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More iPad games put to the test

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?


The games

NOVA HD
Developer: Gameloft
Price: $6.99/£3.99

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:

Weapons
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!

Grenades
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.

 
Doors
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…

The D-pad
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.

Aiming
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.

Abilities
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.

Jumping
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...

10 comments

  • Spybreak8 - June 3, 2010 4:56 a.m.

    I like touch control but I also like a physical controller. Give me both options and I'd might be interested in the iPad. Still PvZ in HD really makes me look forward to it coming to XBLA some day.
  • crumbdunky - June 1, 2010 6:54 p.m.

    Another GR attempt to justify the existence of the iPad as a gaming device-and another failure, imho. I just don't, no matter how I try, see any point other than needlessly emptying your bank account where this thing's concerned. Nova continues it's quest to be Halo-lite for people who like crappy controls and watching their thumbs and the rest seem like more bloody fluff. I only ever really enjoy playing jrpgs on my iPhone(normally gone back to taking my PSP3000 or DSi with me on my travels anyway)and not once have I ever felt the need to have another one only a bit bigger. After the travesty, imo, of SF4 and MGStouch-which I fail to see improving a great deal (WITHOUT a proper controller anyway which defeats the whole purpose just like buying a proper keyboard so the iPad isn't the world's most useless typing centric device too)just because the screen's bigger I just don't see why you'd take this over another portable platform or play the games better elsewhere. Are we JUST buying these because we like the design? Because that's exactly how I feel, and I'm sad about it, about my iPhone already.
  • itkonlyyou94 - June 1, 2010 2:39 p.m.

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  • phoenix_wings - June 1, 2010 1:21 a.m.

    Hehe, before you know it there will be an add-on accessory to prevent you from hurling your iPad while playing motion games. Call it something like the iCord, or the iStrap. Actually, I'm thinking that Apple would just want you to buy a new one...:S Recaptcha: thrower facility (well, apparently, some company is already working on one of those accessories here).
  • Romination - June 1, 2010 1:19 a.m.

    Cro-mag rally ALWAYS looks crappy and pixelated.
  • XNewAgeWarriorx - June 1, 2010 1:09 a.m.

    A bunch of minigames...am I missing something here? Why buy this over a DS or a PSP that has about a zillion quality games.
  • Pyroco101 - May 31, 2010 10:32 p.m.

    that "wats the difference?" game is BS. just cross your eyes till the two pics line up, the differences literally glow at you
  • sgloomy - May 31, 2010 6:05 p.m.

    I just got an iPad on Saturday and couldn't resist getting plants vs zombies because i had heard so much about it and I think it's worth the 10$ because it is extremely addicting
  • LizarDAZZLE - May 31, 2010 6:01 p.m.

    so... will there be Okami? AND BULLETBALL HD!!
  • Tronto13 - May 31, 2010 5:26 p.m.

    If only ipads wernt so expensive :(

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