Infinity Blade III Review
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Infinity Blade III Review

Our Review by Carter Dotson on September 25th, 2013
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NEVERENDING STORY?
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Infinity Blade III's new additions fail to improve on the well-worn formula.

Developer: Chair Entertainment
Price: $6.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 5, iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
Controls Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarhalfstarblankstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Infinity Blade III is a reminder that the systems that govern games are very fickle things, and they can be imbalanced to a point where a game that was once hard to put down could suddenly become so flustering.

The core gameplay isn't so much the issue: Infinity Blade III knows what it does and does it well. Its one-on-one battles, controlled with swipes and intelligently-placed action buttons, are identical to previous games, and many of the same tricks are used. There's new signature weapon combos, and a new character who has her own weapons and a different dodge move. I mean, it's nothing new, but the series originated the formula and still does it better than everyone else does.

The problem comes in part with the weapons and currency systems: increasingly, the game feels like it's putting players behind the eight ball early on when it comes to needing more money. Infinity Blade II made players only feel that perhaps buying additional gold with IAP would solve one's problems after the player had invested a lot of time into the game. Conversely, this game makes it clear early on that players have to keep their coffers full by hook or by crook to keep advancing. If players could still earn experience while having a mastered weapon equipped, it wouldn't be so bad. But players need to keep buying new items even when they have ones they like just to keep up. And opportunities for grinding feel inherently limited due to the new level structure.

Plus, there's now a second currency system that's used mostly to skip wait timers for creating potions and upgrading weapons. I feel like the game is trying to nickel and dime me from the word go. I can live with getting long-term players to possibly spend more, but to feel like it's necessary early on? It's bad form, especially when paying $6.99. I don't want to complain about the prices of mobile games, especially one with such high production values - John Noble, the voice of the Worker of Secrets, probably doesn't come cheap - but I want to at least feel like I'm at least getting the base value of what I've paid.

The game's self containment issues extend to the fact that the story is incomprehensible without reading, or at least having knowledge of, the intermediate novellas by Brandon Sanderson. This was an issue back in Infinity Blade II, and while it was annoying, I could see how it was justifiable: the original game's story was enigmatic and setting up the sequel without too much clunky exposition would be challenging. But to do this again feels unnecessarily esoteric. The universe has been more fleshed out, and I almost admire that the supplemental material is required since so many other media properties go out of their way to make them inessential. But I would appreciate even just a tacit acknowledgement of how the predicament at the end of IB2 was resolved!

What all this adds up to is one game that's just disappointing. The first Infinity Blade was revelatory and addictive. The second game added depth while still being extremely compelling to the point where an iCloud issue that wiped out my game progress didn't deter me from picking up and starting over again.Infinity Blade 3? There's still the things I like, and there's intriguing new tweaks, but the magic that was so compelling in the first two games? It's just not here.

iPhone Screenshots

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iPad Screenshots

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