Dungeon Hunter HD
Until Blizzard brings Diablo to the iPad, Dungeon Hunter HD is the closest experience you'll find to the classic, top-down action RPG. You'll notice a few shortcuts (like grainy icons) that were taken in porting Dungeon Hunter from the iPhone version, but you'll quickly look beyond these minor blemishes as you hurl lightning bolts, develop skill trees and, of course, dungeon crawl for loot with superb graphics and some of the best controls you can find on a touchscreen. For $7, it's a no-brainer purchase if you enjoy the genre. [iTunes]
Buy. This. Shit.
Need for Speed Shift for iPad
Need for Speed Shift is a $15 game—in App Store dollars, that's the equivalent of thousands. But it's worth the price. What you're getting is a beautiful, real racing game that feels like it belongs on a console while scaling its difficulty from casual to hardcore gamers alike. You steer with the iPad, which is extremely effective. And from there, decide whether you'd like help with the braking and shifting, or whether you'd like to go full manual. (Both schemes actually work.) 28 real, beautifully modeled cars. From our count, at least 12 tracks with detailed environments. Race online or locally. For the App Store, it looks like an expensive game—notice it's over twice the price of RealRacingHD, which we also praised highly. If money is no object, Need for Speed Shift is the better, deeper game that would look like a bargain on the DS or PSP. And it's among the best-looking games on the iPad.
$15 and probably worth it.
Mirror's Edge is EA's take on updating the side scroller for our finger-flicking times, and it is an impressive, addictive achievement. You're charged with controlling an outlaw courier, sending her scampering through 14 multi-stage levels with various types of swipes. Different combinations of these simple controls account for most the game's action, letting you pull of Parkour maneuvers and perform flying kicks to disarm security guards, in just one example. At $13, Mirror's Edge isn't cheap, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it by any means. The swiped controls satisfyingly match the movements they're dictating on screen, and it's a pleasure to fall into the game's rhythm, sending your character sliding under pipes and launching off rooftops in the beautiful game environment. Of all the iPad games I've played so far, this one felt like the most definitive iPad Game, per se: thoughtful design, striking visuals, and gameplay that benefits greatly from its adaptation to the touch screen. [iTunes]
It's expensive, but you're getting your money's worth: Mirror's Edge is a full fledged game, designed uniquely for the iPad experience.
Plants Vs Zombies HD
It's been widely acclaimed on almost every portable platform known to man, but I admit, I avoided Plants Vs Zombies, much because I knew it was coming to the iPad at a higher resolution. The game is beautiful, and tower defense titles (of which I'm a huge, huge fan) obviously work wonderfully on a large touchscreen. I was quickly suckered into way too much "test" time with Plants Vs Zombies, despite it being far simpler than the hardcore tower defense games I usually play (you don't route enemies through a maze like other games, and towers don't have quite the same rock, paper, scissors effects). It's just charming, addictive eyecandy. My only real complaint is that this, along with many other "HD" games don't include a free version for my iPhone, but its hours and hours of gamplay make up for that. $10. [iTunes]
Great, yet another tower defense game that I'm going to spend hours playing.
Zen Bound 2
The premise of Zen Bound 2 is the same as that of the popular iPhone version: wrapping up floating, rotating figurines with a long length of rope. But the iPad's bigger screen lets the game realize its title's promise, allowing for more delicate, nuanced wraps and resulting in a much more meditative experience. Full review here
It's beautiful, contemplative, and eminently touchable.
Geometry Wars Touch
Geometry Wars! It's hard to complain when one of the best dual-stick shooters comes to another platform...but we've got some. The game looks fantastic, even though it's graphically less impressive—fewer particle effects and shapes are more pixelated—than the XBLA version. The controls are damn good for a touchscreen, but if you're comparing to two physical sticks, you lose out on the twitch action that advanced players need. But, being able to put your thumb down anywhere on the left and right side to activate move and shoot sticks dynamically is a really good new paradigm. One huge loss is that the bomb button is in the middle of the screen, meaning that you can't quickly hit it when you're in trouble, making it mostly useless in extreme situations. Also, you can't resume games if you exit the app and come back. But otherwise, pretty fantastic. $9.99. [iTunes]
A little pricey, but it's Geometry Wars on the iPad, which means gamers need to get in on this.
