Is there anything better than a free update? I’m sure there is, but this week isn’t the one to make that argument when you look at the new updates to the insanely addictive Pocket God and Doodle God. Pocket God got a new location and a new power, while the Doodle God update includes more than 50 new elements and a Kids mode. But enough about updates to games with God in their title, there were some new releases this week as well.
1. SimCity Deluxe ($6.99)
Originally released for the iPhone last year, SimCity disappeared from the app store due to a number of technical issues and annoying bugs. The EA franchise returned this week as SimCity Deluxe, and fans of the series will be happy to know it’s a much more complete and stable game than its predecessor. Having said that, if you played the original iPhone game – or SimCity 4 on the PC – you will see a very similar presentation and game elements. As for the new stuff, Deluxe adds seasons as well as familiar SimCity features such as scenarios (seven in all) and starter cities. Really, though, this is a thorough update of the previous game, but one that will cost you seven bucks regardless of whether you purchased SimCity.
2. NFL 2011 ($6.99)
Gameloft’s NFL franchise once again hit the App Store in early August this year, and also narrowly beat out Madden (due to be released Aug. 10) to become the first 2011 football game on the iPhone. The big improvement in NFL 2011 is in its graphics, most notably that a lot more player animations have been included to make the game look more realistic. The game is also once again fully licensed, so it includes real team and players (more than 2,000), as well as great iPhone-specific controls such as the ability to draw hot routes on your screen. Unfortunately, it would still be a stretch to call this a true football simulator, despite being 11-on-11, and aside from updated rosters and graphics this is similar to last year’s release. I would also expect a price drop soon after Madden’s release, though if you can’t wait this isn’t a terrible game – just an average one.
3. Hero of Sparta II ($6.99)
Clearly this was a big week for Gameloft sequels, as the company also released a follow-up to the popular slasher Hero of Sparta this week. Like NFL 2011, Hero of Sparta II has undergone plenty of visual upgrades since the first title, and iPhone 4 owners will be thrilled the game includes high-def graphics and utilizes the iPhone 4’s retina display. Action fans will be thrilled that, like the original 2008 game, you control Argos with an easy-to-use virtual d-pad/action button combo and destroy everything in sight. If you missed this game the first time around you can download a free version of the first Hero of Sparta or buy the full game for only $1.99. Or for those of you who prefer comparisons, think God of War meets the iPhone.
4. Fastar! (99 cents)
It’s one thing to mock the mindless action RPG genre, but it’s a completely different thing to do that while offering a quality game. Cat in a Box Games’ Fastar! delicately toes this line, though it will appeal more to your sense of humor than satisfy your thirst for blood. As the full title of the game (Fighting Angry Squares: The Action RPG!) suggests your enemies are squares, a dig at the numerous games that offer up villains of different shapes and sizes, but that are all essentially the same. Fortunately the enemies in this app do have unique ‘personalities’ which you become familiar with in the game’s 24 modes – ‘some of which don’t even count!’ according to its iTunes page. Okay, so the game will appeal much more to your humorous side. But it’s also a fun game at a great price, no joke.
5. The War of Eustrath ($5.99)
While Fastar! can only loosely be described as an RPG, games don’t get more RPG than iQuibi’s The War of Eustrath. All the things you’d expect to see are here, from the deep storyline to combat that is much more about strategy than button mashing. In this game you control units that are known as GEARS, which are affiliated with elements such as air. Different elements work better in different environments (there are 50-plus stages in the game), adding yet another layer to the game. The graphics are also typical of the genre, with an overhead map view and cut scene close-ups for battles. But while much of this is your standard RPG game, it’s also above average in just about every category. So while it isn’t groundbreaking, it is perfect for gamers who love the tactical side of fighting and yet another solid RPG option on the iPhone.