When the App Store was first unveiled, the vast majority of games available were from smaller, lesser-known developers. That's not to say that those games were bad—many of them were phenomenal. For example, Mediatonic's
Well, times have changed. Apple's iOS devices are not only more varied and powerful, they're used by millions of people. All this makes the platform particularly appealing to major game developers such as Epic Games and the legendary ID Software.
In previous issues of iPhone Life, I've reviewed some of the lesser-known gems available in the App Store. In this issue, I'll look at some of the better releases from major developers.
Big name developers in the App Store to stay
Some people aren't entirely happy about the presence of big name developers in the App Store, arguing that it makes it harder for smaller companies to compete. However, most gamers appreciate the high quality games that the big developers release for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. For better or for worse, these gaming juggernauts are in the App Store to stay. And as I see it, it's a good thing for gamers. We'll get to enjoy great titles from big developers and smaller companies alike.
When Epic Games announced that they were bringing their Unreal game engine over to iOS, many people were skeptical. However, their first game powered by Unreal is nothing short of astounding. Infinity Blade follows the story of a lone knight whose mission is to slay the evil God King who resides in a particularly massive castle. Controlled by the player, the knight must defeat countless warriors who serve the tyrannical king before finally facing the king himself. The story is very interesting and is made even more immersive with the inclusion of some great RPG elements. The audio and video presentation is the best I've seen on a game like this. If you are interested in exciting sword battles powered by jaw-dropping presentation, you owe it to yourself to give Infinity Blade a try. The game is available for the iPhone (3GS or later), iPod touch (3rd gen or later), and the iPad.
Just about every gamer in the world recognizes the name "id software.” It's the legendary developer of Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, and other games, and has been in the computer game business almost since the beginning. They have several games in the App Store, but most of them are ports of existing games. For example, they are responsible for the wonderful port of DOOM Classic for iOS ($6.99, app2.me/3810).
Rage HD is a completely new game featuring stunning graphics and sound, as well as very compelling gameplay. The game follows the format of a TV game show in which a hideous host makes a brief introduction of the challenge that you are about to face. The player is then thrown into an arena full of monsters. To win, you'll need to use different weapons and be quick on the trigger. You don't have to worry about walking around—the game does that for you. However, aiming, shooting, and (most importantly) surviving are all on you. Two versions of the game are available: HD and standard (non-HD). If you have an iPad or an iPhone 4 with a Retina Display, you simply must get the HD version—its graphics are some of the best I've ever seen in a mobile game.
- $1.99, app2.me/3297; Non-HD universal version: $0.99, app2.me/3537
- id Software; http://www.idsoftware.com/rage-mobile/
The Devil May Cry series has been around for quite a while, going all the way back to the original Sony PlayStation. Fans of the game love the series for its unique game play based on stylish action. While defeating vast hordes of enemies, players try to execute their attacks as stylishly as possible. Doing so allows the player to unleash massive combos on their foes.
The iOS release is essentially a port of the most recent title, Devil May Cry 4 (which is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC). Many fans of the series did not expect the frantic pace of the game to translate well to a mobile device, but the game works shockingly well. However, the graphics are closer to something one would expect on a game made in the year 2000. That's not to say the game looks bad, but frankly I did expect a bit more. Still, fans of Devil May Cry, as well as gamers new to the series, will find plenty to love in this game.
Well known to gamers, the Castlevania series is one of the best platform games ever to have been released. The creators of the series realized that the precise controls usually required to play Castlevania would not work well on an iPhone, so they decided to do something completely different. Encore of the Night breaks from the series' usual platform style in favor of a match-three puzzle game.
The setting of the game will instantly be familiar to fans of other titles in the series—it takes place in the same castle found in Symphony of the Night (which many consider to be one of the best PlayStation games of all time). The story line of the iOS game is similar to the latter—Alucard, the son of Dracula, sets out to defeat his evil father once and for all, facing countless demons along the way. You face your enemies in a frantic puzzle game format. Each time you clear blocks from your screen, you inflict damage on the enemy, and vice versa. And as Castlevania fans have come to expect, the music and graphics here are exceptional. Fans of the series (or of puzzle games in general) should absolutely give Encore of the Night a try. It's an experience that some reviewers have compared to Puzzle Quest ($4.99, HD version: app2.me/3571, free version: app2.me/3809), but in my mind this game is even better.