Real Racing 2
- iPhone - £5.99
There aren't many mobile games that warrant shelling out more than a couple of quid, but it's hard to argue with a £5.99 price tag when you're greeted with a game as uniformly excellent as this offering from iOS expert Firemint.
While the original Real Racing was certainly interesting, it felt more like the promise of things to come rather than a must-own. Fortunately, this supremely slick sequel delivers in every area you care to mention, with intuitive, precise handling and exquisitely detailed visuals making an irresistible first impression.
Fortunately Firemint's ambitious $2 million project allowed the team to flesh out the details, and it's here where Real Racing 2 ultimately claims the honours over the multitude of rival mobile driving games, with 30 licensed cars, customisation options, 16-player online multiplayer, eight-player local multiplayer, 15 tracks, five camera angles, numerous control options and the promise of a 10-hour career mode. There's barely the slightest chink in the armour.
The feature list sounds impressive, but happily it more than lives up to the press release bluster. This is a game into which you'll gladly sink proper gaming hours, even when things aren't going your way (and make no mistake, it's a challenging little bugger).
The important thing, above all else, is that it's extremely good fun, a fantastic showcase for the technology (particularly on iPhone 4) and comfortably the most rewarding mobile driving game money can buy right now.
- iPhone/iPad - £0.59
And about time too. Ever since the App Store got off the ground, and the tales of overnight indie success started to roll in, it has always been a bit of a puzzle why Jeff Minter and his ilk didn't get with the program sooner.
Better late than never, I guess, as the cuddly llama-lover finally graces the scene with his inimitable presence and another typically off-the-cuff project. Designed around the quirky limitations of his fictional 'Ataurus TVC 2605' retro platform, Minotaur Rescue aims to ape the "pure abstraction" style and aesthetics of old hardware "but with none of the limitations".
So while at first glance Minotaur Rescue looks a bit garish and rough around the edges, it's entirely deliberate, as usual, and charming in its own daft, wilfully eccentric way. As loving homage to gaming's long-lost past, what we end up with is basically Asteroids with Spacewar's gravity well, some peace-loving Minotaurs to rescue, and a whole heap of Minter nonsense sprinkled liberally around the edges.
Swiping your auto-firing arrow-shaped ship about the wraparound environment is simple enough, but played on your lonesome, it can become a little overwhelming thanks to the sheer amount of debris to deal with at any given point. Miss too much of this space junk and it's progressively more difficult to avoid being sucked towards the gravity well.
Played with a co-op partner in tow, however (or a third or fourth player if you have an iPad), you can take care of your little corner of the screen and delay the inevitable for considerably longer – and start climbing those leaderboards in the process.
Depending on the response, Minter reckons this won't be the last the iOS market will be seeing from him. With the prospect of more enjoyably warped re-imaginings like this, maybe his best work is yet to come.