Infinity Blade 2 Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the iPhone.

In a world filled with flying birds attacking green pigs and monsters eating candy, Mobile Gaming has really come a long way from being able to play only Snake on your old Nokia.  With last year’s release of Infinity Blade, those with an iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad) were given a visual treat that was unlike anything ever seen on a handheld device.  With the power of the Unreal Engine 3, developers at ChAIR Entertainment created a medieval punch that captured the hearts of fans and truly displayed the direction mobile gaming was heading.  Now, a year later, we have Infinity Blade 2 – a flagship Action/Role-playing game for the iOS Devices, which takes advantage of the new A5 processor of the iPhone 4S and iPad 2.  Infinity Blade 2 is not just a sequel, but a whole new experience altogether that is unlike any other handheld game.

If there was ever a game that really drives the thought of revenge into you, it’s Infinity Blade 2.  Directly following the events of Infinity Blade, you play as Siris, a warrior of Drem’s Maw, who just killed the God King, an immortal being that controlled the people through fear and great power with no remorse while carrying the sole Infinity Blade.  This weapon had dripped with the blood of generations before you finally took him down with it and ended the spread of evil.

Without taking away from the story, you find out in the very beginning that the God King did not die, and you must battle him a final time to truly end his life.  The story is fleshed out a lot better than the first Infinity Blade. In fact, the first one didn’t really have a story at all, so it’s great that the writer from the book Infinity Blade: Awakening took part in helping with the storyline in Infinity Blade 2.  You meet new characters, more bosses, and the environments are much more varied than ever before.  The dialogue is more abundant as well, with enemies taunting you about your future death and weakness.  For some reason, they decided to go with an American accent for the English dialogue, which is a bummer as it takes away from ChAIR’s original language used in the first game and, frankly, seems out of place.

The only problem with the better storyline is the lack of a true narrative.  It’s always nice to have a novel to go along with your favorite game, but in some cases the writer makes the book a stronger focus than the game’s story.  Such is the case with Infinity Blade 2; if you didn’t read Infinity Blade: Awakening by Brandon Sanderson, I strongly recommend it before adventuring into Infinity Blade 2.  You won’t be completely lost, but during parts of the exchanges between characters you will be left with questions, if you didn’t read the book.

For those who say that the handheld market isn’t a place for visual eye candy, they need to play Infinity Blade 2.  The game takes place in a fantasy medieval setting with lush landscapes and castles or towers taking up your entire screen on your iOS Device.  From the very beginning, you are thrown into a place similar to Feudal Japan, with cherry blossom leaves slowly making their way to the ground in front of you.  Statues are exquisitely detailed and patches of grass showing individual blades shifting with the wind that players will feel as if they were playing on a HD console.  Also, you literally want to scrutinize every aspect of the environment, because there are hidden bags of gold and chests located throughout the game, and you need to touch them on the screen to collect them.

Early on in the game, I reached the entrance of a tower and the camera panned out to let me explore visually where I was at and what I could find.  With that you can use the camera to turn all around to try and find any treasures in your vicinity.  You really get a sense of scale while doing this too; this game is big – hell, the game itself is 1.1 gigs!  The armor and weapons you wield are all uniquely designed and detailed, so you will have no confusion on what is equipped.  You will find your usual helms, armor and weapons that are made up in typical medieval fashion, but as you level up or pony up the cash, you can collect some beautiful pieces.  Using magic in combat offers some vibrant colors and explosions as your enemies are bounced back, and when you slash your way to victory, bright blue streaks cooperate right along with your finger’s motions.

While the game is gorgeous, the biggest issue gamers had with Infinity Blade was its exploration and combat.  Unlike most action/adventure titles on the iOS, Infinity Blade 2 does not have a virtual keypad and analog stick. four  You could call it a rail-shooter without the shooting (a rail-based melee game, if you will) and the developers haven’t changed that formula.  At first, it would make you think twice about wanting to play Infinity Blade 2, but I assure you, ChAIR Entertainment made great use of what they had to work with.

