It's a definitely grab-bag weekly sale this week, with apps from across the spectrum getting their prices peeled down to the bare. It's Black Friday for the shoppers but it's always a price drop Friday when you swing around to MacLife. So dive right in, if you're awake enough to read this and still have a few bucks left after the shopping madness of the day.
Our monthly recap looks back at the games we reviewed during November, with a total of 25 iOS and Mac games presented here in bite-sized, to-the-point encapsulations. And if you want to read more, simply click the link on each slide to read the full, scored critique and find the link to purchase each game. We covered a great array of entries this month, including big-name affairs like Star Wars: Tiny Death Star and Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies — plus Mac add-ons/expansions for BioShock Infinite and XCOM: Enemy Unknown — along with under-the-radar gems like The Shivah and Pathogen.
While most people spend Thanksgiving thinking about the things in their life that they're grateful for, some see it simply as the pre-game before the real holiday: Black Friday. Those who are willing to brave the early morning haze and long lines — warmed by the still-digesting feast in their stomachs — are rewarded with the chance to save (and spend) tons of money at stores of all sorts. But you can't go out unprepared into the shopping wilderness that is Black Friday. Arm yourself with your iOS device and let these eight apps be the compass that guides you happily to ultimate savings.
We’re not going to point you in the direction of any Black Friday deals here, as those are covered pretty thoroughly elsewhere. But you should seriously check these deals before camping out all night, as maybe you’ll save even bigger and get to sleep in a nice warm bed after all that turkey. Your call.
With Thanksgiving taking over Thursday this week, Apple opted to loosen the floodgates a day early, and we’ve got several intriguing new iOS games to pull you away from mundane family encounters — such as the super charming Icycle: On Thin Ice, the surely absorbing Skulls of the Shogun and Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, and quicker-hit entries like Darklings and Skateboard Slam.
Despite its 3D graphics, physics engine, and any marketing material you may have seen, Touchgrind Skate 2 is not a realistic skateboarding game. For one, there is no rider, only a pair of fingers spectrally guiding a deck through a series of blunt stalls, 50-50 grinds, and kickflips — it’s skateboarding by marionette. If there’s one aspect of Touchgrind Skate 2 that comes across as completely authentic, it’s that skateboarding is difficult and requires practice. Amazingly, that proves a pretty effective hook.
Spec Ops: The Line thrives on colorful, deliberate level design; its self-conscious take on the shooter genre (by way of Apocalypse Now), and its reversal of traditional player incentives. Originally released in June 2012 on other platforms, Spec Ops' recent release on Mac captures every concept from the original for better and worse. It's as well-built a package as any modern AAA shooter — crisp, quick, and brutal — albeit saddled with some stop-and-pop repetition and decrepit multiplayer modes. However, for all the game does well, the Mac port unfortunately limps along with sluggish and inconsistent performance.
Strike Force Heroes: Extraction is a noble – if uneven – attempt to replicate the classic side-scrolling console shooter. Likely due to the complexity of its control scheme, the genre hasn’t often been particularly well served on iOS devices, but Strike Force Heroes (HD iPad version reviewed; also available separately on iPhone) has found a few clever shortcuts. The result is fun to play in short bursts, even if the smoothness of some controls makes some of the weaker spots more glaring.
Running a clandestine agency devoted to fighting diabolical alien invaders is tough, but as XCOM: Enemy Unknown taught us, it gets a lot easier if you can steal things out of the enemy's playbook. And when those things include extreme genetic modifications and hulking robot exoskeletons — two of the biggest features introduced by the Enemy Within expansion — the fight doesn't necessarily get easier, but it does get a lot more interesting.
So many of the little details surrounding Google Play Music for iOS suggest that the tech giant isn't so eager to win over iPhone owners as recent overtures might suggest. Never mind that six months passed before its iOS launch, but the in-app keyboard retains the design of iOS 6 and the skeuomorphic icon stands in stark contrast to its updated brethren. It's a shame, because there's a really well designed music app lying in store once you make it through such chaff.