It's easy to lose perspective on a game like Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, particularly for those of us who enjoy lavish first-person shooters on consoles or computers. Gameloft's military shooter series seems content to mimic the immensely popular Call of Duty series from other platforms -- and Zero Hour boasts some serious parallels with this year's Black Ops II -- but despite its lack of ambition, the franchise delivers a big and entertaining mobile shooter at a fraction of the cost. And Zero Hour really does improve on the formula in small, but meaningful ways.
The world has been forever changed by a zombie outbreak, and your only means of escape has crashed in the middle of a field crawling with the undead. As the zombies close in, there’s just one course of action available: sprint toward a radio antenna on the distant horizon, the sound of your own labored breath echoing in your ears, and do your best to dodge the flesh-eaters as they stumble out of the fog and rise up from the tall grass. Your predicament is hopeless; eventually they’ll catch you, and the last thing you’ll hear is your own screams. The only real question, as Into the Dead demonstrates, is how far you can get before that happens.
Calendar never really grabbed me on the iPhone, and for whatever reason, neither have the non-Apple scheduling and day-planning options that I've tried. But when I heard Flexibits' Fantastical was making the jump to iPhone and iPod touch, even I was intrigued. I had read so much about its much-loved Mac app that I couldn't resist the urge to try a cheaper, mobile version of the popular utility. And it's very easy to see why Fantastical is so revered.
Grand Theft Auto III was arguably the most influential game of the early ‘00s, ushering in a new age of huge open worlds and criminal anti-heroes, and its release on iOS earlier this year was a pretty significant achievement for mobile gaming. Where GTAIII pioneered, however, its sequels refined and perfected – and just as it did 10 years ago, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City improves on its trailblazing predecessor in nearly every imaginable way.
Despite transitioning from the PC to PlayStation 3 and now finally the App Store over the past few years, Magic Orbz really does feel at home as a bite-sized brick-breaker priced at a couple bucks. Unlike the classics it pulls inspiration from (like Breakout and Arkanoid) and the many subsequent knock-offs, Magic Orbz isn't primarily focused on smashing through blocks or other generic, stationary objects. Instead, its stages take the form of small 3D worlds filled with pirate ships, sharks, and castles, all of which you'll aim to destroy in a comical manner.
If the word “beat” quickly leads you to "tab," "bat," "ate," "bet," "tea," and "eat," you’ll probably do just fine at Writer Rumble for iPhone and iPad. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, combatants in Writer Rumble duel not with fireballs, but word tiles. Dragging your finger across the grid of letters to spell words creates not only terminology but also projectiles, which are flung at the opponent to cause damage. The longer and more complicated the word, the more powerful the attack. Think Boggle, but more violent.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a fount of inspiration, and beyond upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, there's sure to be no shortage of tie-in video games. But considering the amazing reference material – a tale of adventure with dwarves and goblins – it's a shame The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth is so unabashedly boring. It's a typical, free-to-play conquest sim with a veneer of Tolkien influence.
Duo Pinball aims to bring some of pinball's physical sensation back to the lap-based home experience, letting you affix a plastic dock to the back of any iPad — or less ideally, an iPhone or iPod touch — fire up a compatible app, and make use of the built-in plunger and side buttons for a seemingly more authentic feel. Powered by three AAA batteries and a Bluetooth link, the device pairs effortlessly and is easy to use, plus it'll hold your iPad snugly while you mash the deep blue flipper buttons — but the resulting sensation is less enthralling than expected.
You know what they say about idle hands. With the holidays barreling down at us full speed and the lull of winter setting in, keeping busy with fun and interesting new crafts is a great way to stave off the seasonal doldrums while also saving on those credit card-busting shopping sprees. If you fancy yourself the creative type, now is the perfect time to start a new project. Why not grab some of these inventive apps to inspire your artistic side?
Traveller’s Tales continues to churn out LEGO platformers based on licensed franchises with varying results, and with Feral Interactive bringing many to the Mac. Frankly, despite a cute tone and easy-going gameplay model, the games have grown a bit stagnant in the originality department. But LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes manages to break the mold, creating an engaging world you’ll want to return to in search of those elusive plastic blocks.