The flood of iOS apps and games continues at the iTunes App Store and this week has been particularly big for new releases.
While I usually try to incorporate a theme into these iOS app collections, this week I wanted to let you know what I'm playing right now. These games are all high quality, from three different genres, are all new to iOS, and have captured my attention all week.
This week's collection of apps are games I'm playing right now. The first is a one-of-a-kind tennis game that has a unique control style along with a comic book story line. The second is a remade Mac game with an extraordinary amount of content and a beautiful setting. The last is a sequel to a popular FPS franchise and might be the best yet.
Flick Tennis: College Wars ($1.99 iPhone, $3.99 iPad) does away with onscreen joypads and buttons, and lets you play tennis by drawing lines on the screen. It also offers a fun single-player story mode in comic book format that tells the story of a young tennis prodigy and his experiences coming up through the college ranks.
You start out playing easy opponents to give you time to get used to the controls. Serving or returning the ball is as a simple as drawing a line on the screen upward where you want it to go. You can also perform a slice using a two-finger upward swipe, a lob with a two-finger downward swipe, and a drop shot with a one-finger downward swipe. The line-drawing method is surprisingly effective and forces you to think about hitting shots just right to get the perfect angle for a winner.
As you progress through 35 comic book pages of storyline divided up into 11 episodes, you'll face challengers with varied strengths and weaknesses that require different strategies to beat. The game comes with 11 courts, with earlier beginner courts at schools and rec centers, and--once you've advanced through your career--higher prestige courts like country clubs and stadiums. You'll also play on clay, grass, and synthetic surfaces to add to the challenge.
While the single-player story is the main attraction in Flick Tennis, you have the ability to play singles and doubles exhibition matches (Doubles only once you've passed Episode 4). You also can play head to head with a friend on the same device, where the game uses a top-down view and each draws lines for strokes on his or her half of the screen. We tried it here in the office and initially thought it was too awkward, but with a little practice, the head-to-head mode became a lot more fun.
Overall, Flick Tennis offers a unique line-drawing tennis game with great-looking 3D graphics and surprisingly challenging gameplay. If you like tennis games and are open to trying a new way to play the game, Flick Tennis has a lot of content to offer.
If you're not sure you want to spend the money and have an iPad, search for the free iPad version at the iTunes App Store to test out the game before buying.
Aquaria ($4.99--iPad only) was formerly a Mac-only game from Ambrosia Software that has now made its way to the iPad, and the underwater fantasy adventure translates very well to the larger touch screen.
You play as Naija, an underwater mer-person in search of her family in a giant underwater world. As you swim through the beautifully rendered caves, you'll uncover secrets and slowly learn Naija's special powers that change her form to enhance her combat, stealth, and speed. Meanwhile you'll also be collecting ingredients that can be crafted into other items for temporary power-ups and healing foods (fittingly, most recipes are for sushi).
The touch-screen control system in Aquaria is a natural fit; to swim, simply touch in the direction you want to go. Changing forms brings up other buttons on the screen (when you switch forms early in the game, you'll use an extra button to shoot fireballs, for example). Touching and holding on Naija also brings up a radial menu where you can use the power of song by touching a combination of colors in sequence. While the controls are mostly intuitive, there are some instances where you'll need to touch various buttons simultaneously that can get a bit awkward.
Even with the sometimes awkward controls, Aquaria is a relaxing, slower-paced game that draws you in immediately with ambient music and well-acted voice narration.
Aquaria makes for a great adventure game on the iPad, with beautiful graphics, (mostly) easy controls, and an enormous world to explore and items to discover. Anyone who is looking for a truly unique and engrossing adventure game should check out this title.
Modern Combat: Fallen Nation ($6.99) is a brand-new first-person shooter and the third installment in Gameloft's Modern Combat series for iOS. The game challenges you to fight through 13 missions from Pakistan to Los Angeles, and you will find and use several different kinds of weapons as you complete mission objectives. The game is a universal download, so you can play on any of your iOS devices, but we think it is at its best on the iPad.
You get three different types of control schemes to pick from, with variations of onscreen joysticks and touch-screen actions. I found the default control method to work best for me with a movement joystick on the left and using the touch screen to aim and fire with my right thumb. Some added controls appear in certain situations where you need to pick up an item or jump down from a wall, for example. You can reload your weapon with a single tap on the gun in the upper right or you can double tap to switch weapons as you discover them in the game.
Though the iPhone touch screen will never be as easy to use as a keyboard and mouse or console controller, Modern Combat: Fallen Nation manages to make the controls fairly easy to use. Auto aim (found in the options) helps a lot to offset the less-than-optimal controls in the beginning, but after spending some time with the game you'll be able turn it off for a more realistic experience.
Along with the great gameplay, Modern Combat: Fallen Nation has amazing graphics, great audio with satisfyingly explosive-sounding guns, and good voice acting in-game and during cut scenes.
When you think you've honed your skills well enough, you can take your game online and play in battles of up to 12 players, across six maps, and several game modes (FPS staples like Conquest and Capture the Flag are my current favorites).
If you liked either of the earlier installments of Modern Combat, Fallen Nation is an excellent choice with more-exciting gameplay, challenging missions, and probably the best graphics yet. If you like first-person shooters, this game is a must-have on your iOS device.
Want to join me in some online action? Add Zevius as a friend on Gameloft and we'll team up to blow away some bad guys!