It seems your sharp-as-a-knife but slow-loading textures can be found in a third of the games released nowadays.
And as Cliffy B rolls himself another 100 Dollar bill-cigar and blasts off in his Lamborghini with the words “Bigger, Better, more Badass” painted on the side, you now arrive to the iPhone too.
Infinity Blade is the much-hyped iDevice release running on Epic Games’ widely-used engine. The graphical demo released earlier this fall ensured a stream of buzz regarding the game’s visuals, and us internet folks were as pumped as our little geek hearts would allow for a proper console-experience on a handheld.
The truth is, Infinity Blade is anything but. This is a bite-sized, “five-minutes-on-the-buss”-style game, disguised in snazzy graphics. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but the game falters in other areas.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain what little story there is:
The hero arrives in the chamber of the God-King (who was apparently not satisfied with being a king and decided to add “god” to his title) and attempts to defeat him, however, the God-King quickly kills our hero using his mythical “Infinity Blade”. This somehow shapes destiny so that the hero’s son will arrive in the God-King’s castle twenty years later to trying to take down his father’s killer. Should he fail, his son will make another attempt, and so on.
Time spent playing Infinity Blade consists mostly of fighting enemies, one at time. This is done through a combat system that has you swiping the screen to slice at your foes, and tapping on-screen buttons to dodge and block.
Although this is quite entertaining at first, one quickly realizes that every baddie is fought in the same way; figure out when and how they attack, then dodge/block/parry until you get an opportunity to slice back.
There is no subtlety involved, as every said opportunity will be announced with big text saying “BLOCK/DODGE/PARRY BREAK” signaling when it’s time to run your fingers over the screen again.
Between the fights, there exists two things:
Cutscenes, mostly of the protagonist strolling along, and pathetic attempts at exploration, the latter of which go like this:
Your hero stands, looking about. You “drag” the screen about to find bonus items and alternate paths. However there are no real opportunities for finding said paths, only once can you truly choose your way, and even then does selecting one path merely skip a portion of the other.
It’s disappointing, because Infinity Blade’s graphics are truly jaw-dropping, and being able to properly explore the wonderfully-designed castle environments (as one could in the tech-demo!) would have been fantastic.
In addition, Infinity Blade has another major issue: it’s one level long, although the word “long” has no place in a sentence describing this game’s length. Eight to ten fights and a bunch of short cutscenes are all that stand in the way of finishing our hero’s quest. Seeing the credits (Sit through them for a strange “plot”-twist) takes between twenty to sixty minutes depending on how often the God-King sends you back to the start for another attempt.
However, Infinity Blade is not a complete failure, there is a somewhat clever character-customization system that allows you to purchase more shinily-textured gear and assign points to various character traits as you level up.
This is obviously designed with many playthroughs (or rather, a meatier game) in mind, as it is impossible to hit the level cap on the first run through.
Also, despite a near lack of any story-exposition, the game succeeds in conveying an almost mythical atmosphere, you really get a feeling that defeating the God-King is the hero’s prophesied destiny.
This is probably thanks to the moody music that mixes dark bass synths with the traditional fantasy-orchestra fare. Some brilliant visual design also helps set the mood, the castle setting is masterfully crafted, with huge halls and bridges overlooking planes far below. Not to mention the enemy design, which makes excellent use of Unreal 3’s potential for intricate texturing (prepare for some convincingly bulging veins!).
It’s ironic that a tech-demo was released pre-launch, when the final product feels like an unfinished build polished up, with a leveling system slapped on for good measure.
Supposedly, more levels will be released for Infinity Blade in the future, and perhaps this will improve it, however, I can’t rate games based on promises.
Infinity Blade might match console-quality in the graphics stakes, but has more in common with a play-and-forget flash game at heart.
2.5 out of 5.