iPad: Best Games- Part One
Helping you get the most from your new toy.
Apple's much-hyped iPad is finally here, with plenty of Apps, features and most importantly, downloadable video games. We're going to spend the rest of the week taking a look at some of these gems, available in the App Store, to see if any are worth the cash.
Geometry Wars: Touch by Activision ($9.99)
In Geometry Wars: Touch, you control a spaceship and blast a variety of alien baddies as techno music pumps in the background and bright, trippy colors fill the screen.
The game looks amazing, with vibrant graphics popping off the screen and cool special effects making things a little crazy. The further you progress through a level, the more bad guys come at you, eventually making it impossible to survive. The overall point of the game is to score as many points as possible, and there are online leader boards so you can stack yourself up against the rest of the world.
The game's controls start out a bit funky, as you hold the iPad in landscape mode and place your thumbs on either side of the screen. Anyone familiar with the two-joystick layout of an Xbox 360 controller may feel at home, but it takes getting used to. With some practice, though, you'll score millions of points in no time.
Good: Looks impressive, has lots of modes.
Bad: Controls take some getting used to, no multiplayer mode.
Quick score: Four out of five aliens agree, Geometry Wars: Touch is out of this world.
Mirror's Edge by EA ($12.99)
With Mirror's Edge, you're on the run. Running on rooftops, through warehouses and office buildings, jumping from skyscrapers and fighting baddies out to get you.
Controls are fairly simple, with gestures to the left and right prompting a run in those directions, a gesture up making you jump and a gesture down making you slide. The point of each stage is to reach the other end of a level as quickly as possible. There are armed guards, but advanced techniques such as jump kicks are easily executed, allowing you to concentrate on different obstacles.
These obstructions are the easiest way to lose time, so you need to always keep an eye out in front of you for boxes, pipes and gaps, ready to either leap past or slide under them to keep going. The animations are crisp and the action focuses more on the dodging than the running, making it a great feeling when you're able to get past a large part of the level without stopping.
There's even a fun multiplayer mode that uses the same iPad. One of you will take the bottom half, while the other takes the top. The halves of the screen are oriented so two players can sit opposite each other, and modes include racing and collecting as many hidden items as possible.
Good: Superb looking, nice style, lots of modes and multiplayer on one screen.
Bad: A bit too expensive.
Quick score: Five out of five couriers agree, run to the app store and pick this up.
Magic Piano by Smule ($0.99)
Smule is an independent developer that made its mark with an iPhone launch title called Ocarina. More like a musical toy than an actual game, Ocarina gained interest because of its ability to let users create melodies. Magic Piano is largely the same thing, but this time with a piano and a beautiful interface.
You start off in freestyle mode, with a black canvas in front of you, waiting to be touched. As you tap the screen, piano notes appear in random sequence. After a few seconds of mashing, hit the icon on the upper right and the black canvas is replaced by an entire piano keyboard... sort of. The piano doesn't stretch the entire pad, but instead shows up like a spiral or a circle, and here is when you can finally recreate Chopsticks, with visions of the movie Big in your head.
A song book will also help you select from a few compositions that will turn your random tapping into a tune, but this is by no means the best way to learn music. Click on World and you'll see why, as Smule allows you to eavesdrop on the music being created by others around the world.
Magic Piano is definitely a curiosity, but a cool one. Don't expect a piano teacher. Instead, just expect to have a bit of fun while trying to make some music.
Good: Nice interface, fun to listen to your music and other users'.
Bad: Would have been nice to have more songs and connection to the piano.
Quick score: Four out of five conductors agree, you should probably spend some time learning the actual piano, but this is a lot of fun.