Five games that will shine on your new iPad 2

Mar 8, 2011
Games

New hardware inside the iPad 2 changes the playing field for games on tablet computers. This is a very good thing for both serious gamers and casual players. Features like the gyroscope (which enables 360-degree motion control), a rear-facing camera and a faster A5 dual-core processor introduce capabilities only previously available on the iPhone 4. […]

New hardware inside the iPad 2 changes the playing field for games on tablet computers. This is a very good thing for both serious gamers and casual players.

Features like the gyroscope (which enables 360-degree motion control), a rear-facing camera and a faster A5 dual-core processor introduce capabilities only previously available on the iPhone 4. We had the chance to demo the iPad 2 after its unveiling in San Francisco to get a first-hand look at how some of our favorite games will be transformed.

Here are five classic games that will be made new again on the iPad 2.

Real Racing 2 HD $9.99

Firemint’s ambitious racing game is among the most technologically advanced titles available on any device. The iPhone version allows for 16-player online races, as well as a similar single-player mode. And while Firemint was working on an iPad-compatible version in Real Racing 2 HD (just like it did with the original Real Racing), the developer wasn’t planning to do much in the way of altering the core of the game. That is until it saw the iPad 2 and what it was capable of creating. Today Firemint unveiled a version of the game specific to the iPad 2 that takes advantage of the A5 chip’s purported nine-times increase in graphical capabilities. After seeing the iPad 2 in action, it’s likely that Firemint’s expanded Real Racing 2 HD iPad app could be the best-looking game on the platform. Owners of the original iPad should also see improved performance.

N.O.V.A. 2 – Near Orbital Vanguard Alliance HD $6.99

The iPad version of Gameloft’s sci-fi first-person shooter was somewhat lacking in comparison to its iPhone counterpart. The game’s graphics struggle a bit on the original  iPad with frame rate issues that occur due to slower processing speed. Even though its 3D world looks pretty great, it seems to work better on an iPhone. Another major difference was the game’s control scheme. On the iPhone, players are able to take advantage of the internal hardware to aim using the gyroscope, by actually moving the device around in 3D space like they were holding a window, which would adjust their aim. The iPad wasn’t capable of doing that – but the iPad 2 is. I got a chance to mess around with N.O.V.A. 2, and the gyroscope aiming scheme was indeed available. This feature turned the iPad 2 into a giant display that helped me put my gun on huge aliens and take them out. The graphics were seamlessly handled by the A5 processor as well. N.O.V.A. 2 will be a totally different experience for iPad 2 owners over what was seen on the original iPad, and it also demonstrates the possibilities present for other first-person shooters that use this same control scheme.

Infinity Blade $5.99

The graphical powerhouse that is the A5 chip does a beautiful job with a game that requires a lot of visual muscle. Infinity Blade is the first iOS game that uses Epic Games’ heavy hitting Unreal Engine 3, a graphical engine used in PC and console video games. Infinity Blade looks great on the iPhone 4, but with the serious disadvantage of having some frame rate issues and general graphical slowdown. All of that was eliminated when we played Infinity Blade in person at the iPad 2 announcement event. Infinity Blade and its massive new content update, The Deathless Kings, looked absolutely great and didn’t seem to suffer from any graphics issues. This is one of those games that defines the platform and gives new owners something amazing to show to friends. It’s also a good indication of iPad 2 games to come – Epic Games’ Mark Rein recently mentioned that he thought the iPad 2 was a strong gaming contender, and the updated tablet is capable of doing some great things with the Unreal Engine. Epic Games also released a new update this week that “includes high-resolution graphics that utilize the enhanced visual capabilities of the iPad 2″.

Zen Bound 2 $2.99

Soothing puzzler Zen Bound 2 works on the current iPad, but not really the way it was meant to be played. The game has you carefully wrapping rope around three-dimensional wooden objects. Each time the rope touches the object, it spreads paint over the surface, and the goal is to paint as much of the object as possible. On the iPhone 4, this is done with gyroscope controls, by actually twisting and moving the iPhone around in space to simulate moving the wooden object to wrap the rope around it. On the iPad 2, this control scheme is now possible, making the experience a whole lot more enjoyable. Zen Bound 2 also demonstrates the other kinds of physics games that are now possible thanks to the iPad 2’s gyroscope.

Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner $2.99

My favorite augmented reality game just became an iPad 2 title, thanks to the device’s new rear-facing camera. That additional camera now means you can play games that use it to incorporate the landscape around you into the game you’re playing. In the case of Falcon Gunner, that means you’ll battle Imperial TIE fighters flying around your kitchen, your living room, your bathroom and your back yard. Coupled with the gyroscope, you can actually sit in a swiveling chair and replicate the experience of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo fighting off enemy fighters as they escape the Death Star (if that’s your thing — and it’s definitely mine). Augmented reality wasn’t possible on the original iPad, but it’s certainly possible now. That means a host of new games will have players glued to their iPad 2s and waving them around in the air, fighting things that are otherwise invisible.

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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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