To Infinity and Beyond

User Rating: 7.5 | Infinity Blade IOS
I took advantage of the holiday sales and picked up Infinity Blade. I just recently got my own iPhone, but I had seen and heard of the game beforehand. Without a doubt, it was a technical marvel. Of course, it's less impressive on the iPhone 3Gs I'm playing it on, but Infinity Blade is still a really cool concept that works wonderfully to the strengths of the system's interface.

The premise of the game is that your father, while attempting to defeat the tyrannical God King, is slain. You, therefore, set out to avenge your father's death, entering the castle of the God King and challenging the gauntlet of champions he sets before you. Each enemy is basically a boss battle, and you'll collect treasure, gold, and potions along the way.

Of course, the game's name plays into the actual gameplay, as your first encounter with the God King will prove to be all but impossible to beat. Once you're defeated, your son will repeat the process, with successive bloodlines continuing the loop, regardless of whether or not you do eventually beat the God King. There's a really cool twist once you do defeat him, but the actual gameplay does begin to grow tiresome after a while.

Combat is comprised of a series of swipes and taps on the touch screen, and the battle system is surprisingly deep. You'll need to first be on the defensive – blocking, dodging or parrying until your foe is stunned. Then, it's your chance to get in a few blows by swiping in any direction on the screen. You can form various types of combos, and parrying, though difficult to master, is a fun challenge.

There are also two small meters that fill up on either side of the top of the screen, one for magic and one is your super attack. With each action that occurs during battle – whether you're hit, successfully block a blow, or land an attack on your enemy – the meters will fill up. For your super attack, you simply tap the circle meter and your enemy will be stunned, opening up the opportunity for you to input an ultra attack (the final hit of a five-hit combo, which does triple damage). For magic, tap the corresponding meter and then you draw whichever magic symbol(s) is associated with the ring you happen to be wearing.

There were occasions when the magic symbol I inputted was misread, but for the most part, the system is fun and works well. Dodging, however, was often unresponsive, causing me to lose several battles to the God King. The worst issue, really, is with game optimization. Though the game is listed as being compatible with the 3Gs, it runs pretty poorly. The framerate sometimes chugs, but what's worse is that the game will often crash. There are two paths you can take into the castle, with the lower path causing the most issues with the game crashing. If you list a game as running on a particular system and charge a premium for said game, you should make sure it runs properly.

Complaints aside, I've been having a good bit of fun with Infinity Blade. It's short and repetitive, but there's a lot of cool equipment to discover and the combat is always challenging and rewarding. Multiple paths mix things up a bit, and the enemy variety is pretty cool. You move throughout the game world kind of like you would in an on-rails shooter, selecting which path to go down at various junctions. You can often nab gold and potions during movement scenes, which is a pretty cool, little extra.

Of course, this is probably the best-looking game on iOS, and even on the older 3Gs, it's a stunner. The music and sound effects are excellent in their design, though the fidelity through the iPhone speakers isn't necessarily great.

Lastly, though not everyone's a fan, I found the game's leveling system to be really cool. Rather than simply give experience directly to the player character after defeating enemies, experience is invested into the gear you're wearing. Once you master a piece of equipment, you can no longer gain experience for it. It's a great incentive to try on new duds, but I am disappointed the different types of weapons all use the same animations. As you master gear and/or level up your character, you gain stat points, which you can divvy up any way you like.

If you have an iOS device that can play Infinity Blade and you dig these types of combat-focused games, I recommend taking advantage of the sale price. Even on the lesser 3Gs, the game is well worth playing. Of course, if you have an iPhone 4 or 4S, you can tack on a full point to my final score. The menu system isn't perfect, but it is fairly practical considering the interface. The game is limited in focus and variety, but it's still quite fun for the price.