The man-mountain stands before me, red eyes smoldering like live coals beneath his helm. His sword could halve three men standing in line with one swipe. His shield could shade the graves of those unfortunate three all at once. Yet I will not back away from this fight, though a part of me, the wiser part, advises me to do just that. I cannot heed that advice, I travelled too far, shed too much blood to turn away now.
The man-mountain advances, sword raised, iron muscles tense. He issues a growl that chills me to the marrow.
This will be painful.
A while back, during an Apple media event Epic Games showed off a trailer for Infinity Blade and whetted our appetites with Epic Citadel, a free app that let us roam an impressively rendered castle that is part of the Infinity Blade environment. The trailer and app made many gamers lose bladder control in anticipation. What Epic delivered is very satisfying save a few, but significant complaints that I’ll address in a moment.
To say Infinity Blade is beautiful is like saying Monica Bellucci will do in a rush. The game has so much eye candy that it should have a warning label for diabetics. There’s so much detail in every stage that you’ll want to just look around a bit before and after battling. Thankfully, the game lets you.
Follow the blue spot, but look around as you go.
As for the controls, well…, some will love them, some will hate them, but no one can fault Epic for trying something new.
Many of the moves, especially attacks, require one-handed gestures, and that means that you are holding you iPad with the other hand. That’s cool, but battles aren’t won on attacks alone. You must dodge, parry, and block, and those moves require both hands. So, in a battle you wind up quickly swiping and grabbing your iPad as you desperately try to dispatch your foe.
Epic realized this so they inserted little recovery rounds during the battle where you can reposition your hands to get into a better swiping or grabbing position before the action starts again. Even so, the action is a bit slow at the outset. Your opponents are huge, but if you pay attention, learn your moves, and swipe, dodge and block when you should then you’ll have no problem sending them to meet their maker. As you progress, however, your opponents do become harder to beat, so learn well.
Leveling up is easy. It gets harder.
While the battles are fun, they can get a bit repetitive. Moving about is disappointing too. You are not free to roam, which would have been cool. Instead you move from challenge to challenge by tapping on a pulsing blue spot, making Infinity Blade a move-at-your-own-pace rail game. Occasionally you get to rummage through trunks for treasure, and you can look around, but your field of view is restricted to about 90 degree either side of the direction you’re facing. Because of these limitation the game feel stiff and cumbersome. Having the freedom to move about an area between battles and find stuff would have made Infinity Blade far more satisfying.
The character upgrade system is a little kludgy too. You can buy and sell items (to whom?) and equip your avatar with better armor, weapons, and rings as you find them, but the interface to do this is a bit confusing, and you’ll wind up bouncing back and forth between inventory and the store.
When you defeat a foe you get money and experience, but you can also find money along the way to your next challenge by tapping on the moneybags hidden in various places. You can’t go back to find them later so watch carefully.
Game Center integration is a bit disappointing
The biggest disappointment, however is the lack of multiplayer action. Infinity Blade sports the Game Center icon, but it’s just to show off achievements and leaderboards. What would set this game off is the ability to fight other players in so kind of arena using the weapons, magic and skills acquired while playing the game. Or have a co-op adventure mode where two players can go on small, in-game quests.
The good news is that Epic plans to deliver at least some of the missing multiplayer goodness in coming updates. I say bring it on.
This will hurt me more that it will him
Even with the mentioned disappointments and omissions, there’s no denying that Infinity Blade is a kick-ass game. Its beautifully rendered, rich, detailed environment far outweighs any missing features, at least for the moment, and you’ll just enjoy seeing what comes after the next battle.
I was puzzled why Epic was only charging six bucks for this piece of gaming art that can be played on most devices capable of running iOS 4. The answer is that it’s not all there yet. This version of Infinity Blade is something more than a beta, but not quite the feature rich game it will ultimately be. You’re paying for the privilege of being an early adopter, and as of December 10, 2010, one day after its release, over 130,000 of you don’t mind paying for that privilege.
Infinity Blade is gorgeous and this version is a good start on what will likely be the ultimate gaming experience in iOSland. If you’re into hack-n-slash RPGs or just want something make your Android using friends jealous then this will likely be the best six bucks you’ll spend this week. I Highly Recommend* Infinity Blade because of its good looks and high potential.
Update: My most sincere apology to the musicians, composers, and sound folks who must have work long and hard to deliver the fantastic music and sound effects featured in Infinity Blade. Like any good movie, the sound, both music and effects, can set the mood and make a game more intense. The music in Infinity Blade is top notch, and the sound effects, from the wind rustling the grass to the clank of heavy armor, gives the stellar visuals weight. It’s another reason why I Highly Recommend this game.
Thank you, YodaMac, for reminding me that this review wasn’t complete without mentioning the immersive music and sound effects.
|Review Item||Infinity Blade|
iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPod Touch 3 (16 GB and above), or iPod Touch 4
* Note: My rating system goes like this;
- Get it Now! - Highest rating and an absolute must-have
- Highly recommend - Minor flaws, but a great product
- Recommend - Flawed, but still a solid product
- So-so - Problem product that may find a niche market
- Avoid - Why did they bother making it? A money waster.