Infinity Blade Review: Simple Gameplay, Cleverly Packaged

Infinity Blade is possibly the most-hyped iOS game release to date. The title, developed by Epic Games’ ChAIR Entertainment studio, uses the Unreal Engine 3, and delivers amazing graphics unlike any yet seen on the iPhone. But does it also deliver great gameplay?

Ravensword: Why Birds and Blades Don’t Mix

Chillingo’s Ravensword ($6.99, iTunes link) is being touted as a Morrowind-type experience for the iPhone. That’s a lot to live up to. A full-fledged action RPG on my diminutive Apple (s aapl) portable seems like a dream come true, if it can actually hold a candle to its console counterparts. That’s a big if.

The iPhone faces control issues and what seems like a natural reticence towards developing lengthy, in-depth game experiences on the iPhone. I say natural because most users still game only casually on the device, since that’s what a phone lends itself to. So does Ravensword manage to pull off an in-depth action RPG gaming experience? Read on to find out. Read More about Ravensword: Why Birds and Blades Don’t Mix

Star Wars: Trench Run Brings the Force to the iPhone

Star Wars: Trench Run is finally here and this thing is utterly beautiful, packed with authentic audio and video from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and boasting impressive gameplay visuals.

Trench Run is based around the Rebel assault on the Death Star at the end of George Lucas’ classic 1977 movie. Piloting an X-Wing fighter, you begin the game high above the Empire’s dreaded Death Star in an aggressive dogfight with TIE fighters. Once you’ve dispatched them, it’s time to descend into that famous trench and make your approach to a small (two meter wide) thermal exhaust port, which, if memory serves, you’ll find right below the main port.

Oh, and, the shaft is ray-shielded so you’ll need to hit it directly with proton torpedoes. The doubting Dodonna’s amongst you might think that impossible — even for an iPhone — but, y’know, womp rats, T-16’s and all that. Read More about Star Wars: Trench Run Brings the Force to the iPhone

Quick Look: Warhammer Online Mac Edition

Over the years, I’ve been forced to redefine my definition of “native” game clients for OS X. At first, I was a die-hard, nothing but true native code for me, thanks. Then, as the harsh reality of understanding that true native code is about as likely as Congress putting aside their differences and acting on what’s best for the common man, in a moment of true despair I opined that maybe running games in Crossover wasn’t such a bad idea.

Now, the trend seems to be to use TransGaming’s Cider, which in non-technical terms a wrapper game developers can use to bridge their Windows code over to OS X. It’s not a “true” native client, but, since it doesn’t require a virtual machine or the ritual sacrifices that seem to go along with getting games to run on Crossover, I can handle that. Warhammer Online, from EAMythic is the latest game to get ported. After a few months of beta, it was released October 26. Full disclosure: this isn’t a full review. I’ve only got about 15 hours or so of game play to base these observations on.

I’ve had decent luck with Cider ports, although my sample set of Sims 3 and Spore is a little small. Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (WAR) is definitely the most resource-intensive of the ports I’ve tried. For the most part, it worked fairly well. I have a brand-new MacBook Pro, but with only 2GB of RAM. I had enough stutters and jerks to prove to me that jumping to 4GB would be optimal, but it wasn’t unplayable with 2GB, either. Read More about Quick Look: Warhammer Online Mac Edition

Command & Conquer: Red Alert Brings the Red Menace to Your iPhone

commandconquerIt’s a game series that’s gotten much love over the years, despite, or perhaps because of, the cheesy live action cut scenes featuring actors like Tim Curry. Now, Command & Conquer comes to the iPhone with Command & Conquer: Red Alert ($9.99, iTunes link), named after its PC and console counterpart released in 1996.

How well does the beloved RTS translate to the iPhone platform? That depends on what you’re looking to get out of the game. EA (s erts) Mobile has clearly tried to faithfully translate the experience, but as with any translation, no perfect one-to-one relationship can exist. What does come through, however, is definitely worth looking at. Read More about Command & Conquer: Red Alert Brings the Red Menace to Your iPhone

Dungeon Hunter: Gameloft Continues Its “Homage” Hit Parade

dungeon_hunter_iconI’m going to get this out of the way right now: Dungeon Hunter is Gameloft’s version of Diablo for the iPhone. No need to insult anyone’s intelligence by dancing around it. Now, does that mean I enjoy playing it any less? It does not.