Aurora Feint 3
Wow! Aurora Feint has improved a TON since its days on the iPhone. For those unfamiliar, it acts as a cross between a persistent puzzle game—like Bejeweled—and a traditional (albeit, linear) RPG where you fight knaves and trolls and such to gain experience. The idea being that as you clear blocks in rows of three you do damage to enemies or heal yourself depending on whether you're currently engaged in combat. This game does everything right: gameplay is addicting as hell, the atmosphere is amazing, the hand drawn artwork is enthralling, sound effects are spot on, and the music shifts between peaceful and chaotic without effort. The only catch is you HAVE to have a consistent net connection in order to sign in to Feint's servers and retrieve your character data. Otherwise, this is a pitch perfect experience for those familiar with the series. Go get it, it's FREE! [iTunes]
Addicting, addicting, addicting gameplay. Beautiful. Free. (Needs net connection.)
Real Racing HD
Real Racing HD is one of the best selling iPad games at the moment, and we can understand why. It's a nicely presented, fun racing game. Despite appearances, Real Racing HD more of a casual arcade racer than a true track racing sim, but that's OK. Steering by turning the iPad? Surprisingly responsive and accurate—and the level of control you want for braking and accelerating is completely customizable (though, controls are always far more forgiving than, say, Gran Turismo. Sharp car models with customizable photo library skins, respectable environments, 13 maps, local/online multiplayer races and a menu/options system that's as refined as any console title make this a worthy way to drop $10. [iTunes]
An entertaining, casual racer packed in a racing sim's body.
Minigore is a fun, $1 iPhone arena shooter. Minigore HD is basically the same game, scaled colorfully to the iPad for $5. You play a bobbleheaded hero (many cute skins included) who battles off waves of monsters through various (but relatively similar) environments, wielding multiple weapon power-ups. Virtual thumbstick controls work perfectly, and beating your high scores/unlocking new characters is addictive. Next to Geometry Wars, it's the second best arena shooter on the iPad and plenty fun in its own right. [iTunes]
Who doesn't enjoy blowing monsters away dressed as Abraham Lincoln?
Let's Golf HD
It's not as zany as Hot Shots Golf, but Let's Golf HD pretty much its spitting image, and yet another superbly executed game by Gameloft. Graphics are surprisingly lush (hole flybys are on par with any golf game) and controls are incredibly intuitive (zoom in to your ball's landing zone, pick a club, aim and fire without an issue). Play four characters over four courses with plenty of extras to unlock—for $7, it's doing absolutely nothing new, but Let's Golf HD is a shamefully entertaining way to kill...let's just say too much time. [iTunes]
It's a really fun, well-presented, casual yet challenging golf game.
This comic really sums it up correctly. We're a bunch of jackasses that spent $1700 to play a $10 board game. And you know what? It's fucking worth it. Each (free) Tile Rack app for iPhone/iPod Touch has a dictionary and the ability to rotate the board to face you. You know what you're getting with Scrabble, and this is a pretty polished version of the game. You'll see what we mean in the video above. The iPad app is $10, but the support apps for iPhone/iTouch are free. [iTunes]
Nerd fun, especially if everyone has a Tile Rack.
Command and Conquer
Command & Conquer: Red Alert is one of the all time greats of the RTS genre. The graphics are sharp, colorful, and far more impressive than the C&C: RA you remember from PC, but many of the models feel a bit large, which can make the screen seem cramped. Luckily, moving around your map is perfectly intuitive, with 1:1 dragging, or faster movement by way of a draggable map reticule. You select a unit by tapping, and command it to move or attack with another. Want to change the camera's elevation? Pinch, zoom. For a first stab at a genre that could define iPad gaming, it's pretty great. (Review here
The $13 price tag is worth it for fans...and probably for giddy early adopters.
