Category Archives: Feature

OnLive to bring console games to iDevices

OnLive, Inc. provides a service that allows people to play console quality games on any Mac or PC equipped with just about any video card.  It logs key inputs and streams the resulting actions back to the user’s screen.  No hard drive space is required other than 10 MB for the application itself.  There is also a unit available called the MicroConsole that plugs into HDTVs.  The MicroConsole has a controller much like that of the XBOX 360—it’s comfortable and works well.

The service itself has a wonderful interface where you can watch others playing games in the Arena, view 10 second “Brag Clips” that people have recorded of their gameplay, purchase games in the Marketplace, or launch a game with ease.  All loading times are very fast; OnLive has strong processors to run all of the games well.  With a very fast Internet connection the video quality is incredible—it looks as if it’s right on the computer and it isn’t streaming.  When other people use your network, OnLive detects the signal strength and automatically adjusts the video quality.  Despite this, there are occasional frames dropped in the process.  The only game so far where this has been a problem is Mafia II.  I’ve seen some momentary lag not caused by my Internet quality or video stream, but instead from the processors at OnLive.  Loading within the game itself could cause this, or maybe there were a lot of people online—it’s another rare occurrence that was barely noticeable, and did nothing to hinder my gaming experience.

OnLive is free to browse; any game on their servers can be played for 30 minutes.  The trial can be played an infinite number of times with no charge.   There is an affordable gaming option.  It’s called the PlayPack Bundle, a package of 70+ games that costs $10 a month.  It can be cancelled at any time, and the selection includes some fantastic games.  There are also many games available for a full subscription, providing access to the whole game until it is no longer on their servers, a minimum of three years.  All of these games can also be rented for either 3 or 5 days.

While these options are nice, the games are offered at premium prices.  There often are great sales; just keep your eyes open.  So far, what I’ve seen of the games shows me a lot of great potential, except that the selection isn’t very large yet.  I’m convinced this platform is going to be huge, so I think it should gain enough momentum to have a huge library not too long from now.

Now here’s the cool news, OnLive has a playable app coming to iDevices before the end of the year!

Currently there’s an app available for the iPad that lets the user watch Brag Clips and view the Arena, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming.  Soon we’ll be able to carry console games in our pockets, and play them whenever we want!  The graphics of these games will blow iDevice games out of the water with options such as Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and Batman: Arkham Asylum.  It’s also great that the small iDevice hard drives will only need to have a tiny application to launch these games.

There are only a few foreseeable problems with this app: controls, screen size, and signal strength.  A solution to control issues is that each game will need it’s own custom set tucked in the sides of the screen.  If controls are approached meticulously (as I’m sure they will be) your thumbs won’t cover much of the viewable part of the screen, and each game should feel as natural as any one native to the iDevices.

The games available on OnLive were all designed for much bigger screens and as such they will have a large amount of detail visible at all times.  This could potentially be a big strain on one’s eyes when playing on one of the smaller devices.  I’ve also noticed that iDevices have a much shorter Wi-Fi range than computers.  To get great video quality a strong network connection is needed, and you’ll have to be closer to the source.  One can assume that the games will be playable over 3G, and that they will look just fine.  The same goes for 4G, but even better.

OnLive is an ambitious and innovative service that brings incredible graphics to systems that couldn’t handle the processing themselves.  While all of the video is streamed and is dependent upon a network connection and its strength, the hard drive is not filled with games.  It’s coming to the iDevices, and it’s going to be great, as long as the controls are addressed carefully.

Atari’s Greatest Hits for iPad Worth Downloading for One Game

I recently have discovered the amazing gameplay of Atari’s classic arcade game Tempest and you guys want to know how? Through Atari’s Greatest Hits on the iPad. Although I’ve owned this collection since it came out a few weeks ago, I’ve never gotten into any of the games due to just how clunky and archaic they are; and based on control issues with some of them.

However, once I pulled the trigger of a $.99 in-app purchase for Tempest, I never looked back. This game is so fun, addicting, and plays great in orientation mode (you can change various options in settings from the game screen). It is fun because the game looks like it could be made in any era. It really feels 3D and modern despite it’s age. This is the type of game I would like to play on the iPad 3 when it comes out with the rumored full-3D display.

the game made me realize how great the iPad really is for retro gaming. When I say retro, I am not talking about archaic and clunky like a lot of the other offerings of the app, I’m talking about simple but difficult and level-based games with high scores as the aim or level progression. Games like the recently released Enduro or retro-inspired titles like Gravonaut and League of Evil are what truly makes the platform shine.

Despite the many other retro offerings on the App Store, I would still say this one game, Tempest, is in the cream of the crop and really a timeless classic. So if you didn’t have interest in Atari’s Greatest Hits before, download it just for this game. The iPad app also runs different from the iPhone despite being universal, the iPad has both screen orientation options and the iPhone version may not. Either way, check Tempest out if you’ve never played it.

