Version Reviewed: 1.0
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While the App Store isn't lacking in puzzles or racing games, one genre is still largely populated by "Mafia" games and similar spin-offs...online role-playing games. However, Pocket Legends is a new RPG that finally gives us a great online loot-fest, complete with 3D graphics, dungeons, zombies, and different character classes and skill trees. It's not nearly as complex as a PC title—don't expect World of Warcraft—but Pocket Legends is a perfect fit for the iPhone. It also runs on the iPod Touch and the iPad, and will work on WiFi, 3G, or EDGE.
The first thing you've got to do, of course, is create an account and a character! For some reason the game didn't want to accept my 148apps email (sigh), but I was rolling soon enough. You can have two separate characters by default, which is great; if you want another, you can buy it. There are three character classes: Archer, Warrior, and Enchantress. Name your beastie and you're ready to go.
How the Game Works
Instead of an open world, Pocket Legends consists of one sparse "camp" and a series of levels—dungeons that are populated with evil zombies and the like. You're instantly transported between levels, and you can jump into your own new dungeon or join other adventurers by clicking the New Game button. So, no, it's not a MMO in the usual sense...the world is actually very small, and it's not meant for wandering about.
Instead, Pocket Legends is an epic loot-fest. Gather a band of fellow animal-warriors (from your friends list or just random strangers) and set out to clear a zombie-infested dungeon. There isn't a story in any real sense, other than the Elf Queen's plea for your aid in vanquishing the zombies, but even without a plot Pocket Legends' dungeons are a lot of fun. Strategically figuring out how to tackle a particular knot of enemies in coordination soon becomes necessary, and the simplicity makes it perfect for the iPhone's pick-up-and-play nature. Also, loot and experience are shared, so "team players" are easy to find.
Combat and Controls
Combat itself is pretty simple. The game uses auto-targeting, so once you're locked onto an enemy, the aiming is done for you. You just have to hit the attack button. Whether or not you like this simple approach is a matter of personal preference, but I think it fits the "Keep It Simple, Stupid," mantra of the iPhone. There's even an auto-attack function, but that made things a little too simple, so I don't use it. As your character levels up, you also learn skills, which appear on-screen as buttons that can be activated. Movement is controlled by a virtual joystick, which is good but not exceptional.
The trade-offs of not having a keyboard include being forced to use a heavily menu-based system. The numerous menus aren't badly laid out and they function fine, but tapping around isn't nearly as easy as, say, pressing "J" to view your Journal. To change the zoom, you pinch or spread your fingers, while swiping will turn the camera. The controls are all functional, but the camera can be finicky and digging through menus isn't ideal.
Pocket Legends currently has two open servers. Pocket Legends runs on the entire iDevice family—iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad—and works on 3G, EDGE, and WiFi. Obviously your experience will differ based on what you're using and what network you're on. As a second-generation iPod Touch user on a WiFi network, I found that it was easy to play; there was no lag in movement or combat. (The game also displays your "ping" in the lower-left corner; mine bounced from 100-300.) However, I did notice a significant lag in opening menus. Though I could continue to fight and move if I tried to open a menu, it took quite a while for the menu to actually open...sometimes taking me by surprise at an inopportune time. I had no problems with crashes, however.
One caveat you should be aware of is that Pocket Legends is a freemium game. Though the initial taste is great, without buying extra level packs you won't be able to go beyond level 13. You can also purchase non-essential elements like emoticon sets and an extra character slot. However, some elements can be bought with in-game gold, like healing potions. The freemium element doesn't upset the game's balance whatsoever.
Pocket Legends is really an impressive game. The combat is fun, the graphics are excellent, and from a technical perspective it's a phenomenal feat. Though there are a few things I'd like to see tweaked—the menu lag and the sometimes unresponsive camera top my list—Pocket Legends nails things where it counts. It's a simple, fulfilling online RPG that has plenty to keep you hooked without being to complex for its platform. If you like RPGs, be sure to give Pocket Legends a try; after all, you've got nothing to lose but a whole lot of free time!