The iOS platform has been quite successful over the past few years, and because of the extensive amount of games available in the App Store, it’s even been called a threat to other portable gaming consoles like the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. But while Nintendo has Mario and Sony has Grand Theft Auto, there really wasn’t any game for iOS that made traditional console gamers really excited. iOS seemed to be destined for a life of games made for the average person, not hardcore gamers.
Then came Epic Citadel, a demo made by Epic Games that took the same Unreal Technology found on consoles and put it in the hands of iPhone and iPod Touch owners everywhere. We were promised that Epic Citadel was just the start of things, and that soon, we’d have a full-on game that took place in the same environment, and we should be ready.
Well, it’s here. It’s called Infinity Blade and it’s been receiving very positive reviews since its release. But can a game with this much hype live up to its reputation? Let’s take a moment and find out.
Out in some land that isn’t named, there’s a castle set on a hillside. Inside is a very bad man and he wields a sword called the Infinity Blade. When the blade enters its victim, it takes all of their skills and traits and puts them into the body of our baddie. In fact, that’s exactly what he does with the first protagonist you see, and as it turns out, that antagonist happens to be your dad.
Your mission is to enter the castle, take out various evil people along the way, then take out Mr Personality so you can take his fancy blade. Depending on your path, you can find the bad guy in under an hour, which at first seems like this game may be pretty short. Not so quick, grasshopper, because soon you find yourself on that same cliff again, starting a new bloodline with the same weapons and skills you already had, ready to avenge dear old daddy one more time.
A game like this would be too complicated to control if you had to navigate through the environment while sword fighting at the same time. You start off on a cliff, and you can swing your head left to right a certain amount by touching the screen, hunting for gold coins to spend and potions to heal. The areas where you can move next are highlighted by flashing blue rings, and a quick tap takes you there. This isn’t a sandbox game by any means, but don’t think that limiting your movement is going to ruin your day. There’s still more to come.
The game walks you through each move and how to do them through the first few guys you come across, introducing a new technique each time. You can dodge from left to right, block with your shield or parry with your sword. You do this with precision swipes with your finger, or by tapping one of the three buttons on the bottom of the screen. Once the bad guy is stunned, you can swipe on the screen with your finger, and the sword starts making slashes on the body, weakening the bad guy in the process.
As you fight, two little blue circles start to fill up on the sides of the screen. On the left, is a super attack. Once it’s charged up, hit the button and you’ll stun your opponent instantly, and then you can make your attack. On the right is a magic button. Once that’s loaded up, you can use whatever magic ring that you’re wearing at the time, all of which have different skills. Hit the button and then swipe the screen in the pattern indicated in the window, and out comes the magic against your enemy.
With each task dispatched, you earn experience points which you can spend on a few key traits. This leads to a cut scene (pictured below) that shows up as you progress higher in levels and shows how much you’ve earned. That little X2 sign in the corner shows how many points you have to spend, and you can space it out however you choose between the four options pictured.
Then there’s the gold. There are treasure chests and bags of gold hidden throughout the game, and the more you have, the more options there are. Buy upgraded armor, swords, shields or magic rings to help aid in killing the bad guys. If you want, there’s even an in-app purchase to buy as much gold as you want, from $25k in gold for 99 cents, to a metric ton of shiny trinkets for $49.99.
I’ve played a lot of games on the iOS platform, and most of them are entertaining, but they all lack that console experience. Either the controls are off or it becomes frustrating to play with the touchscreen and you lose interest quick. This is not one of those games.
In fact, it’s hard to talk about Infinity Blade without using hyperbole. Is it the best game I’ve ever played on my iPhone? Definitely. Is it the best looking game I’ve ever played on an iOS device? No doubt. I stopped typing and picked the game up at least three times while writing this review, because Infinity Blade is just that much fun.
So what are the downsides? There was a laggy moment or two when I was playing, but a second later I either received an e-mail or got a text message. There were times when I went to dodge and nothing happened, but then I realized I had missed the button. Does it suck down the battery life? An hour’s worth of playing took me from 80% to 50%, but that’s not particularly shocking considering the high level of graphics. It’s about as perfect as you can get really, and it’s so good that it’s even made it onto my homescreen.
If you haven’t purchased Infinity Blade yet, I suggest you rectify that situation. It’s fun, it’s easy to pick up and play at a moment’s notice, and at $5.99, you really don’t have any excuse not to.