Epic's Infinity Blade hands-on: Prettiest game on the iPhone/iPad

Epic's follow-up to Epic Citadel shows what the iOS games are capable of, at least graphically.

Yes, this is actual gameplay on an iPhone 4.
Screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET

One of the biggest splashes in the iOS gaming scene came during an Apple keynote earlier this year when a preview of an upcoming game from Epic, using the Unreal engine, showcased graphics that seemed like they came from a next-gen console. A free preview of this game, called Epic Citadel, debuted shortly afterward. As a demo of the graphics prowess in the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, it was unparalleled.

The full game is now available, and its name has changed to Infinity Blade. The universal app costs $5.99, and the bottom line is this: its graphics top anything ever seen on a PSP or Nintendo DS. In fact, many of the visual effects seem like they came from an Xbox 360. On the other hand, be prepared for some pretty limited gameplay.

Infinity Blade is set in the same castle landscape as Epic Citadel, but the game itself isn't an RPG so much as it is a Punch-Out-style series of matchups against various behemoths, where you can duck, dodge, and sword-swipe opponents in one-on-one showdowns. There are experience points, items, and gold collected, but those mainly serve to power up your character for yet another matchup.

It's not Fable--not by a long shot--but, for $5.99 and a cross-platform game that works on an iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, next-gen iPod Touch or iPad alike, it's a fantastic showcase for the graphics capabilities in iOS devices. It's even more impressive than Rage HD, albeit a more static game. If this is where iOS games are going next, then sign us up.