Resident Evil Village has just been released on the iPhone 15 Pro (only) and iPads with M1 and M2 SoCs (system on chip). It features PS4 assets which is, I believe, the first time that a mobile game has deployed such a thing. But given the size of the iPhone 15 Pro (and Pro Max), I ask myself this question: why? Why go to the trouble?
I downloaded a copy from the App Store to have a play about with, and the first thing I noticed was how bad the user interface was. Firstly, you’ve got to use a virtual touch controller or some other physical game controller (such as a PS5 or Xbox controller) rather than touching on menu options. I’ve never gotten used to virtual touch controllers – I find them too small and fiddly and when you’ve got multiple action buttons, the game becomes unplayable. The only way to play titles like those is to use a proper game controller from the Xbox or PlayStation console. That kind of defeats the purpose if you’ve already got the consoles!
You could use the USB-C function to hook the phone up to a monitor, but then because you’re just mirroring the screen, you don’t use all of the screen’s resolution. Plus, it runs at a much lower resolution to that of the iPhone’s native display. Not very Pro, Apple.
So, I think we can pretty much forget the iPhone Pro becoming a Nintendo Switch-like competitor because it tries to be everything, and that’s not always a good thing. Narrative games that require little or accurate input from the user, and the usual mobile culprits like Candy Crush and other simple UI games are about as much as the iPhone (or any other phone for that matter) will ever achieve.
This leads me to the new M3 family of chips destined for a newly refreshed MacBook Pro and iMac range. As I bought my M2 Max laptop earlier this year (and work providing me with a M2 MacBook Air), there is no chance in hell I’m going to be rushing out to buy an M3 Mac even if the MacBook Pros now come in a “Space Black” colour. If you want a fully tricked out MacBook Pro, it’ll cost you a staggering £7,200 (128Gb RAM and 8Tb of storage, 16-core GPU and 40-core GPU). Performance is a bit of a mixed bag, judging from the various commentary from those that have spent time studying the specs. Memory bandwidth performance is down a little, but overall memory is up (e.g. 32Gb becomes 36Gb) and you can now buy a MacBook Pro with a staggering 128Gb of RAM. Performance between an M2 and M3 equivalent is said to be similar between the M1 and M2 series. So, there is no love lost there.
The M3 series is really there for those people who have remained on Intel Macs all this time. Trust me, if you’re still on an Intel Mac, moving to an M1, M2 or especially M3 is going to amaze you with just how much faster things are.
The M3 does finally include hardware ray tracing for graphics, which is nice. But all this means very little unless Apple can convince developers (looks away, whistling) that developing games for the Mac (and iOS/iPadOS) platform is worth their while. Games that have been released aren’t going to play as well on a MacBook Air or lower end MacBook Pro than they would on an M2/M3 Pro or M2/M3 Max which has many more GPU cores. It’ll be interesting to see what the performance is like with Death Stranding when it’s released on the Mac platform in just over two months’ time.