Epic Citadel Comes to Android, Showing Off Unreal Engine 3; Is It a Harbinger for Infinity Blade?

Epic Citadel Comes to Android, Showing Off Unreal Engine 3; Is It a Harbinger for Infinity Blade?

Jan 29, 2013

Epic Games has released something potentially interesting on Android, a tech demo called Epic Citadel, which is also available for Kindle Fire. This allows players to explore a fantasy city in the setting of Infinity Blade, Epic and Chair Entertainment’s hit action-RPG series (that has inspired Android titles such as Horn and Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering). Players can freely roam around using virtual joysticks to move and look, can take a guided tour, or enter a benchmarking mode that shows how the game’s framerate performs in various scenarios, with performance options available to be tweaked from the settings menu of the app.

Now, Epic Citadel certainly looks impressive, and people involved with the technology claim that it’s pushing new boundaries on Android. Tony Tamasi, SVP Content and Technology at Nvidia says “Epic Citadel features beautiful, high-performance graphics that are characteristic of mobile Unreal Engine games. Throughout the app’s development for Android, we worked closely with Epic Games to ensure that the visuals can be experienced on NVIDIA Tegra-based devices in all of their glory.”

The thing is this: Unreal Engine 3 has already been running on Android. Wild Blood, Dark Meadow: The Pact and Horn all use it. But much like how Epic Citadel presaged the release of Infinity Blade on iOS, could this be the first step to making the game come out on Android? It’s possible that exclusivity deals have ended, or the team has finally seen fit to push the game on Android, even though it’s been over a year since Infinity Blade II released.

However, the press release may indicate another reason for this release: support for Intel x86 processors that run Android – in layman’s terms, Android devices that use the same processor architecture that powers the overwhelming majority of Windows and Linux PCs, as well as modern Mac OS X systems. Mukesh Goel, Intel’s Director of Ecosystem Enabling, Mobile Communications Group, "Intel is very pleased to see Epic’s award-winning Unreal Engine 3 technology shipping on Android with full native support for x86. We’re especially excited by the tremendous performance being realized in ‘Epic Citadel’ on the Atom Z2460 platform.” In short, this tech demo release could just be a good omen for gamers across Android devices, that Epic wants to make Unreal Engine a real possibility for Android releases.

Right now for Android developers, the only way to get Android support is to use the full Unreal Engine 3, which can be costly to license. The low-cost UDK is not yet available on Android, and this could be the first step. So for gamers, more games that use this engine could be on the way. But considering the fact that Infinity Blade was mentioned by name by Epic in their press release, it’s hard not to consider the possibility that Android gamers won’t soon get to take on the God King for themselves, particularly since all this work likely wouldn’t have gone into just making a tech demo.

Update: The Verge is reporting that Infinity Blade will stay an iOS exclusive.

Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering Review

Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering Review

Sep 12, 2012

Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering takes the one-on-one arena combat inflenced by Infinity Blade and deftly adds its own touch to it. The goal for the player, who chooses their class at the start of the game, is to romp their way through the land, making their way to defeat Sovering, a big bad demon doing big bad demon things. Along the way, a creepy little girl comes along who may be possessed and spouts off the kind of dialog that a creepy possessed girl usually would.

The combat is turn-based with timing elements, as players deal out a blow in one of three zones, with an oscillating block zone to avoid. Experience and loot is earned after fights, with level ups allowing for stat upgrades, and coins able to be spent on new weapons and armor. Along the way, players will free up lands, which have coins to collect, and new enemies to fight in order to protect the residents of that area. Scarabs that are collected as loot can be used to find hidden treasure. Completing achievements unlocks new areas. There’s even a puzzle mini-game for collecting additional loot that is unlocked at one point.

Some games do the whole Infinity Blade style of one-on-one combat in a way that is very similar to that, but Juggernaut: Revenge of Sovering goes a long way to feel like its own game. The three zones of combat, with enemies able to block attacks, adds a layer of strategy. Then there’s the addition of magic, the combo abilities that can be powered up, the multiple fury attacks that use up different amounts of the ability, and the interactive tapping elements that pop up in battle. It feels multi-faceted, like there’s legitimate strategies that can be executed instead of just trying to read diversionary tactics from the enemy. It’s absolutely fantastic.

