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REVIEW

INFINITY BLADE II

In 2010 something happened to iOS games.

  • Text: Lee West

Epic, known for among other things Gears Of War, had decided to integrate its Unreal engine into the small thin handheld. Their subdivision Chair Entertainment created magic and the world was deeply impressed by the impressive technology demo called Epic Citadel.

The experiment wasn't superfluous one-off. Chair built on it to make a fighting game that's best described as Fruit Ninja meets Street Fighter. Like Dragon's Lair impressed with its scripted but beautiful world and simple control input, one could gape at Infinity Blade. But the important thing about Chair's impressive flex of graphical muscle was that the gameplay was incredibly fun.

Infinity Blade II
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Although the nature of the game meant it was short, and consistently repetitious, the atmosphere was top notch. Still, it wasn't hard to find humour in the plot; a multi-generational tale in which a family of knights send a lone fighter into a castle teemed with warriors in the hope of toppling the God King. Each generation's hero is ultimately toppled by the King's magical sword, and the game restarts with a fresh-faced son ready to avenge his ancestors.

You eventually find out the cycle actually allows your nemesis to recharge his sword's power through your family's continued sacrifice. It's a paper-thin plot that grants Chair the narrative cover story for repeated grinds through the same location.

But the fighting system was good; swipes or touches letting you parry, block, dodge and chop to victory. Its the same with Infinity Blade II, but with a lot of minor adjustments and indeed some significant changes under the polished surface.

After each face-off you can loot the abandoned enemy, and thus improve your character. Improvements come by way of experience points, granted through using certain weapons or devices and draining them through repeated use until they're completely drained. You can also find hidden treasures, equipment and money by clicking around on the landscape as you pass through, exactly as in the first Infinity Blade.

Experience points are divided between four states: health, strength, defence or magic. Magic, as before, can be cast once charged by drawing the incantation symbol on screen during battle. Again, exactly as in the first game.

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But the big change is that the game is now a glorified cash cow, though its hard to catch at first all the changes.

First, you can insert gems into your gear. Doing so grants more damage, XP or whatever you'd cater your tastes to, and gem fusion lets you keep your gear slightly longer before its drained.

To spice up the games up even more, there is now an added XP bonus if you under these meet additional requirements, such as winning without using magic, performing a certain number of combos or blocks. A small detail, but helps keep the battles fresh.

Weapons have really been overhauled. You can choose to dual-wield and thus toss aside shield and blocking into the nearest river. You're much more prone to damage, but the advantage is stronger attacks and intense combos that are fun to perform.

You can also use a two-handed weapon such as an axe, which can block strikes, expanded the play style again.

Infinity Blade II comes emblazoned with a new story. If you're either not interested, or incredibly interested in staying in the dark, skip ahead past the next paragraph.

The game picks up where the first game left off. You've finally beaten your demonic opponent, or so you think. But its all part of a grander plan...a grander plan that's copied some notes from Assassin's Creed's notebook. You're part of a test project, excusing away the previous game's paper-thin plot. It was you who took the role of all your relatives. And why you are condemned to wander restlessly and repeat the same ritual again and again is a part of this new story. Despite the thematic similarities, this tale is crafted quite well.

The foreign language from its predecessor is now replaced with English voice acting, and it works quite well, although the original language certainly had its charm.

Infinity Blade II

Aside from a brief introduction to warm you up and relearn the control basics, there's a new castle much larger than its predecessor and even after a few play-throughs opens up new pathways such as an arena.

It's still hard to categorise Infinity Blade. It feels like an incredible tech demo with a bit more flesh added this time, offering a great experience and a story that's layers are only revealed the more you play, offering another reason other than the grind to stick with it.

It'd still not offer the same hook as the original if it meant facing the same ten enemies again and again. Been there, done that, stolen the King's sword. But Chair and Epic have fixed the problem by including a far greater variety of characters and fighting styles. Opponents have also been better able to feint, while magic now also in their repertoire, and in-game menu options promise new foes to face in future free updates.

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In short: if you loved the first Infinity Blade, there's more history, variety, refinement, details and equipment combinations to Infinity Blade II. In fairness we expected to be greeted with a clone of the original, and therefore readied a lower grade for Infinity Blade II to mark the lack of differentiation. With so many new additions however, we've only this to say: buy it.

Infinity Blade II
09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
+
Improvement of its predecessor in all respects.
-
Still many repetitions of the same relatively short game.
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