MLB At Bat
The super-popular official baseball app has been upsized for the iPad, and it delivers everything you're used to from the iPhone version. You get live game stat streaming with a strike zone graphic that's automatically updates. You can also stream live TV broadcasts of games, provided you aren't in a blackout zone. And even if you aren't live streaming, you can watch highlight clips from the games you're following soon after big plays happen. For hardcore baseball fans, this one is gonna be tough to pass up, even for $15.
The next best thing to watching baseball on TV, and a great stat-filled companion for when you are.
Flight Control is one of the most popular iPhone games, and with good reason. It's simple enough to figure out how to play almost immediately, but it's challenging enough to keep you coming back for more. And the new iPad version uses the bigger screen to improve upon the original in almost every way. You have the same gameplay as the iPhone version, but with bigger, more complicated levels with more runways and types of aircraft. You can play with friends either sharing one screen or over WiFi. And the higher resolution allows for a nice boost in the quality of the graphics. Awesome. [iTunes]
It's like Flight Control for the iPhone, but better in every way
This is the same Fieldrunners you know and love from the iPhone, it's just had its resolution jacked up for the iPad. And it looks beautiful. Gameplay is smooth, the sound effects are great, and having that extra screen real estate keeps you from accidentally tapping the wrong turret when you're upgrading them. Tower defense games don't get much better than this, really. $8 [iPad]
Same great game as is available on the iPhone, but with better graphics.
It's like Labyrinth on the iPhone (you can even play iPhone levels), but in 3D and on a bigger screen. The 3D is pretty awesome, and you can even play user-created levels. There's a free version and an $8 version. Try the free one first to see if you like it. [iTunes]
Modern Combat: Sandstorm HD
Sandstorm HD is Gameloft's knock-off of Call of Duty—a desert shooter that feels a bit more evolved than Nova (Gameloft's Halo knock-off) but obviously nothing like the deep, contemporary FPSs that you can find on consoles. Graphics are Half-Life 1 quality (decent), while controls are just OK. You'll note that your character moves with a perpetual stiffness, and alternate control schemes don't work nearly as well as the default—a layout that sticks the reload button way at the top of the screen far from your trigger. Still, for $7, it's good enough to scratch an FPS itch. And while the experience can by clunky, nothing about it feels cheap. [iTunes]
Arguably the best iPad FPS so far, though hopefully just a warm-up for the platform.
Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies for iPad
It's essentially the same game as the iPhone one, complete with the 2nd add-on DLC map and larger-sized screen/controls. It looks better than you'd expect on an iPad—definitely not as good as a 360, but you'd be impressed. Two of the three control schemes are good. The dual stick and the touch screen are usable, but tilt, the best one on the iPad, is really awkward with the increased weight.
Single player is lots of fun, and 4-player multiplayer, both Internet and local Wi-Fi, work well. The only problem is that connecting to each other is really finicky and dependent on your wireless connection, so it might not work well for you. It's $15 though, so you have to weigh out how much you really want this game compared to the previous two relatively-similar incarnations. [iTunes]
Controls and presentation/graphics are good, but the price is high.
There is no other game like Warpgate HD on the iPad. It's a space sim in which you cruise various solar systems to mine, trade, and of course, fight. The graphics ping pong between drab and dazzling, though the overall aesthetic looks fantastic on the screen. Controls are extremely simple—you merely tap or flick where you'd like to go, with a few simple buttons taking care of advanced functions like landing on plants. Battles engage auto-steering, allowing you to focus on weapons, which actually takes some of the fun out of it all. And speaking of fun, is Warpgate fun? We're not sure that it is, but we're not sure that it isn't. There are clearly several, several hours of gameplay to experience in what, at first glance, is an addictive game if nothing else. Our main caveat isn't the quality of the game but the fear of microtransactions. Warpgate is probably worth its $8 price, but they'll be happy to sell you a fancy new ship for a few extra bucks...
Our first impressions are positive, and we find this rare space sim intriguing, but it could go either way.
EXO-Planet is a local Bluetooth or internet Wi-Fi based third-person shooter that's actually pretty decent. It has only capture the flag mode, so if you're not a fan of that and would just want to deathmatch or team deathmatch, this isn't for you. But jumping around space in zero gravity and grappling around avoiding gunfire is hard to turn down. $7. [iTunes]
Limited modes (one), but still a fun shooter.
