Dead Space tops iPhone Games of the Week

Jan 27, 2011

The biggest iOS game of the year so far hit the App Store on Tuesday, and it’s good enough to take the top spot among the week’s best games: yes, Dead Space is good, I promise. It’s also gory, tense, graphically and audibly beautiful and pretty scary, too — for best results, wear headphones and […]

The biggest iOS game of the year so far hit the App Store on Tuesday, and it’s good enough to take the top spot among the week’s best games: yes, Dead Space is good, I promise. It’s also gory, tense, graphically and audibly beautiful and pretty scary, too — for best results, wear headphones and play in the dark.

Dead Space (iPhone, iPad) $6.99/$9.99

Developer Iron Monkey is onto something with Dead Space, a truly scary iPhone third-person shooter that also captures the feel of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game from which it is derived. Dead Space puts you in control of an operative named Vandal, charged with a secret mission aboard the huge mining space station known as the Sprawl. But it isn’t long before horrific monsters are tearing through the station and its human inhabitants, leaving you to fight them off with one of the four mining tools at your disposal. Dead Space’s monsters can’t be killed with headshots or overwhelming force — they have to be “strategically dismembered,” which means you can’t just run or fire in panic, you have to stand your ground and pick your shots. A strong story, brilliant scares and tense combat define this game, which, despite a few flaws, is still one of the most engaging gaming experiences you can get on the iPhone.

Pro Zombie Soccer (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Not every zombie apocalypse includes automatic firearms or blunt objects just scattered around and easily accessible to their survivors. Sometimes, anti-zombie weapons have to be a little less obvious — like in Pro Zombie Soccer. You use some mad kicking skills and a very special soccer ball to squash shambling, hungry undead monsters by the dozens. There are lots of different kinds of zombies to take on, and they all have their own abilities and difficulties — like helmets, resiliency, speedy movements or the ability to dig into the ground. But you’re not without your own tricks: your soccer ball can become a shredding ball of razor blades, a time-slowing, fast-moving, super-accurate death ball; or the trigger for an orbital zombie-cooking space laser. The action grows more and more tense as you have to quickly assess the strategy you need to take on each new kind of zombie in only a second or two, as well as adjust your aim, before they’re close enough to start mauling you.

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Grim Joggers (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

Okay, I know — running games, they’re done to death. But that’s kind of what makes Grim Joggers work: the death. You lead not one jogger but a team of 10 or 12 as they train in some ridiculously dangerous locales, and your goal is to keep as many of them alive as possible. Let that sink in a second: you have to keep as many joggers alive as possible. It’s a funny premise as you start tapping to jump over spikes and pits, and suddenly members of your team start dropping off, falling in pits, getting eaten by giant carnivorous plants or impaled and bleeding on wooden spikes. The graphics are pretty simplistic, so the gore isn’t much to worry about, and like all 2D side-scrolling running games, Grim Joggers gets more intense as time goes on. You’ll also have to adjust your usual strategy because the rest of your jogging team’s actions are delayed. Hitting jumps is harder and requires more thought and planning on your part, lifting yet another running game a little higher than the rest of its genre’s population.

Surveillant (iPhone) $1.99

A 3D, first-person puzzle game where the goal is to avoid detection by a surveillance camera, Surveillant strikes a good balance between being thoughtful and menacing. You play some kind of floating entity that has to get to the camera to disable it, but the only way up to the camera’s location is by crossing a series of platforms and using them to climb. You can’t fall, so you float from point to point, determining your next stop by tapping a spot on the screen. You can, however, get cooked by the camera’s laser — so situational awareness is very important, as are proper planning and quick decisions. Puzzles get more trying in a hurry, as you’ll have to move around the map and collect objects in order to open the path up to the camera, all without getting spotted and fried on the way in. Solid, minimalist 3D graphics make the game’s 10 levels fairly easy on the eyes, and developer Recluse Industries promises more in an upcoming free update.

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Mazeus (iPhone) Free

Not much is better than a free game, except maybe for a free game that’s pretty well-made and challenging. Mazeus is definitely that: it’s basically a random 3D maze generator, creating a puzzle you’ll have to rotate and attack from multiple angles to solve. The goal is to guide a ball through the maze from one end to the other, but with ramps and paths that climb upward and down. It sounds easier than it is. The best part of Mazeus is that you can have the game generate mazes to your specifications using a set of sliders, making them as easy or difficult as you like. You can also adjust other factors, like size, number of layers, complexity and the length of the correct path to the end. This customization means you could, potentially, be solving puzzles in Mazeus for a long while to come.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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