As you progress through the game, you will come across different paths to take, whether one is through a building, under a gate, or to a noticed chest behind a tree.  Once you have picked the path you want to take, you will run into all sorts of enemies, whether it’s a masked monster with dual-wielding swords, a brute with nothing but a spiked club and his sheer size, or a knight with powers to heal himself or freeze you.  It’s a repeated process as you continue on to seek revenge on the God King. Once you reach the end or die, you start at the last checkpoint and also have the option to completely start over.  This sounds repetitious, but the game is so large that as you play through again, you won’t be fighting the same monsters you once fought, and there will be different path options to take.  You also never lose your progress of cash, leveling, or inventory – it all stays with you no matter what happens.

The combat in Infinity Blade 2 is all laid out on the screen for you, without it becoming a distraction to the gameplay.  On the bottom left and right of the screen there are two dodge buttons, with a blocking button sandwiched between them.  Dodge to avoid damage, or use the shield to block the attacks that are hard to dodge (like a punch, kick, or a rush with a head-butt). If you perfectly time your dodges or blocks, you end up getting the respective breaks which will offer a short time to strike your opponent.

However, the best way to give damage while avoiding attacks is with parrying your enemy’s attacks.  By simply moving your finger, or weapon, in the motion of your attackers, you can parry.  With the right timing, you can perform a stab attack (a combination of stabs by tapping various highlighted parts of the enemy).  Parrying can also throw your foe into a daze, giving you a few seconds to hack and slash away at their meaty flesh before they recover and react.  For a game with no actual buttons, Infinity Blade 2 offers some entertaining combat – even combos!   Just using the simple attacks will not get you far; utilizing this combo system will help you take down your foes quickly.

You have a sword and shield that is your basic combo for battle, which is the ideal set, giving you your offense and defense.  Now, new to Infinity Blade 2 is the addition of dual-wielding weapons and heavy weapons, offering high and lows to each.  Dual-wielding is fast and nimble combat which may be the choice for some, but in return there is no way to block, leaving you open to taking damage if you aren’t timing your parries and dodges correctly.  Being a fan of axes and hammers had me exploring what I could do with the added heavy weapons system.  Going with those large bulky weapons means more damage given, but the path to kill the God King takes longer since your attacks and dodges are much slower.  Both of these added features to the combat are very welcomed as fans can play the way they want.

Additionally, it no longer feels like the combat is completely focused around quick time events, offering more strategy and options than ever before.  The special attacks, with the ability to stun your opponent, return as well as magic ranging from heals, poison, fire, ice, lightning, etc., all more than capable of taking a third or so off your enemies health bar.  Like Infinity Blade, these are earned through combat by making attacks that strike your opponent; a gauge for each one builds up letting you know when you can use them.

Infinity Blade 2 offers a more varied experience (XP) system with added items and features taken from other popular RPG mechanics.  For example, chests and enemies will yield gems, which are placed in armor and weapons to enhance them (e.g. adding more XP gained, more gold collected, etc.). The number of slots available will determine the number of gems one item can hold – up to three gems. You can take the gems out of their slots before selling the piece, but it will cost you a hefty price.  Now, before battles, the game will offer a challenge to you: making ten perfect parries, not taking any damage, or not using any magic during the fight.  Completing these will give you an XP bonus at the end of the fight.  This is a small but awesome addition to the combat; it really makes you want to switch up your style of fighting to try and complete the challenge for that extra credit.  As you level up, mastering your items will happen.  They each have their own experience bar, and once it’s full, it’s time to part ways with it and sell it off.  You can keep using that mastered sword or shield if you’d like, but it won’t give you any XP, and mastered items are worth double in value when sold.

Overall, Infinity Blade 2 is the premiere handheld game; nothing compares to it visually, and the improvements over the already spectacular original really show what can be done on a mobile device.  With the support of the Game Center offering leaderboards and achievements, there is even more to go after than what the game itself has.  ChAIR has already spoken about future DLC, and it’s all going to be free, much like what they did with Infinity Blade; more developers need to do this!  It completely evolved the first game, and I cannot wait to see what is in store for Infinity Blade 2.  In the end, Infinity Blade 2 offers the same run around of a repeated formula, but what is done to keep you glued to the screen and slashing away for hours is just a remarkable experience.

Infinity Blade 2 gets a 4.75/5.0

Our Rating
out of 5.0

About This Post

December 8, 2011 - 11:12 pm