Worms, a $5 turn-based strategy game in which teams of militant worms do combat, already has legions of fans from its iPhone and PC versions, and I'm sure this iPad rendition will win countless more. This is the first Worms I've ever tried, and I can already tell that its replay value is massive. In Worms HD, you take turns—either against one opposing team or in a melee with up to four—unleashing a huge variety of weapons, from rockets to grenades to angry sheep, in an effort to reduce your rival worms' health to 0. The graphics are solid—the levels are well designed and some set pieces only look a little fuzzy because they're dynamically created at the start of every game—and the iPad version takes advantage of the touch screen, letting you pinch to zoom, two finger swipe to move the camera, or tap to recenter the view on your current worm. There's a lot to learn here, with each of the 25 weapons having its own unique use, and if you don't want to go through the lengthy tutorial it's all sort confusing, but it's fun enough that you feel compelled to stick it out and get the hang of it. The firing control seems a little bit wonky sometimes, though I assume it'll be fixed in future versions, which the developers hope will include online multiplayer support as well. [iTunes]
If you're a Worms fan, the controls might take some getting used to, but there's a lot to love about Worms HD.
Basically a higher resolution port of the popular iPhone game. You have a skateboard and use your fingers as makeshift skater legs to ollie, grind, and pop shuvit to your heart's content. The learning curve and turning are a bit hard to grasp initially, but once you get the hang of things the potential for fun really opens up. Sound effects are fantastic and pitch perfect for the most part as you grind from rails to wood to wipe outs, making completed tricks all the more satisfying. Since the game lacks its own music iPod integration is essential—and thankfully present—just create your own custom playlist and skate an endless jam session. The parks are a tad bare and you'll be staring at concrete a lot while you grasp the ins and outs of doing tricks. Unlockable boards are plentiful and keep things engaging while you try to climb the global point leaderboard. Eight dollars is a pretty reasonable price considering some other HD titles are inflated rather ridiculously. [iTunes]
Relatively inexpensive for an HD game. Satisfying sound effects. Learning curve may be a bit rough.
Super Monkey Ball 2: Sakura Edition
As we've already seen from the first wave of apps, gaming on the iPad is a diverse affair, and though it might sound weird to hear, turning the iPad into a giant controller for an ensphered monkey is actually one of the more obvious iPad gaming endeavors. What I'm talking about, of course, is Super Monkey Ball 2, a $10 game with a widely-played iPhone version that involves tilting your entire device to direct a rolling Monkey Ball across a variety of tracks, collecting bananas and avoiding obstacles along the way. The iPad version has gorgeous graphics, and the vibrant, colorful levels look great on the iPad's screen. But while the visuals benefit from the bigger device, the control situation isn't quite as convincing. The tilt scheme doesn't work so well if you're leaning back—making your monkey roll fast requires a tilt that points the screen away from your face at a pretty extreme angle—and I found that you sort of had to hunch over to really keep your little monkey under control. As things are set up now, the display doesn't reorient when you turn your iPad, and if you're playing with headphones, the plug gets in the way of the ideal grip, which is a serious annoyance. Still, the game looks great, and if you're a fan of the tilt-to-control genre, the new, iPad-exclusive levels and minigames will definitely keep you entertained. [iTunes]
Bigger is better for visuals, though control takes some getting used to. Still, it's Super Monkey Ball on your iPad and it's pretty super.
Tap Tap Radiation
It's essentially the same as Tap Tap Revenge on the iPhone, but bigger and the targets move around. You know if you want this thing already, but we're kind of over the whole Tap Tap type of gameplay. [iTunes]
Good if you like this kind of gameplay. We're mild on it overall.
NBA Hotshot HD
Anyone who's ever spent hours upon hours of their youth trying to amass an arcade ticket fortune is in the know about two games: skeeball and arcade basketball. NBA Hotshot HD does a great job of recreating that arcade experience with spot-on ball physics, true to life sound effects, and a godforsaken shot clock that's never on your side. The game doesn't offer much beyond that experience, however, as there are only two game modes: Classic Play and Three Strikes. The former is the mode you're likely familiar with—where you shoot the same four balls into a retreating hoop—and the latter where you have as much time as you'd like, but once you miss three baskets the jig is up. This is a pretty fun time waster for anyone who enjoyed arcade basketball back in the day, if you didn't, we say pass. [iTunes]
Great ball physics and arcade feel. Skip it if you were never that in to basketball.
