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.
A reimagining of the 1990 Sega Genesis game of the same name, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a creative, whimsical platformer featuring the world’s most recognizable rodent. The action is as traditional as it gets — Mickey runs and jumps through predominantly side-scrolling levels, all the while hopping on baddies, grabbing collectables, and leaping over bottomless pits — but the gameplay stays compelling and fun thanks to well-designed stages, interesting environments, and ample charm.
In spite of its title, you won’t find hooded killers or acrobatic climbing in Assassin’s Creed Pirates (at least not at first). In fact, its main character, Alonzo Batilla, seems to never even leave his ship. Instead, this upcoming spinoff focuses entirely on piracy and simple naval battles, letting players explore a quasi-open version of the Caribbean in a story set around the same time as the latest entry in the series, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.
When it came to Mac in August, BioShock Infinite represented a huge change for its venerable franchise. It switched up the combat, trading bizarre weapons for conventional guns and frenetic pacing; it gave players a constant sidekick, Elizabeth; and most strikingly, it moved the action from the undersea nightmare city of Rapture to the (deceptively) sunnier, airborne steampunk metropolis of Columbia. Burial at Sea — Episode One, Infinite's first story-driven add-on, represents a step back on a couple of those points, the biggest being that the setting is once again Rapture — although we get to see it as a gleaming objectivist utopia, before everything really goes crazy.
You probably remember the WWDC demo. Under the biggest spotlight on the grandest stage, Anki co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman unrolled an 8-foot mat and introduced the world to a new kind of gaming experience, one where the cars are real, but the reality is still virtual.
"If you look at toys from 20 years ago and compare them to toys today they are, minus a few differences, pretty much the same thing," said Hanns Tappeiner, co-founder and president of Anki. "We saw a big gap between (toys and video games) and we thought we could use robotics and AI to bridge that gap, to combine real physical things with some of the things we love about video games. And that's what we did with Anki Drive."
Gameloft surely hopes that GT Racing 2’s flashy lighting and obsessively modeled licensed cars will make it stand out from — or at least keep pace with — a recent surge of App Store racing sims, notably genre leader Real Racing 3. Lens flares and dust effects are well and good, but GT Racing 2’s visual fidelity threatens to overshadow its real strength: as free-to-play racers go, it’s got great controls. GT Racing 2 doesn’t reinvent the iOS racing control scheme, but it executes it better than most of its competitors.
It’s been only six months since Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol brought its unique, tactical take on World War I air combat to iOS, and already we’ve got a sequel. Pushing the action forward to the Pacific during World War II, Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies pits American and Japanese aces against each other in missions that range from simple dogfighting to defending or destroying vital ships, bases, or other structures.
What's the fastest way to get the space bucks needed to get your giant galactic battlestation fully operational so you can terrorize the galaxy? Opening up a snack shop and peddling womp rat stew, apparently. Tiny Death Star leans heavily on its adorable pixel art presentation and silly personality to suck you in, as the cutesy Star Wars-skinned take on Tiny Tower reimagines the Death Star as a strip mall of sorts. And keeping it running smoothly is fun — assuming you don't expect any action, explosions, or space battles.
LEGO The Lord of the Rings' transition to iOS is impeccably smooth, even if you'll miss out on some of the more exciting moments from the Mac version. Guiding Frodo Baggins and his crew of heroes on the path to Mordor works amazingly well on the smaller screen of an iPad or iPhone — and when the ring is finally cast into the fire, you'll still want to return to the fold to grab all of the elusive collectibles in Free Play mode.
Touchscreen platforms typically do a solid job of recreating individual aspects of a sport (like swinging a bat or kicking a ball), but they're rarely good at offering full simulations. While it might be a decidedly unrealistic take on football, Football Heroes does provide a fairly complete — and, more importantly, a very fun — version of the sport. Heroes is a straightforward version of 8-on-8 football with a few key differences, the most notable being your ability to punch opponents and use various power-ups.