Monday, July 04, 2011

Top 10 iPad Games of 2011 (to Date)

The corn is knee-high, neighbors are setting off fireworks in the cul-de-sac, and people everywhere are spending more time at the pool than the office.

With July and mid-2011 upon us, now is the perfect time to recount the very best iPad games to date. We’ve got nearly every game type covered, with lethal shooters to family-friendly apps topping the charts.

So without further adieu, let’s “dive” right into the deep end and see which apps sink or swim!

1. Dead Space for iPad ($9.99)

Successfully mixing survival horror and first person shooters, wrapped in a healthy does of quality story telling, makes Dead Space for iPad the top game for 2011 to date. This prequel to Dead Space 2 is an original, must-play addition to EA’s franchise. You’re a willing pawn in an unfolding conflict between EarthGov and the Church of Unitology, and you’ll need every gun that’s near at hand to fight your way out of this one. (Hint: Play over a table, you may drop your iPad in fright!)

2. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP ($4.99)

Anyone who appreciates video game as art will fall instantly in love with Sword & Sworcery EP. This app masquerades as an “experimental treatment for acute soul-sickness,” challenging you to double-tap the screen to make your way through the 8-bit fantasy landscape. Taking on the role of an adventurer, you’ll meet interesting people along the way, swing your sword, interact with the environment, and become one with this unique offering.

3. You Don’t Know Jack HD ($4.99)

Trivia lovers who aren’t afraid of some mild adult humor will be happy to find that they “Don’t Know Jack.” After playing through the CD-ROM originals in the ‘90s, I was totally jazzed to see this animated, pop culture treat coming back for more in the ‘10s. JellyVision’s silly-fun trivia questions are delivered with just the right amount of twisted, semi-adult humor. There are 20 full episodes to digest, making this a must-buy to power car trips and plane flights for months to come.

4. Bloons TD 4 HD ($6.99)

Tower defense fans, it’s time to get your monkey on! Your mission is to place a plethora of monkey-themed towers onto each play field, and pop all the ‘bloons (balloons, get it?) before they can make it through the circuit. All tower types are clearly visible on the right side of the screen, while upgrade options are perfectly visible across the bottom. Once you get beyond level 30, things get a little crazy. You’ll need to use the pause button to get your bearing from time to time, and the last few stages will cover your screen in some downright crazy mayhem.

5. Minotaur Rescue ($.99)

Earlier this year, Jeff Minter kicked off his Minotaur Project to recapture the retro look and feel of early ‘80s games with the release of Minotaur Rescue. Mixing Asteroids and Space War, this fun app puts you in control of an always-firing fighter, which can be moved around the trippy star field with a single finger. Your job is to avoid the gravitational pull of the center sun, while at the same time destroying asteroids floating through the area. C64/Atari 2600 fans will feel right at home.

6. Artillery Brigade ($.99)

In Artillery Brigade, you’ll take your place at the controls of a WWII-era heavy weapon, rotating your artillery piece a full 360 degrees to locate and destroy incoming German forces. Sometimes you’ll face light infantry coming in bunches, other times it’s planes, tanks, and other vehicles. The difficulty ramps up nicely as the levels progress, adding additional types of enemies spread out all around you.

7. Ultimate Mortal Combat 3 for iPad ($.99)

Take control of one of 13 different fighters, doing battle to work your way to destroy the dreaded Shao Kahn. Each avatar brings a fresh set up combo moves and gory finishing animations, and the button response times are finally close to being spot-on to allow for near-console quality gameplay. Add in same-iPad, head-to-head action, wifi multiplayer hook-ups, and an expert “take on Shao Kahn” mode to rack up high scores, and you’ve got yourself a near-perfect Mortal Combat experience for your iPad.

8. AR Missle HD ($.99)

iPad 2 owners, take note. In this instant classic, you can take a picture of anything – oppressive dictators, a broken-down car, your mother-in-law on the 9th day of her visit – and then shoot a hail of virtual missiles at the subject. The app’s AI does an excellent job of rendering “attack points” across your image, smartly locking into things like heads, sharp edges, even small animals in the frame, then letting you tap away to send up to 16 missiles at your target.

9. N.O.V.A. 2 – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD ($6.99)

Offering 10-player online matchmaking, hulking mechs and other fresh vehicles, upgraded graphics, and plenty of “shoot to kill” Halo-like action, and N.O.V.A. 2 is Gameloft’s reigning champion of game apps. Kal is back in action, running, gunning, and strafing his way through massive levels, interspersed with choke points of action (think hallway shootouts and small battles in tight corners). It may take you a little time to master the hulking on-screen controls, and learn to precision-shoot using the tilt and gyro controls, but it’s time well spent.

10. BackStab ($6.99)

BackStab from Gameloft delivers an open-world, pirate-themed sandbox game that reminds me of Assassin’s Creed. You take on the role of Henry Blake, who’s out to find and destroy Edmund Kane, a fellow officer who betrayed Henry back in the day. After both arrive on a massive island, Henry sets off on a bloody quest to track down his prey. Getting from one side of the island to the other is where the adventure lies, and each mission offers up new set pieces and tons of button-mashing goodness.

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