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REVIEW | “Combo Crew” Lacking In Striking Execution

By
Posted on June 5, 2013 AT 01:04pm

You have to give Combo Crew credit for one thing: it’s different from most of the iOS titles I’ve come across. Sure there have been fighting titles ported to phones and tablets, but I haven’t come across an interactive fighting escapade the way this game presents itself.

It’s a shame, though, that this cool experience is trapped inside a so-so game.

Combo Crew has you take control of one of four different fighters, all with their own unique battle styles and combos. You can play through King of the Tower’s over thirty levels filled with bots and brutes, or try your hand at Combo Crew mode, which has you fighting off baddies while trying your hand at completing some achievements. As you play through the game you earn points to unlock new combos and playable characters.

Each level is set up in the same way: at least three waves of characters literally drop to the ground and proceed to try and attack you. Sometimes you’ll face off against little bots, giant bodyguards, or even a mixture of both. It’s here where Combo Crew starts to show its weaker sides, and where I started to get bored with the action on the screen. When the repetition began I saw myself diving deeper in auto-pilot mode, where I began to lose focus on the battles and let my mind wander about.

As the game progressed, too, I noticed that the enemy AI was getting tougher, which isn’t usually bad in some cases. However the fact that I couldn’t dodge any enemy attack while I was attacking another’s in a combo made me an easy target for the 1-4 other enemies on-screen. What’s worse, one enemy hit, and my character’s entire energy bar that I’ve filled to that point gets depleted entirely. It’s a moment that brought forth many a growl or under-the-breath expletives from this reviewer, especially when I spent half of the level trying to raise it.

You can swipe with one finger to perform a regular punch or kick, or use two fingers to unleash a combo attack. Swiping with one finger and holding down will have your character unleashing a powerful punch that can knock the wind out of an enemy character for a moment. The more you combo, the bigger the bar will fill to reach the Ultimate Combo maneuver against everyone on-screen. It’s a simple control mechanic that leads to some cool sequences on-screen.

While the lacking of a virtual D-pad was a good touch (as those can be hit-or-mostly-miss in the iOS fighting realm) it didn’t give me the opportunity to maneuver around the level freely, especially when it came to evading attacks. Not once in my play-through did my character dodge an enemy attack, which made reaching that 100% combo achievement at the end of each level harder than you’d expect.

One of the cooler aspects of Combo Crew has to be its co-op mode, where players from both iOS and Android devices can battle together in harmony, a rare occurrence in the gaming world. It takes some of the weight off of going through the tougher levels on your own, and when you have a friend save you before an enemy strikes you there will be a sigh of relief coming off your lips. There will be patience needed, though, as finding someone to play with may take some time.

The cartoonish elements of Combo Crew shine brightly, especially with its cel-shaded visuals. It gives the game a Saturday morning cartoon personality, also thanks in part to its super-villain storyline. The electronica/East Asian fusion soundtrack is fitting, too, but after awhile it can also get a tad repetitive.

PROS:

  • Different set of combos per character
  • Nice cartoonish visuals
  • iOS/Android users can cross co-op

CONS:

  • Gets repetitive fast
  • Why can’t my character dodge?
  • One-hit depletion of energy can cause frustration

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Combo Crew has some really good ideas, but it can’t mask its flaws. It’s a finely-controlled fighting game for phones and tablets, but it’s repeat battles that keep it from surfacing above mediocrity. Combo Crew‘s heart is in the right place; it’s its brain that needs to be brought up to speed.

FINAL GRADE: 5.5 (out of ten)

iOS review copy provided by Emily Morganti, on behalf of The Game Bakers

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck


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