Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior is a game that kind of surprised me when it suddenly appeared in the app store. The first and most obvious shock was the Bruce Lee license. Bruce Lee is the god father of modern mixed marital arts, and one of the most respected martial artists in history; so a game featuring his likeness had better give him the respect he deserves.
The next shock about this game is that is a three dimensional fighter on the iPad. Street Fighter IV proved that fighting games on the iPad are completely possible, but that was on a 2d plane. Needless to say I was skeptical of Street Fighter, and I was even more skeptical of Bruce Lee. Adding in the ability to circle around your opponent really adds another layer to the fighting game experience, and I was really curious how that would work on the iPad.
They do a very good job of not pushing the 3d too hard in the Bruce Lee. You are able to circle around, but they don’t really force it upon you. You can play pretty much every fight without ever having to walk around your opponent. This is good because it is a new concept on the iPad, and without having the actual analog stick to move around I was concerned it wouldn’t function well. That is not to say it doesn’t work well, because the mechanic does function properly. I just think it functions well because it doesn’t do it too much.
The controls in Bruce Lee are simple and too the point, in fact they may be too simple to really provide the depth that fighting game fans are looking for. There is on screen d-pad that you use to move your character around. Left and right on the d-pad moves you forward and backwards; while up and down move you around your opponent. If you tap the up button and attack your character will do a jumping attack, and the same applies to the down button. Speaking of attacks, there are only 2 attack buttons. There is the punch button, and the kick button. This is where the simplicity kind of becomes a problem. You can make more creative moves by the timing of pressing the d-pad along with attack, but it is still not as deep as I would like it to be.
That being sad there are some more advanced mechanics. You can counter your opponents attacks by pressing the attack button right as he starts his attack. Mechanics like this add to game, but they feel unnecessary, because I was able to win most matches by simply button mashing my way through. This is great for casual gamers, but hardcore fight game fans might be a little disappointed. If you are willing to force yourself to use the mechanics even though they aren’t necessary, then you can potentially have a deep fighting experience, but I feel that the game should do a better job of forcing you use the mechanics they worked so hard to develop and implement.
There are a lot of modes in the game, so you can expect to have plenty to do. The bread and butter of Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior is the story mode. It sees a young Bruce getting challenged to a street fight, and then progressing to become the master of marital arts we all know and love. It sees you fighting all different fighters, and learning the games mechanics as you progress. It’s a well implemented mode, but I really didn’t find the story itself to be anything to write home about. Still, it’s a fun mode, and it is where you spend most of your time. There is also the arcade mode, where you use the fighters you unlock thoughout the story for a quick 1 on 1 fight and progress up the ladder though a lot of the different fighters in the game. There is also the time attack mode where you are tasked with beating a bunch of fighters as fast as you possibly can. The versus mode is like arcade, but it’s just 1 fight where you pick who want to be, who you want the computer to be and where you would like the fight to take place. This is the mode to play when you just want a quick fight, and you don’t want to dedicate a lot of your time. Survival mode sees you trying to win as many fights in a row as you can without losing.
Now, allow me to get to where Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior blows me away; the visuals. They very well might be the best I have seen on any portable system. The 3d visuals are just stunning. When I first booted up the game I had to double take to make sure I didn’t accidently turn on my Xbox 360. Once I realized I was indeed playing on my iPad I expected the frame rate to be deplorable, and I was wrong. It runs silky smooth all the time. In my time with game I never once saw a single dip. The story is told through hand drawn comics and they look incerdble as well. This game sets the bar extreamly high for what the iPad is really capable of visually.
The sound is also incredible. All of Bruce Lee’s stable fight sounds are there and they sound as good as you would expect them to if you were watching a movie. The music and very good and it fits the mood of the game. Lots of gongs and other asian-ish sounds abound.
Overall, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior is the best looking game on the iPad in my opinion. The sounds are awesome as well. That said the game play is good but not great. It’s fun for casual fight game fans, but it lacks the depth of something like Street Fighter IV. Still, the cool story mode and the incredible visuals still make this a game that is worth picking up.