Review: Braveheart HD for iPad

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Braveheart is a famous Mel Gibson film from back when he was a respected actor and director, and before he became more famous for being an anti-Semitic, homophobic, abusive loon. But that is irrelevant since this game has absolutely nothing to do with the film!

The basis of the story has you playing as Knight Richard. In the opening cutscene you are shown as a brave warrior, but in a celebration cause damage and alarm. At first the thought is to be put to death, but then you are spared and sent on a quest to find the Holy Grail in order to impress the daughter of the King.

When you start playing, you are given a choice of weapons and then dumped into an open area to face a ‘wave’ of enemies. You can move by tapping and attack either by a combo-tap (crossbow) or by moving your finger in a circle around your character (flail). Enemies will come straight at you in the beginning, and you simply mow them down one after another, and pick up the occasional items they drop.

The graphics are detailed, the sounds are well thought out and done, and the controls couldn’t be more straight-forward and well implemented.

After clearing the ‘training’ area, you then find out about the shop, where the gold you earned can be spent to buy new weapons and items. As you progress, you will open up new parts of the store, allowing you upgrades, new skills and perks to add to your arsenal. These include a targeted – but avoidable – magic system that is quite powerful, as well as perks for earning more experience and gold amongst other things.

As you progress you will realize something – nothing fundamentally changes from level to level. You battle two or three waves of enemies, collect the spoils and rewards, and either advance the plot or ‘go on a hunt’, which is a clever way to say ‘grind for experience and gold’. This isn’t a bad thing, just an observation. The game is defined by whether or not you enjoy the combat from the very start – if you find that you don’t like the combat from the start you will never enjoy the game.

As you get even deeper into the game – and particularly battling some of the later bosses – you will really need to gain as many levels as possible and to have saved up as much gold as you can. That is because the later boss battles come with a rather huge difficulty spike wherein you need some previously unattainable weapons and skills to do much of any damage. At that point you have a few options. If you have regularly gone on hunts and saved up gold you might be in good shape. But if not, you can replay areas and go hunting for quite a while to gather up as many resources as you can.

Or, you can use real-world money to buy in-game money. This is a personal issue based on the potential for hours of grinding compared to a $0.99 in-game purchase … the old adage of ‘time is money’ comes to mind – and yet I always tend to choose the grind, figuring that if I am choosing spending money to avoid playing the game, perhaps that is a reflection on how I feel about the game itself!

There is a Lite version to try, which is what I very much suggest: the game is a solid value in my opinion … but I liked the combat and didn’t mind grinding out levels and gold to defeat bosses. Braveheart is an interesting hack & slash RPG with a simple combat system that can be loads of fun, but there is built-in repetition and grinding that will certainly be enough to drive many gamers away. The Lite version is for the iPhone, but even if you have an iPad I recommend getting it to try the game before buying.

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Pros:
+ Fun combat
+ Nice crossbow / flail gameplay differential
+ Magic system adds variety

Cons:
– Everything comes down to repeating the same ‘beat 2 or 3 waves’ again and again
– You choose: endless grinding or in-app purchase
– Repetitive

Game Info:
Platform: Reviewed on iPad, also available for iPhone/iPod touch
Publisher: Gaijin Entertainment
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Release Date: 12/2/2010
Genre: Action/RPG
Age Rating: 12+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!