The general consensus on Infinity Blade is that it’s the iPhone and iPad game serious gamers have been waiting for. That would include me, so I forfeited $6 to the App Store last night and gave Infinity Blade a shot.
It’s a great game. I stayed up an hour later than I should have, dueling against knights twice my avatar’s size and obsessing over weapons and armor. I only pulled myself away when game’s final boss wiped me out. (In a unique plot device, after each death you play as the next generation in your character’s bloodline, avenging the death of his father at the hands of a mighty dictator.)
But let’s not kid ourselves. Essentially, Infinity Blade is Fruit Ninja in hardcore clothing. It’s not the ultimate iPad game for gamers.
My disappointment with Infinity Blade isn’t due to any flaw in the game itself, but rather what’s missing. In September, when Apple introduced its new line of iPods, Infinity Blade publisher Epic Games showed off a beautiful 3D world. The tech demo, dubbed Epic Citadel, is available from the App Store, and it’s worth a look even though you can’t do anything but walk around and admire the scenery.
Infinity Blade takes place in this world — you’ll see some of the same scenery as your character trudges along a pre-determined path — and it’s just as lifeless as the tech demo. You can’t roam the citadel as you please, and there are no characters to interact with aside from your foes. If this game were sold at retail for the PSP or Nintendo DS, it’d be laughed out of town.
Obviously, expectations are lower for iOS because the games are much cheaper. Still, is it wrong to expect more? With Epic Citadel, iOS owners got a taste of something spectacular — a free-roaming 3D world that looked better than most games for portable gaming devices. Sadly, Infinity Blade borrows from the concept instead of building on it.
Don’t let that stop you from loving the game. I just hope this isn’t the pinnacle of iOS for gamers.