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Best of the Decade: Infinity Blade


Infinity Blade

Platform: iOS (iPhone and iPad)

Release Date: December 9, 2010

Publisher: N/A

Developer: Chair Entertainment, Epic Games

Let me admit right off the bat that this entry is more ceremonial than any other I’ve allowed myself to make so far. I picked Geometry Wars with a similar goal, to celebrate what the game represented as much as the game itself, but Infinity Blade is an even stronger case of this.

I’ve been avoiding picks like this on purpose. Adding items like these to a list is kind of cheap and, for whatever little it’s worth, I didn’t want to devalue my list with cheating entries like concepts, entire series of games, and that sort of thing.

That said, even though this is a last-minute entry and clearly hasn’t had the time to mature like others on this list, I truly feel it is deserving of its spot. Let me explain. 

I wrestled for a while over which game to choose for this spot. The iOS platform has a growing number of incredible titles that represent the future of mobile gaming. I knew I wanted to acknowledge that in some form on my list, as my iPhone has become an increasingly vital part of my gaming life.

The issue is that iOS lacks a Mario. It has a ton of great games unique to the platform, games that are gorgeous, and some that rival the PSP and DS in terms of depth and graphical quality. It does not, however, have one single game or franchise that carries the banner for the platform. This makes choosing a game to represent iOS on my list difficult.

My choice for a while was Real Racing, and I still wish to mention it here. This was the first game I can remember playing on my iPhone that had me legitimately believing that Nintendo’s handheld dominance was in trouble. Here I was playing a game on my bloody phone that had the graphical horsepower, depth, and addictive gameplay of a DS racing title, all for a fraction of the cost and instantly downloadable to a device I already carry around everywhere with me. 

What more could I want from a mobile game?

Early in December, Infinity Blade released. It didn’t take long for me to realize that, for the current moment, this game comes damn close to being the banner title for the platform I was looking for. 

Infinity Blade has all the inherent strengths of the platform that Real Racing did and more besides. It looks practically as good as a first-generation 360 game. It has gameplay depth to match some titles on dedicated handheld platforms like the DS. It’s easy to pick up and play, in short sessions or long, but difficult to master. Most importantly, even more than Real Racing, it felt to me as if Infinity Blade was perfectly designed for the platform.

It doesn’t feel like a too-large game stuffed onto a small screen with no buttons, as so many iOS titles admittedly do. It doesn’t feel like an oversimplified version of a familiar idea either. Using smart gesture controls and clever game design that eliminates the need to perform any actions not suited to a touch screen, Infinity Blade creates a compelling interface for a unique blend of fighting game and RPG unlike anything else I’ve played. 

I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that my phone, a device that comes with me everywhere and fits in the palm of my hand, can run games like this. It boggles my mind. When I fire up Infinity Blade, or any of the other growing number of games like it, and see the level of graphical fidelity it never fails to bring a smile to my face. Then I start playing and am just as hooked as I would be on any other dedicated gaming device, console or handheld.

The future of mobile gaming is here, and it is iOS. Many laugh off mobile gaming as simplistic, but that view is shortsighted and unfortunate. Those that brush off the platform are depriving themselves of some great experiences, both casual and hardcore, and failing to see what is clearly the future of mobile entertainment. 

Infinity Blade deftly represents the numerous strengths iOS has to offer. It is an addictive gaming experience that manages to break new genre ground on top of everything else it does well. Developers have only been able to create apps on the iPhone for two-and-a-half years or so now. If they’ve given us Infinity Blade in that short amount of time, I’m unspeakably excited to see what lies in store over the next decade. 

For being a damn good game regardless of the platform it’s running on but being a great representative for iOS at the same time, Infinity Blade is one of my Best of the Decade.

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