For all of its strengths, Fightback is a game that feels tuned to reward in-app purchases more than strategy or skill. Ninja Theory, the studio behind the '80s-tinged brawler, is known for big console projects like last year’s Devil May Cry reboot and 2010’s Enslaved: Journey to the West. Those games were great — underrated, even — which is why Fightback’s shortcomings come as such a surprise.
Every time a new photo effects app pops up, it’s often frustrating to see the same sepia toning filters, blur effects, and other reliable features that are all getting rather long in the tooth. This fact makes the appearance of Fragment all the more exciting, as it produces effects that nothing else in the App Store even attempts to mimic, yet remains exceedingly easy to use and explore. The app lets you choose from one of 46 built-in base effects, which are essentially distortion masks based on a variety of shape combinations, from simple frames to abstract designs – including crystal shards, geometric patterns, and circular constructs – which distort the image in any number of ways.
Sega’s first attempt to mine the Mario Kart formula worked out rather well on iOS with Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, though it already looks a bit weathered by time (especially without iPhone 5+ widescreen support). Luckily, console sequel Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed has now likewise made the leap to the App Store, expanding the arcade-style approach with the addition of flight and boating segments across an array of colorful tracks inspired by classic Sega properties. It’s once more an entertaining concoction, though slow-paced progression and paid power-ups slightly diminish the effect of this mobile port.
When iA Writer burst onto the scene in late 2010, it was a game-changer. The first true alternative to Pages, its ultra-minimal interface introduced a new kind of word processor, one that eschewed underutilized features for a sharp focus on simplicity. Writer Pro for iOS attempts to build on that concept. With a completely new workflow designed to tightly organize your thoughts, Information Architects pushes its minimal interface to the max, but loses that trademark simplicity in the process.
Most notable stealth-action games — including Metal Gear Solid, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell, and Mark of the Ninja — make sneaking about and leaving enemies undisturbed merely an option, also providing the ease and capability of dealing out death as desired. Not so in the first episode of République, which follows Hope, a teenage girl held captive for possessing revolutionary materials within the school of a totalitarian regime. Aside from wielding the occasional pepper spray bottle or a one-time-use taser, she’ll need to creep around every corner and stay totally unseen to avoid being recaptured. And unlike in the average stealth affair, you’re not even directly controlling her actions.
First released in 2004 for the PlayStation 2, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas still ranks among the biggest, most ambitious, and most impressive games ever made. With an open game world that spans three distinct cities and miles of open countryside in between, it tells a story that starts with petty gang wars in a facsimile of early '90s L.A., and eventually balloons to include government conspiracies, jetpacks, and massive casino heists that lead to absurd wealth. The idea that it's now playable on our phones is a little mind-blowing — and yet here it is, without visible sacrifice or compromise, looking, sounding, and playing just like we remember. Well, almost.
The world of The Walking Dead is brutal and tragic, and not just because it's swarming with zombies. Half the survivors are remorseless bandits, and the other half are paranoid and distrustful because of the first half. Everything goes wrong, good people die in agonizing ways, and something horrific and sad waits around seemingly every corner. It's certainly no place for a child—so of course, that's the role Season Two of Telltale's acclaimed adventure series casts you into.
The App Store is home to plenty of digital journal tools, but all of them require effort from the author to be useful. Heyday solves this problem in a very elegant way – and one that actually makes us want to participate. The free app converts existing photo libraries from an iOS device into an automatic journal of your life, complete with geolocation data and time stamps. The speed and accuracy at which Heyday accomplishes this task is nothing short of amazing, but the occasional coarse location can be confirmed or updated as needed. On days when photos aren’t taken, the app continues to work in the background with minimal battery impact, capturing key places visited.
Three years and an equal number of follow-ups after the original game took the App Store by storm, ZeptoLab has finally gotten around to releasing a proper sequel to Cut the Rope. Expectedly, it’s the most notable shift in design and mechanics seen in any of the later entries, due to one major alteration: Instead of adorable green creature Om Nom waiting patiently to receive the candy you’ll typically maneuver his way through various physics-centric puzzles, he can now be shifted and manipulated around the screen to solve the myriad conundrums you’ll encounter in the 100+ stages. That’s not exactly a subtle tweak to the formula, but what’s surprising is how little it seems to alter the tried-and-true sensation of playing the series’ single-screen puzzles.
Four years after an uneven iOS debut with Ridge Racer Accelerated, Namco Bandai’s long-running drift-racing series returns to mobile in fine form. Ridge Racer Slipstream offers little that we haven’t seen in recent handheld and console offerings, but it handles well, looks great, and packs just enough features to keep you on board for the whole hog. Online, arcade, and career modes all earn credits needed to buy and upgrade cars to keep pace as the competition gears up, while series icon Reiko reprises her role as announcer.