Developer: Glu Games Inc
Release Date: November 17th, 2011
Available on: Mobile
When Infinity Blade launched it pretty much wrote the rules on how to make a one vs. one fighting game on the iPod. The controls were smart, the game was fun, and it was gorgeous as well. Naturally over time we’ve come to see imitators to the formula. In steps the free-to-play gladiatorial combat game Blood & Glory.
Blood & Glory puts you in the role of an unnamed gladiator participating in some tournament or another. With no story beyond that to speak of, it falls to the game play to keep the game interesting. If you played Infinity Blade, then you already know what to expect from Blood & Glory. You need to dodge attacks using the right or left arrows on the side of the screen, and if you do it enough you’ll be given the chance to attack back simply by swiping the screen to swing your sword. If you’re skilled enough and swing your sword in the same direction that the enemy’s attack is coming from, you can parry their attack and make them stunned longer. Likewise, you can also block attacks just by holding up your shield, but they don’t stay stunned for as long and you can only do this for a limited amount of times. Once you start attacking you can do combos by swiping in specific directions, but doing any of the shorter combos is pointless. As soon as you complete any combo the enemy breaks out of it’s stun, so you always want to aim for the longer ones to do as much damage as possible. You also have a special attack meter that fills up when you dodge, parry, and attack. The damage they do is completely negligible, the strongest special attack only does the same amount of damage as a regular attack, but they do stun the enemy so you can follow up with more attacks, something which is far more useful.
After you complete a match you get XP and Coins, which you use to level up and buy new gear. Pretty quickly you realize that the amount of XP and Coins you need to level up or buy worthwhile gear is insanely high. Where as games like Infinity Blade are at least completable without spending money for in-game purchases, Blood & Glory wastes no time trying to get a point where it feels like you need to drop money to advance. The most annoying way it does this is actually with it’s second currency: Gems. Gems are much harder to get than coins. You have a chance to get one or two by completing a tournament (5 fights) but there’s no assured way to get them… except by paying. This especially sucks when some of the weapons could cost gems instead of coins, but it’s the worst with potions which all have gem costs. Since potions are vital for healing between matches this is pretty obviously specifically done to artificially drive up the challenge and get you to pay for gems.
But even then, the gameplay gets really boring long before you’re done with the game. If you do no grinding at all and just go from one fight to the next then there’s about 85 fights in the game. The only difference between enemies is the weapons they use, which may cause some slight variation between attacks, but otherwise there’s nothing else to this game. Where Infinity Blade let you take multiple paths and explore your environment, Blood & Glory is just one fight after another, offering nothing in between. Worse is that the game doesn’t preform very well. I had difficulty in fights not because of how hard they actually were (and don’t get me wrong, they were hard), but because the game would have massive lag spikes for no reason, dropping the frame rate way down and making the game look like a slideshow. During this time I would get hit, all of which were doing several hundred damage and with me pretty much unable to do anything about it.
So with repetitive and quickly boring gameplay and sudden crazy difficulty spikes, Blood & Glory quickly stops being fun. While it’s free to play nature means you can probably enjoy a few rounds without really committing to the game in anyway, you shouldn’t expect to enjoy it for long.