The best things in life are worth waiting for, particularly sequels to revolutionary video games you can play on mobile devices. Infinity Blade 2, a follow-up to the state-of-the-art title that debuted on Apple’s iOS devices a year ago, drops on Dec. 1 and is arguably the most anticipated game to hit the platform this year.
Developer ChAIR Entertainment raised the bar on what the iPhone (as well as iPad and iPod touch) was capable of creating in terms of graphics, and the original Infinity Blade was among the first games to use publisher Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 3 to render its realistic 3-D graphics.
With Infinity Blade, ChAIR and Epic set a new standard on the kinds of games that could be brought to Apple’s mobile devices. The title featured a simple premise that had players taking on the role of a lone warrior venturing through a series of sword duels on the road to fighting the God King, a powerful final boss. When players were killed by the God King (as they often were), they would take on the role of their former character’s descendant — retaining all the equipment and powers they had gained along the way — to give battling the God King another go. The game packs graphics on-par with some console video games, and the developer received awards as well as plenty of sales for the title. The graphics on Infinity Blade 2, as you can see below, do not disappoint.
A hard act to follow
The follow up to Infinity Blade has some serious shoes to fill, but ChAIR is bringing quite a few new features to bear with the title. Right out of the gate, the game is optimized for Apple’s top-of-the-line hardware, leveraging the power of the dual-core A5 chips found in the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. Graphically, Infinity Blade 2 should follow its predecessor in setting the bar for graphics on mobile devices across the board.
ChAIR is also bringing back everything that worked about Infinity Blade including its low-impact navigation system, simple but responsive touch controls and focus on a few core elements of sword-dueling fun. It's adding a lot more to the package the second time around. There’s a much bigger emphasis on the game’s storyline this time out, whereas Infinity Blade had very little. In fact, Epic and ChAIR have released a novella on iTunes called “Infinity Blade: Awakening,” which bridges the gap between the two games.
In terms of technical improvements, ChAIR has worked on Infinity Blade 2’s touch controls to make them more responsive and let players feel more attuned to the actions of their characters. Sword-fighting is handled in much the same way: players dodge, block or parry enemy attacks until they can find an opening in that enemy’s defenses, at which point they slash away as quickly as possible to rack-up damage.
Bigger and better
But around this simple kernel, a lot of cool new things have been added. Navigation is straightforward, but the game world has been substantially expanded. You won’t just gather new equipment, you’ll actually gather materials to improve the items you find or forge new ones. ChAIR also added new fighting styles for players to explore. Instead of just battling with a sword and a shield, for instance, you’ll now be able to wield two weapons at once (or a two-handed weapon). All three styles fundamentally change the way you’ll have to approach Infinity Blade 2’s battles.
While ChAIR is improving a lot of what the first Infinity Blade had to offer for its second go-round, what is most interesting is how much the game is going to take advantage of everything that Apple’s iOS system has to offer. Along with the use of the A5 chip for some of the most stunning graphics available on the platform, the game will use iCloud to allow players to switch devices mid-game. Additionally, gamers will be able to take advantage of features found exclusively within iOS 5, Apple’s mobile operating system that debuted earlier this year. This includes playing the game on a TV screen using iOS 5’s HDMI output feature.
Infinity Blade 2 stands ready to be the first iOS title to really make use of everything the iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iOS 5 have to offer. It’s hard not to be excited for ChAIR’s new release. It has a hefty pedigree to live up to following its first title, but it sounds like Infinity Blade 2 is going to be the game that sets the high water mark for iOS titles in 2012.