Infinity Blade Preview: Swordplay on the iPhone and iPadBy Christopher Monfette - Posted Dec 07, 2010
From the makers of what may very well be among the greatest of XBLA titles, Shadow Complex, comes what is certainly among the most impressive looking of iPhone/iPad apps released to date: the action-adventure sword simulation, Infinity Blade. Tasked by Epic Games to create an eye-popping action title with the potential of putting hardcore games into the mobile devices of devoted and casual gamers alike – no easy task for any developer – the folks at Chair further aggrevated the impending deadline by adding an even more imposing challenge, a high-fidelity, real-time sword fighting mechanic.
In what is essentially an action RPG, players fill the role of a powerful warrior ascending the levels of a vast tower in search of the Godking who killed his father some two decades prior. In order to simplify the control scheme on the touch sensitive device, you’ll drag your finger to explore each individual area or frame, tapping on chests and various loot hidden throughout the environment in order to fill your coffers. Selecting various doors will draw you through into new sections of the tower. You never directly move your character, but there’s a genuine sense of exploration and a feeling reminiscent of old-school adventure games as your eye explores the screen for collectible items.
Combat, really the core of the game, begins by simply tapping on the enemy before you. Your character will engage in battle, framed before the massive, lumbering guardians of the tower, with his sword at the ready. Icons on each corner of the screen will determine which way you dodge the incoming blows, while your shield retains a specific level of health before it shatters, so be certain to use your defenses strategically. The real substance of the battle is in the offense, however, as you slash your finger across the screen in the direction you want your sword to move, making both timing and direction equally important in blocking and striking. If your sword (slash finger) isn’t angled correctly for the block, your enemy’s weapon will find nothing between its sheath and your head.
The combat is fast and aggressive and is coupled nicely with the game’s upgrade system of weapons and armor. Infinity Blade’s store is constantly available to the player, so as you collect gold along the way, you can pop into the menu to purchase the next best materials for the increasingly difficult enemy encounters. Magic rings will come equipped with slots for various spells, and each individual weapon has a diminishing pool of experience. So when you’ve maxed out the EXP that a given weapon will generate, you’ll encounter a trade-off between some worthwhile bonus or a lack of continued experience gathering. Luckily, you’ll also be able to quick-scan enemies before engaging in battle, so you’ll have a good sense of whether this next battle is beyond your current capabilities.
There will be a level 40 cap on the title when it’s released, but Chair is already planning an extensive and consistent regime of updates and DLC, including a multiplayer component sometime in the near future. But even from our limited experience with the title, its visual appeal is undeniable – it looks shockingly good on the iPhone’s Retina display, and your fingers never get in the way of either the action or the scenery – but the actual gameplay seems equally solid for both the hardcore and casual gamer.
Be sure to check out Infinity Blade when it hits your devices later this week…Maybe if we’re good and buy a ton of copies, Chair will get cracking on Shadow Complex 2?