So you've shelled out - or will be shelling out - for an iPad, and you're staring at an empty homescreen. You need games. But which ones?
These are the first 10 games you should try for your iPad. They're the prettiest and the most novel, the best suited and most refined, but most of all, they're the most entertaining games you can buy for your new pad right now, as collected from our iPad app review marathon and essential iPad apps directory.
This is the same Fieldrunners you know and love from the iPhone, it's just had its resolution jacked up for the iPad. And it looks beautiful. Gameplay is smooth, the sound effects are great, and having that extra screen real estate keeps you from accidentally tapping the wrong turret when you're upgrading them. Tower defence games don't get much better than this, really. $10.
Geometry Wars: Says Jason:
The game looks fantastic, even though it's graphically less impressive-fewer particle effects and shapes are more pixelated-than the XBLA version. The controls are damn good for a touchscreen, but if you're comparing to two physical sticks, you lose out on the twitch action that advanced players need.
Controls aren't ideal, and a poorly position bomb button is confusing, but otherwise it's "pretty fantastic". $13.
Flight Control HD: In this game, you guide planes to landing by tracing their flight paths with your finger. It was a perfect concept for the iPhone. For the iPad:
You have the same gameplay as the iPhone version, but with bigger, more complicated levels with more runways and types of aircraft. You can play with friends either sharing one screen or over Wi-Fi. And the higher resolution allows for a nice boost in the quality of the graphics. Awesome.
Command & Conquer: Red Alert: The classic RTS, updated with 3D and touch controls.
In the iPad version of C&C, moving around your map is perfectly intuitive, with 1:1 dragging, or faster movement by way of a draggable map reticule. You select a unit by tapping, and command it to move or attack with another. Want to change the camera's elevation? Pinch, zoom.
The graphics are great, and while the game could stand to feel a bit larger (I want to zoom out more!), it's still fun - and it's a spectacular start for the iPad RTS genre.
Mirror's Edge: When Mirror's Edge debuted on the console, it was something like a first-person shooter, and it made people motion sick. (It was also a clever and well-executed game, but the vomit thing is a better touchstone, no?) Anyway, the iPad version is a 3D sidescroller, so it loses some of its vertigo-inducing charm. It makes up for it though, with flow: As you're swiping, sliding and jumping your character through the levels, you can't help but think the game concept is perfect for a large touchscreen. $US13.
NFS: Shift: If you're looking to try a 3D game with high production values, this is a good place to start. The graphics have been upgraded from the iPhone version, and the sensation of actually steering your iPad is intoxicating. It's pricey, at $US15, but it gives you a real sense of what the platform is capable of.
Words with Friends: A Scrabblish word game you can play in real time or slowly. You can keep up to 20 games running at once, which exemplifies a specific kind of passive, leisurely gaming I expect the iPad to be well suited to.
Labyrinth 2 HD: Says Jason, of what was far and away the best marble game on the iPhone:
It's like Labyrinth on the iPhone (you can even play iPhone levels), but in 3D and on a bigger screen. The 3D is pretty awesome, and you can even play user-created levels. There's a free version and an $10 version. Try the free one first to see if you like it.
Cogs: A 3D puzzle game in which you arrange and manipulate a variety of hardware to create giant machines. It's Rube Goldbergian, visually impressive, vastly improved in the upsizing process (it was a fairly popular iPhone game) and even has a free Lite version.
X-Plane: A full-fledged 3D flight sim for the iPad, with tons of planes and environments and significantly upgraded graphics compared to the iPhone version. Granted, this is a flight sim, which means it's less about achieving objectives than it is just cruisin' around in the sky. $13.