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iPhone Game Review: iDracula

iDracula - Undead Awakening, aside from being an example of a game with a totally nonsensical name, is also an example of a game that shouldn’t work nearly as well on a platform like the iPhone as it does. For the price of $2.99 it’s currently selling for, it’s an absolute no-brainer purchase for any iPhone owning gamer who happens to like to shoot things.

According to the game’s description, you play as a vampire hunter that is himself being hunted by a slew of fantastical (not to mention cool-looking) creatures, including the fearsome Dracula himself.

None of that matters.

You’re a dude with a bunch of awesome weapons and your goal is to kill as many moving things as possible. That’s all you need to know, but it’s enough to propel the game into seriously addicting status.

The premise of iDracula, like many of the games best suited for the iPhone, is dead simple, but contains enough depth to keep you constantly coming back for more small chunks of exciting gameplay. It’s essentially what would be called a dual stick shooter on a console, only stuffed onto the diminutive iPhone.

There are two virtual dials on screen. One controls your movement while the other controls aiming and firing by holding in the direction of the thing you want to kill. There is a small learning curve to the controls due to the lack of physical feedback, but especially due to the large amount of screen real-estate given to the control dials, it doesn’t take long before you’re blasting things with ease.

The biggest problem with the controls isn’t actually controlling your character, it’s the fact that the dials (and your thumbs rested upon them) take up a decent amount of space on screen and monsters are not afraid to sneak under your digits and attack you when you can’t see them. This isn’t a constant problem or a game-killer by a long shot, but it will be an occasional frustration.

Another small point worth noting is that switching among your large number of weapons (assuming you survive long enough to collect a large number of weapons) can be a little tricky. A bar at the bottom of the screen allows you to slide back and forth between weapon icons, but it’s both a little hard to access and not always as responsive as it should be. It’s more of an annoyance than a true hindrance though.

Still, the shooting will definitely keep you coming back for more. There are a wide variety of creatures to shoot, many of which act differently and require slightly different strategies to dispatch. Aiding you in this is a sizable number of cool weapons, from traditional fare like pistols and shotguns to more exciting armaments like flame throwers, machine guns, and grenade launchers.

There are four modes of play which are admittedly not substantially different from one another, but they do provide just enough variety to allow you to change things up often enough so you never get bored.

Survival and Super Survival are variations on the classic concept of seeing how long you can survive against never ending waves of enemies. Ammo, new weapons, and even powerups can drop from defeated foes, so you must constantly keep on your toes and collect these items while not being surrounded or overwhelmed by the quickly escalating number of enemies.

Rush is similar, but instead of starting out with a pistol and a small number of enemies, you choose one of three top-tier weapons with unlimited ammo and are immediately dropped into terrifyingly large numbers of enemies coming at you from all sides. It’s truly tough to survive very long here, but it’s surely addicting to try.

Finally, Wave Attack (which was added in a post-release update, along with one of the other modes, new weapons, items, enemies, levels, and other tweaks) sets you against waves of enemies, each with a beginning and an end. The enemies drop gold which you can then spend between rounds on ammo, new weapons, or health. Deciding how to spend this money to best survive what’s next adds a satisfying touch of strategy to the proceedings.

In all of these modes, killing enemies gains you access to perks, which are essentially level up bonuses like increased health, faster reload times, or greater damage. Some of them are even riskier and more creative, such as armor that slows you down or an immortality perk that gives you 30 seconds of unlimited health followed by instant death. Choosing which one you want out of the four random choices every time you gain access to a new perk adds another small dose of strategy to the game and definitely increases replay value as each time you play will be ever so slightly different.

iDracula’s description promises “the most intense game in the App Store”. I can’t vouch for the entirety of the App Store, but I can say that after spending many hours playing this supremely addictive game, it is certainly the most intense iPhone game I have played yet and one of the best deals out there for iPhone gamers at its low price.

No action game loving iPhone fan should be without this game.

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