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Raid Leader Review

By Andrew Nesvadba, on February 13, 2012


Raid Leader
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Skips the trash and throws you right in to the deep-end; nothing but 'boss' encounters to conquer.
  • Achievements that reward the occasional need to 'grind'; for example, quickly defeating bosses.
  • Clean visual design; uncluttered and easy to see all effects important to an encounter.
  • Smart AI; stays where told, switches targets when needed (keeps firing if an enemy dies or heals a target if it comes in to range again).

CONS

  • Controls make it hard to move with confidence; bad lock-ons or incorrectly registering the finger lifting-up can be deadly in later encounters.
  • Limited depth of mechanics and variety; only three heroes, little wiggle-room in the options they offer.

VERDICT

Raid Leader is a short burst of fun for those nostalgic (or aching for their next hit) of 'raiding' in larger MMOs; the process of condensation has also limited the experience, but the lack of real 'leveling' and jumping straight to the boss encounters themselves may be attractive all on its own.


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I'm not ashamed to admit that I have dedicated a large portion of my life to World of Warcraft by Blizzard - it's not in my life right now (though I expect I'll enjoy their upcoming expansion briefly), but at one time I was a raid leader for a high level guild. This isn't boasting, but rather a way of saying that when Raid Leader by Red Zebra and Crescent Moon Games dropped on the App Store, I had a lot of experience to draw on... and let me tell you, it helped a lot.

You see, much like Mika Mobile's Battleheart, you're placed in control over three typical RPG heroes - a melee 'tank'; a ranged 'DPS' or 'damage dealer'; and a ranged 'healer'. This trio combine to form a tight-knit group that can decimate 'boss' creatures and their 'epic' variations alike... if you can crack the secret to not only staying alive, but also dealing enough damage before the boss 'enrages', killing your party in short order.

Each character can be positioned thanks to touching and dragging a line to where they should be - this is easier said than done in the heat of battle as hovering near an enemy (or in the case of a healer, a party member) locks you on to them, making hasty movement difficult. This would be less problematic if many of the encounters didn't require speedy reactions (at least on the first attempt) to survive... once you're more familiar with the encounter, multitasking three heroes becomes less problematic as you calmly respond to telegraphed attacks, but until then you're at the mercy of the game's sticky controls.

Character customization is also relatively limited despite the rather generous amount of skills that can be 'purchased' with the gold earned from killing bosses or participating in one of several 'endless' style levels. Each hero has a series of skills that provide a limited tool-set, mostly boiling down to 'damage', 'survival' and 'utility'. The fact that one of these options can be almost entirely removed depending on the character in question (ie. the ranged damage has no need for survival if the 'tank' is doing his job correctly), limits things even further.

Speaking of the 'tank', generating 'threat' on the boss seems to be more of a matter of whoever is currently closest - at times this is easy to manage, but thanks to some boss mechanics (such as needing to move the boss around constantly), this leads to a few awkward endings to otherwise solid attempts.

Raid Leader's ultimate short-coming is its lack of depth or variety - the characters themselves lend little in the way of tactical advantages to the encounters (the same skills can be used almost exclusively if leveled up) and bosses are repeated (albeit with a new trick or two).

If you don't feel like investing in to a real MMO or just want some way to kill time while waiting for a group outside a dungeon, Raid Leader does a decent job of adapting the full experience in to a pocket-sized game.

Screenshots

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