The iDevice games we've been playing this week.
When the team aren't sitting around admiring Apple's resplendent design choices or crying at their vastly overpriced contract plans, sometimes they use their shiny iDevices to actually play games. Here's what was being played this week:
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Dead Space
When EA shrinks down one of its console games for the App Store, the resulting products tend to work best as cursory distractions themed around bigger, better games. Dead Space on the App Store, however, actually works as an impressive, fully-fledged title in its own right.
It's worth mentioning that developer IronMonkey Studios hasn't just made one of the most technically powerful games for the myriad of iDevices (iPhone and iPad versions are available), but that its take on a third-person control scheme will likely be used by other developers for years to come.
The typical dual analogue controls are mapped to the left and right sides of the screen. Rather than using on-screen sticks, the game simply allows you to place your thumbs wherever you like, reacting to your directional swipes. On a similar note, various taps take the place of regular digital buttons. IronMonkey cleverly integrates some features with the series' ubiquitous RIG devices, such as tapping the ammo indicator to reload, or the stasis area to use said feature. While the buttonless iDevice can't capture the finery of a pad, these controls are exceptionally fine tuned and rarely interfere with the action.
Elsewhere it's business as normal - lopping off Necromorph limbs with a glut of dangerous mining equipment. And while the lack of dynamic lighting can't help but affect the tension, there's still a fair few shocks littered around the Sprawl. It's a prologue of sorts to Dead Space 2's main campaign, with your character, Vandal, triggering the nasty Necromorph outbreak that will later go on to cause Isaac so much bother. The £3.99 price tag puts it above App Store heavyweight Infinity Blade, but there's enough quality in this to make Nintendo and Sony worried about the future of their handheld markets.
Tom Orry, Editor - Doodle Fit
Imagine Tetris, but without the falling blocks and where the goal is to entirely fill the grid instead of constantly clearing it. In one level you need to fill in the shape of Santa's hat using the given blocks, while another has two muffin-shaped grids to pack. It sounds easy, but it's surprisingly tricky to fit in all the bricks so that the grids are entirely filled without any empty areas, especially when the grids get bigger. It's perfectly possible to work on one puzzle all evening, thinking you've got it worked out, only to angrily remove all the bricks when you realise it's not going to bloody work. It's free to download, so you too can stare blankly at a group of shapes and try to make pretty pictures out of them. And it's got Doodle in the title, which instantly makes it cool - like the million other Doodle apps on the App Store.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Amateur Surgeon 2
Surgery is easy. You don't need a medical degree as long as you have something sharp enough and the willingness to just power through it when you start to see blood. Such is the philosophy of Amateur Surgeon 2, a conversion of the Adult Swim Flash game that offers you the rare opportunity to bring household objects to the world of slicing-people-up. From pizza cutters to car batteries, you get to improve your ability with your object of choice after each level. Take a scalpel to a bone, use a lighter to seal up an old wound - it's how the professionals do it. Probably. In Mexico.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer - Papa Sangre
The kingdom of Papa Sangre is pitch black. It makes sense, then, that as you traverse this light-starved wasteland, you have no visual interpretation of the world around you whatsoever. "Your eyes are useless here" the game tells you, and the screen of your iPhone says the same thing. There's no character models, no HUD, no environment at all, in fact - just a simple interface that lets you move forward and change direction. As you can't see, all you can rely on for navigation is your ears. By listening to your guide (a rather sexy sounding woman with a Mexican twang to her voice), the sound of your footsteps, snarls of your enemies and other environmental noises, you must explore Papa Sangre and help save the soul of "somebody very close to you". It's certainly not a game for everybody, but if you're willing to let your imagination take over for a bit, Papa Sangre is well worth checking out.