Friday, 2 December 2011

Top 10 Mobile Games of 2011

Top 10 Mobile Games of 2011

iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile and Android games - mobile games on smartphones and tablets are all the rage. But what have been the best games of 2011
Game and go
The mobile games market is changing fast. From the over-simplistic and retro-designed games of a few years back, smartphone and tablet games have rocketed past the era of a few breakout brand hits (Angry Birds and Cut The Rope) and we're now seeing games that can rival console titles for complexity and depth, as well as entire new emerging genres and ideas. Plus, mobile games are allowing independent developers to make a name for themselves. This year has been so great there's a heap of brilliant games missing from this list. So, Block Breaker 3, Game Dev Story, Tiny Wings and many more (Wind-Up Knight, iBlast Moki 2, Starfront: Collision, Hypership Out Of Control etc etc) didn't quite make the cut. What did?

Windows Mobile is still suffering from a severe shortage of great games. But at least the platform has Ilomilo - an absolutely stunning-looking maze-navigation game featuring a pair of cute creatures (that's the ilo and milo of the game's name) working through a series of gravity-bending 3D mazes. The mazes ramp up in difficulty beautifully, with bonus content to get on each one for completists too. But at the same time, there's never a point where you're left stuck for too long.Available on: Windows Mobile

Dead Space
As a demonstration of just how close to a traditional, immersive console game you can now get on a phone, this takes some beating. And as well as the visuals making the hop across from home consoles, the guts of this visceral and violent horror-action game series have made it along intact too. As an engineer who accidentally unleashes a necromorph outbreak on 'The Sprawl', the plot here set after the original Dead Space, you have to face creepy corridors filled with nasty enemies - and dismember them using Dead Space's iconic inventory of unusual limb-slicing guns. The only real catch - on the touchscreen devices, controls are occasionally cumbersome and prone to mis-hits.Available on: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Playbook, Xperia Play

Order & Chaos Online
Gameloft's current slate of titles won't win prizes for originality. Most are blatant rip-offs of major console/PC games delivered to mobile. But when their games are as playable as N.O.V.A. (read: Halo) and Sacred Odyssey (read: Zelda), then who cares? The latest big game Gameloft has tackled is its most ambitious to date. Order & Chaos is essentially the massively multi-player online title World Of Warcraft, shrunk down to smartphone size. For sheer chutzpah alone, that deserves some credit - but Order & Chaos largely delivers too. The controls and chat system may be awkward, and some users have reported frustrating bugs but, despite that, the opportunity to wander a foreign land and set off on missions with other players - on a touchscreen - is not only a stunning achievement, but also great fun. And the monthly subscription fee is fittingly lower than its PC-based rival.Available on: Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch

Contre Jour
Combining the gameplay of puzzle classic Cut The Rope with the atmosphere and art style of Xbox Live indie smash Limbo is Contre Jour. Sure, once you're past the first few levels, it's clear that the gameplay offers no amazing new twist on the world of stretchy ropes and spiky traps. But the levels are excellently designed and progress nicely, and the immersive atmospheric visuals and downbeat musical score really do add a certain flair to the game and its genre.Available on: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch
Infinity Blade II
The original was not only stunning visually, but also provided a mobile-friendly mix of finger-swiping, sword-slashing action - instant, yet increasingly tactical - and role-playing inventory management and stat-buffing. The sequel looks set (it launches in December) to improve on the original in just about every way it can - better visuals, bigger and more frequent screen-filling boss behemoths (six of them, compared to one in the original) and more complex and rewarding combat and role-playing elements. In other words, Infinity Blade II is set to be bigger, better, badder.Available on: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch

Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
A classic karting title that's one of the best smartphone racing games around, until Mario deigns to make an appearance on your mobile that is. All of the classic karting touches are present and deftly-handled, and the accelerometer tilt-steering is a joy to play with - this is racing done right. And as well as joyfully trawling through Sega's iconic back-catalogue, the game even offers excellent multi-player options.Available on: iPad, 
iPhone/iPod Touch

Sid Meier's Pirates!
Sitting somewhere between role-playing adventuring, mini-game bonanza and simulation-style strategy, Pirates is an excellent iPad-only adaptation of the recent gleeful reimagining of the original 1987 Sid Meier game. Choose an initial character and ship, key skill and difficulty level, then it's time to set sail to rescue your family - and engage in a lot of rum-swilling nautical misadventure. You choose where to sail to, whom to side with and how to push the story along - with the game world reacting around you, and constantly firing a series of mini-game challenges at you - swashbuckling swordfights, strategic boardings and more.Available on: iPad
Anomaly Warzone Earth
This one neatly inverts the usual tower defence idea - here you're attacking the bases with your units in one of the best mobile strategy games around. You choose the route your units take through enemy territory - where they're outnumbered and outgunned - and you choose when to apply extra bonuses to your troops (airstrikes, smokescreens etc). You can change tactics, troop order and customised kit as you go. The end result is a serious and rewarding strategy title, with a unique idea - and great visuals.Available on: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch

Whale Trail
Underneath the glitz, this is, yes, another endless running title - see Canabalt or this year's also-excellent Tiny Wings as great examples worthy of a quick punt. What elevates Whale Trail to this stratospheric list is the sheer slick presentation and joyful brio with which it's all carried off. The theme tune's by Gruff Rhys from The Super Furry Animals and the visuals are retina-dazzlingly cartoon bright (think LocoRoco and then some). At its base level it's a whale you have to tap to keep airborne as it chases bubbles and dodges storms. But it's a game guaranteed to make you crack a grin - and that's worth the price of admission.Available on: iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch

Minecraft Pocket Edition
One of the contenders for the most exciting and unusual game of the last few years - Minecraft combines low-res blocky Lego-a-like building with massive options and a monster-infested survival mode. And now it comes to smartphones and tablets - only minus the monsters, for now. So, you can build and create all sorts of unusual landscapes. So far, there's not the more complicated crafting options or huge vistas of the original game, nor is there survival mode. But the original Minecraft has only recently released as a 'finished' game - with most of its key features having been added along the way during 'beta'. In the same vein, the Pocket Edition is promised monsters and a survival mode, as well as many more crafting options - as they're programmed in. Even now, in its more basic form, the freedom to create and tinker is already highly compelling.Available on: Android, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Xperia Play

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