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Don't Believe The Hype

Of course in the end what matters isn't specs or potential, but good, honest games. This is where Nokia's N-Gage stuff has - for the most part - fallen down, and where Sony's oft-criticised PSP still has its Achilles' heel. Well, we've been sifting through the piles of iPhone games in search of titles to treasure. The good news is we've found a few. The bad news is that there are still plenty of other games that show some aspects of the iPhone gaming hype should be taken with a sizable pinch of salt.

Kroll (left) has been compared to God of War, but even the PSP GoW makes Kroll look dated and basic.

Take Kroll, for example. When the Digital Legends game made its debut at this year's Apple WWDC some of the more excitable commentators described it as an iPhone God of War. Playing the finished game, it's no more an iPhone God of War than Razorlight are the next U2. To be fair, it's an impressive engine and the basic game was put together in a mere two weeks, but it's an incredibly simple hack-and-slash effort that relies on you moving slowly from left to right while whacking things from either side with deft taps of the touchscreen. It's fun in its own mindless way, but is it as beautiful, cinematic or thrilling as God of War: Chains of Olympus on the PSP? Unless you're a Cupertino brainwashed dolt, the answer is no. Kroll is a nice tech demo, nothing more.

Force Unleashed feels more like a school lesson than a game.

I can't even be that kind about THQ's wretched iPhone version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. While it vaguely follows the storyline of the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, it doesn't even attempt to replicate their gameplay. Instead, we get the sort of game that looks good in screenshots - and it does - but plays terribly, as you manipulate Jedi powers through a series of practically static scenes by scrawling symbols above the heads of your foes. SW: TFU tapped into one of my childhood memories but it certainly wasn't Star Wars. It was handwriting class at school. This is not a good thing.

Meanwhile, other games have left me doubting the platform's much vaunted 3D capabilities. Gaze at the screenshots and Crash Bandicoot: Nitro Cart 3D looks like a decent facsimile of Crash Team Racing - the PlayStation's best Mario Kart wannabe, and a game I spent a considerable amount of time playing back in 1999. In actual motion it's anything but, with its physically painful frame rate and a tilt control system that takes a bit too much getting used to. Meanwhile, anyone who thinks Asphalt 4: Elite Racing or Raging Thunder outclasses Ridge Racer or Wipeout: Pulse on the PSP needs their eyes and head examined. Where's the awesome lighting, the background detail, the incredible sensation of speed? And don't even get me started on Nanosaur 2. Again, the screenshots look brilliant, but the combination of frame rate and poor accelerometer controls makes it an instantly off putting experience.

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