You've probably bought PAC-MAN 5 to 10 times by now on various platforms, and the new iPad version is a most barebones classic version. But I enjoyed the experience enough for it to be worth $5. Why? Nostalgia. And not just PAC-MAN-exclusive nostalgia. I mean, playing PAC-MAN specifically on the iPad reminded me implicitly of the old Coleco game from the 80s. Still, for most people, I have a feeling that $5 for another repackaged version of the game feels a little steep. [iTunes]
Personally, I dig it. Objectively, it's a bit of a rip-off.
Touch Hockey Extreme: FS5
The game is as simple as you'd expect—air hockey that you control with a finger. The presentation is polished, including multiple table angles, choice of table/paddle color, the option for a second player to replace an AI opponent at any time and simple but effective sound effects. Beside some of the incredible games we've seen on the iPad thus far, Touch Hockey is pretty granular. But it very much succeeds at what it's trying to do: Be an excellent, $3 air hockey app. [iTunes]
A fun air hockey game, though it feels a bit granular compared to its peers.
Diner Dash: Grilling Green
Essentially the same as the other Diner Dash games, except the bigger screen makes it easier to move customers and collect orders. Plus, with the iPad, you can hold the thing like a plate for even more authenticity. It's $5, but it's fun, and beats upscaling the iPhone version. [iTunes]
Makes decent use of touch, and still as fun as it always was.
Harbor Master HD
Harbor Master HD is the free equivalent of Flight Control HD for the iPad. You have boats to route into and out of harbors while keeping their paths clear of each other so you don't inadvertently cause a cargo spill and get a game over (and an EPA lawsuit). It's simple to learn and slow paced enough at first to give even the most uncoordinated individuals a chance to grasp the flow. However, things get hectic surprisingly fast as you'll find yourself crafting haphazard lanes to turn unavoidable crashes into near misses—and all of this is set to an incredibly catchy tune that we feel alone warrants your time. Check it out, it's free.
Flight Control for those with aerophobia. Catchy music. Free.
You may or may not know We Rule as a Facebook game with any point beyond bugging your friends to play We Rule. Basically, it's a free, slow-build RTS without the strategy or war. You just grow crops and build businesses to expand your kingdom...to grow more crops and build more businesses. However! We Rule iPad is a pretty decent, very good looking port of the social networking game for the tablet platform. Build with the touch of a finger, check out friends' kingdoms on a shared map, and you can set push notifications to alert you when crops are done growing or taxes can be collected...a system that works about 30% of the time, but definitely deals with the iPad's lack of multitasking in a sensible manner. Maybe you shouldn't play We Rule, but if you do, it's a pretty great experience on the iPad.
Fun? Good question. Addictive? Definitely.
Resident Evil 4 iPad Edition
Resident Evil 4—it's probably on as many platforms as Tetris and PAC-MAN by now. The iPad version falls short of the aging original—notably toned down graphics and far fewer enemies on screen (at least from my nightmarish recollection), but the game mostly works on the iPad, thanks to a super simple control scheme. You walk, run and turn all with one analog-style stick. That leaves your right thumb completely free for choosing a weapon, aiming and firing. Still, the control scheme could have been simplified even further—to pick up items, a new button appears on the screen. To OK the pickup, ANOTHER new button appears on the screen. When zombies are afoot, these control quirks become a literal matter of life and death. RE4 looks OK on the iPad, but it could probably look even better. RE4 feels OK on the iPad, but it could definitely even better. It's a passable port of a a legendary game, but if you aren't absolutely Jonesing to play the game again, the iPad format unto itself probably won't suck you back in. [iTunes]
An objectively decent presentation of RE4, but for whatever reason, it didn't captivate us again.
