The first outing for the Unreal engine on iOS devices came with Epic Citadel, a tech demo that allowed you to wander about a stunningly realised castle and its immediate surroundings. However, it wasn't actually a game (unless you take particular joy in the fine arts of tourism), just a beautiful taste of the potential of Epic Games' graphics system.
Infinity Blade is the first application, therefore, to add gameplay to the gorgeous surroundings, and it equally brilliant and hamstung in equal measure.
Don't get us wrong, we love Infinity Blade here at Pocket-lint, but it has swapped manoeuvrability for gameplay, and is therefore only the next step on an exciting journey for the Unreal Engine.
The reason this isn't a review, rather a hands-on with the game, is that, although it is now available on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch (at a very reasonable £3.49), we haven't yet played through more than the first few enemies, so can't say for certain how the game plays out in later stages. However, we've certainly done enough to know what's what.
Epic Citadel was a free-roaming first-person look-around-a-thon, allowing complete control to wander about the environment as much as you like. Infinity Blade isn't. It keeps you to linear paths as it is, in essence, a tarted-up beat-em-up, with swords and role-playing elements; think Soul Caliber crossed with Magic The Gathering.
The gameplay itself consists of a sequence of fights with progressively tougher opponents, where you must learn to dodge, block and slice your way through their attacks and counter attacks. Each of you has an energy bar (like in Street Fighter II, say) and each successful hit depletes it. Fade to end.
Its appeal lies in strategy, and judging the best response to each attack or defence. Then, after a bout, you are awarded experience points and money, which can be traded in for new shields, weaponry, armour and the like, or the proficiency with each.
In between the fights themselves, you can also find potions (to replenish hit points before the next encounter) and the like. Plus, you can look around at the amazing scenery, which is one cross over from Epic Citadel. Sadly, there's not enough to do between bouts to retain your interest for long, though.
Thankfully, however, each bout (certainly of those we've undertaken so far) are enough to get on with.
It's just not the ground-breaking leap in gaming that we have been hearing about all these months. For that, we still favour forthcoming games such as Shadow Guardian and Eternal Legacy from Gameloft.
Still fantastic though, especially for less than £3.50.
Do you agree or strongly disagree? Let us know in the comments below...