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iPhone 4S gets a sequel of Epic Games’ Infinity Blade, but doesn’t do much else for gaming

Gears of War developer Epic Games today unveiled the second version of its hardcore mobile hack-and-slash game, Infinity Blade — designed specifically for Apple’s next iPhone (also unveiled today) and once again featuring suped-up graphics.

The original Infinity Blade broke through a lot of the boundaries for graphics on a smartphone. It was one of the first games to show that the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 could compete as gaming platforms with devices built specifically for gaming. Infinity Blade on the iPhone 4 actually looks a touch better than the graphics available on the PlayStation Portable, Sony’s handheld video game console, and much better than those on the Nintendo DS.

Infinity Blade 2 looks like it will once again push the phone’s boundaries. It includes new gameplay features, like being able to customize weapons and armor. But it also features a revamped graphic engine with dynamic lighting, which is extremely graphic intensive. Apple’s iPhone 4S should be able to handle it thanks to its A5 processor, which is about 7 times more powerful than the A4 in the iPhone 4 when it comes to graphics.

But that’s about it. Aside from the incremental upgrades to the processor, the iPhone 4S doesn’t really push the envelope in gaming like the original iPhone did when it introduced touch and motion controls. Even the iPhone 4 still pushed mobile gaming forward with its super high-resolution Retina display, which made colorful games much more vivid and artistic games more popular. The iPhone 4S runs the risk of going along with other pieces of hardware that assume graphics are what makes or breaks a game.

“Agreed, I don’t see a material change here,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told VentureBeat.

Creating a device that can handle more graphically intensive games isn’t always the most successful strategy. For example, the Wii is not a graphics powerhouse, but it is still the most popular console of the current generation. That’s because it opened up gaming to a brand new audience.

Infinity Blade 2 puts players in control of a man on a mission to destroy the “God-King,” a hyper-powerful knight who kicks your ass the first time you play. You control the game by swiping your finger to swing your sword and tapping the screen to dodge attacks and bring up your shield. Over time, you become more powerful and get access to better equipment — like new spells, swords and shields.

Infinity Blade was a commercial success for Epic Games and brought in more than $10 million in revenue. That’s pretty impressive given that the game costs $6 on the Apple App Store. Epic Games is known for games that push the limits of graphics on devices like its over-the-shoulder shooting game series Gears of War.

Infinity Blade 2 comes out December 1 this year.


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