Frantic action games occupy a weird space on iOS, offering right-to-the-point entertainment that's ideal for portable games while often lacking the precise controls such games demand, due to the missing physical buttons. Soul Grinder stands out by doing something uncommon: It offers an experience that not only fits its platform in terms of length and straightforward design, but also by featuring a control scheme that provides just the proper amount of control for an App Store action affair.
Following the initial announcement this spring of its impending release, Aspyr revealed this week that well-received first-person shooter sequel BioShock Infinite will make its Mac debut on August 29. The vibrant adventure, which is the best-selling multiplatform release of 2013 thus far according to NPD, launched on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 back in March. Pre-orders for the shooter are open now from Aspyr's own GameAgent service, though it will also be available via the Mac App Store and Steam.
If Cold War is any indication, the Sky Gamblers series may have reached maximum altitude with last year's stellar Storm Raiders. Sure, there's still plenty of high-flying dogfighting action to be found in this latest entry, but there's a legitimate question as to whether this fourth outing on iOS is running on fumes after so many entries in a relatively compact span of time. Thankfully, Cold War does bring some fresh ideas to the table, and the online multiplayer still provides the best aerial combat on the App Store. But the core campaign experience of Cold War is a bland and tired-looking stroll through what is an otherwise fascinating portion of American history.
Back in the video-game heyday of the ‘90s, it wasn’t uncommon to see high-profile titles get releases on portable systems as well as home consoles. The former ports were invariably watered down — handhelds could at best make a valiant attempt at capturing the spirit of whatever the game was, but the chunky hardware just couldn’t quite get there. Surprisingly, the iOS conversion of well-regarded shoot-'em-up Sine Mora feels like a throwback to those days.
From the Osama bin Laden compound raid to the rescue of hostages from Somali pirates, small military strike teams have grabbed more and more headlines in recent years. It's only fitting that video games, which so regularly imitate soldiers' actions via first-person shooters, would follow suit. Breach & Clear is a celebration of the slow, methodical, and tactical side of combat, with your squad of four soldiers tasked with taking out enemy combatants in a series of engagements. You set their paths and then let them loose, watching as your decisions pay off or get your men killed.
Contra has never been easy. Like many of Konami’s old-school ‘80s arcade games, the punishment in this run-and-gun series is designed to come quickly and often, as you attempt to break through endless hordes of enemies using only your reflexes and aim. Death is only a hit away, so winning means memorizing every attack pattern the game throws at you. If and when you screw up – losing one of the few precious lives given from a finite supply of continues – the loss really hurts. Strip that necessary roughness from Contra’s bones and all that’s left is a sad husk trading on a venerable name. This is essentially what Contra: Evolution does.
It's been 11 years since Max Payne — the perpetually beleaguered detective who brought bullet time, John Woo-inspired acrobatics, and noir monologues to shooters — made his last appearance on Mac, and his overdue return (originally released on PC in 2012) didn't get much build-up or fanfare. No matter; Max Payne 3 is a strong, stylish comeback for the middle-aged Max, who now finds himself battling kidnappers and drug gangs as a bodyguard in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The twist is that he's not particularly good at it.
World War Z for iOS may not feature Brad Pitt or focus on specific events in the upcoming film adaptation of the bestselling novel, but it does create the ideal environment for drawing you into the apocalyptic world envisioned by author Max Brooks. Unlike most movie tie-ins, World War Z is more than interactive propaganda, and will please both fans eagerly awaiting the film and gamers looking for a solid mobile action shooter.
On consoles, The House of the Dead: Overkill took one of the most well-trodden premises imaginable – shooting zombies in first-person, on rails – and used it to create one of the most memorably over-the-top games of all time. Taking tropes from grindhouse horror movies and cranking them to ridiculous levels, HotD:O was gruesome, hectic, and – as its characters awkwardly shoehorned f-bombs into nearly every sentence – so deliberately crass that it was impossible to see it as anything other than a comedy. The iOS version, subtitled The Lost Reels, scales all that back considerably.
It's become increasingly popular to try and shoehorn console-style shooters onto iOS, but there's still something to be said for building a game around a system's limitations, rather than ignoring them. With that in mind, Frontline Commando: D-Day might look like a World War II-themed third-person shooter with (presumably) kludgy controls, but it's actually an arcade-y series of shooting galleries linked by auto-runner sequences. That combination creates a streamlined experience that lets us focus on what really matters: ducking behind cover and popping up just long enough to shoot Nazis in the face.