Monday, June 9, 2014

Slash Slash Stab Slash Block - Infinity Blade 2 Freebie iOS Ryview

Infinity Blade 2, by Chair.

The App is currently free for a limited time!

The Infinity Blade series is a perfect example of using a simple, straightforward concept to create something addictive and engrossing. And unlike such frustration inducing apps such as Flappy Bird and Piano Tiles, Infinity Blade 2 rarely sends me into fits of shouting obscenities.

Infinity Blade 2 took what made the first game so successful and expanded it pretty heavily. The core gameplay involves swiping the screen to slash at enemies. You also are required to parry, block, or dodge your opponents attacks. Every battle is basically the same; you defend for a few strikes, then you have an opening to attack. On paper, the game sounds like it would bore me to death after half an hour.

However, thankfully, the game doesn't do that. The RPG elements are very strong, helping to strengthen your character and advance the gameplay. Enemies, as they become higher level, become faster and pack more of a punch, so while you gain experience the game also ramps up the difficulty. Luckily, the game builds in easy ways to go back and grind for more experience. And while lots of grinding is never desirable, that does mean that the devoted player can do nothing but battle easy enemies for hours on end to prepare for the major boss battles.

The game is also on a "rail" system, where you do not control your character's movements. You watch him cinematically move from fight to fight through the level, sometimes choosing which road to take, but ultimately you watch him move. That scared me when I first started playing the series, and I was reluctant to play a fighting again with such a low amount of control. But honestly, the amount of customization I have in the RPG elements, as well as the diverse loot tables, really help me feel like I hold some stake in the game.

One very nice feature is the weapon and armor leveling system. In Infinity Blade 2 (and its sequel) there are multiple weapon types: Light, Heavy, and Dual. I tend to favor dual weapons. Each class has a different style, including different defense mechanism and different attack combos, but when you use a weapon or armor you gain experience for that piece of equipment and your character. Once you "master" a piece of equipment, you get a skill point and you can no longer gain experience through that item, for it or your character. This means you are highly motivated to move onto a new piece of equipment every time you master it, which forces the player to constantly change what he's using and use all 3 weapon types, to maximize those skill points.

I'll kill you with this axe, but I'm only doing it for the skill points. Seriously.

Honestly, most RPGs involve much less item swapping. In Dungeon Siege, for instance, once I find some overpowered boots, I might use those for a solid 3/4 of the game. That isn't necessarily a problem, but Infinity Blade highly encrouages you to utilize all of the possible items in the game, which is a great way of showcasing your loot.

The storyline is also very fun, although this is a case of relying too heavily on out-of-game material. There was not a whole lot of plot explanation in Infinity Blade 1, and there was a novella set between it and IB 2. That explains a whole lot of backstory. And if you such want to hack at stuff, that's fine. But the storyline is very present in 2, and it's obvious that you're supposed to know what's going on. There's even a side character in the beginning of the game who pops up out of nowhere if you didn't read the novella. I'd say a game like this should at least have a quick recap at the beginning to allow players some sort of quick introduction if they don't want to read the expanded universe fiction.

Wait, I forgot...what am I doing here again?

I also have a few complaints about the responsiveness of controls, but that might be impossible to fully weed out with any touch based game. Sometimes, a swipe absolutely doesn't connect the way it's supposed to, which can have a detrimental effect on a fight. Obviously, being able to grind your way to victory keeps this from being overly frustrating, but I'd still like the controls to be slightly more reliable. However, overall, the control scheme is satisfying and easy to use.

Honestly, I have a hard time finding negative points about this game. It can feel a little repetitive, and I do think that finding each and every secret (and mastering every piece of equipment) would be a bit much. However, beating the campaign and finding a few secret areas along the way is very satisfying and it really doesn't feel very stale to me.

If you like RPGs, if you like action games, or if you just love swipe based controls, this is definitely an app you'll want to check out. And even if you've already played it, maybe it's time to dust it off and give it another go. I think it's a fun game to get back into after a hiatus, and it's pretty easy to pick up and play. The game does have a non-trivial amount of gore, so if you're squeamish about that kind of thing, I'd steer clear.


Time Value
Money Value
Final Score

*I would like to point out that once this game is no longer free, I'd recommend skipping this entry and going straight for Infinity Blade 3. It's basically the same game with lots of small improvements and a whole lot more content. This game is not worth it's regular price ($6.99) while its sequel is available.

Let me know what you think of Infinity Blade 2!

Until next time,


Images courtesy of Chair

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