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Do You Need an iPhone 5s to Play 'Infinity Blade III?'

"Infinity Blade III" looks great on an iPhone 5s, but before you run out to buy a new phone, you should know that the game will probably look great on any iDevice you already own.

The iPhone 5s sports an A7 chip — a powerful processor that Apple claims will bring unprecedented graphical fidelity to the mobile space. To illustrate this point at the iPhone 5s' unveiling, the company showed off ChAIR Entertainment's new "Infinity Blade III," an action/RPG that would not look terribly out of place on a home console.

Apple and ChAIR's claims that "Infinity Blade III" is an unusually gorgeous game are not misplaced. The game boasts inspired art design, smooth animation and impressive special effects. However, while the A7 chip does indeed improve graphics and performance, it does so in a marginal way.

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To put "Infinity Blade III" through its paces, Tom's Guide tested it on three separate systems: the iPhone 5s, the iPhone 5 and the iPad mini. These devices differ considerably in power, as each uses a different generation of processor chip: the A5 for the mini, the A6 for the 5 and the A7 for the 5s.

We ran the first two levels of the game on each device and noted the smoothness of graphics, fluidity of animation and fidelity of special effects on each one.

If you haven't played the game, the first two levels include a series of swordfights with hulking behemoths and armored swordsmen in both a futuristic castle and a riverside field.

Of the three devices, the iPhone 5s had the smoothest performance and best graphics all around. Characters walked, ran and engaged in swordplay without any kind of slowdown or hesitation. Each slash, parry and dodge was seamless, and ensured that victory and defeat were up to the player rather than the caprices of a phone.

In particular, the system handled particle effects and lighting very well. At certain points, characters make swords materialize out of thin air or make magical plot devices disappear into a puff of blue components. When outdoors, the sun shines across the field with J.J. Abrams-esque lens flare. All of these effects look as clear and sophisticated as anything you'd see on the silver screen.

The A7 chip definitely delivers what Apple promised, but here's the sticking point: The regular iPhone 5, for the most part, delivers it too. There was absolutely no difference in how smoothly the game ran or how good the character models looked.

This is not to say that the iPhone 5 displayed "Infinity Blade III" as well as its A7 counterpart, of course. The game blurred its backgrounds slightly, and the particle effects were noticeably simpler. Still, none of these changes impacted gameplay in any way, and without looking for them specifically, they're very hard to notice.

The only system we tested with any immediately perceptible differences was the iPad mini. Because of its larger screen size, lower resolution and slower processor, the game looks a little bit stretched, and it's possible to see some jagged edges.

The characters themselves look fine on the iPad mini, but the backgrounds are not as finely textured. Still, the game looks great, and runs without any kind of lag. Gamers who play "Infinity Blade III" on the iPad mini will not be missing anything significant.

"Infinity Blade III" also runs on other systems that can run iOS 7, including earlier iPads and the iPod touch. While it's possible that some older devices run the game significantly worse than the 5s, the 5 and the mini do not.

The A7 chip may prove its superiority for mobile gaming in the future, but for right now, it's just another strong contender in a field of powerful devices.

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