- The Washington Times - Monday, September 17, 2012

A famed knight of the round table stars in the latest hack, slash and smash third-person action game for the iPad, Wild Blood (Gameloft, reviewed for iPad 2, rated 12+, $6.99).

Upon hearing of King Arthur going mad after he learned of Queen Guinevere’s indiscretions with a certain pal, the guilty Sir Lancelot returns to the lands of Albion to crush a growing outbreak of demons conjured by his fearless leader’s confidant, Morgana. And, oh yeah, he has to save the imprisoned queen.

Our knight (who resembles a gruff Clive Owen) is dressed in his finest “Excalibur” armor. Initially wielding a massive sword, he cuts through an assortment of ghouls and physically challenged monstrosities.

This three-dimensional brawler violently adapts the Arthurian legend into B-movie mediocrity, and that fits perfectly within the bloody, often mindless, combat that ensues.

Visuals, however, are always crisp and stunning (with help of the Unreal Engine technology) as a player visits ice caves, quaint villages, castles, hanging gardens and cemeteries to face off against nearly two-dozen types of enemies.

This “who’s who” of the medieval macabre include the crawling undead popping up from the ground, horned spinning imps, one-eyed trolls, flying gargoyles, fiery conjurers and some fire-breathing bosses.

A player uses his thumb to move Lancelot with a virtual directional pad and taps icons to deliver attacks and quick movements on the iPad’s touch screen.

Ten missions of exploration, collection and fighting give the knight a varied level of action, with even an occasional sliding-block puzzle tossed in for good measure.

Role-playing skills are mildly tested as smashing stuff in the environments, opening treasure chests and defeating foes allows Lancelot to collect gold coins as well as earn experience points.

A player uses gold to purchase weapons enhancements and enchant them with lightning, fire and ice (the lightning effects look great), while leveling up unleashes new icon combination attacks.

Nuances to the mini-epic include the appearance of Merlin and Sir Gawain (who lends Lancelot a bow), saving citizens locked in wooden cages (our knight even gets a peck on the cheek from a damsel in distress), glorious spinning assaults wielding a pair of axes (or how about icy mallets), and control of a ballista to stop waves of demonic forces. All lend to a visually satisfying and action-packed experience.

The addition of a fully realized multiplayer element that allows up to eight warriors (four versus four) to button-mash locally or online in Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag modes provides a decent level of replayability after the main event.

If I forgive the cumbersome virtual controls that are easily lost in frenetic attacks and some questionable camera choices that put me at a severe disadvantage when fighting multiple enemies in cramped areas, Wild Blood is a worthy adventure for the solo dragon slayer in the family.

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