My problem starts with the facat that there’s little that the playercan do to block or dodge normal attacks; fury can be used to reduce the damage on them but otherwise, the player is kind of helpless. The enemy levels accelerat ea t a point where the player gets left behind. While there are spots where enemies closer to the player’s level can be played around the map, this is still something where eventually crystals will be tempting to the player. Now, they can be occasionally gained as post-fight rewards but the odds of winning them are about as often as a crane game. So buying them is the easiest way to obtain them, along with the health potions and powerful items that will turn the tide toward the player.

Hypothetically, through a lot of grinding, everything could be unlocked for free, but it would be a lot of it. Being able to re-fight earlier tiers of enemies would make the grinding problem go away. I don’t have a problem with giving money to this game, something I found rather engrossing and fun (though its instability on the Nexus 7 was aggravating – new areas would often crash, and it is a crapshoot if it will launch after locking the screen). I’m surprised that it was free-to-play, as this could have easily been worth a premium app price. Plus, nothing essential is locked away behind IAP, there’s the option to spend either coins or crystals. It’s fairer than many games have done.

Juggernaut: Revnege of Sovering is overall a great exmaple of how free-to-play can be done. This is a premium app experience that’s a free download, and generally is built around rewarding those players that decide to spend money, even if it throws some encouragement out do so. Still, this is something that I found absolutely fun to play. Love this game.

Blood and Glory Review

Blood and Glory Review

Nov 29, 2011

Blood and Glory is Glu’s latest freemium title, and it takes direct inspiration from iOS mega-hit Infinity Blade. The gameplay is similar, if not identical; players stand in one-on-one arenas against a gladiatorial opponent, dodging, defending, and parrying attacks in order to stun the enemy to unleash combos upon them. Fights are set up as part of tournament ladders, where players must defeat several opponents in a row to win, getting coins to spend on new items like weapons, shields, and helmets. Rubies serve as this game’s credits, being used to buy coins, special items, and potions for healing and stat buffing. They can be acquired through leveling up, by completing Tapjoy offers, and by purchasing them.

Blood and Glory may be familiar, but the gameplay does work well here, and actually provides more of a challenge. Without magic spells, and with smaller parrying windows than its progenitor, it proves to be far more difficult. At least potions, while not exactly cheap to acquire, can be used mid-match as well. The game does look really good on the iPad and Retina Display. Plenty of interesting armor and weapons are available despite the concept of this game being ever-so-slightly more grounded in reality, including one shield that would make Ed Gein proud.

The game would have done well to differentiate its product a bit more than as it currently stands. While it’s structurally different, the gameplay cuts close enough that it actually is on that line of being a clone. While unlike the Ninja Fishing controversy, no one is going to be weeping for Epic and ChAIR Entertainment, especially as they’ve reportedly made over $20 million from Infinity Blade. However, principally, it’s about the same, and more differences in gameplay to make it its own game would have been appreciated. Also, this game will be very difficult to play for free for a long time, as potions are only available through the in-app credits system. In fact, a lot of money will need to be spent in order to explore the game’s depths, especially with tournaments that cost large amounts of gems to get in. While making some items expensive is par for the course for other freemium Glu games and is perfectly fine with me, making potions only available through credits that are sparingly given out in-game does not sit well with me.

Sure, it’s basically Infinity Blade wrapped up in a Glu freemium shell. But Infinity Blade was quite fun, and Blood and Glory follows a similar path to feature similarly entertaining gameplay. While the freemium elements providing a glorified paywall after a short amount of time is a little on the annoying side, this is a good stopgap for people who are tired of slaying the God King, and need something to do while they wait for Infinity Blade 2. Android owners might get more satisfaction out of this, as their platform lacks for Infinity Blade entirely.