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Blood & Glory is the latest and greatest from Glu Mobile, freemium developer extraordinaire. It's a great arena fighting game with tight controls and graphics, and it's a lot of fun.
I'm pretty sure I know exactly how this game was thought up. Basically, someone was sitting at home and playing Infinity Blade on his iPhone while also watching the show Spartacus: Blood and Sand on TV. That's exactly what this game feels like a mixture of, minus all the glorious gore and Batiatus' fantastic obscenities. The swiping combat of Infinity Blade works well in this setting, and it all feels like a good fit.
You play as a nameless gladiator fighting through tournament after tournament in the arena. Your character is either a midget, or everyone you face is just a giant, but he must have a massive the chip on his shoulder either way. As you take on foe after foe for your honor, you'll gain experience and coin, eventually leveling up your health, attack, and block while upgrading to better equipment. Tournaments consist of five fights with a big experience bonus and a nice chunk of change awarded at the end.
The combat itself is pretty well done. You swipe in any direction to attack, with a block button and two dodge buttons to evade attacks with. You can also swipe against an enemy's attack to perform a parry. Parries and other impressive moves will fill your special meter, which will let you unleash a special unblock-able attack. Your shield can only take so many hits before it fails you, which is represented by a number and slowly recharging bar on the block button. If your health gets too low, you can ingest some potions to recover health, or to increase your attack and defense temporarily. I didn't know they had Gatorade and steroids back then! Who'da thunk it?
You can slowly raise your stats through leveling, but equipment is what really matters here. Better armor for more health, and better shields for more block. You can buy gold, silver, or even skill points through in-app purchases. It's not necessary at first, but eventually you'll hit a massive difficulty wall. You can keep dying and retrying fights over and over, but you'll barely get any money for doing so. While it's completely possible to win every fight as long as you parry or dodge every single move, you'll feel like there's no choice but to buy things with real money or replay easier tournaments in an attempt to farm for coins and experience.
The graphics look great overall, though the animations can be a bit choppy. The sound design fits the environment well. The load times and menu transitions are pretty slow and can kill the pacing, though. This is still a really fun game overall, and best of all, you never have to wait to play. I'm glad Glu Games seem to be dropping that aspect from many of their recent games. They must be listening to my reviews and heeding my advice. This is a totally free and well made game, and I recommend at least giving it a try, for glory and honor, or something…