “Battle Fight” narration. Aside the fact that the game doesn’t save progress during battles, Gameloft does provide an otherwise well-developed, visually eye catching game with some of the best virtual controls available.

Visually, the graphics and animation are stunning even though they do appear rough around the edges. From the characters to the battle arenas, the visuals easily fall into the upper echelon of the iTunes store. Blades of Fury has 10 characters—6 of which are unlocked to start—that can be selected for battle. These characters each have different attributes, weapons, and may I add attire (namely Elwyn and Enimia) that should appeal to the testerone-driven, male target audience. Some even appear in different costumes as you progress through the stages.

Battle Characters:
Arthur
Elwyn
Skurd
Skorn
Machiavel
Magnus
Danling
Faust
Enimia
Diablo

In addition, Blades of Fury also has 10 battle arenas that are vividly illustrated and have different characteristics that can alter a battle.
Babylon
Penglai
Underground
Castle
Forest
Dragon’s Back
Cathedral
Cemetery
Palace
Inner Sanctum

Blades of Fury has 4 game modes that offer a good variety of play. As I mentioned, the Story Mode follows a story line that can easily be omitted.
Story Mode—takes you through 10 battles with a story line
Arcade Mode—battles without a story with points awarded for each victory
Survival Mode—one off battles with a variety of enemies
Practice Mode—play as a specific character and battle and choose a specific arena

In these modes, there is a good degree of customization where you can set battles all the way up to the best of 5, set the time for each battle up to 99 seconds.

The control options come in a variety of flavors—d-pad or virtual joystick for directional moves and buttons or swipe motions for attacks. You can’t go wrong with either control set because they are all equally responsive. In addition, your character has leaping abilities and the power of magic. One thing to note is that each character and opponent has a red health bar and a blue magic bar. The blue magic bar gauges the amount of magic power available, depleting when invoking magic and slowly regenerating during battles. The magic button can be tapped and combined with specific attack moves that intensify the damage, and when held longer, can inflict an indefensible move that in some cases can take out an opponent.

Where Blades of Fury does offer a good deal of depth is in the 20 attack moves that are categorized as horizontal, vertical and magic and then subcategorized as high, mid and low attacks in addition to blocking abilities. These are done by a combination of directional moves and action motions or taps. These attack moves include the basic horizontal and double slashes, but there are also some visually eye-popping moves such as the chariot crush, Trojan slash, and my personal favorite, the power spike. You can also dodge attacks, roll away or into attack moves, as well as retreating when needed, and I have to hand it to Gameloft for making the moves all feel relatively natural. Besides the Practice mode, Blades of Fury also has a nice tutorial that provides a walk-through of all the controls and various attack modes which are not difficult to learn and master.

The gameplay itself is pretty solid and can be intense when it comes to the battles, and there’s even a replay function so you can save your favorite battles. Each battle begins with some dialogue where the two combatants insult each other with some second-rate banter. You won’t miss much by skipping through it. Depending on the combination of attack moves, your character can jump, trip, hack and slash, and get pummeled a fair amount. The AI tends to be very intelligent in hard mode and less so in easy mode, with a good variety of attack and defensive moves including dodging when necessary. The requisite screaming and displays of power are well incorporated throughout, although the standard voiceover that sounds after a battle is repetitive and annoying enough to skip. Keep in mind that opponents have magic as well which will usually send you flying helplessly into the air as they drain your health bar. In the hard mode, opponents are ruthless and tend to take the offensive in proactive attacks. An ideal strategy early on is to attack low combined with a sliding move to take the opponent on the ground, which then allows for a more directed approach.

As you progress through the various modes using specific characters, different types of armor are unlocked and achievement points and trophies are awarded. For example, successfully completing the 10 levels in story mode will unlock a new set of armor, while completing arcade mode with a single character will be rewarded with additional points. Also, additional characters are unlocked as you progress. This is another area where Gameloft doesn’t do a particularly good job of showing what points do and how they’re awarded. Basic statistics such as characters used most frequently as well as points in Story and Arcade mode are included, but not much else. Blades of Fury is one dimensional in that it is strictly a fight game, and if you’re not into this genre, then I doubt the game will convert you even with its snazzy graphics.

While not perfect, Blades of Fury is an impressive arcade fighter that is a solid game for those interested in this genre. With highly responsive controls and a fair amount of attack and defensive moves, Blades of Fury should be another winner from Gameloft.

Albie Meter: 4.5 Stars (entertaining arcade fighter that should appeal to those already interested in the genre; a good amount of attack and defensive moves with controls that feel natural; lack of save function can be annoying)

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