Gameloft updates Modern Combat and Asphalt with iOS 8 Metal-powered graphics

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Following up on yesterday’s public release of the free iOS 8 software update for Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch mobile devices, French games maker Gameloft on Thursday unleashed a pair of updates for its two highly-successful titles: Modern Combat 5: Blackout, a first-person shooter, and Asphalt 8: Airborne, a crazy racing game driven by a powerful physics engine which has you performing dynamic, high-speed aerial stunts.

Both games are now powered by iOS 8’s new Metal framework which provides low-level access to the GPU inside the Apple-designed A7 chip (the iPhone 5s, iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display) and its A8 counterpart (the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus). When played on these devices, both of these games benefit from close-to-the-metal access to graphics cores, without the overhead of the OpenGL graphics run-time.

Before you jump straight for the comments, let me reiterate that you won’t benefit from Metal-enhanced visuals unless you play these games on the iOS 8-enabled iPhone 5s/6/Plus, iPad Air or Retina iPad mini because Metal is a hardware-dependent feature requiring the A7 or A8 processor.

What Metal does for Modern Combat 5 is enable up to five times more particles, resulting in denser explosions and RPG rocket trails, impact particles for intense gunfights, richer environments and weather effects and improved heat haze and god rays.

“Please note that app resources have been improved and the game will require re-downloading the DLC packs,” Gameloft cautions.

Asphalt 8 1.4 for iOS (iPad screenshot 001)

As for Asphalt 8 (pictured above), playing the game on the A7 or A8-powered iOS 8 device will enable three times as many opponents.

Here’s the full Asphalt 8 changelog:

  • Push the pedal to the Metal! Play on an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, or on iOS 8-updated versions of iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display to enjoy AMAZING visual enhancements and enter a new gaming dimension.
  • Discover the high-speed heat of San Diego Harbor. Take off from an aircraft carrier and dodge helicopters while taking in the sights.
  • 5 new cars to master: The Koenigsegg One: 1, Mazda Furai, Maserati MC12, Savage Rivale GTR and Peugeot Onyx. Look for each one coming out over the days and weeks to come.
  • Multiplayer Events: You asked for it, and here it is. Race head-to-head for the ultimate rewards.
  • Exclusive Metal Season: Experience the exhilaration of racing against 3 TIMES as many opponents as any other Asphalt game! A season ONLY accessible on iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus or on iOS 8-updated versions of iPhone 5s, iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina display.
  • 4 new car collections. Time to stock your garage and get your rewards.

Modern Combat 5 comes in at 694 megabytes and Asphalt 8 is a massive 1.04 gigabytes so make sure to leave them downloading overnight unless on a speedy broadband connection.

Both titles are available on a free-to-play basis so downloading is free and you can buy optional extra features later through the In-App Purchase mechanism. Gameloft is also offering the Modern Combat Pack bundle comprised of Modern Combat 3, 4 and 5 for just $9.99 (purchased separately: $20.97).

Other app and game bundles are available on the App Store as well.

While we’re at it, Electronic Arts’s free-to-play Real Racing 3 received a major update yesterday adding new content like the Classic Lamborghinis, 8-player multiplayer across platforms, a brand new racing school, redesigned menus and enhanced race replays but, sadly, no Metal support.

Want to see Metal running on Epic Games’ recently released Unreal Engine 4?

Check out Epic Zen Garden, a beautiful koi pond simulator.

As seen in the video below, the technology showcase demo really pushes the envelope in terms of mobile graphics, with more than three thousand butterflies and more than five thousand falling petals being rendered in thirty frames per second.

Hungry for more Metal-optimized games?

Apple has you covered with a brand new iOS 8-themed games section on the App Store entitled “Gorgeous Games for iOS 8 Enhanced by Metal”, pictured below.

App Store section (Gorgeous iOS 8 games enhanced with Metal 001)

In addition to the aforementioned Epic Zen Garden and Asphalt 8: Airborne, I spotted a few other games in the Metal, such as Defenders, Mr. Crab, Beach Buggy and Plunder Pirates, which was released yesterday under the Rovio Stars label.

Eager to find out more about Metal?

Check out the Metal section on Apple’s portal for developers.

And lastly, here’s our list of the 25 best features in iOS 8.

[App Store — Modern Combat 5: Blackout, Asphalt 8: Airborne]