Ravensword: The Fallen KingDeveloper: Chillingo
Price (as reviewed): £3.99
from the AppStore
is definitely one of the more ambitious games on the iPhone and one which we’ve had our eyes on for a long, long time. Often compared to Bethesda’s Oblivion
is an attempt to create a fully 3D, open-world RPG on the iPhone and, to a degree, it succeeds at reaching that goal.
Beginning in the small town of Aven, Ravensword
’s fairly predictable plot casts you as an amnesiac who sets off on a quest to recover his identity. All you have to go on is the vague hint that you should investigate the nearby dungeons and castles, once you’ve got your strength back. From there you’re launched into a moderately sized RPG world complete with side-quests – with the developers claiming at least six hours of gaming.
The world of Ravensword
is as complex and sprawling as you could realistically expect a Unity-powered game on your mobile phone to be, which is to say that even though the graphics are a little blurry they’re still astonishing considering the platform.
Ravensword: The Fallen King
Unfortunately, that does mean that the game has some performance issues and when running on a second gen iPod Touch Ravensword
was definitely a bit choppy. It’s definitely playable, just not exactly smooth and the dropped frames can prove an annoying distraction when you're going toe to toe with monsters - an issue further complicated by the incredibly short range of most melee weapons.
Likewise, the controls are slightly suspect – swipe to look, thumbstick to move, buttons for everything else, though at least it’s balanced out by the chance to switch between first and third person modes. Really though, it’s the grating performance and shallow writing which most weaken a technically enticing but otherwise mediocre game.
Definitely something RPG fans will want to have a look at, just don’t expect to have your socks blown off. Or rely on a totally smooth experience either. JM
Space Invaders Infinity GeneDeveloper: Taito
Price (as reviewed): £2.99
from the AppStore
It’s not often that I get to claim my degree is useful at work, but here’s this year’s attempt: in academia, ‘ur-text’
refers to the original, seminal, product that invents a certain genre – and when it comes to video games, Space Invaders
. Tense, addictive and repetitive, it proved that ‘hammering buttons to kill a stream of baddies for arbitrary rewards’ was not only fun, but a design so profound it still stands as the first commandment of game design.
While this formula still inspires games to this day, it’s obviously evolved a heck of a lot, and of course, this presents a bit of a problem if you’re still trying to flog Space Invaders
games – how do you keep with the times without losing the original’s magic? Answer: you make a game like Inifinity Gene
. Its high-resolution vector-style graphics are fluid, razor-sharp but remain true to the original (while bringing to mind Rez
), the music flows beautifully from cool bleeps to funky, involving electro, and there are billions of baddies to shoot.
Unlike the original, your spaceship isn’t rooted to the bottom of the screen, and while it’s controlled by touch, it’s not tied to your fingertip, either – you can move your finger anywhere on the screen, and your plucky ship will mimic your swipes. Crucially, this means that the game mostly avoids the problems of your finger blocking your view. It’s still tricky in some of the levels, if only because Infinity Gene
throws so many aliens at you, and they don’t hesitate to hose you with lasers and missiles.
Some people have complained the pared down approach to the graphics becomes a bit too abstract in places, but generally, figuring out what part of a huge enemy boss to shoot is an enjoyable challenge. As you progress through the game, you unlock different weapons, and these, together with the increasingly frantic waves of enemies and cool design make Infinity Gene
a deep and engrossing experience.
Brilliantly designed frantic good fun that proves the idea behind Space Invaders
is alive and well. AW