Review by SuperPhillip
"I'd rather face the Wrath of Khan."
Looking through wave after wave of quote/unquote "non-games" and mini-game collections such as WarioWare, Mario Party 8, Wii Sports, WiiPlay, Rayman Raving Rabbids, and many more, the Wii definitely has a reputation of steering more toward the casual gamer. However, the development team of D3 aims to buck this trend with its release of the more "hardcore"-- if you will-- Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire. The fire does burn, but it's more of a frail ember than a raging inferno.
You play as a young farmhand named Dal whose destiny is unclear, but when his village is burned to ashes by an evil crew of monsters and his fiancee killed, Dal takes hold of the fabled Dragon Blade whose steel exterior holds within it a dragon's soul to smite foes on his quest to get revenge. All of it is your standard, quite typical, cliche-driven context to the battles that follow.
Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire is very simple in nature. You go from level to level, area to area, going from point A to point B all the while slaughtering enemies left and right. Every swipe of your sword is used by waggling your Wii remote. Stab forward with the remote to stab forward in the game. Swipe downward to slash downward in game. Slice upward to... well, you get the idea hopefully. However, a problem with this title that many other Wii games that precede it is that not all the gestures are recognized by the game causing added frustration to the already lame and tired hack 'n slash gameplay. You'll come face to face with a swarm of enemies, and you'll simply need to wave the Wii remote around like an imbecile to take them all down. Seeing as each enemy has one or two attack animations it's easy to dodge when you know their patterns. Thankfully you can lock onto enemies to give the battles a little ease.
Yes, running from point A to point B is all this game amounts to. Occasionally you'll be closed in by a magical wall where you'll have to defeat all of the spawning enemies before being allowed the ability to pass. The simplicity and depth (or lack there of) of the levels are only further hindered and made aware of by the extreme linearity of the levels. There's virtually no side-paths to follow, elements of surprise to be had, or sense of wonder to discover. Invisible walls abound, and there's really no exploration to be found. Ooh. I think I had more fun rhyming that last sentence than exploring this game's bland worlds.
Boss battles break up the monotony, and by all stretches of the imagination they are the most intriguing part of Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire. Most of these are against one of six dragons each with their own design and battle "strategy". However, the battles seem so random that you'll elementarily be slashing wildly and will win the battle without even knowing what you did to actually survive. It's basically just luck and little skill. That being said, these battles do seem to be the highlight of Dragon Blade, but unfortunately that's like finding a good smelling turd within a sea of bad smelling ones. The fact of the matter is that it's still a turd (what is with my recent obsession with crap?). Regardless, there's little else in the form of depth outside of the many boss battles you'll encounter from misshapen monsters to colossal dragons.
If you get tired of just using normal attacks to vanquish your foes, you can call upon the aid of your Dragon Blade's powers with the d-pad. The range from a flame whip which you swing over your head in-game to a fiery fist to demolish baddies. However, you can't just go willy-nilly with your powers. You have a magical gauge to contend with. These are great to clear out a horde of baddies in a lickety-split fashion, and add some variety to just utilizing normal attacks.
Speaking of things to contend with, you'll most likely be appalled by the horrible graphics this game features. It'd be okay for early Playstation 2 titles, but there is NO excuse for a game on the Wii to look this bad-- seriously. From the bland and embarrassing textures to the featureless character models, this game is quite unappealing to gaze at. The lack of any budget also turns this title into an even bigger presentational stinker. Sure, you get a nice cutscene with the dragon inside the blade narrating the events leading up to Dal's village burning to the ground, but that's all in the form of spoken dialogue. The rest is purely uninspired text.
The only replay value Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire has going for it is in the form of beating times, destroying all of the enemies and objects in a level, and collecting armor shards (one in each level). The former have no bonus for completing them while armor shards give you more health to work with as this game can be pretty challenging to complete. Then again, is it because of the near-broken motion controls or the crap gameplay? You be the judge.
Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire has a lot of potential, but the mediocre motion controls, lack of any form of depth, level linearity, atrocious graphics and gameplay, pitiful story, and $40 price tag makes this title a bargain bin game-- if even. Those looking for a deeper and more meaningful title should stick with Red Steel and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and wait for Super Mario Galaxy. Some might find enjoyment from Dragon Blade, but most of us will simply want a lot more. There's way too little this game offers to recommend to anyone but the curious. There is just a plethora of better Wii titles instead of this God of War/Heavenly Sword wannabe.
Story: One-dimensional Dal's village and wife-to-be are no more, and now with the Dragon Blade in hand he's out to get some vengeance.
Graphics: Ugly textures, nasty looking levels, and early PS2-caliber models do the Wii little justice in trying to explain to people that it is better graphically than the Gamecube.
Gameplay: Have fun waving your arm around like a stooge and going from one point to another with little exploration all the while defeating enemies with one or two attack animations! </run-on>
Sound: Bleh. There's sincerely nothing memorable besides the opening's brief voice acting. Just mute it and listen to your own stuff be it a CD, another soundtrack, or a domestic disturbance next door.
Replay Value: You can try to complete levels as fast as possible, gain all armor shards, and defeat every enemy in all of the levels, but why would you want to? There's honestly no bonus for doing anything, and once you complete the game there's no desire to continue playing unless you are a masochist and a glutton for punishment.
How much do I want to hurt myself after playing this game? What is this-- a new category just for this game? Well, seeing as I don't roll that way, not much. However, I wouldn't mind hurting others.
Overall: 4.5/10 - This is just too difficult to recommend to anyone. Give it a try if you really desire to have some form of hack 'n slash adventure.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Originally Posted: 11/05/07
Game Release: Dragon Blade: Wrath of Fire (US, 09/25/07)
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