Sunday, February 06, 2011

Simulate life, hunting, flying and fishing in our collection of the top Android simulation apps

If you’re like me, you’ve got at least one high-tech flight stick gathering dust in a closet somewhere. (I think I have three.) Flight sims have been one of the longest-running genres of “games” around, starting back in the Commodore days of the 1970’s. Today’s professional pilots and hardcore gamers alike have access to numerous top-quality sims for PCs and consoles, pricey joystick not required.

X-Plane 9 from Lanier Research lets us take the best flight sim experience with us on the go. Did I mention real-life pilots can log flight hours for their FAA certification by playing this app on their phones? (Yes, it’s that good.)

Speaking of simulations, this collection of the top sim apps for Android wouldn’t be complete with a real-life replacement game (yes, it’s the Sims!), plus a pair of outdoorsy sims that will help cure your cabin fever by letting you hunt deer and catch fish all from the comfort from your couch or office chair.


The Sims 3
Fans of the console series will feel right at home in this cartoonish real-life simulation.

Deer Hunter 3D
Too cold to hunt outdoors? Grab your phone! This hunting sim goes far beyond “point and shoot” mechanics, adding trophies, achievements, skill points, and more.

X-Plane 9
What do you get when you combine FAA-certified flight simulation with your Android device? Why mobile flight sim perfection, of course. (At a cost.)

Fishing 2 Go
Winter is the perfect time to go fishing, from the comfort of your couch or office chair of course. Ignore the snow out the window and reel in some huge trout or bass in this realistic fishing sim.

Read all of my Apple iPad and Google Android application reviews at Appolicious and Yahoo! Tech.


The Sims 3 ($4.99)

Bored with life? The Sims have long given frustrated gamers the chance to create an alternate, simulated life inside their consoles. Now EA brings this ever-popular franchise to the mobile market with The Sims 3. Right from the character creation screen, you know you’re in for some serious fun. Make your character a near-match for your real-life self (boring!) or go for that rocker, more attractive, or intensely outgoing guy or gal you always wish you could be. Once inside the game, you’ll need to keep your digital avatar alive and out of trouble, while following a “Story Progression” to give your sim a chance to land a perfect job, find a wife, learn to be a parent, and more. The built-in “wish” system replaces the old “wants and fears” module in previous games, giving you boosts to your lifetime happiness score over time. The higher your score, the more rewards you can buy. Although you’re limited to living in one neighborhood, Sims fans will feel right at home in this mobile version.

Deer Hunter 3D ($4.99, Free Demo Available)

Deer Hunter 3D does away with the real-world guns, ammo, camo gear, fuzzy orange hats, long underwear, and all the rest, and lets both real-world and virtual hunting enthusiasts take down game animals with a finger-press on your phone. Start by adding skill points to your character (accuracy, reflexes, endurance, tracking), select your weapon, and head out to an available hunting range. Headshots are preferred, and are rewarded with extra points. As you progress, additional types of animals and new locations are unlocked, and just like the Xbox 360 special achievements can be earned along the way. (Achievement Unlocked: Clean Kills. No injured animals for the whole day.) In addition, new firearms are made available as you go along. The shooting process is clean and clear. First, move your finger around the map until an animal is sighted. Once the view pops up your shooter will get into position, allowing you to target, then zoom into the animal. Take the shot, and see the results. Moms and Dads, take heart. There’s no blood visible here. And the animations of the animals falling to ground are just cartoony enough to keep things tasteful. If you’re on the hunt for a mobile game that simulates the thrill of the hunt, Deer Hunter 3G is a must-have game for your DROID.

X-Plane 9 ($9.99)

Flight sims have been around since the dawn of the personal computer age. X-Plane 9 shows us just how far this ever-popular “gaming” genre has come, giving Android users access to a fully-approved FAA flight simulation application that’s considered just as good as real-world flying for pilots looking to log flight time to keep up their licenses. The app gets you right into the action, swiping the left side of the screen to increase the throttle, and using your phone’s accelerometer to tilt your plane’s wings left and right to execute turns. Tilt your phone towards you to pull up on the stick, or away from you to angle downwards. The sound effects are spot-on, the scenery is light years ahead of the competition (Microsoft, I’m looking at you), and switching between camera views is a snap. Be sure to check the app stats to be sure your phone is compatible. At $10, this is a pricey app for sure, but all serious flight sim fans will find nothing but hours and hours of flying bliss in this top-quality offering from Lanier Research.

Fishin' 2 Go ($2.25)

Ice fishing not your thing? Dreaming of warm summer days, out in your boat on some crystal-clear water? Fishin’ 2 Go is here to cure your cabin fever, and not a moment too soon. After firing up this godsend, you’re confronted with photorealistic images of real-life lakes. Choose your lure and bait, and it’s time to get it wet. To cast your line, hold your finger down on the screen, tilt your phone back as if you’re getting ready to cast, then move your arm forward to send your line flying into the water. To reel in your line, drag your finger across the screen until you get a bite. Tire the fish and keep your line taughtness out of the red, and you’ll bring home quite the catch. With multiple waterways to choose from, realistic sounds and water effects, and tons of gear choices to make, now you don’t even have to leave your snowbound home (or office) to do a little fishing.

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