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Developer: Red Zebra Games
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Raid Leader is MMORPG combat for people who like MMORPG combat, but hate working with other people, and want the option of still having a social life. This boss-fight-athon has players controlling 3 members of a raiding party fighting bosses that optimally only take a couple minutes to defeat. The team on this raid includes the knight, who’s the big tank that gets in enemies’ faces and smashes them repeatedly. The hunter prefers to sit back and deal death from a distance. The priest can’t hurt anyone, but his healing powers make sure everyone stays alive – including himself. Gold is earned after each fight, and can be spent on abilities for each party member. These are the only way to upgrade characters, as there is no experience or leveling up. Skills include both an active ability that can be deployed in battle, and passive stat upgrades.

Raid Leader thankfully distills a genre that I generally avoid into a more mobile-friendly and solitary experience. The game’s on-the-fly strategization is rewarding, and keeps the game from being boring like combat in most MMORPGs becomes. Keeping all the party members alive is essential but not required. It would be easy for the game to instantly end when a party member dies, as that basically is game over, but this is just something for the player to learn, not to have forced upon them. Pleasantly, Raid Leader features not only universal app support, but also iCloud support for syncing progress between devices. There is an in-app purchase for more gold, but thankfully it’s got good bang for the buck – 10,000 gold for $0.99 will easily equip all party members with some solid upgraded skills.

While having multiple characters to control will always be tricky, it is just challenging to keep track of what is going on. While the knight’s focus is always clear, it can be hard to tell what the hunter and priest are doing. As well, the “drag to target” system makes it easy to move the priest or hunter into the line of fire when he just intending to target something. These issues magnify on the smaller screen devices, especially as the Notification Center drop-down tab gets in the way. The bosses are rehashed halfway through, bringing back palette-swapped harder versions of them that use similar startegies. With each boss fight only taking 2-4 minutes to beat the first time, this means the game can be burned through pretty quickly.

Raid Leader can be frustrating due to the controls, and its length is a bit disappointing, but it’s an interesting experience. Strategy fans might want to check this out – it’s a bit different than what they might expect, but it might just appeal to a certain player.

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