Infinity Blade is the prettiest reason to own an iPhone.
We were both in awe and skeptical when Epic debuted Epic Citadel, the tech demo that showcased the version of Unreal Engine 3 that would be running on the iPhone. Could games actually be made to look this good on a mobile phone? Would games actually be made to look this good on a mobile phone?
With Epic’s release of Infinity Blade the answer to both of those questions is a thundering YES.
I just wish that the actual game wasn’t as shallow as it turned out to be.
Developer/Publisher: Chair Games/Epic Games
Availability: Now (via iTunes)
Perhaps “shallow” is a bit of a harsh word. The game seems as if it was clearly designed first to showcase everything that Unreal 3 could do on the platform, with gameplay second. And after a massive inner battle with myself, I’ve come to the realization that that is completely fine.
Infinity Blade is a repetitious series of sword battles with very little variety. Like Punch-Out, Blade has the player taking on opponents one-by-one in a rhythmic dance. Battles take place by swiping on the screen, with the hero’s sword mimicking the action. The shortfalls come in the lack of content: it’s just one battle after the next, after the next, after the next. Complete all the battles and face off against the boss. Fail against the head honcho, and the battles start all over again. Beat the head honcho… and the battles start all over again. Essentially, it’s a traditional gladiator arena game with a forced storyline.
Regardless of that, I didn’t see Tron for the story and I didn’t buy this game for the gameplay. It’s all about the gorgeous visuals. I’ve brought it up on occasion just to showcase it to friends, or to explore the atmospheric fortress as the intricate lighting laps the highly-detailed structures. “How can you play a game that’s lacking any real gameplay?” Easy: It’s only $6. Were this a full-priced console game, we would wholeheartedly shun it’s lack of depth. It’s not a console-type experience, and it shouldn’t be. However, with as beautiful and as decent of a game experience as it is (thanks to GameCenter’s leaderboards keeping me coming back) it’s hard to forcefully try and fault it.
Call it a shallow game or an elaborate tech demo, a beta or the first step; it’s still a must-have for any iOS gamer. That’s probably as good of a recommendation needed for anyone who wants cornerstone visual experience on their mobile Apple platform of choice.
This review copy of the game was purchased by the writer via iTunes. The game was completed through ten bloodlines, with the final boss defeated 4 times. The game was played on both the iPhone 4 and the iPad.