Infinity Blade hits iOS devices on December 1st 2011. In the run up to its release we reveal the details of the game in a series of previews, from graphics to gameplay, and story to creatures.
Some parts of our preview may contain some spoilers, but we’ll try to keep these to a minimum, particular where story is concerned.
Part 1: Graphics
There is no doubting that many iOS gamers are eagerly awaiting ChAIR’s Infinity Blade 2 (IB2) based purely for its graphics. It’s understandable too. The first Infinity Blade (IB1) was used to showcase the power of the iPhone 4, and this year the same was bestowed upon the iPhone 4S with IB2. Yes, IB1 was gorgeous, but IB2 really takes it to the next level.
Now, to get the best out of the game visually, you will need to own either an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S. The game will play the same from a content and gameplay point of view on older devices, but those of you lucky enough to own the latest devices will get the full visual experience as ChAIR intended.
The opening act of the game is designed not only to impart the crux of the more epic storyline, but also to knock your socks off. Here you are introduced first to one of the many new environments on offer this time around; the same Japanese-style environment that ChAIR’s Donald Mustard wowed us with back at the iPhone 4S keynote. Details, such as the koi carp swimming in the pond, the reflection of the sky on the pond’s surface, and the suns rays casting dynamic shadows through the branches of cherry blossoms, is impressive.
The architectural detail is equally impressive. With more areas to discover in IB2, thanks to more branching paths of your quest, you might expect many areas and buildings to look the same, instead I was surprised at the sheer variation in designs. Like the first game, IB2 is very cinematic. So even somewhat less interesting corridors are framed by dramatic camera angles and pans. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the clockwork hallway (see image gallery below).
There are a plethora of new characters, or in many cases, creatures in IB2. As Nacho reported in his hands-on last week, along with some 15 returning characters from IB1, ChAIR have added around 35 new ones for a total of around 50. I will go into more detail on a few of these in the next preview, but expect a variety of different enemies ranging from robotic knights and horse-headed gladiators; dual-bladed samurai and skeletal angels; giant Ranchor-like beasts and winged demons… and not forgetting the new villains of the piece, the Deathless Blood Sentinels.
Character models exhibit more detailing in both their suits of armour and the texturing. There is more colour too, particularly in the more flamboyant characters, including woven detailing in their clothes. IB1 was a little too grey in comparison.
Animation is once again top notch, the fighting moves of all the characters is smooth and realistic, with variety and weight. The Unreal Engine has no problem rendering the characters with all the detail and animating them with realistic motion capture work, but there may be a weakness to the engine in terms of lip syncing and other facial animation. IB2 feature more voice work than just the god king. It could be a stylistic decision, but it seems a little too convenient that all the characters who speak are wearing masks or helmets covering their mouths.
We have yet to be able to test the game on older devices, but we are told to expect similar performance on these devices as IB1. IB2 will be a universal app for all devices for $6.99, so we assume the Unreal Engine will be smart-rendering on the fly, giving you a visual experience that is dependant on your device processing and graphics power.
The frame-rate, though inconsistent at times in our preview build (not the gold master), runs very smoothly on both iPhone 4S and iPad 2. Graphics whores will get the biggest kick from the iPhone 4S version, with the slightly smaller resolution of the iPhone 4S allowing it to run just a little smoother, plus, in miniature on the retina display the environments look far more detailed.
We’ve put together a video montage of some of the sights you will encounter come December 1st. Check it out:
Stay tuned to TouchGen.com for part 2 of our week of Infinity Blade features.