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Review: Infinity Blade

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Infinity Blade might conjure up an image of a lightsaber that just never ends, stretching off into the distance like so many physicists told us lasers are meant to do. But it’s actually a surprisingly great game for the Iphone 4 which changed the way I thought about smart phone gaming forever.

I’ll preface this by saying I am a known smart phone sceptic, I never really played Angry Birds and Doodle Jump always reminded me of a well-marketed flash game which found its way into the app store (and it probably was?). But all of this changed when I started hearing rumours about Infinity Blade.

I’ve always been a fan of sword fighting games, likely due to a long established love of anime. And when Apple started featuring footage of Infinity Blade (then dubbed “Project Sword”) in their commercials, I was drooling at the mouth already. But around the time it was released I was stuck with an older model Iphone which couldn’t handle the preposterous amounts of 1337 which Infinity Blade entailed.

Needless to say, I soon found reasons to switch to an Iphone 4 and got to playing. And was amazed. Infinity Blade uses the Unreal Engine, which is primarily used for console games like Mass Effect or Gears of War. And it shows. Other game review sites have called Infinity Blade as close as you can get to a console game on your phone and they are dead on. Infinity Blade is straight up better than a lot of consoles games.

But it’s not just the amazing graphics or ridiculous amount of item customizability that makes this game great. It’s how they utilise the restraints placed on the game by the system to their advantage. Instead of having high quality cut scenes which then make the gameplay look worse in comparison, they put the whole game on rails in a traditional point and click format so that you flow effortlessly from fight to fight. Think Tekken with some in-between-fight scenery and cut scenes. Then the rock-paper-scissors format of swing, dodge, parry, block is a simple but deceptively deep method of control which you can pick up in 2 minutes but couldn’t master in 2 hours.

Infinity Blade isn’t without its faults. It has been criticised for its repetition (you fight your way through the same castle, roughly 8-12 fights, continually throughout the game) and the sheer amount of time necessary to invest to defeat the end boss (somewhere around 3-4 hours to beat him the first time, a long time for a mobile phone). But if you can get over these and realise that this is something you play on your phone then it’s easy to see why it’s such a great product. Sure, if you play it for 3 hours straight you are probably going to get bored. But this is a phone game, designed to be played at your bus stop or on your lunch break. It isn’t Fable III (thank god!) to invest 100 hours over numerous 6-8 hour sessions.

To me Infinity Blade represents the top end in mobile phone gaming, and what the platform can truly deliver in a serious game. And it’s pretty damn impressive.

story: 3/5
design: 5/5
combat: 4/5
fun: 4.5/5
online: pending (I haven’t patched it yet)
overall: 4.5/5

 

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