Epic generally won’t put their name on something unless it’s really pretty, and, just as was the case with the first game, Infinity Blade II is really pretty. And not just “good looking for an iOS game,” either – there’s nothing on the PSP or 3DS that holds a candle to how good Infinity Blade II looks. Characters are incredibly detailed, environments are breathtaking, and the textures and models could likely stand up to some of the earlier Xbox 360 games from this generation. It’s that good.
As long as you have an iPhone 4S or an iPad 2, at least.
Above: In motion there's water pouring from that wound, and it looks awesome
Otherwise you might run into some problems. We played mostly on a 4S and iPad 2, but we also messed around with the game on an older iPod Touch and had a number of problems. At first it would crash almost nonstop – something that was fixed with a reboot – but even after that there were still issues. The framerate would often stutter when the action got too intense and each battle would be ended with five or so seconds of lag before the game would actually begin again – something we didn’t need to deal with on the newer models. It’s still playable, but until the developers better optimize the game for older devices (and fix the reported issue of freezing and deleting saved files) it might be worth waiting, or upgrading to a newer iOS device. But no matter which device you have, you’re going to want to hang out near a power outlet – this thing will destroy your battery.
We love the new combat to death, and the new locations and enemies are a blast to cut apart. Still, we can’t help but feel like we’re playing with training wheels on, even with all of the changes the developer made to assure that Infinity Blade II was so much bigger than its predecessor. More locations would help, but a revamp of the travel system would help even more, and make Infinity Blade II feel more like a full game.
Above: Obviously you can't parry monsters that use claws and teeth
Then again, it is a mobile game, and one that launched at under $10, so at over five hours of gameplay, we definitely feel like we got plenty of bang for our buck, especially considering all of the six to eight-hour long single-player games we spent $60 this holiday season.
Infinity Blade? Yes. Easily. Infinity Blade II improves on literally every aspect of the original, and though it retains some of the same issues (death animations with blunt weapons still look silly), it’s undeniably a superior product.
Dark Meadow? Depends. Though Dark Meadow looked like an Infinity Blade rip-off it was actually a much more complete experience. Sure, it had similar gameplay, but it also brought a story, interesting characters, and varied locations to the table. That said, the combat is nowhere near as precise as what we have in Infinity Blade II, so it really depends on what you’re looking for as to whether or not it’s better.
Punch-Out!!? Yes. Well, when it comes to the actual gameplay, at least – we aren’t going to act as though the God King has better character design than classic King Hippo and Don Flamenco, but while ChAIR’s combat borrowed heavily from Punch-Out!!, they absolutely did it better. Whereas Nintendo’s fighter is focused only on memorization to a fault, Infinity Blade II adds in multiple elements to make the combat more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Infinity Blade II makes quick work to slash apart most of the grievances we had with the original while improving on literally every aspect, but the sequel isn’t without issues. Despite charging towards feeling like a truly complete game, the linearity still holds it back, though we imagine downloadable content will likely fill out the experience.