Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To Infinity and....Back Again!?

      Infinity Blade is the product of Chair Entertainment Group.  The game is specifically designed to be played on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod, iPad Touch 3 and 4. 
According to the iPhone APP store Infinity Blade (as of 03/09/2011) earns a rating of 5/5 stars from 26476 reviewers. For more information check out Chair entertainment Group: When I first purchased the game about a week ago it cost $1.99. The price is now set at $5.99.  By the way, a couple of blogs back, I wrote about the Nerd Community and their offspring known as Gamers. Its a slippery slope, people! Read my previous blog and save yourself.
      At first, I was unclear as to the meaning of the title, Infinity Blade, but as I progressed through the game I quickly learned. The game is set in a medieval time. The main character is a knight who is seeking vengeance for the murder of his father.   “My name is Ingio Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” (
Yes, vigilante justice in the name of a deceased parent, it’s a new concept. I am not so sure if it will hold, but I predict that as time passes, the failure of this concept will lead to new story lines based on one’s revenge for the murder of a significant other. Again, new territory here, so we’ll have to see how it turns out. 
    So, let's get back to my discussion of the title, Infinity Blade. Again, the story takes place in the far off past. A dreary castle stands firm upon wind-swept cliffs under a cold blue sky as the young ‘Force’-filled knight (you) gazes upon it. Within the castle awaits his destiny. 
Upon entering the castle grounds, the vengeful knight battles his way through a gauntlet of fiercely mangled and menacing villains. His ultimate goal is to reach the god-king, slay him and therefore honor his murdered father’s name. Oh, yes, twenty years earlier the god-king put the final kybosh to his  (your) father and he did it without mercy or remorse. He actually sucked out dad’s essence as he plunged his dastardly sword into his battered shell, which made him (the god-king) stronger. Hey, have you ever seen the movie, “HighLander”?  Regardless, it’s tough to be a mortal as the vengeful knight will soon find out.
      After easily defeating the first round of Frankenstein-like ‘evil’ knights, the vengeful knight meets the god-king. At this point it is possible to beat Mr. god-king, only his closest friends call him god-king, which he has none.  Unfortunately, at this stage of the game, young-grasshoppa, the vengeful knight’s skills and strengths are most likely inadequate for the job. So, with a firm understanding of your youthful weaknesses, except with pleasure the piercing pain of the god-kings sword as it is plunged into the knight’s abdomen and in obnoxious shop-vac form sucks the essence from his beleaguered body.
     Good news!  It’s six o’clock in the morning, the radio-alarm sings to life with Sunny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”. The knight (you) wakes up from a comfortable sleep in a quaint bed & breakfast in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. As he rises, he gets the strange feeling that he’s done this before and he may even look a bit irritated by the second, third and fourth time this occurs. 
     Ultimately, it’s not the same knight each time, but who can tell the difference. The story indicates that it is about 20-some years later and you, the ‘new’ knight, are the son of the previous vengeful knight. Something should be said about familial behavior traits and the debate over nature vs., nurture, but I refuse to digress. So, the vengeful night rises, puts on his armor and walks to the precipice of slaughter. He views the castle from a distance and as his father and his father’s father and his father’s father’s father and still his father’s father’s father’s father aims to avenge his…. father…something like this. “Who gets slaughtered?”, is the question of the new day. At each level the beastly knights of the castle become stronger and faster. The first level was easy and from there each level increases with difficulty. Just like the repeated setting, a player should be able to predict the increasing level of intensity. Good news, if you appreciate mundane predictability, all of the treasures and potions are all in the exact same places…even 20, 40, 60, 80 years later. The castle must have ‘landmark’ status, as physical feature is in exactly the same place at each level.  There is certainly no possible way that this castle will succumb to the wave of gentrification, albeit that it one day be surrounded by condos and strip malls filled with StarBucks, Jamba Juice and an Apple store.
    Infinity Blade is a fun game, but no more exciting than playing Mortal Kombat or old-school Kung-Foo.  The story of vengeance is simple, actually it’s not really a story at all. The designers acted as movie directors and gave you, the knight, your motivation for being. Once you reach the end of the level, successfully or unsuccessfully, you return to the beginning of the game, with the a quick note that it is now 20 years later.  What makes this game stand out, however, are the responsive controls and interactive screen, all of which were designed for the iPhone and its siblings.
    The moves are easy. Swipe up, down, right, left and diagonally with your finger and the sword comes to life. On the bottom of the screen there are three command icons; a shield to press when you want to block with your shield and arrows (left and right corners) to duck left or right. The only issue I have is that occasionally when I attempt to duck right or left I miss the icon and therefore take a serious bludgeoning.  Although, the knight’s opponents become faster at each level, the controls remain effective. Missing the duck icon is probably my finger’s fault and I plan to have a talk with him later. Learning to use the duck right and left buttons is key to survival.  I am currently on level 3 and sword swinging, although important, will not keep me alive no matter how fast I can flick my finger.
    Another great feature on Infinity Blade is the ability to purchase items such as swords, shields, body armor, magical devices, helmets, etc.  Also, Certain items come with certain powers. So, be particular as particular items are not as predictable as they appear.  Again, as each level increases with intensity, the player will need to outfit his or her knight with effective tools. Using the same old materials from level one will just get you killed quicker, so collect some coins and go shopping. Hey, even if you get killed, its nice to die wearing a shiny new suit of armor rather than wearing yesterday’s outdated fashions. Meet your maker with some dignity for Pete’s sake.
    As I have mentioned, I am currently on level 3 of Infinity Blade. I can care less about the story or my ‘motivation’. For me it’s about Ego. A challenge has been presented, I have fighting moves and weapons, now I just need to learn how to use them.  Up to level three I felt pretty good. Now I feel a bit frustrated as I get ‘schooled’, yet I am determined to learn the most effective use of my tools to win. So far, I am getting clobbered while slowly making progress.
    I am pleased that after each unsuccessful battle within the castle’s linear progression, I have the choice to start at the very beginning of the level or re-load the last battle. I am uncertain why someone would want to start at the beginning of the level, considering each level starts at the same place. So, I opt to begin right where I was shredded to pieces. “Thank you, Sir, may I have another?”  Unfortunately, for those with a lack of fortitude and self-confidence, also know as  “quitters”, there is no way to get around the tougher one-on-one battles. You can fight and win, fight and die or just quit.
      There is, however, one option that may support a gamer as he or she attempts to achieve predominance. One can actually buy, with actual cash, ‘gold’ from the app store and then spend that ‘gold’ on pricey weapons and armor. Although, in my mind, I agree with the saying, “The man makes the clothes”.  You can dress your knight up, but you cannot guarantee with new ‘threads’ that he’ll make it to the ‘big dance’. So, spend wisely or simply build up your determination and commit to learning step-by-step.
     Since the game is strictly linear, all you need to do is focus on the fight. There is no chance you will take a wrong turn and be forever lost in the game. The game does not allow for you to accidentally stroll off a cliff and somehow survive in a technological abyss.  In essence, you are a train on rails and there is no getting off track. You simply need to get past the checkpoints in order to move on. You must fight.
    If you are worried about the battles, the designers offer a tutorial as you progress through the first level. You are prompted to swipe a finger here or there, to block with your shield and to duck right or left. A first time player should be able to understand the basic moves easily as he or she dominates level one. But, do not be fooled, after level one you should be ready for some beatings of your own. If one would like to revisit the initial tutorial, an option exists to return to level 1. Also, the designers posted three reviews on YouTube, which demonstrate the use of the game tools.

