So now that the iPhone 4S is in your hot, grubby little hands, what do you do with it? Well, obviously, you load it up with games and apps and spend all day, every day, playing with it. I’ve compiled a list of the absolute best premium games on the App Store, to make it easier for you to find them, although the hard part will be deciding which to play first.
MONSTER HUNTER Dynamic Hunting – This one is at the top of the list simply because it’s on sale for $0.99 through the weekend. Monster Hunter is a series of fantasy action role-playing games from Capcom that started with a release for Playstation 2. The latest iteration for iOS is similar to Infinity Blade in that you take on monsters in one-0n-one combat using a series of taps and swipes. Combat focuses on learning each monster’s patterns and weaknesses to take ’em down. While the graphics are not amazing, the gameplay is. For its current sale price, I highly recommend it.
Infinity Blade – This is one of my favorite iOS games, and one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever seen on any mobile device. And it looks even better on the iPhone 4S, thanks to the A5 processor. Utilizing the Unreal engine, Infinity Blade takes you on an action-RPG romp through a castle filled with baddies while seeking out the God King. Gameplay is simple: dodge, block, or parry incoming attacks and when the enemy opens up, swipe and tap to settle the score. This game was the first to truly showcase the power of the A4 processor and with the upgrades available for A5 devices, it is even better. Even more exciting is the information that a sequel will be coming this holiday season, so keep your eyes peeled for that.
Dead Space™ – If you’ve played the Xbox 360 or PS3 title of the same name, then you already know what to expect from this game. If you haven’t, then it’s truly one of the scariest over-the-shoulder shooters you’ll ever play on the iPhone. Invest in a nice pair of headphones, find a dark room to play, and don’t be surprised if you feel just a little creeped out 30 minutes later. While it’s not a very long game, it is a lot of fun and is another game that looks gorgeous on the iPhone.
Aralon: Sword & Shadow HD – This is a HUGE action-RPG with an enormous world to explore, lots and lots of quests and treasures, and so many hours of gameplay, you’ll wonder how it fit in your pocket. I have never been a big fan of the combat from Elder Scrolls titles like Oblivion, but Crescent Moon Games does an excellent job of creating a combat system that is fun and easy to use on a touch-screen device. These are the same people that also created Ravensword: The Fallen King, but you can clearly see where stepping out and publishing their own titles had a significant improvement on their work, as Aralon is far-and-away the better experience.
Dungeon Hunter 2 – Do you like Diablo? I love it. Gameloft is the App Store’s most prolific copycat developer. The sad thing is, they’re really good at it. Dungeon Hunter 2 is miles above the original, with better graphics, better treasure, a better story, and much improved gameplay. The original suffered from staleness toward the end of the game, but the sequel presents you with plenty of ways to keep the game interesting, primarily the ability to play cooperatively through GameCenter or over your local network with up to 4 total players. This is the biggest selling point for the game, in my opinion and is the reason that my family loves it so much.
N.O.V.A. 2 – Another Gameloft title, this one is directly inspired by Halo. And again, this time the sequel is far superior to the original. The first game was an excellent multiplayer title for family gatherings, but the campaign could get fairly boring. The sequel has much more going for it in both departments. First-person shooters can take a little getting used to on iOS, but the N.O.V.A. series stands out as having better controls and excellent use of the gyroscope for fine-tuned aiming.
Warm Gun – I haven’t played Warm Gun yet, but I have played the “lite” version, Carnival of Bullets, which has the best graphics I’ve personally experience on any mobile device. Unfortunately, Carnival of Bullets has very little in the way of gameplay, and the controls were a little awkward, though I’ll admit I didn’t spend much time playing around with the settings to see if I could improve them. If, however, you are able to comfortably play the free version, then I’m sure you’ll find Warm Gun to be a singular experience.
Shadowgun – Some consider this game to have the best graphics on iOS, though I can see where Warm Gun would give it a run for its money. Even still, the gameplay here is similar to the Gears of War series, so if you’re a fan, give it a download. I don’t know much else about this game, as I haven’t played it, yet. Give it a shot, and let me know what you think.
Order and Chaos Online – Hello, my name is Jared, and I’m a World of Warcraft addict. Okay, maybe that’s not entirely true, but I certainly have spent my share of time making Blizzard rich. So, imagine how excited I was when I discovered that Gameloft was making a WoW-inspired MMO for iOS. Needless to say, this is my favorite Gameloft title and the one I’ve spent the absolute most time with. There are still some improvements that could be made (say, for example, a matchmaking system for people looking to quest together), but you can’t beat the price. $6.99 nets you the game and 3 months of gameplay. After that, you can pre-pay for play time: 1 month for $0.99, 3 months for $1.99, and 6 months for $2.99. The only drawback is that it requires a Wi-Fi connection to play, but if you don’t have an unlimited data plan like me, you’re probably thankful for that. No need to blow all your bandwidth on one game. If you decide to pick this one up, then please please leave me a comment so I can you to my friend’s list so we can quest together.
Rimelands – Here’s another Crescent Moon Games title, and this one is one of my favorite games on the entire App Store. It plays a bit like a tactical board game, with dice used for combat, but has gorgeous graphics and an awesome story. I can only hope that Crescent Moon Games makes a sequel or a spiritual successor to the game, as I can’t wait to play more in the future.
Starfront: Collision – Gameloft is at it again, this time going after Blizzard’s Starcraft series. While this title benefits from the larger screen of the iPad, the iPhone version is no slouch in the gameplay department. While it may not unseat Starcraft or Warcraft as the kings of the RTS throne, it is easily the best RTS on iOS, and I’ve played nearly all of them. There’s a free version you can download if you want to give it a shot and the full game can be unlocked via in-app purchase. But, I think it’s cleaner to simply download the full title up front.
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars – This is the same game as what you may have already played on Nintendo DS, however that shouldn’t preclude you from buying it for iOS. This is the best Grand Theft Auto title I’ve played since the original and its sequel on PC. The only downside is that it struggles a bit with saving your progress mid-mission if you leave the app. However, since most missions are short, it’s only truly irritating if the mission is difficult and you just passed the rough part only to be interrupted and having to start the mission over.
Sacred Odyssey: Rise of Ayden – This is Gameloft’s take on the Zelda series. Not as awesome as Order & Chaos, but they can’t all be home runs. Try out the free version of this, as well, and if you like it, pick it up. But I won’t blame you if you wait until the next time it’s on sale.
Final Fantasy III – There are three Final Fantasy titles on the App Store, but this one is the best. It is a port of the Nintendo DS remake of Final Fantasy III, but the graphics look much better on iOS. It’s also available for the iPad, if you feel like you simply need the larger screen. If you’re looking for something more classic or retro, check out Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II, which are the best versions of both games I’ve ever played.
Chaos Rings Ω – I spent a rather lot of time on the original and consider it to be one of the best RPG experiences on iOS, despite its relative ease and repetitive nature. However, the prequel is both more of the same and something new. No more are you playing through the game with each couple trying to find all the endings. Now, instead, you play as Vieg throughout the entire title. This prequel also has a lot more gameplay due to the fact that Square-Enix has continued to raise the level cap and add new content through free updates since its initial release.
This is by no means a complete list of games I recommend for the iPhone, but it’s currently the best of the best if you are looking for a more robust gaming experience. If, however, you just want a great casual game, go download Tiny Wings and kiss your productivity goodbye. Also, if you want a fun “toy”, check out iPredict Plus (or the free Lite version) for a humorous and entertaining fortune teller from the guys over at Room 12 Studios (disclaimer: I’m one of them).