Infinity Blade may have been a testament of what iOS devices were technically capable of but it ended up getting stale real fast. You were on a quest to kill the God King and that was it. Every time you encountered him in-game, he would kill you effortlessly until you became strong enough to take him down. After that you could grind away to infinity (hence the name) but after snuffing him out, the game sort of lost its charm.
A fight for the ages
With Infinity Blade 2, mission structure still stays the same so you can experience all the game has to offer in under an hour but this time round, the game has a more cohesive feeling to it. A huge part of this can be attributed to the game’s plot and for the first time in this series, actual voice acting in English. You can now relate to your character instead of treating him as a nameless dude who mutters in an ancient tongue. Your quest will also take you across a bunch of diverse locales giving credence to the whole ‘epic adventure’ vibe this game has going for it.
Gameplay in Infinity Blade 2 remains unchanged so you still can’t freely explore the game world nor can you circle strafe around your opponents in combat. That’s completely fine by me because it is this linear approach that makes the entire series a pleasure to play and more importantly control. No matter how good a game is, I’ve always had an issue with controlling characters on-screen. Infinity Blade 2 never has that problem because like its predecessor, it follows the old-school, touch and point adventure system so all you have to do is tap a desired area on your screen once and your character makes his way to it. Even better is the fact that the camera angle isn’t fixed behind him, so you get cinematic shots of the gorgeous engine in action while he does so.
Managing your inventory has become simpler
Anyone who’s played the first game or the more recent Blood and Glory will be at home with the controls. However with Infinity Blade 2, developer Chair have added in some new mechanics for good measure. You can get by just fine with the default sword and shield system but if you prefer something that packs a punch, you can now purchase heavier, two-handed weapons. Of course, these make you slower and you can no longer wield a shield but they’re well worth it once you see the dent they make on your opponent’s health bar. If speed is your thing, you can go in for dual weapons that aren’t that devastating to use but greatly increase your attack speed. Weapons can now be enhanced by fusing them with certain gems you’ll come across either when you defeat bosses or open certain chests. Like any staple RPG, they add in some sort of elemental damage (fire, ice etc) to your weapons or allow you to pick up more loot.
The more foes you slay, the more XP you collect that can be channeled into one of your many attributes like blocking, attacking, health and so on. Certain bosses will also come with opportunities to earn bonus XP like you may have to take someone down without using magic or your shield and so on. It’s not a game changer but it definitely keeps enemy encounters a bit fresh. Slaying dudes also nets you gold that can be used to purchase better equipment for your character. For some reason, there’s also a ton of gold lying all over the game world and you simply have to spot and touch it during the cinematic camera pans and it’s yours. In fact, I’d say the gold collection aspect of Infinity Blade 2 is like a mini-game in itself and within minutes I found myself scanning the environment like a hawk to pick off any gold I could find.
Is that supposed to scare me?
Besides gold, you also have a bunch of treasure chests strewn all over the place but unlike Infinity Blade where you can use a magical key that opened everything, you’ll require specific keys to unlock specific chest sizes. This adds to re-playability no doubt but it also felt like Chair’s way of pushing users towards in-app purchases.
The entire Infinity Blade series has been all about gorgeous console-like visuals and Infinity Blade 2 is no different. In fact it looks even better than its predecessor thanks to some visual tweaks employed by Chair. And the environmental as well as enemy variety doesn’t hurt either. I did notice a few slowdowns during exploration but during combat thankfully, frame rate stayed rock solid. The in-game interface has also been streamlined a bit so sorting through your inventory or buying stuff for your character has become less cumbersome.
But as good as the game is, I have to admit that it does suffer from the same fate as its predecessor where it can get boring after a while. Thankfully all the new gameplay elements do help in keeping things fresh. However, if you’ve never been a fan of the series to begin with, Infinity Blade 2 will not change your mind. If you’re a newcomer on the other hand, I suggest you jump in without batting an eyelid as it is the perfect game to inaugurate your iOS device with.
Infinity Blade 2 was reviewed on the iPad 2.
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