Epic Citadel: Gorgeous Preview Of What’s To Come
Epic games didn’t wasn’t any time in following up on their incredible demonstration at yesterday’s Apple keynote. Almost immediately, Epic Citadel became available in the App Store. Unlike a typical demo that gives a teaser sample of some gameplay, Epic Citadel survives on visuals alone. It is, hands down, the most beautiful thing we’ve seen on iOS, bringing the in-game graphic quality we’ve previously only seen in video segments.
The city-scape and outlying areas that are available for exploration in Epic Citadel are all going to be a part of Project Sword when it releases (which can’t be soon enough!). Epic Games is using the Unreal Engine 3, and the resulting visual effects glisten, shine, and show a level of smoothness that just hasn’t been matched. It’s a great preview of not only Project Sword, but what the line of iOS device is going to be capable of in the near future. It’s also a great reason to believe Steve Jobs’ assertion that Apple can be competitive with Nintendo and Sony’s handheld devices.
The Epic Games demonstrators at the keynote got to engage in some hand-to-hand combat in front of the audience. Unfortunately, that’s not available to us just yet. Instead, the Epic Citadel tech demo will guide you through the city and let you get a feel for how navigation is controlled. As well as setting a new graphical standard, Epic Games is bringing a great new control element that should work great for an RPG in the vein of Fable (which is what we’re expecting from Project Sword). The usual dual virtual joysticks are available for navigation if that’s what you prefer, but you can also simply “tap” a location and watch as your character walks where directed. This allows us to slide left and right and look around while the walking is taken care of. I can’t think of a better mechanic for a game that has so much to offer visually. Now we won’t be hindered by looking at the ground as we move from spot to spot.
The castle grounds where you begin the demo are cleverly constructed from brick and stone. Steeples reach up to the sky, which is a deep blue and teeming with ominous clouds and gleaming sunlight. Courtyards and tightly-packed buildings all exist for your perusal, but the real center of the castle grounds is the “mysterious cathedral,” where an intimidating statue awaits. Extra points if you can figure out how these elements will serve the story . . . Venturing beyond the castle walls, we get a look at the 3D depth of the environment, as a sheer drop off leads down to a river, and across from that we get a look at bazaar populated with colorful tents. Follow the winding bridge to go check it out.
Of course, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s still possible that the game which eventually fills this world could disappoint, but for now there’s plenty of reason to get excited. The keynote demonstration showed how we’ll get to develop a character and face off against other players thanks to the upcoming matchmaking capabilities through Game Center. It looks like everything will be big, other-worldly, and intense, which is exactly what we’d want to fill a world like this. All we can do is keep our fingers crossed that the rest of Project Sword lives up to what this demo makes us expect. It comes in at a rather large 82.2 MB, and can be played on the 3GS, iPhone 4, or iPad. Comparisons across devices are what you’d expect. The retina displays is the most impressive, though the iPad’s expansive screen is a great window for taking in the castle grounds. The graphic performance of the 3GS also holds up great. Download Epic Citadel ASAP and just wait and see if it doesn’t get you excited for Project Sword. If it doesn’t, you have no soul!
Our Score: 5 Out of 5