Infinity Blade [rating: 4/5]
Games for the iOS platform have come a long way in the last two years. When the App Store was initially launched and we saw the first few games running on our iPhone many believed that the multitouch platform would be great for casual games while the more hardcore genres won’t be as popular. But, as these devices began to create a “revolution” in the smartphone market; gaming for handheld devices gradually started reinventing.
Today when we look at the kind of games available on the App Store it’s easy to realize that iPhone is a serious handheld gaming device. This is one of the reasons why this platform has successfully managed to attract major game publishers and developers to not just bring their popular titles but also develop exclusive games. The latest game which promises to push all boundaries and set new standards is Infinity Blade from Epic Games and ChAIR Entertainment. Infinity Blade for iPhone has been widely discussed and was one of the highly anticipated games this holiday season. In this review we will take an in-depth look and see if it really lived up to all the hype and expectations.
Epic Games showed us what Unreal Engine 3 can do on an iPhone with Epic Citadel, a free app which allows you to explore a stunning 3D environment with undeniably the best graphics and details which will make you wonder if you were still viewing the game on an iPhone. So, to a certain extent we were already aware of the kind of production value their upcoming game will feature.
The 3D graphics in Infinity Blade exude impeccable quality with almost the same resolution of characters which we see on a console title. When you first launch the game you can’t help but pan around and admire the realistic 3D environment. Every little detail shines on iPhone 4’s retina display. It’s the attention to detail like sunlight piercing through the walls, lighting, shadow effects and reflection which adds amazing realism to the gameplay. The game characters are also presented with equal amount of depth and personality which is great since Infinity Blade is essentially a role playing game. You will be able to notice the perfect skin tone, scars and ripped muscles too!
Generally, with all 3D intensive games the graphics look great as long as you are not interacting with the environment, the moment you enter into a fight or perform other actions you can notice glitches, as the ground would suddenly disappear or you might be walking through the wall. However, this is certainly not the case with this game. Even though the game characters wear heavy armor they will interact very smoothly and perform very clear actions.
The entire game has a very cinematic feel to it as the cameras dynamically pan around and build up the momentum before each combat. You will be able to appreciate the details when there is a closeup of the character and then suddenly you can view the entire three dimensional environment in bird’s eye view. Even the background score and sound effects are top class and perfectly match the mood. It will build up in one scene and then fade into a suspense theme while you are engaging your enemy.
Once the “wow” factor has settled down and you have bragged about your iPhone’s graphical capabilities; it’s the storyline and other gameplay elements which will either satisfy you or leave you wanting for more. The backstory is quite simple but yet with an unusual twist. You are a knight and you enter the game facing your first enemy where the battle acts as a tutorial to familiarize you with the swipe based controls and then you face the God King who defeats you rather quickly and then you die. The story actually starts after 18 years when you enter the game again as the first bloodline to avenge your Father’s blood.
You face one battle after the other trying to defeat your enemies with the ultimate goal to reach God King and defeat him. As you fight and win battles you gain XP points, collect gold and health potions by tapping when you spot them. Gold helps you in buying new weapons which include swords, shields, helmets, armor and magic rings while XP points enable you to master each of these and level up. Each weapon will give you different benefits so purchasing the right sword or the right magical ability might turn out to be a crucial decision before facing the enemy. You start at level one and always face a much more experienced opponent. Since each character has different skills so sometimes you might find it easier to defeat one over the other even though both might have the same level. For example, it’s easier to defeat an assassin who is on level 28 when compared to an executioner who sits on the same level.
The God King has 50 levels worth of experience so it can take you more than 5 bloodlines to be able to defeat him. This makes the gameplay very repetitive as you face your last enemy you would need much more experience level and you will eventually die and then enter the game again as the next bloodline to be able to have enough experience required to win. In most games we usually don’t know how the game will end or who we will face in the boss level but in Infinity Blade there will be nothing to surprise you except the fact that the game can have an alternate ending. When you face God King you can either defeat him and win the game or can cause enough damage and he will ask you to surrender and join him. The only odd thing here is that even if you choose the alternate ending you will quickly re-enter the last level and have to fight God King again.
With gorgeous high definition graphics one would expect to be able to explore the beautiful 3D environment just like you did in Epic Citadel but you will be disappointed here as the game does not allow you to freely roam or explore new area. The entire game unfolds in a very controlled manner and the game allows to you sometimes choose the opponent you want to fight first.
Swipe based gesture controls have not always worked well for games which require heavy action as there is no set direction or angle in which you can inflict damage. But since this is a sword fighting game flicking your finger on the screen to attack feels very intuitive. In addition to attacking you can also perform a “parry” which is basically copying the direction of the attack of your opponent and you will be able to perform a mega hit which will cause heavy damage.
Be sure to follow the tutorial in the first level closely as if you ever feel that you didn’t quite understand how to perform a “parry” or dodge then you won’t be able to learn it again unless you reset the game. The game does not feature a detailed help section so it can be difficult to figure out the combinations you can use to defend and attack. I would like to see a practice mode and more attack/defend modes which could add more variety to the game.
The game has a great collection of armor and weapons which gives your character a new look every time you equip yourself with a different sword, shield or helmet.
Currently the game features only one area however, the developers have promised that in an upcoming update they would be adding new areas, swords, shields, helmets, magic rings and enemies. A future update will also add a multiplayer mode.
The game integrates with Game Center so as you progress and unlock all 48 achievements available you will be able to see the ranks of your friends and other players worldwide.
I did run into a few bugs where in the middle of a battle the enemy would suddenly stop attacking and even though you would continue to attack it won’t cause any damage. On another occasion the action would just freeze where neither you nor the opponent could perform any action. We hope that the developers can fix these bugs in a future update.
Infinity Blade is an extraordinary game with exceptional graphics which makes the unreal world look more real! However, if you are a hardcore RPG fan who expects exploration, interaction and control then you will be disappointed with the first version of this game as it will turn out to be too short and repetitive. We can’t wait to see how Epic Games and ChAIR Entertainment decide to expand this title as it has great potential.
$5.99 (View in iTunes)
Released: Dec 09, 2010
1.0 (iOS 4.0 Tested)
Seller: Chair Entertainment Group
© 2010 Chair Entertainment Group, LLC
Rated 9+ for the following:
Infrequent/Mild Realistic Violence
Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation), and iPad. Requires iOS 3.2 or later