So Good It’s Unreal!
What is it called when stellar graphics meet beautiful hardware and are infused with sleek mechanics and just a pinch of the surreal? An epic game would be the general answer. My answer – Infinity Blade. Announced at the Apple keynote, “Project Sword”, captured our imaginations, not just with game-play or graphics, although it did just that, but especially with what was under the hood. Unreal Engine 3, running on an iPhone 4 was truly a surprise with limitless potential. Gamers everywhere immediately began buzzing and not long after a short demonstration, “Epic Citadel“, was released onto the app store. Basically a demo of the engine running on an iPhone, “Epic Citadel” show-cased an amazing castle surrounded by a village with breath-taking graphics. Infinity Blade, uses those graphics, but not the city. Regardless, Infinty Blade by Chair Entertainment is truly something special to behold.
Infinity Blade is a tale of family and oppression. Father, like father before and followed by son, tries to defeat the God-King, who carries the infinity blade. Not much back-story about the God-King is presented, neither about his goals. At the start, you are presented with a cut-scene of an armor-clad warrior approaching the throne of the God-King. An imaginary language is spoken (Complete with sub-titles) and eventually, you take on a larger warrior which turns out to be a kind of tutorial.
Eventually, you are disarmed and the God-King runs you through, taking your essence. Thus starts the adventure of Infinity Blade. You then take on the role of the previous adventurers son, who wants revenge. Probability and statistics aside, he seems pretty intense. That is, until you meet the first enemy that towers above you.
Infinity Blade is a combat based game. It completely lacks any kind of open-world exploration and for the most part, you don’t really control movement, just destination. You choose one of the pre-set flashing way-points and a short cut-scene is shown of you walking there. Once you end up there, you will most likely have a foe standing in front of you. Pressing the info button will give you some basic info and tapping on the foe will initiate the real fun. The battles in Infinity Blade are quite epic and very intense.
The battles are handled on a swipe-to-strike basis. You can block with your shield by holding the shield icon, risking breaking your shield if used too much, dodge by tapping the left or right dodge buttons and parry by swiping in the direction of the incoming attack. In the later parts of the game, your swipes must be increasingly precise. The battles always hold surprises. You inflict damage by waiting for an opportunity and either stabbing when prompted or throwing off their combo by dodging or blocking and then performing a series of strikes of your choosing to inflict a devastating combo.
Every fighter has their own approach and some enemies give you littlechance to prepare for a quick slash. Larger enemies may be slower and easier to dodge but their strikes can be hard to judge. Death is almost imminent in Infinity Blade the first time around and quite possibly, the second and beyond. That’s the fun of it, every time through you play as the next blood-line and you keep your previous avatars gear, gold, experience, levels, everything (Generous tyrant, that God-King). You retain your strength and your enemies grow stronger, each play through you have chances to unlock new achievements and gear. You have five gear slots, weapon, armor, helmet, shield and ring. All have a certain amount of experience they can gain, this experience is gained by defeating enemies and gaining a pool of experience, this is then dispersed between your items and back to you.
Once you level up you can delegate your points gained to attack, shield, HP or magic. Once you master an item by filling up the required amount of experience, you get a bonus when using it, but will lose a fifth of your experience gained after victories. This leads to a variety of ways you can mold your character and form him into a God-King killing machine. Magic is also present and is used by tapping the magic button and drawing the appropriate shape on-screen, thus inflicting damage or replenishing HP. Once you go through three cut-scenes during the battle and deplete your enemies HP bar, you’ll dispatch him in an awesome fashion and continue on.
The graphics in Infinity Blade are amazing. With Unreal Engine running the game this comes as no surprise. Even the ground is textured beautifully and the sun reflects accurately. Unfortunately, you get little opportunity to explore this amazing world, you only get to swipe to look around and tap on bags of gold to buy new equipment or finding a potion so you can replenish your health before battle. Other than that, you see the world only from limited points of view. The sound is also superbly done, as even the fictional language is done nicely. The sword clashing is awesome and even the clanking armor heard while walking is crisp. Every element is completely polished and I had no issues or glitches while running the game on my iPhone 4. This game is a joy to play all the way around.
iFanzine Verdict: Despite what Infinity Blade is NOT, it IS a fully functional Unreal Engine Sword-fighting game, and that is incredible. It runs extremely well and the mechanics are well thought out. It is crafted for iOS platforms and feels as if I’ve been waiting for this game forever. At $5.99 USD Infinity Blade is on the higher end of the price scale for games but is well worth it. Even though an already full featured title, the promise of multi-player and more locations and gear make it even more of a value. For a game that has exceeded all expectations and blew a few minds, Infinity Blade gets my highest recommendations. This game has raised the bar for mobile gaming and it’s never coming back down.