Depending on your viewpoint, the iPad is a lovely thing – a sleek, sexy media consumption portal custom-tailored for sprawling on the couch with (cup of tea essential), or frivolous waste of cash. But while browsing the net, checking your emails or farting around with Talking Carl from the comfort of your own preferred slob-out area is all well and good, what we want to know is what does the iPad mean for games? We did a previous hands-on with a bunch of games, and now we’ve gotten a hold of even more titles.
It’s hard to know how good of a gaming device the iPad will be at the moment, especially with the line-up of launch games available – mainly high-definition versions of existing iPhone games (such as Plants vs Zombies) at twice or thrice the price. As such, it’s impossible to tell just how the iPad will take off as a pure games console. Can these pricey conversions justify anything at all, be it their own existence or the validity of Steve Jobs’ latest gadget as a games platform? How will new games take advantage of the iPad’s touchscreen controls? Our crystal ball is a little murky on these.
Perhaps most strangely, one of the biggest perks with the iPad is that it’s given to social gaming. We don’t mean multiplayer gaming (although that’s catered to) – we mean family and friends crowding around the screen to see what’s going on. Suddenly, what was once a solitary venture – peering at your iPhone to play a game – becomes a communal spectator sport. It’s not exactly revolutionary, or perhaps what’s intended, but it’s there.
Has the iPad convinced us as a games machine? The answer is yes. It’s gorgeous to play with, and the large touchscreen holds all sorts of possibilities. But developers and price hold the long-term key – can they conspire to make this the future of portable/social gaming?
This embiggened version of the iPhone shooter is mostly a good fit – a virtual D-pad is used via the left thumb, aiming and firing with the right – but some novelty touchscreen controls (two-fingered grenade throwing, three-fingered door unlocking) are needlessly fiddly.
Here are some of the ways NOVA HD handles touchscreen interaction:
Brilliant, this. In the absence of a button for cycling through available weapons, you flip the icon of your equipped gun (in the upper right of the screen) to scroll through your arsenal. Simple!
Tap the grenade icon just below your weapon icon to fling a grenade. A two-fingered command is also available – while more accurate, it’s needlessly complicated in the heat of battle.
Some doors demand manual interaction, such as placing your fingers on glowing blob-locks and turning clockwise. It’s neat the first time you do it…
Hold your iPad by the sides and your left-hand's thumb rests naturally over this, making movement simple. Given that your thumb will slip up the screen, you do need to ‘re-center’ yourself a lot, but other than this, movement in NOVA is a dream.
Press the red reticle on the right side (nicely placed under your thumb) to fire. Aiming and firing is a cinch, but aiming, firing and moving is a little trickier, because you’ll be firing constantly if there’s an enemy on the screen.
Your lightning/enemy-freezing ability is mapped to the button just below the aiming reticle on the left. We tended not to use it much because of the demands that moving and shooting put on the player when used together.
To jump, move your thumb from the aiming box to the little disc below it and to the right. If you don’t have yourself aimed correctly first, you won’t jump where you want to go.
Check out the next page for more games...