For dungeon-crawling hack 'n' slash on the go, Epic has the goods. The third Infinity Blade redefines the franchise, taking it from its on-rails beginnings and throwing it off the deep end. The new third-person approach is teamed with stunning graphics and a more in-depth control scheme than we've seen previously.
Previous titles in the series had been created by the Epic-owned Chair Entertainment, but this time around the reins have been handed over to the primary studio. We spent a little time with Wes Phillips, who talked us through the available demonstration levels.
The first thing we noticed about this prequel, set "thousands" of years prior to the earlier games: Running on the New iPad, the graphics are truly stunning. On-par with most AAA titles, this would not be out of place running through a projector screen or via Apple TV on the big screen. Character models were crisp, the atmosphere was at its icy, fantasy best, and explosions were (...dare we say it?) epic.
What's new this time around is the game structure, which takes a third-person perspective to the typically first-person world. Each level - each dungeon - has been designed to take just five minutes to complete. This means you'll be able to get your crawlin' fix on the bus, between assignments, or almost anywhere else that you may have your iDevice on-hand.
Each of these levels is fairly straightforward, but Dungeons rewards creative gaming - veering off the beaten path will present you with piles of loot, extra gold and the occasional handy bit of armour. Combine that with the stacks of stuff you'll receive from killing bad guys, and this is definitely a title that believes in giving back to its gamers.
There is, of course, a catch. While you'll pick up gold, collectables, armour and the occasional crafting material, there is no weaponry just lying around in crates or dropped after defeating a foe. Instead, you get to make it all yourself, and this is where the crafting materials come in.
Creating a sword is a matter of minigames. Time your taps to mine the correct elements while meandering through each dungeon. Forging is a sort of "reverse Guitar Hero", according to Wes: Hammer out imperfections and polish away blemishes with touch-controls. Poorly-timed shots will weaken the weapon, waiting too long will allow the sword to cool before it has been finished, and a tarnished blade just will not hold up in combat.
For gamers used to a world of one-touch "Craft" buttons, Dungeons brings an intriguing breath of fresh air. While it adds an extra level of customisability, it also inevitably increases the frustration level for those of us who must have the perfect weapon on hand. No matter what additional gems you might equip later, an early mis-tap or inaccurate swipe means your sword just won't live up to potential!
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" - Epic doesn't really bring anything new to the dungeon crawling table, but it doesn't have to. It brings the crawler to a new platform, meaning instead of constant click-click-click, your fingers will fatigue thanks to endless tap-tap-tap, with a few swipes, slashes and - my favourite - hurricane spins to take out multiple enemies in one whirlwind move.
If you've been looking for something new to do mid-transit, an App to test out the capabilities of your shiny iPad, or just a great game to provide you with a dungeon crawling fix, Infinity Blade: Dungeons should be top of your To-Do list. This isn't just good "for an iPad game". Infinity Blade: Dungeons is right up there with most major releases, regardless of platforms. The fact it'll fit in your backpack is an added bonus.
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