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R.I.P. Forums

Hey folks, if you haven’t noticed by now, the tab for the forums has disappeared.

And that’s basically what happened: we decided to get rid of the forums.  Since its launch, the time to take care of it became much too large of a task; what, with more and more developers and spam piling up into those things we call threads.

Of course, if there’s an overwhelming demand to bring it back, we’ll consider putting it back up.  But for now, let’s rest our laurels and pay our dues to the forums.  It’s a sad moment for us as well, and thank you all for paying your respects.   Hopefully a resurrection takes place in the near future.

 

iPad 2 Hands-On

If you live on the planet Earth, you probably knew that the iPad 2 launched on Friday March 11th.

With that in mind, I went to my local Apple store to pick up Apple’s new beauty, going hands-on with a couple of titles along with testing out the speed and such.  And while there’s not a huge difference between the first and second versions, one of the most notable differences is the speed.

Performance

The first iPad ran most games at a buttery-smooth frame rate, but the iPad 2 has taken that butter and nearly melted it.  Exiting out of games is extremely smooth, and switching from one app to the other executed flawlessly.  I haven’t been able to get my hands on any of the iPad 2-optimized titles except for Infinity Blade, which ran great, but I didn’t see any huge differences.  Infinity Blade is exactly like it was before, and I didn’t exactly notice any huge graphical differences (maybe because I’m used to playing it on the iPhone 4’s Retina display).

Weight

This is another huge improvement from the first iPad: it’s much easier to hold the device.  Before, I thought the iPad was a little unwieldy but bearable, although playing dual-stick shooters in which the controls were on the bottom was a little difficult.  Launching up Meteor Blitz on the iPad 2 was much more comfortable, and I was able to play at a more comfortable position.  Does it still get heavy while playing Meteor Blitz?  Yes, it does.  But the lessened weight allows you to play games for a much longer period of time, let alone being able to actually read books without having to readjust everything.

Width

This is really the only subject I’m going to rave about, as the width of the iPad is extremely thin.  It’s definitely A LOT thinner than the old iPad, and it’s extremely comfortable to hold at such thin sides.  It almost feels like I’m holding a magazine while reading The Daily (great app, by the way), and it really adds to the whole “lightness” factor.  The speed and lessened weight wowed me, but the thinness of this device has wooed me the most.  But hey, Apple seems to always do this to me.

I don’t think that iPad users NEED to upgrade to the iPad 2, but it’s pretty fast and pretty light.  The three factors I mentioned above are the only good reasons I found with purchasing the iPad 2, but they’re enough to justify the purchase.  And if you’re smart, you’ll buy two and sell one to save some money (hint, hint).

Holiday Buyer’s Guide

There are holiday buyer’s guides for all sorts of things: clothes, shoes, console games, food… and each guide definitely makes it a bit easier to shop during the holidays.  And while I can’t imagine anyone gifting apps for Christmas, there’s bound to be some iTunes giftcard gifts out there.

So, let’s create a situation in which you received a $50 iTunes giftcard.  What do you get?

Racing

Need for Speed Shift: It’s only $0.99 right now, and you really can’t get much better than this (aside from Real Racing 2).  Grab it quickly though, as I have no clue how long this EA sale is going to last.

AND Real Racing 2: On the expensive side, and it’ll eat 10 of your $50, but it’s totally worth it.  Of course, that’s only if you liked the first one and don’t mind a bit of repetitive racing here and there.  It’s great, and you can’t get a more quality-filled game than Real Racing 2.

Total: $10.99

RPGs

Aralon HD: It’s universal, extremely expansive, provides over 30 hours of gameplay, but it is a bit expensive at $6.99.  You do get what you pay for—a fully-featured 3D RPG unrivaled in the App Store—and that’s the main reason why this is my first recommendation to all of you shoppers out there.

Alternative: Zenonia 2: If you’re tending to go with the cheapest RPG out there, you can’t get much more bang for the buck than Zenonia 2.  It’s on sale for $0.99, and while I don’t know how long that sale’s going to last, it’s definitely a solid, entertaining RPG.  There is a lot of grinding, but hey, the game as a whole is pretty solid.

Alternative 2: Infinity Blade: This new, shiny RPG from Chair won’t give you much content—I’ve spent around 4 hours on this—but it does provide a fun and unique experience, along with some of the best graphics you will ever see on this device.  It is a bit expensive at $5.99, so that’s the main reason it’s the 2nd alternative.  Other than that, this is one game that you must try if you have the budget.

Total: $6.99

Sports

Madden NFL 11 (or any EA Sports title): I have to default to my love for football and put Madden here, but NBA Elite 11 is also a nice choice.  EA’s fire sale is really nice for all of you shoppers out there, and it’s really something that should be taken advantage of.  While Madden NFL on the iPhone is still maybe a year away from being great,  it’s enough to satiate your football needs.  It’s $0.99, and with not many sports titles on the iPhone, it stands out.

