iPad games of the week: Rock of Seasons edition

It’s pretty much a given that most gamers would rather eat an entire Xbox 360 power brick and all, than do their holiday shopping. Luckily, Apple’s unnatural dominance of the portable gadget space makes things simple. If you have a friend or family member who either has an iPad or will be receiving one in the near future, why not give them some awesome apps? iTunes makes it easy to purchase and send an app redemption voucher, and the App Store is loaded with worthwhile games and other picks. Need some fresh game ideas? Read on.

Game: Rock Band Reloaded for iPad
Price: $9.99 / £5.99
Size: 155MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

Aside from Tap Tap Radiation, the iPad App Store has been largely devoid of worthwhile rhythm games designed specifically for the device, despite a ton of notable iPhone options. While Rock Band Reloaded takes the iPad music game crown by default, it's also a really sharp and feature-rich pick that justifies the larger price tag.

Rock Band Reloaded for iPad lets you play guitar, bass, drums, and vocals (no keys, sadly) but Reloaded uses the larger display of the iPad to its advantage, offering multiple ways to experience each instrument. With guitar and bass, you can play in landscape or portrait orientation, and even move the fret board around the screen in the former. You can do the same with drums, and also choose a "big drums" option where the hit pads are significantly larger. And with vocals, you can either sing into the iPad mic or tap the screen in a guitar-like mode.

Beyond the Quick Play and World Tour modes, Reloaded also features a local wireless multiplayer mode (using multiple iPads) and a single device split-screen option for two-player rock battles. Rock Band Reloaded looks and plays great, and with several free and premium songs already available in the in-game music store, this will hopefully be an app that keeps giving for some time to come.

Game: Angry Birds Seasons HD
Price: $1.99 / £1.19
Size: 12.3MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

True, Angry Birds Seasons HD isn't technically a brand new app, and sure enough, we've technically already featured its initial incarnation – Angry Birds Halloween HD – in an earlier iPad games of the week feature.

But it's December, and the prospect of 25 new holiday-themed Angry Birds is enough for us to give it another mention. But there's a catch – the new levels added in this free update are time-locked and set to become available at a rate of one per day until Christmas, much like the delicious chocolate wafers held behind the flimsy doors of an advent calendar. At the time of this writing, we've only gained access to a couple of stages, but the addition of snow blocks that stay put (even in mid-air!) has us very eager to see the rest.

And, naturally, all of the Halloween-themed stages are still included if you missed out on those the first time, and many of those are excellent additions to the Angry Birds oeuvre. Plus, considering the rebranded title of this app, we can hopefully look forward to additional level packs, perhaps as Valentine's Day and Easter rear their heads come spring.

Game: UFC Undisputed 2010
Price: $4.99 / £2.99
Size: 28.7MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store:US/UK

The iPad's touch interface may not seem like the best fit for the raw physicality and relentless action seen in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, but the portable conversion of THQ's UFC Undisputed 2010 does a pretty solid job of replicating the brutal combat on the smaller screen.

UFC Undisputed 2010 is no doubt simplified in its iOS iteration – which is playable on both iPad and iPhone – using the kind of large, platform-standard action buttons used in other action games. But even with fewer buttons available, Undisputed 2010 maintains much of the combat variety found in the console iterations, with the ability to perform takedowns, grapple opponents, and maneuver around your foe in the ground game. Granted, you can't move around the cage much, and the game lacks significant pre-fight presentational gloss.

In its current state, UFC Undisputed 2010 for iPad comes off like a first draft – most of the essentials are here, but there are definitely areas where THQ can add and improve to make this a killer fighting option. A future update with Game Center support is promised, and with luck, features like multiplayer and fighter creation will follow before the inevitable next iteration rears its head.

Andrew Hayward
Freelance writer for GamesRadar and several other gaming and tech publications, including Official Xbox Magazine, Nintendo Power, Mac|Life, @Gamer, and PlayStation: The Official Magazine. Visit my work blog at http://andrewhayward.org.