First-person combat and true-to-life racing: iPhone apps of the week | The Download Blog - CNET Download.com

First-person combat and true-to-life racing: iPhone apps of the week

This week's apps include the sequel to one of the best racing games for iPhone and the debut of an FPS game formerly only available on desktop computers and consoles.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

This week, over at our Signal Strength blog, Maggie Reardon answered questions from readers regarding the upcoming Verizon iPhone. The article is not about the iPhone specifically, but about how a mass exodus from AT&T to Verizon might effect both carriers.

I got the iPhone 4 when it was launched, knowing that I would have to stick with AT&T for two years, but obviously, I had little choice as an iPhone app reviewer. Like many who got the iPhone 4 near launch day, I was sad to hear later that I missed the chance to get an iPhone with Verizon, which many say has the best network. But Maggie has an interesting point: With a mass exodus from AT&T, it will probably mean that those stuck in contracts will experience significantly better signal strength with a lot less users clogging up the network. Also, current Verizon customers have to wonder just how much a huge influx of iPhone users will effect the historically strong Verizon network.

I suppose we'll have to wait and see what effects a Verizon iPhone will have on each carrier, but you have to admit it's heartening to hear that AT&T users might be getting better service as a result of the Verizon iPhone. Hopefully both carriers will benefit from the change so all of us finally get good connection speeds.

This week's apps include the sequel to one of the best racing games for iPhone and the debut of an FPS game formerly only available on desktop computers and consoles.

Real Racing 2

Smooth and beautiful graphics make Real Racing 2 a site to behold as you make your way around the track.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Real Racing 2 ($9.99) is the long awaited sequel to popular driving game, Real Racing ($4.99), and it definitely lives up to all the hype over the past few weeks. I was fortunate enough to get an early copy, so I've been putting it through its paces all week, and I'm definitely impressed. Like the original game, Real Racing 2 offers the same sensitive accelerometer steering that feels just right on the iPhone. But there are a lot of new features in this sequel that make it even better than the original.

One of the biggest changes is the ability to drive real-world cars; Firemint managed to get 30 officially licensed cars, and each car sounds and drives like its real-world counterpart. You also can take part in auto-matched 16 player online races, though you'll want to have a solid connection over Wi-Fi or 3G to be competitive. You also can compete in 8-player local Wi-Fi races for the most seamless multiplayer experience.

The original Real Racing was known for its amazing graphics, and Real Racing 2 is even better with fairly high frame rates and realistic-looking lens flares and reflections as you tear around the track in one of 15 different locations. The single player game offers a lot of content, challenging you to compete in races to make money so you can purchase performance upgrades and new cars. You also compete in short head-to-head challenges where you'll earn a significant amount of money for winning single-lap races against an AI opponent.

As you progress through the game you'll earn enough money to buy faster more expensive cars, such as the 2010 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 and the 2012 McLaren MP4-12C. You'll also have the option to purchase different-colored paint jobs so you can customize your car just the way you want it.

Overall, Real Racing 2 is probably the best racing game in the iTunes App Store. With beautiful graphics, 30 real-life sports cars, 15 tracks, and 16-player online racing, this game is a must-have for driving game fans.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

As you progress through the campaign you'll get a chance to drive and wreak havoc in several military vehicles.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (99 cents for a limited time) for iPhone is the first game from the popular Battlefield series to reach the iOS and it mostly hits the mark, but has a few issues. The control system is similar to other FPS games in the iTunes App Store with controls for movement on the left and the ability to look around on the right (you have 3 options for control layouts in settings). You also have controls for crouching behind objects for cover and a button for aiming down the sites of your guns for more accurate shots. Sadly, the game doesn't take advantage of the iPhone 4's gyroscope feature--an option now featured in most of the popular iPhone games in the FPS genre.

In Battlefield: Bad Company 2 you have the option to fight your way through 14 missions in a single player campaign or play multiplayer games online. The campaign mode offers the usual fare of blowing away terrorists in a predictable, but fun storyline that will put your combat abilities to the test. But the multiplayer only allows for limited 2-4 player deathmatch or free-for-all games, and the server browser is clunky making it difficult to find and join matches.

Unlike other games in the genre (and true to the Battlefield franchise), Battlefield: Bad Company 2 lets you take control of vehicles for even more firepower. You'll be able to use everything from armored personnel carriers to helicopters and tanks. An early part of the campaign has you driving an armored van with a gun turret on top--fun for its destructive power, but I found the driving controls to be a little awkward.

Overall, Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is pretty solid FPS experience in spite of its problems. The game looks and plays great in single player, but those looking for a rich online experience should probably look elsewhere. Right now, the game goes for 99 cents (it will be $9.99), so it's probably worth picking up in the hope that future updates will iron out the game's problems.

What's your favorite iPhone app? What's your favorite car to drive in Real Racing 2? Am I being too hard on Battlefield: Bad Company 2? Let me know in the comments!

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