iPad reviews of the week: Shadowgun, Where's My Water?, NBA 2K12, Loop Raccord

Game: NBA 2K12 for iPad
Price: $9.99/£6.99
Size: 468MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK

NBA 2K12 shipped for consoles just a few days back, and we can't say it enough – 2K Sports' latest affair is a phenomenally polished love letter to pro basketball that is arguably one of the best sports games of all time. Yet prior to the iPad release, we lacked a realistic offering on the platform; NBA Jam is well done but doesn't deliver a sim experience. Often, iPad versions of sports franchises are merely decent-enough affairs meant to fill a void, as seen with Madden NFL 12 and NHL 2K11. While NBA 2K12 can't quite match up with the lauded console releases, it's better than expected.

You can man all 30 teams with their most recent player loadouts in single game or season modes, though sadly there’s no multiplayer. There is, however, 2K11's Jordan Challenge mode, which lets you play through 10 of hoops legend Michael Jordan's most iconic on-court moments. The Jordan Challenge may seem old hat to console fans, but it's a surprising and appreciated addition for a game that could have stuck with the bare minimum on iPad.

Admittedly, NBA 2K12 isn't a visual stunner, with flat-looking players and laughable, animated-gif-like crowds, but the animations are a step up from this year's Madden on iPad, and the commentary is great throughout. Neither control option is perfectly realized, however. The virtual joystick and buttons works decently, but can feel rigid and inflexible, while the alternative "one touch" option makes it seem more like you're watching than playing, but if you don't care much about playing defense – quite like last year's Toronto Raptors – it's a fair casual choice. At $10, NBA 2K12 is a premium App Store release, but one that justifies the investment for non-console owners, putting it near the top of the heap of professional sports sims on the iPad.

Game: Loop Raccord
Price: $2.99/£1.99
Size: 44.3MB
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK

Loop Raccord simply couldn't exist on any other platform; it also happens to be irresistibly tough to categorize. An unnamed Independent Games Festival judge says on Loop Raccord's App Store page: "I don't even know what I'm looking at. Is it art? How is this even a game? Is it broken? Is it saying something revelatory? I have no idea what you've made or what you've accomplished here, but whatever the hell this is, you've succeeded."

Hailing from the creator of the excellent iPhone game UFO on Tape, Loop Raccord relies on bite-sized clips of old commercials, cartoons, and TV shows to create an oddly engaging video-based experience. Clips are arranged on screen with one designated as the starter clip while an adjacent one is the follower. Your goal is to create the illusion of continuous motion from one clip to the next. For example, the starter clip might display a cartoon penguin ice-skating to one side, and the following one may show a logo from a cigarette ad fluttering into view. You tap that second clip to view the individual frames and make it look like the penguin's motion concludes with the logo entering the other clip.

Confusing? Absolutely – Loop Raccord is a "seeing is believing" kind of game if there ever was one, and even the instructions aren't remarkably helpful. Once it clicks, stringing clips together is clever and alluring, and the sounds from each clip stack, creating a cacophony that drives you to finish the task. Points are earned for how well you match up each successive clip without false attempts. You can also create an infinite loop or play competitively with a second player on the same screen. Loop Raccord is likely to be a momentary distraction for many, but it's so charmingly inventive that we can't help but recommend it regardless.

Oct 8, 2011