Alternative: Touchgrind: Is this a sports title?  I would say it is, and that’s the main reason why it’s on here.  While it’s $4.99 and nearly two and a half years old, it’s still one of the most unique games on the App Store.  It’s fun, challenging, and gives a wow factor in place of the lack of content.  Again, if you have the budget, fit this one in.

Total: $0.99

First-Person Shooters

Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus: This wins by a landslide.  Arguably one of my most favorite games on the App Store—not just first-person shooters—its robust online multiplayer mode alongside the 6-or-so hour single player campaign mode, it’s definitively one of the best gaming experiences to date.  Sure, it’s a rip off of Modern Warfare 2.  But it’s one heck of a rip off.

Total: $6.99

Casual

Fruit Ninja: This is probably the toughest category to pick from since there are so many that are so good, but Fruit Ninja is probably the one that I have spent the most hours on.  I’m sure a lot of you out there reading this have picked it up, hence the alternatives, but if you haven’t, this should be your first choice.

Alternative: Flight Control: Anything can go here really—Doodle Jump, Angry Birds, Angry Birds Christmas—but Flight Control has been one of my favorite even today.  Now, I understand if you have this game already, so head on to the second alternative for maybe a choice you haven’t heard of yet.

Alternative 2: Robot Unicorn Attack (Christmas, Heavy Metal, Original): Robot Unicorn Attack is quite enjoyable, with all those GameCenter achievements and all.  The graphics do still need some improvement, and you can play the game for free on Facebook.  But they’re fun, and they’re all $0.99.  If you had to pick one I would go with the Christmas, since it’s the only one packed with GameCenter.  And of course, because it’s Christmas.

Total: $0.99

Puzzle

Edge: Mobigame has updated this game nearly two years after release; yes, it hasn’t really been two whole years because of legal trouble, but Edge is pretty old nonetheless.  It’s universal, has Retina graphics, contains GameCenter achievement and leaderboards, and it’s quite frankly one of the best games I’ve ever played.  I tend to say that a lot, but Edge is a nice pick here for $2.99.

Alternative: Cut the Rope: Cut the Rope is just plain fun, along with the fact that it’s easy enough for casual gamers to get into.  It’s got GameCenter achievements and leaderboards, Retina graphics, and even a free Holiday Edition you can download on the App Store.  I’m not going to lie, Cut the Rope is pretty fun.  And for $0.99, it’s a great grab.

Total: $2.99

Platformer

Super QuickHook: This is probably the best “Hook Champ” game of the three—Hook Champ, Super QuickHook, and Hook Worlds—and it’s only $2.99.  While the developers could add some GameCenter, it’s enjoyable nonetheless.  I doubt you’ll be bored with this one, as if you beat it, there’s a lot of replay value to keep you playing.

AND Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor: You won’t find any game like this on any other platform.  This is beauty at its finest, and it’s totally worth the whole $0.99 and more.  It’s got GameCenter achievements and leaderboards, which is a bonus, and it’s definitely one game that makes the iPhone unique.

Total: $3.99

Rhythm

Rock Band Reloaded: This is ONLY if this is your first rhythm game that you have played on your iDevice.  If not, then you can check out the alternatives.  With that said, Rock Band Reloaded contains over 30 songs for free, and for $4.99, that’s the best deal you will get on a content perspective.  While it isn’t groundbreaking in anyway, Rock Band Reloaded is the cheapest and provides a pretty basic experience into the rhythm game genre.

Alternative: Guitar Hero: Not much content here for $2.99, and you’ll probably be spending close to $6.99 with DLC content, but the game experience itself is probably the best among all the other rhythm games that I have played.  It’s enjoyable, and I can’t really ask for a better Guitar Hero experience.

Total: $4.99

Other

Mirror’s Edge: Didn’t really know where to categorize this one, as it’s a platformer… but not really.  Either way, this is one game you HAVE to pick up for $0.99, preferably for the iPad.  It looks great on the iPhone though, and again, this is a sale that you should take advantage of.  Mirror’s Edge is a great game—albeit short—for a great price.

AND 100 Rogues: This is a game that has received a lot of love from us, especially Matt, and it’s one rogue-like that you can’t miss.  It’s on sale for $1.99, which makes it an even better deal than it already was at $4.99.  It’s universal, has GameCenter, and all the content to keep you fighting for hours upon end.

AND Warpgate: Arguably the best space sim/trader/action game on the App Store, Warpgate is unique, expansive, and provides tons of hours of gameplay.  The iPhone version is a bit cramped, in my opinion, but the storyline and graphics aren’t too shabby.  For $4.99, be ready to say bye bye to your social life and hello to your iPhone.

Total: $7.99

GRAND TOTAL: $46.00

So with all that added up, you’ll have around $4 left.  With that you should check out the alternatives listed, and there’s enough games to last you at least a couple of months.  And if you already have all of these games, be sure to contact us on Twitter for some more suggestions.  And if we’re missing something, please leave your suggestion in the comments and we might just add it to our list.

Merry Christmas all, and have a Happy New Year!