Infinity Blade screenshotsSee all photos
You'll be doing yourself a disservice, it must be said, if you play Infinity Blade with just your iPhone's underpowered loudspeaker for company. What you'll want to do is plug in a pair of headphones or some external speakers, so as to truly appreciate the immersive nature of the audio-visual one-two punch before you. For such a relatively clichéd game in terms of storyline, Infinity Blade managed to suck us in and we feel like the quality of the presentation had a lot to do with it.
You have the ability to dodge, block, or parry attacks, while your own strokes of furious vengeance can be delivered via either your trusty metallic weapon of choice -- whether it be sword-shaped or more reminiscent of an axe, your protagonist will wield it in the same way -- or a spot of magical destruction, depending on your tastes. Mixed up together, the virtual buttons and gesture-based slashing represent your classic case of a control scheme that's easy to get the hang of quickly, but challenging and deep enough to require an investment of time to master fully. The most important thing is that it can be sickeningly satisfying, particularly because your blade cuts swathes through the enemies that directly correspond to the angles of your finger swipes. It just makes it that extra bit more personal.
Epic bills this as an action-RPG title and the role-playing aspect comes in immediately following each battle, where you're studiously assessed on how stylishly you destroyed your opponent. Experience points are then distributed in a somewhat quirky way, whereby each item of your kit collects a portion of the score until it is mastered, at which point its share of the XP loot starts to be wasted. Since mastery of each item is rewarded, you'll want to achieve it, but because you lose points after mastering an item, you're encouraged to keep moving on to other swords, other helmets, and other sets of armor, which then tend to subtly alter the basic gameplay. This, in turn, helps to variegate the game's experience. Another important aspect of RPGs, the storyline, is almost entirely neglected here, but that's to be expected -- we are, after all, talking about gaming on a smartphone.
The one major downer to this game, the fact that it's basically a one-on-one dojo sparring session under all the glitz and glamor, goes out of the window when you're playing against your best buddy or colleague. The unpredictability of human opponents is the thing that's kept so many first-person shooters going far past their sell-by date (or even real-time strategy titles like StarCraft), so we can only imagine how crazed this game's followers will become once it lets you slash up your boss with something called the Sword of Storms.
Otherwise, it performed perfectly respectably for us. Some drops in frame rate were apparent, but given the visual treasures on offer, that's neither a surprise nor an intolerable flaw. There is a touch of lag in responding to our swipes as well, but that's mostly evident when battles really heat up and is again a relative non-issue.
N.B. -- Infinity Blade was reviewed on an iPhone 4. The game is also compatible with the iPad, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch fourth generation and third generation (16GB and above).