So here we are, a whole year after the launch of the iPad 2, and like clockwork, Apple has released the latest in lust-worthy touch-screen technology, the oddly titled "New iPad" (not iPad 3). And like all new Apple products, it brings with it a raft of improvements, including a five-megapixel camera; 1080p video recording; 1GB of RAM; a new A5X processor, which features a quad-core graphics chip; and the long fabled "Retina Display," which sports a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels. That's 3.1 million of the buggers (1 million more than on your 1080p HDTV), compressed onto a 9-inch display.
So if you've handed over your hard-earned cash for Apple's latest slate and want to download some seriously great games for it, don't waste your time trudging through the depths of the App Store--we've done it for you! From the breathtakingly beautiful to the downright bizarre, here are our picks for the best in Retina Display-compatible games and some of our all-time favorites from the App Store.
One of the first apps to get the Retina Display treatment is also one of the newest. Mass Effect Infiltrator brings the series to the small(er) screen, stripping out the dialogue trees and leveling system in favor of nonstop cover-based action. With all the depth stripped out and some iffy touch-screen controls, it's not as great as its console counterparts, but there's still plenty to love. There are over 30 battles to play through, neat nods to the Mass Effect universe, and some of the sexiest visuals on the iOS. Mass Effect fans (that's everyone, right?) should definitely give it a go.
Real Racing 2 has long been one of the best-looking racers on the iOS. And with an update that takes advantage of the New iPad Retina Display, it looks even better. That not to say it's all about the visuals, though--far from it. Real Racing 2's vast physics modeling system means cars handle in a fantastically realistic way, while a deep career mode and 16-player online modes mean there's plenty of content to enjoy. Plus, with Airplay support, you can even play split-screen with up to four iOS devices on your HDTV. Marvelous.
If racing's not your thing, how about taking to the air instead? Namco Bandai's Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy puts you in the cockpit of a fighter jet, letting you dogfight with enemies and bomb the crap out of warships, all in glorious Retina Display-o-vision. Plus, using the gyroscope, you perform all those awesome-looking twists, rolls, and the loop-the-loops you saw in Top Gun. Sadly, there's no confirmation of a sweaty beach volleyball mode. Yet.
Sometimes, you need something completely insane in your life. And when having a baby, jumping off a plane, or eating your body weight in cookie dough won't do, there's Monsters Ate My Condo. Brought to you by Adult Swim--purveyors of fine cartoon-based entertainment--Monsters Ate My Condo is a fast-paced puzzle action game. The aim is simple: feed colored blocks to the right monsters and try to match up three of the same-colored condo blocks to keep your ever-expanding tower upright. It's fantastic fun, and combined with some of the most over-the-top visuals ever seen in a puzzle game (now Retina Display ready), Monsters Ate My Condo is simply one of the most insanely addictive puzzle games on iOS.
If you prefer your puzzle games with a slightly more sedate look, check out Diamond Dash, which has also recently had a Retina Display update. The aim is to match three colored gems, much in the style of Bejewelled, except you have just 60 seconds per game to score as many points as possible. Multiplayer is a huge part of the game, with weekly tournaments and the ability to connect with players on Facebook making it easy to compete with friends. There's a whole 18 million of them according to developer Wooga.
OK, so this game isn't actually out yet, but you should certainly keep an eye on it. Running on Unreal Engine, Infinity Blade: Dungeons is the latest iOS game from Gears of War developer Epic. Dungeons is a dungeon crawler in the same vain as Diablo, complete with an experience system and plenty of gruesome monsters to hack and slash. It's set several thousand years before the Infinity Blade series, where you play as an apprentice weaponsmith on a quest to collect and craft minerals to create the legendary Infinity Blade. "This new device has more memory and higher screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3," said Epic president Mike Capp during the game's debut. High praise, indeed.
While Infinity Blade: Dungeons isn't out just yet, you can check out its rather excellent predecessor Infinity Blade II right now. Also running on Unreal Engine, Infinity Blade II is one of the finest games on the App Store, mixing Punch-Out!!-style hack-and-slash combat with sharp touch-screen swipe controls. It's a game that plays to the platform's strengths; there's no battle so long that you can't finish it on a bus and no unwieldy touch-screen analog sticks to get in the way of the action. No iPad owner should be without it. For more, check out our full review.
One the latest additions to the iOS library is Incoboto, which is developed by Fluttermind, a studio headed up by former Fable creative director Dene Carter. A unique mix of Mario Galaxy, Braid, and Portal, Incoboto tells the story of Inco, a small boy who's alone in a vast universe. He soon meets Helios, a smiling, childlike sun. It's Inco's ticket to freedom and his way to uncover the truth about humankind. It's also the beginning of a journey that takes him to the very edge of the universe and you through one of the most utterly charming, thought-provoking, and clever puzzle games on the iOS. It's simply awesome. For more, check out our full review.
Just how good is Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP? Well, it's so good it won GameSpot's Mobile Game of the Year! Part 8-bit adventure game, part musical Odyssey, Swords & Sworcery is not only a brave experiment in music and art, but it's also a damn fine game to boot, with nods to the likes of Zelda, Castlevania, and Ico. What makes the game so appealing is how it taps into your childlike curiosity, encouraging you to poke, stroke, and rotate the screen to battle demons and solve the clever puzzles that unlock the secrets of the 8-bit realm. Intelligent, engrossing, and rich--yet somehow minimal--Superbrothers Swords & Sworcery EP is a poster child for iOS indie development, creating an experience that ambitiously blends the old and the new with great success. It is not just an outstanding mobile game; it's a great game on its own right.
The iPad's touch screen is perfectly suited to point-and-click adventure games, and there are few on the iOS as great as Machinarium. Its hand-drawn visuals are hauntingly beautiful, and they are bolstered by charming character designs and a wonderfully discordant soundtrack. Also great are its puzzles, which are suitably taxing without being completely implausible. Don't waste your time with other adventure games on the iOS; this is as good as it gets. For more, check out our full review of the PC version.
No iOS library would be complete without a one-touch cave flyer game, and Jetpack Joyride is one of the most brilliant. Solid controls let you effortlessly guide character Barry Steakfries through the air with ease, avoiding obstacles and collecting coins scattered throughout each of the procedurally generated levels. Though its formula is tried and tested, developer Halfbrick Studios has honed it to near perfection, adding detailed pixel-art visuals and a host of exciting power-ups to the mix. It may be the simplest game on this list, but it's also the most addictive. Just one. More. Go…
What do you think of our suggestions? Have we missed anything out? What's your favourite iPad game? Let us know in the comments below.'