Congratulations on your new iPhone or iPad! The first few days with a new iOS device can be daunting if you’re new to Apple’s walled garden. There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps available, and when it comes to gaming, there are a great many that aren’t worth your time, your hard drive space, or your $0.99. Wading through all those games can be tough, especially when user reviews are unreliable.Fortunately, instead of letting you spend the holidays doing a bunch of research on which games are great and which aren’t, we’ve made a handy list for you. These are the games you should download first. These are games that are the most fun, maximize your hardware, and are the best the platform has to offer.
Walking Dead: The Game (Free, all episodes for $14.99)
It’s not a stretch to say that Telltale Games’ Walking Dead: The Game might be the best game of the year, on any platform. It took top honors at Spike TV’s Video Game Awards 2012 as the best game of the year for its versions on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It’s gory and full of adult content, but it’s also one of the best-written video game stories out there, period.
Based on Robert Kirkman’s comic series of the same name (and not the AMC TV show), The Walking Dead is an adventure game, so the focus is often on talking with other survivors, making moral decisions, and keeping your frazzled group from tearing itself apart. But there are also plenty of zombie outbreak moments, too. In all, The Walking Dead is an action-packed, brilliant and emotional game, and you should absolutely play it on any device.
Infinity Blade II ($6.99)
ChAIR and Epic Games’ sword-dueling action-adventure game is still a standard on the iOS platform in terms of graphics and gameplay. The second entry in the franchise upped the game of the original Infinity Blade significantly, increasing the amount of story included in the game and regularly receives content updates to give you plenty more bad guys to beat, and in more interesting ways.
Infinity Blade II supports a multiplayer mode that lets players join together in battles to earn rewards as a group, and there have also been lots of weapons, levels and bad guys added to the game since its launch. Infinity Blade II is worth the investment and will impress you with the power of your iOS hardware.
Angry Birds Star Wars ($0.99)
Angry Birds Star Wars takes the familiar tropes of Angry Birds – flinging birds to break stuff and pop pigs – and expands them in great new ways to make what’s probably the best game in the series so far. The great thing about Angry Birds Star Wars is that, first, it continues to play on the new rules and physics added with Angry Birds Space, so it includes gravity wells and space combat.
The addition of Star Wars-influenced material includes levels based on the planets Tatooine, Hoth, Dagobah, and the Death Star. The birds brandish new weapons and abilities like lightsabers, blasters, the Force, tractor beams and more, all of which greatly change the formula of the game and make it feel very fresh. It’s also rather satisfying to see the cast of birds dressed up like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2D2, and C3PO. Plus, if you like Star Wars, it can be pretty funny, too.
Grand Theft Auto 3 ($0.99)
This controversial classic game has made the jump from the Playstation 2 to your iPhone or iPad. Grand Theft Auto 3 is another fairly adult-themed game, what with the ability to pick up ladies of the night and shoot down police helicopters, but it’s also a smart satire and a fun open world to explore, exploit, and blow up.
There are a myriad of missions and other things to do in Grand Theft Auto 3, which means you get hours of gameplay for one dollar. Rockstar Games has done a pretty great drop of porting the game to iOS devices, as well, making the controls feel solid even on a touchscreen interface. You can also check out the newer Grand Theft Auto: Vice City ($4.99) or less affordable Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars ($9.99) if you hunger for more indiscriminate video game carnage and complex missions.
Letterpress – Word Game (Free)
No crop of iOS games would be complete without an asynchronous multiplayer word game thrown into the mix, and Letterpess is a great one. It’s a newer addition to the iOS market, and is a bit more like Boggle than Scrabble, like most games in the category. Each game starts with a random grid of tiles, each with a letter on them. The goal is to tap those tiles to make words, and each time you make a word with tiles, they change to your color. Then your opponent takes a turn, makes a word, and turns tiles to their color – like some of your tiles. You win if you can manage to color all the tiles by making words out of them, and have the most tiles with your color at the end.
You can play as many games at a time as you want in Letterpress, and you can take as much time for your turns as you like. The cool thing about the game is that it’s less about making good words (although that certainly helps) as it is about using letters strategically and at the right moments to win.