Small World for iPad
In the analog world, Small World is a $30-$40 geek boardgame with a territory expansion focus—similar to and simpler than Settlers of Catan. So from that perspective, it's hard not to love the $5 app—a smaller version of the boardgame made for 2 players (rather than up to 5). But while I love the idea of placing the iPad in the middle of the table as a shared game, I wish you could play Small World alone—there's no AI opponent option (or online play). And another oddity: The game goes mute (a bug or artistic choice?) during play and we couldn't find any option for sounds. If developers address these quibbles in an update, Small World could be a must-have app for the boardgame aficionado. [iTunes]
A pleasant rendition of a virtual boardgame—but no AI opponents or sound effects.
Cogs HD is one of those box sliding puzzle games in which you must rearrange blocks in certain configurations despite having but one available open spot at all times. Of course, Cogs HD expands on the classic puzzle by placing it in 3D and adding cogs which must be realigned to fix little steampunkesque machines. The game was fun on the iPhone ($1), but this $5 iPad port (while technically just as fun) is clearly just an upscaled version of the iPhone game. The graphics actually exhaust your eyes, and you can't help but get the feeling that the developer rushed out an otherwise excellent game, just to bump its price for the iPad asap. [iTunes]
A fun puzzle game with an increased price solely because it's on the iPad.
Civilization Revolution for iPad
I want to like Civ Revolution on the iPad—I played a ton of the game on 360. It's just so darned rough around the edges. Little things, like reused low-rez graphics from other versions (check out that hot combat sequence in the lead shot!), lousy menus (the information density for the screen size is surprisingly low), no option to play in portrait mode (it's a still, 2D map!), fairly horrible audio quality and, this one was a complete surprise, inaccurate touch controls. Civ Revolution may still be a fun game on the iPad, but it's not because of the port, it's in spite of it. [iTunes]
Major corporate IPs need to be presented with more care than this.
TOP GUN for iPad
TOP GUN for iPad peaks at the soundtrack—Kenny Loggins' famous Danger Zone put through an endless loop—which isn't saying much. The game itself is a ported version of the iPhone game, reskinned with higher rez graphics. You maneuver your jet (the iPad) to dodge DANGER ZONES while putting the enemies in your sights. The gameplay isn't particularly bad, it's just mediocre—as are the graphics and controls. For $5, there are better games in the App Store. For $7, there are MUCH better games in the App Store. TOP GUN (sorry for the caps, the game insists upon it), is the example of the type of title that could fly (pun intended) on the iPhone but probably won't turn heads on the iPad. [iTunes]
Supporting games like this one will stop publishers from producing anything better.
The $7 you'll pay for the official iPad Tetris app won't buy you anything too revolutionary—if you're a fan of the iPhone game, you'll know what you're getting into on the iPad. The look is the same and so are the controls: you use your finger to drag the blocks to your desired column; you tap the screen to rotate them; and a downward flick sends them zipping towards the bottom of the screen. Of course, you have the option of turning on a D-Pad if you prefer old school gameplay. The app includes Marathon and Magic modes, which were also featured in the iPhone version, so there are no real surprises here. If you're a Tetris fanatic, it's a fine upgrade. If you're a casual fan, it's probably worth sticking with the iPhone version. If you're just looking for something to pass the time, there are a lot more exciting games out there for $7. [iTunes]
It's touch screen Tetris, no more, no less, same as the iPhone.
VH1 Classics Presents: Intellivision for iPad
Astrosmash, Chop Shop Golf, Night Stalker, Thin Ice, Thunder Castle and Skiing. If these Intellivision games are your bag, then the app may be worth your $3. But we couldn't help but be a disappointed. For one, these titles could have been easily rebuilt in razor-edged 1024x768 pixelated glory. Instead, you either play the games needlessly framed by an old TV, or you can zoom the image—which softens it like any 2x iPhone game. On top of these qualms, controls sometimes lag, and occasionally, they wouldn't even work. (Scan early reviews and you'll also note many instances of games not loading and the app crashing.) Too bad. [iTunes]
Buggy, unfulfilling nostalgia.
That's it from us, but for even more game reviews, check out our Kotaku's huge roundup.