One of the unexpected tentpoles of Apple’s September 1st event was the demo of Epic’s new game running on the iPhone 4 in the full glory of the Unreal 3 engine. The graphics quality was such that many wondered if it was completely pre-rendered. As a response Epic released Epic Citadel, a tech demo of the capabilities of the engine that proved they were not fooling around. And roughly 3 months later - Infinity Blade - Epic’s first true entry onto the App Store arena has seen the light.
It’s hard to specifically name the genre of Infinity Blade – it’s sort of a cross between an interactive movie, a light-hearted RPG and a casual action/swiping game in the style of Fruit Ninja. The land has for the longest time been ruled by the dreaded God king, a Deathless possessing the legendary Infinity Blade that can suck the soul out of its victim. One day a warrior appears and challenges the almighty, but is mercilessly slain. This ultimately sets into motion a vicious cycle where every 20 years or so a descendent of this first warrior will try and avenge the death of his father. And with the bloodline becoming ever stronger, he will one day emerge victorious…
Despite the freedom of movement allowed in the tech demo Epic Citadel, Infinity Blade will take you across a fixed set of locations in a remote castle with but a few alternative routes. You will have limited control of the camera in each location, allowing you to pan the view and seek out some random loot (gold or health potions), select your next opponent or a path to proceed. Don’t expect to finish the game the first time around, since the God King will make short work of you during your initial 4-5 tries. Not to worry though; you’ll just start a new bloodline will all of the experience and loot from the previous run at hand.
The battle system is also limited, with no freedom of movement allowed. The fighting is done using swipes to control the attack direction. But don’t go all frantic just yet – the combat is much more strategic. In fact, unless you find a break in the defense of your opponent, you’ll deal next to no damage at all. So be prepared to be on the defensive first by parrying your opponent’s strikes (swipe in the the direction of the attack), dodging them or simply hiding behind your shield. Don’t overdo it though since each shield can only take a limited number of hits. And for that extra kick you can use the super attack that will temporarily daze your opponent, allowing you to inflict some serious damage, or cast a spell from your equipped ring. These spells come in both offensive and defensive varieties and require additional gesture to activate, but will save your life more than once.
To further enhance the original gameplay, Infinity Blade boasts some unique RPG elements. First of all, as you defeat your enemies you gain XP, which is then between yourself and your equipment. When you level up or master an existing weapon, you get a point or two to spend on your skills, HP, attack, shield strength or magic power. Keep in mind that once a piece of equipment is mastered, it will no longer gain anymore XP. In this case you can attend the ever-present shop, where you can use the cash found or looted from your enemies to purchase new stuff.
Here we come to probably the most intriguing question – does it really look as good as the demo and screenshots? Yes, and then some. Infinity Blade certainly sets a new standard for graphics on the iDevice, with all previous released games trailing far behind. The amount of detail is simply amazing and the vivid colours make it look almost photorealistic. Just as impressive is the flawless performance, at least on the iPhone 4. Of course, they pull it off in part by limiting the gameplay so that you will never see more than 2-3 models on-screen. Nevertheless it’s breathtakingly beautiful.
Infinity Blade is certainly a milestone in iDevice games development and graphically, it sets a new benchmark for all new games to follow. The gameplay is solid as well, mixing up original concepts in a horribly addictive stew of fun. Despite the rather simple premise, the battles are perfectly balanced and have almost a cinematic quality to them, thus providing a good challenge on each play-through. There’s really no other way to put it – Infinity Blade is the most impressive game on the iPhone to date and its addictive gameplay will undoubtedly suck you in for hours on end.
With this I declare Infinity Blade officially touched!
|Title:||Infinity Blade||Developer:||Chair Entertainment Group, LLC|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.0||Min OS Req:||3.2|