Alan Smithee

Infinity Blade – Review

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I recall looking at this game in the Apple App Store numerous times and quickly disregarding it because it cost $6. How wrong I was to do so…because ever since I downloaded it, I haven’t been able to put it down.

Being a busy father of three and trying to have a day job just doesn’t allow me very much time to game anymore. Consoles have quickly fallen by the wayside while I’ve been playing more and more portable gaming on both my iPhone and now my iPad. I have to say that barring maybe two games I’ve downloaded over the past 2 years of owning an iDevice, that this is probably one of the finest examples of what gaming will look like in the future.

I’m not saying that I hope that console gaming dies, but when you have handheld devices that are capable of running the type of graphics that this game provides thanks to the Unreal 3 Engine, you are getting pretty damned close to not needing a DS or PSP anymore.

The game was developed by Chair the same guys who were working on an Ender’s Game…Game and the same people behind Shadow Complex, and Epic Games, though you should already know who they are. The story is pretty basic, in game’s universe you first take control of an unnamed protagonist who attempts to take down the God King of this unnamed castle in an unnamed land. No spoilers here, but you’re subsequently defeated and the responsibility is handed down to your progeny (your son if you don’t know the English well enough).

This happens in what the game likes to call ‘bloodlines’, each time your character is defeated by the God King you get to start all over again outside the castle as a new character (the son of the one who just died) who has all of the same stats and equipment as their dearly departed father. It’s this type of action that has found me going back on my 13th bloodline even though I’ve finished the game.

The game has you wandering around the God King’s castle and besting his champions along the way. Throughout your prancing in the castle, you find all sorts of treasure, loot, and items to help you along your quest. Each champion is pretty damned unique in their appearances, but after about the 12th time fighting them, they start to fall into one of 3 categories…small, medium, and large.

As for controls, it doesn’t get much better than this game when it comes to the ‘touch generation’ of gaming. There are no stupid virtual analog sticks to use or any clusters of buttons that many of the other iOS games of this caliber would have you use. Instead, the controls are all intuitive swiping or well placed buttons along the edges of the HUD. All exploring is done by touching the locations you can go to that are marked with blue circles. Sadly, there is no free roam like there is in Epic Citadel, but that would most likely involve putting in analog sticks…which I’m frankly sick of having in games.

When battle with one of the champions begins, it becomes essentially a quick-time event game like how God of War pioneered on the PlayStation consoles. That might carry some negative connotations with many of you gamers out there, but you need to know that it’s not a simple “press this next button to win” scenario, but a choice between one of two dodge buttons on the bottom of the screen (one for left, another for right), a block button on the bottom center of the screen, or if you’re gangster like me…there’s a parry feature which involves you swiping in-line with the enemy’s attack. This makes for some of the most intense battle moments I’ve had in ANY game.

When the enemy has their moves dodged, blocked, or parried enough, he gets dizzied or opens up for just long enough for you to bust a few slashes on him…so it becomes a giant game of cat and mouse as you nimbly avoid their attack only for you to whittle them down to nothing…all in glorious HD graphics.

Leveling up in the game is another of the game’s ‘crack additive’ items that has me coming back to play again and again. The current game’s level cap is 45 and I’m about halfway there and I will probably ding level 45 by the end of this weekend and the start of the new year. Interestingly enough, your equipment also helps you get better stats when fighting, the game takes the same exp that you pick up after each battle and levels up your equipment at the same time you do. When a piece of equipment is mastered, you gain an additional point to any of the four attributes (health, attack, defense, and magic).

While I’ve brought up magic, the game has a pretty intuitive magic system that simply has you draw a symbol for the spell you wish to cast on the screen. Say you have a ring that allows an healing spell, you’d just need to tap the magic button on the screen and scribble what looks like a lowercase ‘u’ on the screen to cast it.

I’m really happy with my purchase and highly recommend this game for all of you iOS users out there (as long as it’s compatible with your device), I currently run it on my iPhone 3GS and on my iPad. The only one that has a bit of slowdown at times is the 3GS because it’s lacking the oomph that Apple’s newest devices have. Let’s not forget that much like Pocket God, this game will feature episodic updates and new inventory with each update. I can’t wait for this game to get its next patch.

For a game to have only cost me $6 and last as long as this one has, I think it’s well worth your money to pick this one up.

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