Today is the day, the iPad Air is upon us. Just like all the early reviews have said, initial reactions on the iPad Air seem to be filled with everyone incredibly happy with the device. The speed increase, the weight reduction, and the smaller footprint all combine to make for a really awesome improvement over the iPad 4... A device which arguably didn't even need that much improving.
If you're fresh from the Apple Store and are looking for some particularly impressive games to throw at your iPad Air, we've got you covered. Any or all of these games would be worthy contenders among the first batch of titles that I sync to new devices.
Infinity Blade III, $6.99 - [Review] - The default answer for "What game has the best graphics on the App Store" has been "Infinity Blade" since the first one was released. The series has only gotten better over the years, and the iPad has always been my platform of choice for playing them. Infinity Blade III in particular has some neat visual effect improvements on A7 devices, and the larger display of the iPad will actually let you see those details instead of needing to analyze your iPhone screen with a magnifying glass to see the differences.
The Room, $1.99 - [Review] - Grab some headphones, turn off the lights, and set aside a couple hours to play through The Room on your new iPad. The graphics of the game are fabulous, but what sets The Room apart is how those great graphics combine with the intuitive touch interfaces of the game to make you feel more like you're actually interacting with a physical puzzle box than just playing a simple video game. A epilogue update was recently released, which addresses our single complaint about the game- It leaves you wanting more.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, $4.99 - [Review] - While Sword & Sworcery might not push the A7's GPU to the limit, its incredibly sharp 2D art looks too good to be true on the Retina Display of the iPad. It feels like you're playing an interactive pixel art painting, and the exclusive soundtrack which has been perfectly paired with the gameplay only heightens the experience. If you haven't played it yet, check out Sworcery on your new iPad... Or, if you haven't played it for a while, maybe revisit the game. I played through it again recently and totally forgot just how impactful some things in the game are.
XCOM®: Enemy Unknown, $9.99 - [Review] - In the mobile world it seems like gamers are always clamoring for "full" game experiences, instead of some of the simpler games we often see on the App Store. Well, it doesn't get much more "full" than XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It's a straight port from the PC/console version of the game, and aside from the fantastic story it sells, XCOM also has some of the best tactical battle gameplay we've seen on the platform. There were definitely times when playing it that it felt like it was hitting the limits of what your iPad 4 could handle, so the XCOM on the iPad Air should be just what the doctor ordered.
World of Goo HD, $4.99 - [Review] - Originally released for the PC in 2008, World of Goo was an amazing game by every way you can measure a game, which makes it almost seem magical that it somehow got even better when it was released on the iPad. Playing on a tablet in your lap with touch gestures feels like how the game was meant to be played, as building towers by dragging around blobs of goo feels ridiculously natural compared to using a mouse pointer. Still one of my favorite games, World of Goo is still worth playing and totally worth playing again if you've beat it before on your new iPad.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, $6.99 - [Review] - While we previously rolled our eyes at just how Call of Duty-ish early Modern Combat games were, Gameloft has really impressed us with the latest installment which is slowly starting to feel like its own franchise. Modern Combat 4 has incredible visuals, great first person gameplay, and enough multiplayer game modes to keep you busy until the next iPad is released.
Real Racing 3, Free - [Review] - Arguably the current king of iOS racers, with 18 million monthly active users, Real Racing 3 also looks awesome on the retina display of the iPad. The car models are out of this world, and the attention to detail between reflections, lighting effects, and everything else makes it a game you've got to at least try. We've got a guide on how to get over the initial freemium hump in the game, but if that's the kind of thing that turns you off both Gameloft's Asphalt 8 or 2K's 2K Drive are both worthy alternatives.
Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic™, $9.99 - [Review] - Much like XCOM, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic is basically what you'd see in the dictionary if there was an entry for "Full Game Experience." Not only is it easily among the best Star Wars video games out there, but it's a fantastic RPG in its own right. It's got a very early alignment system, which allows you to choose to join the light or dark side, and it's easily worth playing through twice so you can experience both sides of things.
Carcassonne, $9.99 - [Review] - There are a ton of board game ports on the App Store, but none of them come close to the quality of the Carcassonne port. The textures of all the game pieces look great, the online play is phenomenal, and I'd go as far as to say the iPad is the best way to play Carcassonne as the infinitely expanding table never has you running into awkward situations where your physical Carcassonne game has grown larger than the table you started playing it on.
DEVICE 6, $3.99 - [Review] - Aside from games and movies, the third big function of my iPad is reading books. Simogo's Device 6 is a super unique game in that the best way to describe it is as an interactive novel. It's amazing on the iPad, as it feels like reading in iBooks, but you're using the actual text to navigate through the game world and interacting with the book's illustrations to solve puzzles and unlock different doors. For more information, check out our review, but in this case I think the less you know about the game going into it the better.
Five years in to the life of the App Store coming up with a list of "Best" anythings is super difficult. These are my ten favorites that I'm going to sync first, as they represent a wide spread of the types of games that are best on the iPad. From 3D shooters to board games, it's an incredibly versatile device.
Those of you who are picking up iPad Airs today, what are the first games you're loading?