When Apple announced the specs of the iPhone 5s a little over a week ago, it sounded like it would be a very forward-thinking device capable of some impressive graphical feats, and early benchmarks showed that. There’s already plenty of other tests and benchmarks of various kinds across the internet as folks have gotten the iPhone 5s in their own hands, but the bottom line is that this device is going to be pretty killer for gaming. If you are a dedicated enough iPhone’r to have waited in line to ensure you get your hands on one today, then chances are you’ll be looking to show off what the hardware can do to prove to your not-as-hardcore friends that there was good reason you camped out on that sidewalk overnight. With that in mind here’s a list of games that are graphical showpieces, and while not all of these have specifically been updated for what the iPhone 5s can do (not yet, anyway), they’re still visually impressive enough that they should cause a few eyeballs to pop and jaws to drop.
Infinity Blade III, $6.99 (Universal) – Oh Infinity Blade series, your games have long been the flagship graphical showpiece for iOS devices over the years, and that’s especially true today. Infinity Blade III was unveiled at the iPhone 5s announcement event and used to show just what the new hardware was capable of graphics-wise. An update just hit today that specifically adds bells and whistles for the iPhone 5s, and Eli did an in-depth comparison of the game on both the 5 and 5s. It was a beautiful game to begin with, but the extra graphical details provided by the iPhone 5s are noticeable. If you can only have one game to show off your new iPhone 5s, make it this one.
Real Racing 3, Free (Universal) – Similar to the Infinity Blade games, the Real Racing series has also served well in showing what kind of graphics iOS devices are capable of. Even though their latest game Real Racing 3 came out more than six months ago, it’s still amongst the best-looking games on the platform. The car models are just insane in this game, with incredible detail and all kinds of fancy lighting and reflection effects. I’ve probably lost hours by now just getting distracted with viewing cars in the game, spinning them around and zooming in to check them out closer. One of the best reasons Real Racing 3 is a great show off game is because it’s free, so even if you don’t like racing games if you can spare the space and the bandwidth then there’s no reason you shouldn’t have it on your device.
Asphalt 8: Airborne, $0.99 (Universal) and 2K Drive, $6.99 (Universal) – Ok, so Real Racing 3 is free and that’s great and all, but if you don’t mind tossing down some money for some excellent and visually impressive racing titles, you can’t really go wrong with Asphalt 8 or 2K Drive. I still think Real Racing just barely edges them out in terms of visuals, but Asphalt 8 is delightfully over-the-top and has absolutely spectacular crashes on the reg, complete with slow-mo and plenty of particle effects. 2K Drive is a sim-racer closer to Real Racing 3, and although its car models don’t seem quite as detailed, they still look stunningly good, and some of their environments are so photorealistic it’s almost disconcerting.
2013: Infected Wars, $0.99 (Universal) – If your idea of showing off your new iPhone hardware is blasting away the undead, then 2013 Infected Wars is a great option. The actual zombie character models can be hit and miss, some of them look really creepy and gruesome while others just plain look generic and outdated. The environments, though, are where this game really shines. There are tons of little details all over the place that make you question whether or not you’re actually trapped inside a zombie apocalypse. The atmosphere of the game is great, and being an Unreal Engine game it’s not surprising that 2013: Infected Wars is a nice way to show off what the iPhone 5s can do. As a bonus, the game is on sale for this weekend only for just a buck, so definitely check it out.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, $6.99 (Universal) – If a shooter is just the kind of thing that would catch your friends’ attention and impress them with what your device can do, but your sick of the whole zombies thing, then Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour is probably your best bet. Even though Modern Combat 4 came out way back in December of last year (that’s an eternity in the mobile world), it’s still one of the most visually impressive games I’ve had the pleasure of playing. Gameloft used plenty of visual tricks like depth of field effects and real-time shadows that really brought Modern Combat 4 to life, and the silky smooth framerate made all the action flow like a mighty river. Also, the smoke and particle effects just look too cool. If you have buddies who are all about Call of Duty on consoles but don’t take the iPhone seriously for games, show them this.
Sky Gamblers: Cold War, $4.99 (Universal) – Flying games are just as good as racing games when it comes time to show off some snazzy graphics, and pretty much all of the Sky Gamblers games accomplish this task quite handily. Their newest is Sky Gamblers: Cold War, and it’s one of those games that’s hard not to be impressed with when you see it in motion. Not only are the planes themselves incredibly detailed, from the outer body right down to the inside of the cockpit, but the environments are vast and impressive as well. Of course, being a dogfighting game, there are plenty of slick explosion and combat effects too.
Bloodmasque, $2.99 (Universal) – Ok, I’ll admit: Bloodmasque is a very attractive game, but it’s probably not one of those “knock your socks off" kind of games. Don’t get me wrong, it looks really good, but I wouldn’t necessarily say it raises the bar or anything in terms of what iOS devices are capable of. It does, however, have one feature that makes all other points moot: importing a picture of your own face into the game and onto the main character. It sounds like the dumbest thing, but it’s not. It’s the most non-dumbest thing in the world. I could have hours of fun just importing silly photos onto my in-game character, and it’s definitely a cool feature to exploit if you’re looking to show off to your friends. It doesn’t hurt that Bloodmasque is also a really fun game either, and if you picked up 2K Drive they have a similar feature, though it’s not as prevalent as it is here.
Keep in mind there’s definitely plenty more graphical showpiece games in the App Store, but hopefully this list will get you started off with some good ones. Also, as time goes by, new games will come out and older games will be updated that take advantage of what the iPhone 5s is capable of. Two I’ve got on my radar right now are Dead Trigger 2, the sequel to the visually outstanding original, and GT Racing 2, a new sim-racer from Gameloft that looks like it’ll have some serious graphical chops.