I had the pleasure of reviewing Space Invaders: Infinity Gene over at Dealspwn last year, where it rated amongst the greatest downloadable games available on PSN and Xbox Live Arcade. Rather than retreading old ground by re-releasing the ancient title as a cynical cash grab, Taito opted to kick everything into overdrive in an entirely new experience. Everything that made Infinity Gene great as a full fat release conspires to create one of the best apps on the service.
First appearances can be deceiving. Upon starting a new game, players will be greeted with the same opening graphics from the very first arcade outing. The monochromatic horrors from beyond the pale start their inexorable march towards the bottom of the screen as the three barriers shield your sluggish ship from attack... and then suddenly, everything changes. Forever.
Slick HD visuals replace the tired old sprites, and the single degree of freedom soon explodes into a hectic Shoot 'Em Up that's packed full of eyepopping brain candy. Familiar foes rub shoulders with powerful new opponents who attack in immense relentless formations at insane speed.
Space Invaders: Infinity Gene evolves as you play, delivering a constantly-changing game experience that mutates in new and interesting ways. Earning points throws new levels and gameplay mechanics into the mix; along with improved weaponry, increased lives, new ships and nifty new abilities (such as being able to pass through enemy fire unharmed within the first second of it appearing).
The drive to earn more points and unlock the next tier of upgrades will soon transform novelty value into a serious addiction. It's rare to find replayability of this magnitude in a shooter.
As I frequently say in these app reviews, tight controls are the key to ensuring that games flourish on the iPhone. Infinity Gene manages to lock this down this down with smooth fingertip control that uses any touch as a reference point. Forget virtual thumbsticks, as any clear space can become your controller. Game Center achievements and online leaderboards add extra functionality that take advantage of the iPhone's communal aspects.
Graphically, Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is absolutely outstanding. The art design blends retro wireframe graphics with a blistering framerate, resulting in a thoroughly enriching visual treat.
It's essentially a latter-day Rez... and if you don't immediately appreciate the gravity of this statement, I'd highly suggest heading over to Wikipedia. Note, however, that the action soon becomes incredibly intense and can cause headaches after extended periods.
The only real problem with Infinity Gene is a common complaint amongst hardcore SHMUPS: it's often extremely cheap. Whilst most enemy waves approach from the top of the play field, some formations are designed to bushwhack players from the sides or even the base; usually resulting in an unavoidable and humiliating death. This phenomenon is amplified on the iPhone since your thumb will frequently obscure a portion of the lower screen.
- Blistering hardcore shooting
- Addictive evolving mechanics
- Exceptional value for money
- Frequently cheap
- Intense visuals can cause headaches and/or brain explosion
- Fingers occasionally obscures gameplay
Summary: Space Invaders: Infinity Gene is a sublime shooter that deserves pride of place in every shooter fan's collection. Luscious eye candy, responsive controls and major value all contribute to an absolute masterpiece.
Developer: Taito Corporation
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.