Game developers optimizing their games for the iPad 2

Mar 11, 2011
Games

Gamers, I’ve got a new reason you might want to consider picking up an iPad 2: optimized, faster and better looking games. Infinity Blade developer ChAIR announced today it would be pushing through an update to the award-winning sword-fighting game to push its graphical capabilities even further. In the press release, ChAIR’s technical director, Geremy […]

Gamers, I’ve got a new reason you might want to consider picking up an iPad 2: optimized, faster and better looking games.

Infinity Blade developer ChAIR announced today it would be pushing through an update to the award-winning sword-fighting game to push its graphical capabilities even further. In the press release, ChAIR’s technical director, Geremy Mustard, talked about the processing power of the iPad 2 and what it will mean for Infinity Blade.

“The iPad 2 is a huge leap up in processing power from the first iPad, and is more powerful than the impressive iPhone 4. The whole operating system will feel even more responsive and smooth. For developers like us who are always pushing the hardware to its limits, the iPad 2 will allow us to do things people won’t believe can be done on a tablet device. Wait until you see what ChAIR does next!”

That’s a pretty ringing endorsement, and if there’s a game that can show off the new capabilities of the iPad 2’s A5 chip — a dual-core processor that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has claimed will allow for nine times the graphical speed of the previous iPad — Infinity Blade is it. The game already has what are probably the best graphics on the iOS platform. It utilizes the powerful Unreal Engine 3 to generate its graphics, which is the graphical engine that powers lots of console and PC video games.

Another significant detail about the update: ChAIR just pushed through a big new content boost to Infinity Blade, nearly doubling the size of the game. The fact that the company has immediately hit the books to upgrade the game again is pretty indicative of the excitement about the A5 that seems to be coursing through the mobile gaming community.

ChAIR isn’t the only developer looking to take advantage of the new capabilities of the iPad 2. Lots of other top-tier companies are working to get upgraded, better-looking versions of their games out for the new tablet’s launch. Gameloft has rolled out an update to its racer Asphalt 5 HD that adds graphical boosts like motion blur and improved particle effects, and boasts that the games graphics now run twice as fast. That’s kind of technical, but basically, it means the game will look more realistic and run better.

Firemint has made similar improvements to its racer, Real Racing 2, and Electronic Arts Mobile updated its survival horror title, Dead Space for iPad, to make use of the new iPad. That’s just a few of the more notable ones — the iPad 2’s improvements seem to be having a widespread effect on the gaming community.

The new A5 also has developers already making plans for future games. Telltale Games, the maker of Back to the Future for the iPad, said at Game Developers Conference 2011 last week that the company is considering making new versions of its point-and-click adventure games for the iPad 2.

That’s great news, because while Back to the Future is a great game on the PC or PlayStation 3, it’s a little too intensive for the iPad right now, and suffers from some graphical hitches as a result. The iPad 2 should be able to handle Telltale’s game engine much better, improving greatly the experiences of not just Back to the Future, but the forthcoming Jurassic Park, and older hits like Puzzle Agent.

It’s true that the iPad 2 isn’t a quantum leap over its predecessor in a lot of areas. The A5 chip is better, but not exceptionally so when it comes to most of what iPad users are going to do with the device. But when it comes to gaming, it seems the device really is a pretty great improvement. The iPad represents a whole different side of the cutting edge of mobile gaming. Mobile game developers are excited about the device — that’s a pretty good indicator that you should be, too.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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