In fact, Gameloft was very wise in porting this game to the iPhone platform. As far as traditional-style games on Apple (s aapl) portables go, control issues can tend to muddy an otherwise well-developed user experience. Innovative platform-targeted titles like Rolando escape these nagging issues, but a straight-up hack-and-slash RPG is a different fish. Read More about Dungeon Hunter: Gameloft Continues Its “Homage” Hit Parade

App Review: Ramp Champ

Ramp Champ

Arcade bowling style games are very popular. In the real world, skee-ball is probably the most recognized of these. In the iPhone world there have been several who have risen to the challenge, but Ramp Champ, the newest game from The Iconfactory and DSMediaLabs, brings a very interesting and addictive twist to this genre.

Boasting an interface designed by The Iconfactory (and award-winning designer Louie Mantia), Ramp Champ takes traditional skee-ball and throws it down in a series of four stylized arcade games, based on the idea of flicking balls at targets of varying points. Right out of the proverbial box, users can play a variety of mini-games, including ones set in a clown environment, an underwater environment, an arcade-style outer space environment or, for Apple fanboys out there, a classic “Icon Garden” style setting. Unlike traditional skee-ball, each environment has multiple targets of varying weight as well as hidden easter eggs. Read More about App Review: Ramp Champ

Weekly App Store Picks: September 5, 2009


The first week of September has seen a deluge of new arrivals at the App Store. It’s time for me to search through the latest releases for iPhone and hand-pick my recommendations for the past seven days.

This week I’ve been looking at Button, Facebook, BlogPress and Quicksilver.
appicon_buttonButton (Free)
One of my favorite sci-fi novels, “Better Than Life,” oscillates between a deep space distopia and an almost perfect Earth as it follows the surviving crew members of the Red Dwarf mining ship. It’s soon revealed that the crew’s collective vision of Earth is actually a highly addictive massively multiplayer online game beamed directly into their brains, leaving their real bodies in a seemingly catatonic state. Rather than take a giant leap towards this sinister style of multiplayer gaming, Button instead takes baby steps. There’s a big button, everyone around the world sees the button, when the button lights up you must push the button, sometimes you win a prize, usually you don’t. Button is effectively a nonsensical distraction that seems to tickle just the right bit of your brain. Plus, you can ramp up the futility by playing as a team. I’ve created a special team called tab just for readers of TheAppleBlog, come join my group and let’s push buttons together. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: September 5, 2009

Weekly App Store Picks: August 8, 2009

It’s time to take a look at my recommendations for the iPhone, hand-picked from the week’s App Store releases.

This week I’ve been looking at Gomi, Ustream 3GS Recorder, Simon the Sorcerer and Minigore.
appicon_gomiGomi ($1.99)
I’ve been waiting for Gomi for what seems like an absolute age now. The game’s developer, Bovine Dragon, is a regular tweeter and so when I woke up this morning to read that Gomi had finally been approved by Apple (s aapl) and released to the App Store, without even rolling out of bed, I immediately purchased the app. I’ve mentioned it a few times over the past few months, but to recap over the premise, the game blends Katamari Damacy object-rolling with planet hopping à la Mario Galaxy. The graphics are so lo-fi they look to be drawn using MS Paint on an old IBM running Windows ’98. It’s charming, fun from the start and really easy to get to grips with. Plus, for two bucks you get over 140 levels, eight minigames and loads of achievements and unlockables. Read More about Weekly App Store Picks: August 8, 2009

App Review: Mass Effect Galaxy

title=Mass Effect

For its latest title, EA (s erts) has brought Bioware’s Mass Effect to iPhone. This installment builds on the story from the original critically acclaimed console game.

Set in the same universe as the original console game, Mass Effect Galaxy features a rich story peppered with action-packed gunplay.
As you’d expect with a game set in the Mass Effect universe, the game is driven by a strong plot, leading you from one shoot out to the next. Imagine an episode of 24 set in outer-space featuring feuding alien races, with you as an intergalactic Jack Bauer. Read More about App Review: Mass Effect Galaxy