Over its last two iterations, the Assassin's Creed series – primarily known for letting players climb on historically significant landmarks and get stabby in different time periods – has increasingly become known for something unexpected: 18th century sailing and naval combat. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, with its focus on Caribbean piracy, embraced wooden ships to the point of making them central to gameplay and plot — and now we have spinoff Assassin's Creed Pirates, which is set entirely aboard them.
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.
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.
Batman’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, possessing a genius-level intellect and an endless arsenal of gadgets that let him maneuver and solve problems in interesting ways. He’s also known for getting into plenty of fistfights with thugs, and it’s this latter aspect that the iOS version of Batman: Arkham Origins focuses on. While Bats explores Gotham City, unravels mysteries, and terrifies criminals with stealthy scare tactics in the console and PC versions, his iOS adventure couldn’t be more straightforward, as he tackles tap-heavy one-on-one fights against a seemingly unending procession of goons.
PAX Prime, Seattle's annual expo of all things gaming-related, drew some big crowds over the weekend — and while much of the focus was on PC and console games brought to the show by big publishers, there were plenty of promising iOS games on display, too. Not surprisingly, some of the most interesting ones came from independent developers. Turn-based strategy, RPGs, racing, and rhythm games were all on display for attendees to see firsthand — but if you didn't get to go, be sure to check out our favorites.
Our first monthly recap looks back at the games we reviewed during the month of August, with a total of 24 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. August was headlined by intriguing Mac adventures like BioShock Infinite and Gone Home, while iOS highlights included Asphalt 8: Airborne, Rymdkapsel, and Plants vs. Zombies 2, but there's plenty more fresh gaming action found within.
It's been an awfully long time since there was a new entry in the Ultima series, and even longer since the venerable RPG franchise was on an Apple platform. Its reappearance on iOS – as a free-to-play game, no less – might seem like a low-key comeback for a property that once helped pioneer computer role-playing games, but underneath its casual-looking exterior lurks a fun (if simple) dungeon-crawling MMO.