The best console-style games for iOS
Mobile gaming has gone from strength to strength over the last few years, and it's now possible to go far beyond casual games on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Numerous titles now blur the line between mobile and console gaming, across multiple genres including racing, action and strategy. Read on for a selection of games that offer a little more than your run-of-the-mill mobile experience.
Game of Thrones
If you're a fan of George R R Martin's hugely popular fantasy universe, and you're looking for a story-rich mobile gaming experience, then Telltale's Game of Thrones should be right at the top of your list.
The episodic title focuses on House Forrester, a family created specifically for the game. You get to interact with a host of familiar faces from the TV show, and the story has weight despite not affecting the wider happenings from the HBO show (or the books).
The adventure game offers a simple control scheme, and most of the action happens by way of branching conversations (more fun than it sounds), so it's a perfect fit for gaming on the go. Like Telltale's other recent titles (read on) decisions you make in the game change the course of the story, giving it high replayability.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
To date, three of Rockstar's classic Grand Theft Auto titles have made their way to mobile, and San Andreas is the best of the bunch. Originally released on the PlayStation 2 back in 2004, the game was more ambitious than its predecessors, with three separate cities to explore, surrounded by countryside, desert and even a mountain.
Navigating the world with touch controls can be surprisingly intuitive (after a learning curve), and while the graphics might not live up to modern console standards, Rockstar did spruce it up for Retina Displays.
If you'd rather reach back a little further into Rockstar's back catalogue, then you can always check out GTA III or GTA: Vice City, both of which received the same porting treatment.
From developer Cornfox & Brothers, Oceanhorn is a game that wears its influences on its sleeve. If you're a Legend of Zelda fan, and specifically enjoyed the brilliant Wind Waker release, then you might want to give this mobile game a try.
Some copycat elements here stray a little past flattery (you can even perform a sword spin attack), but it generally feels more like a loving tribute to the source material and less like a shameless attempt to clone a classic.
The visual style is somewhere between Wind Waker and the recent 3DS game The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, while the touch controls are simple and effective (the left of the screen acts as a D-pad, while a large action button on the side of the screen handles just about everything else).
Real Racing 3
EA's Real Racing 3 is an effort to provide a great track racing experience on mobile, and it delivers better than you might expect.
The game has great visuals, with glossy vehicle models and impressive environments. The tilt-based gameplay also feels a little more accurate than competing titles, giving the impression that you're more in control of vehicles.
Xcom: Enemy Within
Xcom: Enemy Within is a turn based strategy experience that pits players against an alien invasion, building up new weapons and abilities as the game goes on. The touch controls feel pretty natural here – you can tap on soldiers to select them and either drag or tap where you want them to go – and the visuals are only slightly less impressive than you'll find on consoles or PC, with only the odd visual flare absent.
While the main action happens on the battlefield, there's also a management system in play, where players are tasked with deciding how to manage their resources, and what to research.
Price: $10 (no in-app purchases)
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
Originally released on Xbox in 2003, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is widely considered one of the best (if not the best) Star Wars games ever made. The action RPG is set thousands of years before the events of the movies, and has a lot in common with the much more recent Mass Effect franchise, with shared elements like dialogue trees and a morality system. It's a deep, entertaining journey with fully voiced dialogue acted and varied environments.
The controls on the iOS version are a little different to the original release, with vertical and horizontal swipes used to control movement and combat. If you're not a fan of the touch input, though, at least there's MFi controller support included.
Walking Dead: The Game (Seasons 1 and 2)
Another Telltale game (or pair of games), The Walking Dead is a different take on the Zombie genres than you'll get from console titles like Dying Light or the Dead Island series. It isn't gunplay based, with the focus instead lying on relationships between survivors.
Like the company's Game of Thrones series, most of the gameplay takes the form of branching conversations, with important decisions having an impact on how the story unfolds. The content is episodic, and there are two full seasons available.
Terraria might look like a two dimensional Minecraft (and to some extent it is), but it's a compelling game in its own right, and a title that you can easily sink hours into.
The 2D worlds are randomly generated and gameplay is a mix of exploration, crafting and occasional combat. The iOS port is mostly successful, though movement (and particularly jumping) can be a little tricky thanks to everything being tied a single on-screen thumbstick.
Deus Ex: The Fall
Deus Ex: The Fall is a first-person action and stealth title set in the same world as console title Deus Ex: Human Revolution (and the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided).
The gameplay is an interesting mix between console and mobile controls. For movement, you can either use the the left and right sides of the screen like traditional thumbsticks, or double tap a location to move straight to it. Gunplay takes the form of targeting an enemy, then holding down a button and lining up with your target, before removing your finger to take the shot. It's streamlined and satisfying stuff.
The script and voice acting is a little wooden, but the visuals are good, with moody lighting, sharp character models and the same signature color palette you'll find on headline Deus Ex titles.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Though Asphalt 8 is also a racing title, it's completely different from EA's Real Racing 3. This one is all about arcade-like thrills, with boosts, jumps and take outs, and it's a bit more accessible for it. Control is handled via tilting the device through corners, while hitting the left side of the screen to brake and the right side to boost.
There are dozens of vehicles in the game, and tracks have branching routes, with plentiful off road sections. Asphalt 8 also adds airborne tricks to the franchise, with numerous ramps placed throughout the environment for players to hit.
The Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us takes the Telltale formula into a detective setting, with characters taking the form of talking pigs, frogs in vests, and other such paranormal things. It's certainly not an everyday tale, with the player controlling a detective in New York City, working through a fantastical murder mystery story, complete with a film noir-inspired moody tone.
It's a little darker than other titles from the developer, and isn't as well known as some of its other work, but don't let that fool you – it's worth your time.
Bonus pick: Fallout Shelter
Announced by Bethesda at E3, Fallout Shelter gives players control of their very own vault, tasking them with keeping resources (water, food and power) in check, and generally making sure its inhabitants are kept happy. You'll pick jobs, build new rooms, defend citizens from raiders and giant radioactive cockroaches, and much more.
The cartoony art style is uniquely Fallout, and the gameplay is fun and addictive. It might look like a lot of other mobile games, but the production values are excellent, and it's the kind of rich and engaging experience that you'd expect to find in a great Indie release on console. At the very least, it'll keep us entertained until Fallout 4 lands on current gen consoles and PC in November.