Apps: Deus Ex: The Fall, If This Then That, Pacific Rim, Plants vs. Zombies 2
As the fourth game in Eidos’s well-respected Deus Ex series, Square Enix’s new universal release Deus Ex: The Fall ($7) is a remarkably rich first-person shooter—an original title that looks and plays far better than one would expect from a purely mobile release. Continuing the franchise’s dystopian cyberpunk storyline, The Fall includes all of the dual virtual stick exploration and upgradeable weaponry you’d expect from a typical FPS, plus hacking, strategic elements, and dialogue-based “choices” that affect the progress of the story. Players will be impressed by the sheer quantity of spoken dialog and explanatory cutscenes in the 800+MB title, as well as the large, respectably detailed environments and fluidly animated characters—all best viewed on Retina devices. iOS gamers looking for a simpler interface will appreciate touchscreen-ready tweaks, such as the option to tap-acquire targets and/or double-tap the ground to move without the virtual stick. Though the dark, heavily orange-tinted art doesn’t have the jaw-dropping beauty of Gameloft’s best FPS releases, Deus Ex makes up for optical omissions with greater originality and depth.
Enjoyed by many web users, IFTTT (free) has come to iOS in app form. By using the statement “if this then that,” IFTTT allows users to automate a number of services and wireless devices when triggered by other actions. For instance, a user might instruct IFTTT that when a photo is taken, IFTTT should automatically save the photo to Dropbox. There are many possibilities using a number of services, including Facebook, Gmail, and Twitter, as well as devices such as Philips’ Hue, Belkin’s WeMo, and Jawbone’s UP.
Pacific Rim ($5) from Reliance Big Entertainment is a new fighting game based on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming film, Pacific Rim. Essentially an Infinity Blade clone, Pacfic Rim is a darker, almost comically earnest robot versus Godzilla-style monster game. If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to beat down a mutant lobster with a robot, now you have it, with repetitive one-on-one battles that place you in control of robots fighting semi-humanoid monsters in the middle of oceans and cityscapes. It’s annoying to always be asked to share achievements with friends in order to earn extra in-game currency, and there’s little in the way of environmental interaction during fight scenes, but fans of the film looking for a decent action game will find the graphics and audio acceptable.
Popcap’s incredible action-strategy game Plants vs. Zombies predated the original iPad’s release by nearly a year, but quickly became a superb demonstration of the new tablet’s multi-touch gaming potential. Four years have passed, and now there’s a proper sequel: Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time (Free*). Presently available only in the Australian and New Zealand App Stores, PvZ2 expands the story of your bizarre tutor Crazy Dave, who now travels in time through historic and future settings, each inhabited by new leagues of dimwitted but persistent zombie attackers. Your arsenal of defensive plants begins with familiar options, quickly growing to include Plant Food, a limited-use supercharger that lets weak plants rapidly slay powerful zombies, and new weapons such as the Bloomerang, Coconut Cannon and Lightning Reed.
While the tap-and-drag “deposit plants on a grid to keep columns of zombies from crossing the screen” gameplay will be instantly familiar to prior fans, major changes under the hood make Plants vs. Zombies 2 even more impressive than before. Even on non-Retina devices, the more nuanced and soft-shaded artwork now takes advantage of every iPad, iPhone, or iPod pixel, and newmusic also includes location-specific remixes of past songs. Our only lingering concern is the role of In-App Purchasing, which Popcap’s parent company Electronic Arts is using to finance the game, offering seed packs and other unlockables rather than just charging for the title outright—something it could and should have done given PvZ’s huge and willing fanbase. Purchases are entirely optional, but you’re quickly exposed to an in-game currency system and locked forks in the game’s map of roads, where you can either play heavily or pay for keys. Time will tell whether EA has given up a guaranteed $5 to $10 per download in favor of potential microtransactions, but in its currently free form, this title is certainly worth grabbing and playing as soon as it’s available in your country.
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