    Currently, Infinity Blade is a solitary game.  The designers have stated that updates will allow multi-player settings, but for now you’re on your own, ‘Han Solo’. I hope that when the multi-layer version is available players can battle each other. However, this would change the game into a typical fighting game, just dressed up differently than the many others that exist. The key difference, of course, will be that I will be able to invite a friend for a lunch-break-butt-kicking conducted via my iPhone.
    Although, the game is played in isolation,  players’ scores can be recorded for sharing using another APP called “Game Center”. If you cannot beat your friend in hand-to-hand combat, you can at least brag about your high scores. Also, within Infinity Blade you can keep track of your achievements, such as winning streaks, quickest cut-downs, etc. 
    The graphics, although repeated, are amazing. The designers created a beautiful, virtual medieval world. The dynamic images could easily be sets from Lord of the Rings.  The details in the work are excellent, although, most escape me as I am getting butchered. I am amazed at how far technology has come, when I do get a chance to pan around the screen; so much detail, so much interaction, great responsiveness and all on an iPhone. 
    Should you buy Infinity Blade?  If it is priced at $1.99, then you certainly should. As previously mentioned the cost has risen to $5.99. If you are a true “gamer”, then buy Infinity Game. I believe you will be amazed at the technological developments. If you are a novice gamer and easily put off by video game challenges and are unaware of the technological advancements in gaming systems, then buy Plant Vs. Zombies
   Speaking of ZOmbies, the question remains. To ZomBie or Not to ZOmbie?  I believe this is a trick question.  To recognize the technological achievements demonstrated within Infinity Blade would be characteristic of someone with a heart beat and a full functioning brain. However, the 'bells and whistles' of Infinity Blade may have the power to permanently captivate and thus turn a regular gamer into a GAmzie (Half Gamer, half ZOmbie). So, the answer is not to ZomBie, but with Caution! 


Infinity Blade Video Review

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