148Apps Network Post
Developer: PLAYBEAN
Price: $3.99
Version: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★½☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

Controls are very important. Especially for an action game, no matter what platform it’s on. They can mean the difference between frustration and unbridled joy, so getting them to the point where they get the job done (at least) is absolutely essential. Unfortunately the controls are just the first of Heroes of the Three Kingdoms’ problems.

Anyone familiar with the Three Kingdoms series should know that this isn’t a strategy game. It’s an action game very similar to Dynasty Warriors. Players control a single general character – choosing from three that specialize in attack, defense, or a balance of the two – and basically tear through stage after stage slaughtering dozens of enemy fodder single-handedly. There are some mini-games on offer that allow for earning some extra coinage, but by and large it’s all about decimating the enemy with a character that’s so powerful it makes one question why most of them bother in the first place.

Each of the three characters can be leveled up individually, giving players a chance to experiment with all of their options. Assuming they can scrounge up enough cash to unlock them, that is. There’s also a shop with a great deal of items to help out on difficult stages, as well as special character cards that bestow different effects. And if anyone ever needs a break from the campaign mode there’s always the option of messing around with the mini-games or playing Defense, which is essentially exactly the same as every other mission only with a set number of enemies that must be routed.

Problem is, it’s incredibly difficult to play. Right off the bat the framerate was a mess. Tweaking the graphics to medium had things running much smoother on my 3GS, thankfully. Although once the framerate wasn’t a problem things really didn’t get much better. Attacking is limited to two buttons (regular and a kind of “charge-up” move), with very little in the way of variety. It’s pretty much the same few combos over and over again. And they’re easy to get stuck in, leading to some unfair hits. These hits don’t stop, either. Archers are the second worst since there’s little forewarning of their shots, and every time they connect it interrupts an attack. And yes, I did get stun-locked and nearly killed by a handful of archers. But the biggest offenders are the bosses. They stun-lock, they have a host of irritating moves, virtually every single hit interrupts the player’s attack, and they can waltz right through player attacks without flinching.

Heroes of the Three Kingdoms needs quite a bit of work. The foundation for a fun action game is there, but a whole host of imperfections and irritating design choices drag the entire thing down. Might want to wait for an update or two before pulling the trigger on this one.


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