Grand Theft Auto HD tops iPad Games of the Week

Sep 20, 2010

In this week’s best iPad games, cause city-wide chaos in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD and check out my take on Geared for iPad, GT Racing: Motor Academy HD, and Arriving HD. Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD ($9.99) After several delays, the much-loved GTA series makes its HD debut on the iPad, and […]

In this week’s best iPad games, cause city-wide chaos in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD and check out my take on Geared for iPad, GT Racing: Motor Academy HD, and Arriving HD.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD ($9.99)

After several delays, the much-loved GTA series makes its HD debut on the iPad, and it was worth the wait. Coming in at just $9.99, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars HD offers upgrades, visuals and a compelling story line, mixed with a generous collection of side missions and mini-games, far surpassing its $40 Nintendo DS or PSP cousins.

Fans of the original titles in the series will welcome a return to the top-down gameplay style, while iPad purists will appreciate the attention to detail when it comes to basic and advanced controls. Though when things get intense (carjacking, anyone?) I found myself missing turns and running into buildings when my fingers slipped off the proper screen real estate. Practice, young hoodlums, practice.

You probably have not seen better graphics in any iPad game app to date. It’s clear that the designers at Rockstar spent copious amounts of time rerendering this version of Liberty City, sawing off the rough edges and reveling in the shading technology available in the device. The end result is a clean, modern cityscape, with all-new lighting effects and explosions that bring the entire game up a few notches from its non-HD versions on other platforms.

The mini-games are a highlight of the title. I was pleasantly surprised to see there were multiple games that all accomplished the same end result. For instance, there are several ways to hotwire a car, not just one. A lesser title would offer one way to do something, then copy/paste throughout. Not Rockstar.After slaving away on the main story for a while, I decided to untether myself and explore the sandbox. I was rewarded with plenty to do, and the feeling that I really was very much in control of where the game was going and how things were progressing.

All of that said, this is an adult game. While Apple likely demanded a fair amount of gore and language to be cut from the app, there’s still plenty of innuendo and blood to spell a definite “keep away from kids” rating.

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GT Racing: Motor Academy HD Free (Free)

On your mark, get set, go to the App store and grab this freebie! GT Racing: Motor Academy HD Free offers a small set of tracks and cars that clearly demonstrate why this is one of the top racing apps on the iPad today.

But casual racers, beware. There’s a steep learning curve to climb, so if you’re not in the habit of calling a car your “whip,” you’ll probably find things difficult to master.

Fire up your first Arcade race, and a few seconds off the line you’ll be struck by the clarity and jaw-dropping details in the scenery. The visuals are bright, with top-quality rendering detail all around.

Gameloft even gives you the opportunity to change the entire racing interface. Resize and move any element you wish. Plus, you can drag the camera around in your replays to watch your races from any angle. With more than 100 unlockable cars to choose from with thousands of aftermarket parts and upgrades to purchase, there’s no end to the customization.

That said, I found it difficult to master the controls. After down-shifting to Career mode, I found it easier to slowly ease myself into the game. Each challenge gave me the chance to practice braking, cornering, accelerating, and generally getting better at staying on the track and out of the stands. Career mode also rewards you with unlocked vehicles and tracks, helping you slowly build your winnings to get better and better at the title.

If you’re looking for a “jump in and race” arcade racing title, this isn’t it. You’ll need to learn the controls and have a healthy dose of patience to enjoy the title. But with a little time and practice (and the full $5 version), you’ll no doubt be mastering each track and crushing the competition. (Now, where are the keys to my car. I mean whip.)

Geared for iPad (Free)

Puzzle game fans, take note. Boasting more than 150 custom levels, you’ll be dropping hand-drawn gears into place for days to solve each challenge. Best of all, for a limited time, Geared for iPad will cost you absolutely nothing.

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This is a unique title with a style and feel all its own. You’re dropped into an open area with gears rotating on each side of your screen. At the bottom, you’re given a set of different-sized gears, which you drag and drop into place to fill the void.There’s no “snap to grid” in this app, so gravity is very much in play. Every pixel counts in terms of placement, and there were times my placements led to a full-blown collapse. No worries! Just pick up the pieces, and start dropping them into place again.

The difficulty is customizable, so casual to hardcore puzzlers are covered. You can skip to any level (after unlocking them), progress is saved automatically as you move ahead, and a time tracker mode is available.

Arriving HD – Gravity Puzzle Game ($4.99)

Once you’ve mastered the relative simplicity of Geared for iPad (above), it’s time to take off the kid gloves and revel in the full physics engine available in your iDevice. Arriving HD offers a simple premise: Move the dinosaur egg from one part of your screen to the other, where a magical gem glows with the power to help it hatch.

To move the stationary egg, you’ll need to do two things. First, draw lines and objects of any size on your screen that will drop into place to span gaps between the egg and the gem.Next, repeat the same process to drop different hand-drawn shapes onto the egg to set it in motion. Not to worry, the shell is plenty thick!

With nearly 30 levels, four distinct scenes and the ability to play your own music while you play, there’s plenty to enjoy in the app’s initial launch. The developer has promised a slew of new levels and tweaks in the coming weeks and months ahead.

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Tim McLain

Tim McLain is a freelance writer and an online marketing manager, helping serious researchers and students find and make use of the best online content found on the deep Web. His passion for all things computers/tech started when he was a teenager, working with his twin brother to set up a C64 BBS in their bedroom.

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