So you got an iPad for the holidays. Obviously someone loves you very much, and/or you wield guilt like it was a gleaming, razor-sharp katana. Good on you.
While there are literally thousands of things you can do with an iPad, Apple’s tablets also happen to be robust and versatile mobile gaming machines. Particularly the new iPad Air (starting at $519), the lightest and most powerful member of the family. If you got one of those... well, someone loves you so much I’m actually kind of jealous.
So if you’re sitting with this shiny slab of silicon on your lap and desperate to get your game on, here are seven must-have titles for the freshly minted iPad gamer.
A year-and-a-half in the making by a team of game development veterans, Republique is one of the most ambitious iOS titles ever. The recently released first chapter begins a five-part tale set in an Orwellian future, in which players help a woman fighting against a surveillance society. Seems eerily relevant.
Kingdom Rush Frontiers ($2.99)
I’m a big fan of the so-called tower defence genre, but because the games are so similar to one another, my interest has waned of late. Kingdom Rush Frontiers has put the bloom back on my tower flower, combining familiar strategy mechanics with some cool role-playing game elements. And it’s cute as heck.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown ($9.99)
XCOM is one of the more expensive iOS games in the App Store, but it’s a faithful, full-on port of the fantastic console game of the same name. Turn-based strategy doesn’t come much better than this, until you send a favourite character out on a mission and they get killed. Noooooo!
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ($6.99)
It’s mind-blowing that games that used to tax the processing powers of home consoles can now be played on a touchscreen device we hold in our hands. I’d still prefer to play this with a physical controller – hurry up and release some decent ones, iOS peripheral makers! – but San Andreas is here in all its sprawling, violent magnificence.
The Room 2 ($4.99)
Like last year’s BAFTA-winning The Room, this game presents a series of 3D puzzles that require players to manipulate virtual objects through intuitive touch controls. This sequel has more puzzles and is set in a slightly creepier world, but it’s still incredibly satisfying to reach that “a-ha!” moment as everything clicks into place – often literally.
Device 6 ($3.99)
A game uniquely suited to the iPad’s strengths, this is an interactive story that toys with the conventions of both literature and video games. Thought text, images, diagrams and interactive puzzles, it tells the tale of Anna, a woman trapped on an island with two identical castles and a man in a bowler hat. Innovative and unforgettable.
This one is cheating a little bit – it’s actually an iPhone game, and is more suited to on-the-go play. But nearly all iPhone games can be played on the iPad, and QuizUp is possibly the slickest trivia game ever made for iOS devices. (Best of all, you can brag how you’re able to beat your brother in categories he really should excel at. Ahem.) Oh, and it’s free!