A few weeks ago, we reviewed Chillingo’s In Fear I Trust, noting it was a step in a more mature direction for the company. Chillingo continues down that road with this week’s 17+ rated Bloodstroke ($3), a John Woo game. Yes, that’s Hong Kong film director John Woo, who last entered the world of gaming in 2007 with the third-person shooter Strangehold. Prepare for doves.
Bloodstroke puts players into the shoes of Mai Lee — codename Lotus. A private security agent, Lotus must protect her client, Dr. Koorse, from assassination. Lotus looks pretty tough from the outset, but as you jump into the game, you soon realize — she’s actually invincible. Scores of enemies attack, but Ms. Lee runs around like it’s nothing, completely unaffected by an onslaught of bullets. Dr. Koorse, however, is not quite so indestructible. And therein lies the challenge.
Though it may not look like it at first glance, Bloodstroke is basically an on-rails shooter. As Koorse makes his way through pre-determined paths, players must cover him from all angles until he reaches the end of the level. The left side of the screen has a virtual joystick to control Lotus, while the right side has buttons to fire guns, grenades, and access health packs. Lotus can cover the entire onscreen area, and it helps that she’s way faster than everyone else. The automatic targeting system isn’t perfect, but it works well enough. If you get sick of shooting — or if you’re reloading, which happens quite often — you can simply run through enemies, killing them quickly with your hand-to-hand weapon. A manual reload would have been nice, but perhaps the developers thought that would make things too easy for Lotus.
Bloodstroke has a very stylized black-and-white look with touches of red. Yes, there is plenty of blood, though it never gets overly gory. Frank Miller’s Sin City comics are an obvious reference point, but there’s also a distinct watercolor look to the game.
The game lets players upgrade their characters in between levels with “currency” earned during the game. A number of upgrades are available, including larger clips, quicker reload time, increased damage from weapons, new weapons, and added protection for the helpless Dr. Koorse. As one might expect, in-app purchases are also available for upgrades, for those who are into that sort of thing. Chillingo does a pretty good job of keeping the IAPs from becoming invasive.
Bloodstroke is fun, but the gameplay does get repetitive, as there isn’t much variation from level to level. There are some quirky AI issues with the game, as well. Why the enemies continue to shoot at the clearly indestructible Lotus while often ignoring Dr. Koorse — the vulnerable target — is a mystery. Otherwise, this is a solid action shooter with great visuals. And there is a certain cathartic joy to mowing down enemies as the unstoppable Lotus.
iLounge Rating: B