Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Infinity Blade II: The Definitive Handheld Game

Infinity Blade II for the iOS platform is a deceivingly hardcore game. From the onset, you are presented with an easy, straight path that makes you wonder what all the fuss is about and why Infinity Blade II costs $6.99. But after completing this, numerous other paths are unlocked, making Infinity Blade II a whole lot more expansive. It doesn’t hurt as well that the enemies at each juncture are constantly being rearranged or new ones are being thrown into the mix.

The gameplay at first seems to be run-of-the-mill hack n’ slash style combat, but after spending some time experimenting with the three different weapon types (sword and shield, heavy, and dual swords), the game’s quality amongst the massive heaps of garbage that grace Apple’s App Store truly reveals itself.

Infinity Blade II has an interesting carrot-stick balance, one that favors the carrot for which may turn off the hardest of “core” gamers. Incentives such as experience points, leveling up, gold, the prospect of new and exciting weapons are things likely to keep players coming back when on the go. The game has many reasons for gamers to continue playing even after they’ve exhausted the purported five hours of playtime available.

Its single player increases in difficulty as your character becomes stronger, you find gold bags scattered around the gorgeous Unreal Engine-powered landscapes, which can be used to purchase new weapons, armor, helmets, shields, and rings. Equipped items can be leveled up and augmented, leading to both experience and strength, defense, health, or magic bonuses. Infinity Blade II, along with being a surprisingly robust action game is also a loot-whoring game, which can provide for a surprisingly exciting gaming experience on-the-go. Fights are short and to the point, and cutscenes between one area and the next can be sped up in case you’re in a hurry.

I played Infinity Blade II on my standard iPhone 4, and it is noticeable it was intended for the iPhone 4S. The occasional hiccup has the possibility of being either slight enough to not terribly reduce framerate, or severe enough to give you the sense that you didn’t get a fair fight and can turn the tides in your enemy’s favor due to your delay in commands. All of which leads to massive frustration, and let me tell you, this game does reach a point at which it becomes very challenging (if you’re reading this, and thought it wasn’t sufficiently hard, try playing with heavy weapons only!). But Infinity Blade II is one to reward you for your persistence, and becomes only more gratifying by getting past its issues.

The block-buster app makes an attempt at providing a story to tie together the chain of enemies, but really, it boils down to generic dialogue unfittingly voiced by what are actually some genuinely menacing enemies. The story, suffice to say, is not Infinity Blade II’s calling card, nor is it the reason anyone will pick it up.

Infinity Blade II combines even more fluid combat that was present in the first game, Gears of War-quality graphics in the palm of your hands, Shadow of the Colossus-level of epic boss fights, with on-the-go gaming practicality. I dare say it is one of the most satisfying and engaging games on iOs to date. Once you play Infinity Blade II for the first time, you will be coming back for more, I assure you.

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