Infinity Blade II Review
- Unparallelled visual design; environments grow and change with you.
- Iterative concept married perfectly with the storyline.
- Tonnes of customization options; three weapon categories along with gems to further tweak your setup.
- iCloud saves and multiple slots.
- Exploration can lead to wasted attempts; piles up more replays than potentially necessary to finish the game.
- Camera angles can make pulling off combos/parries awkward; swipe direction doesn't always match up.
Infinity Blade II is everything the original wanted to be and a little bit more; it's easy to get caught up in its beautiful visuals, but at its heart beats a challenging and addictive Action RPG just waiting to be conquered.
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Not only did the original Infinity Blade introduce players to a new and cunningly effective combat system for touchscreen-based devices, it pushed the boundaries of what was possible on the iOS platform both visually and conceptually. Its iterative style of gameplay was (for some) simply repetitive, but more than anything else it has opened the doors up to a great story concept, something not lost at all in Chair Entertainment's sequel, Infinity Blade II.
While those who played the original will already be familiar with what's going on it's not a per-requisite to jumping on board, and the game does a great job of setting up your character's current situation. You character is ostensibly an immortal, much like those he has chosen to fight against to free humanity from their tyranny. In order to break the never-ending cycle you must guide him back to the prison of the Worker of Secrets, sacrificing yourself again and again to break the bonds that hold him there.
Blocking your way is an almost endless parade of beasties ranging from lithe ninja-like swordsman to behemoths and giants wielding weapons that would have required entire trees to make the shaft. It's a daunting horror show that requires patience and cat-like reflexes to swipe, tap and gesture your way past them.
Much like the original the combat is broken up in to duels with the player being able to dodge, parry, or block incoming strikes while waiting for an opportunity to unload with a combo, super strike, or magic spell of their own. Instead of the game devolving in to a series of dodge-matches, players are encouraged to mix up their repertoire by mastering the parry and the block to create 'breaks'. Dodging is further penalized by the character becoming exhausted if it's used too many times in a row, though this is offset by being able to 'hold' your place to deal with over-extended blows from the enemy.
To compliment the deeper combat system, players are encouraged to customize their gear thanks to 'gem slots' with special bonuses including resistances to various attack types, elemental effects, basic stat upgrades, and even bonuses to finding various items. The list of available weaponry has also expanded and players can choose between sword and board, two-handed, and dual-wielding weapons, each with their own bonuses and playstyles. For instance, dual-wielding removes the ability to block, but grants players with a third direction to dodge.
Given the scope and variety of the various monsters, the combinations of weapons and armor they can use, and the deeper combat system, players are bound to be enchanted all over again by the simple act of plowing through one enemy after another. Unfortunately this can be marred by the simple act of exploration, causing you to progress no further in the storyline or meeting a dead-end with no real benefit, resulting in moments of fatigue from having to start again and again.
It goes almost without saying that Infinity Blade II is one of the most gorgeous games on the iOS platform to date, though it does continue to cheat its way past restrictions by limiting the camera angles and removing free exploration. Even still, what's presented is simply stunning and exploring the labyrinthine lair is worth it not just to move the story along, but to absorb every inch of its menacing environments.
What's on offer is not all that's left to come either as Chair Entertainment leave the usual promises of additional content, including multiplayer. If the sheer volume of updates on the first title is any indicator, it's going to be a long time before anyone truly masters the depths of Infinity Blade II.
If you have the space and a third-gen or higher iDevice, you need to make this game part of your collection.