Dragon Slayer iPad Review

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It's impossible to play Dragon Slayer without making immediate comparisons to the Infinity Blade series, those brutally tactile, epic combat games. There's one key difference in this new title from Glu, however, and it's a focus on magical, rather than melee, obliteration against the towering and deadly dragons that populate the lands.

Each of the game's missions are comprised of a series of fights against a collection of behemoth opponents, each of which has its own set of powerful attacks. As with Infinity Blade, you can dodge left and right to avoid the attack completely, or hold down a recharging block button to mitigate the most powerful assaults that can't be dodged at all.

If you manage to avoid the final move of a dragon's set of attacks, the action will freeze temporarily so that you can trace out the shape of a powerful rune that will stun the dragon for a short time, allowing you to unleash your own incredible vengeance. Furious finger-swipes of the screen will send a volley of elemental magical damage towards your foe, and if you swipe fast enough then you'll be rewarded with an extra special final attack that delivers a huge chunk of damage before the next round begins.

Victory in combat is rewarded with experience points, cash and other currencies. As you level up, you can spend all of these in the game's store, where you can pick up health-enhancing armor, magical gloves that confer greater damage, and health and block recharge potions. Before each fight you'll need to carefully weigh up your equipment and supplies, to make sure you're maximizing your chances of success against each elemental opponent.

As you'd expect from this free download, you can spend a little bit of your own real-life money to get ahead of the game, but as long as you're prepared to grind out earlier, easier missions then you can still make solid progress in the game. Any moments of frustration with this approach will amount to little more than failing a mission for want of a rare health potion, and having to back-track a little as a result.

Graphically the game doesn't possess quite the same degree of polish and flair as the Infinity Blade series, but it's a technically impressive feat nevertheless. The framerate is brisk and reliable, the scenery is packed with detail, and the monsters themselves have been very well designed, both in appearance and performance in battle. Spectacular too are the water-color comic scenes that are peppered between missions.

There's less connection in the combat itself however, and while your furious finger-swipes will dish out plenty of damage, there's not quite the solid sense of feedback that you'll have been spoiled with in other big-name slasher games. That's perhaps inevitable, given the game's focus on ranged combat rather than full-blooded melee.

There's no question at all that any slasher fan should check out Dragon Slayer. It's a brutal and challenging combat game, it looks remarkably good for a free title, and with each new upgrade dangled just out of reach the temptation to get stuck into just one more fight is always there. Those with lighter wallets might have to settle for grinding out content, but that content is enjoyable enough to make it worth the effort.

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What's Hot: Epic and varied fights, plenty of upgrades to work towards, and some gorgeous artwork.

What's Not: Very derivative of Infinity Blade and you'll have to grind a fair bit of content to make progress without resorting to the cash store.