Though a minor update for some users, Apple’s Apple Store app (free) has been updated to version 2.6 — the app now lets users receive notifications noting when they’re eligible for upgrade pricing on a new iPhone.
Sega’s unpredictable history of iOS releases continued this week with the release of House of the Dead: Overkill – The Lost Reels ($5), a visually unimpressive yet semi-engaging zombie shooting game with grindhouse-inspired interface and audio elements. Like virtually all of the prior House of the Dead games, you’re in an on-rails first-person perspective shooting at zombie attackers — here called “mutants,” and with a drag-based on screen reticule rather than just pointing and tapping, increasing the challenge level. Two of the game’s three worlds are unlocked for the $5 asking price, while a third world requires a $2 purchase, and as is sadly now the norm, additional weapons are sold as in-app purchases if you don’t want to spend the time earning them. Overkill’s language is unusually raw, so kids shouldn’t download it; more importantly, due to Sega’s use of relatively low polygon counts for device compatibility, the in-game graphics are merely competent rather than scary. Fans of the series will find this title to be far less stylish and energetic than the best House of the Dead titles, but it’s something to play at a relatively affordable price.
Gameloft’s Iron Man 3 – The Official Game (free) is a new endless runner, hitting iOS screens just before the anticipated blockbuster movie hits theaters next week. The game puts users in control of Iron Man, of course, as he flies over landscapes and through buildings, avoiding obstacles while shooting enemies. Users can also upgrade Iron Man’s armor and use up to 18 different suits from the movies. Graphics are good, and the animation is fluid, but the gameplay suffers a bit from using different parts of the screen to shoot and move — it doesn’t feel intuitive, as shooting and flying feel too separated. Iron Man fans will want to check it out, and it’s worth a look for free, but better endless runners are available.
Console-quality aesthetically if not in controls, LEGO Batman: DC Super Heroes ($5) continues TT Games’ and Warner Bros.’ popular action franchise with a compelling new feature — it includes 80 playable characters from the DC Universe, tied together with a Batman-themed story and rousing Danny Elfman music. Familiar Batman villains including the Joker, Riddler, Penguin, and Harley Quinn all make appearances early on, as does Superman’s nemesis Lex Luthor, and the game allows you to switch between differently-powered player characters at any time, provided you unlock them from a dauntingly huge roster. While the action is relatively simple, requiring you to run through rooms, defeat henchmen and solve simple puzzles before facing bosses, the huge array of characters and levels will blow DC fans away. Superman, Shazam, Batgirl, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman are just a few of the good guys you can control; Scarecrow, two different Two Faces, and Talia al Ghul are amongst the many playable villains, with multiple costumes to acquire and abilities to learn. The only hitches are an initially uneven control scheme — switch to the virtual D-pad — and a huge 1.3GB download footprint, thanks to all the audio and video clips. For the $5 price tag, virtually no one will complain.
NFL ‘13 (free) from NFL Enterprises LLC has been updated just in time for the start of tonight’s 2013 NFL Draft. Version 3.1 allows U.S. customers of COX, Cablevision and FIOS to sign in to watch the NFL Draft live on NFL Network. All users have access to Draft Xtra, which acts as a second-screen experience while watching the draft, providing polls, draft tweets, trivia, player photos, bios and more. Additional draft coverage — including a draft tracker, mock drafts, featured prospects — is also available. Users can also set up custom push notifications by player, team, or draft round.