We're past the halfway point for the year, and 2013 has already proven to be an incredible time for new iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch games. Whether you tend towards quick-hit affairs or engrossing, strategic time sinks (or a little of both), there's been an absolute wealth of great options to choose from in a huge array of genres. Why wait until January rolls around to look back on such greatness? We've compiled our picks for the 25 best iOS games of the year to date, all of which are surefire options for on-the-go entertainment.
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.
The annual Steam Summer Sale might not go live until tomorrow (if rumors are to be believed), but you shouldn't let that stop you from experiencing brave new worlds in gaming today. Specifically, we're talking about the Brave New World expansion for Civilization V that was released this morning, as well as Deus Ex: The Fall, which hit the App Store a day earlier than expected.
Strategy games that combine city-building elements with player-vs-player combat are incredibly common on the App Store these days, and War of Nations doesn't shy from using the familiar free-to-play formula seen in everything from Clash of Clans to developer GREE's own Modern War. Fortunately, a handful of elements elevate it above the mass of clones, but progression glitches and a pricey cash shop make it a tough game to get deeply invested in.
The original Kingdom Rush is one of the App Store's most enticing time sinks – an original tower defense affair that delivers countless hours of challenging entertainment and remains atop the crowded genre on iOS. Kingdom Rush Frontiers, available in separate iPhone (reviewed) and iPad releases, makes little effort to reinvent the formula. It's the same core strategic experience that we loved last year, albeit with fresh terrain and tower upgrades, plus a couple of light twists along the way. And considering the immense quality of the original, it's tough to argue with that approach.
There was never any real doubt that 2012’s turn-based strategy darling XCOM: Enemy Unknown would be a good fit for iOS. Its isometric battlefields, uncomplicated menu-driven controls, and methodical turn-based pace all practically screamed for a touch-based interface. The only question was what it would look like once it got there—and now that it's here, we can say it’s lost impressively little in the translation.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown made a big splash when it hit PC and consoles late last year--and Mac OS back in April--and now (as developer Firaxis promised back in March), it'll pop up on the App Store for iOS on Thursday for a mere $20. According to Firaxis, this redesigned version "takes the complete XCOM experience of the console and PC version of the game and optimizes it for the touch interface of iOS device."
So a dwarf, an elf, a wizard, and a berserker walk into a bar [cue cheesy sitcom laugh track]. Admittedly, there's nothing particularly revolutionary about the way Warhammer Quest's quartet of generic protagonists gallivant away on catacomb-clearing, monster-carving adventures across the brooding fantasy landscape. But this turn-based dungeon crawler based on the mid-'90s RPG tabletop board game doesn't disappoint with its flashy presentation, excellent storytelling, and satisfying creature-pummeling combat.
Strategy-game developer Firaxis has made a couple of small but impressive forays into iOS territory this year with turn-based titles Haunted Hollow and Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol, but it’s poised to go a lot bigger this summer. Specifically, it’s bringing its 2012 strategy blockbuster, XCOM: Enemy Unknown (which debuted on Mac in April), to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch — and we’ve had a chance to take it for a spin.
A slick cyberpunk vibe with a futuristic neon glow sets the stage nicely for Frozen Synapse's brain-twisting tactical combat encounters. When it first launched on Mac and PC, this cool indie strategy game garnered high praise for its unique asynchronous take on turn-based combat and play-by-email style multiplayer matches. This iPad port gloriously packs all of the clever strategizing and insane resolutions of the original – and even lets you play against desktop users – without losing anything in the jump to the portable format.