2011 was a great year for iPad games. Any idea that the platform was a fad powered by Apple fanatics was demolished when the iPad 2 was released with stronger than expected sales, mostly selling to first-time buyers. The iPad 2 is a great game machine, with a faster graphics processor than the original, the inclusion of dual-facing cameras and neat new features like display mirroring, which allows games like Real Racing 2 HD to be played on the big screen if you hook your iPad up to your TV.
So what were some of the best iPad games in 2011? Here's a list of ten titles that easily rank among the best:
The original is easily one of the best role-playing games available for the iPad, and the sequel was not a disappointment. While some sequels tend to add a little bit too much or go in a different (and wrong) direction, Infinity Blade 2 stuck with what made the first one so great, and simply made those aspects better. With eye-popping graphics and refined controls, this title is a no-brainer for anyone that counts the Lord of the Rings among their favorite books.
One of the first games that was aimed at the iPad 2, Real Racing 2 HD is not only one of the top racing games for the iPad, it also supports features such as interacting with Apple TV's AirPlay, allowing you to play the game on your HDTV. A combination of great graphics, good controls and realistic racing make this the perfect download for anyone that loves to rev their engine.
If you are into strategic card games like Magic: The Gathering, you'll love Shadow Era. Like any great collectible card game, Shadow Era is easy to learn and difficult to master, with neat twists on the genre like sacrificing cards for resources. This free download comes with a starter pack, but be aware: you'll probably find yourself buying booster packs before long.
Batman Arkham City Lockdown puts the focus more on fighting than story, emphasizing the part of the game that made the console version so great. You'll start the game by putting the pounding on Joker's thugs, and as you progress, you'll learn to unleash cool combos against your enemies. You'll also earn points that can be used to upgrade the Dark Knight's gadgets.
If you are looking for something truly different, you will want to check out Machinarium. Assuming the role of a robot boy who has been tossed into the scrapheap outside the city, you'll need to sneak into the city to save the love of your robot life and defuse a bomb on a journey of puzzle-solving humor. One of the neatest aspects of Machinarium is how it is a game without dialogue, but it makes such great use of sound. If you are on the fence, just check out the YouTube launch trailer.
Rather than create a paired down version of the console game, the developers of Dead Space decided to go with a brand new story that would bridge the gap from the original console game to its sequel. This means you can enjoy the title even if you have played its bigger brothers, and as shooters go, Dead Space is easily one of the top games on the iPad.
It's not hard to add a game that shot to fame when high scores were posted by Houston Texans running back Arian Foster and pop star Justin Bieber. Temple Run is a simple 3D platformer with an addictive formula that can make it tough to put down. And, best of all, it is a free download that can be played in quick chunks.
Epoch is a cover-based shooter, which means you will spend your time running from cover to cover rather than just blasting blindly at a group of enemies. And while the iPad is known for having sometimes awkward controls for shooters, Epoch does a great job of creating an intuitive feel for the game. Combine this with great action and excellent graphics, and you have one of the top games of 2011.
One of the coolest aspects of playing games on the iPad is the continuing trend of breathing new life into older games by porting them to the iOS platform. It's been a decade since GTA 3 was released, but crime hasn't stopped paying, and the Grand Theft Auto series makes a great addition to the App Store. For those unfamiliar with the series, Grand Theft Auto was known for creating an open world "sandbox" where you can choose what you want to do rather than being handcuffed to a specific plot. But don't think there aren't goals in the game besides the overriding goal of not being handcuffed yourself. There's plenty of achievements to hunt down for those that love to explore every nook and cranny of a game.
Another anticipated port for the iPad, Final Fantasy III only disappoints in one aspect: the price tag. At $12.99, it is one of the more expensive games on the iPad, but still far cheaper than the original cost, and it is a great port of the classic RPG. Anyone that loved the Final Fantasy series will want to download this game, and anyone that loves RPGs but never played the Final Fantasy series will really want to download this game.
If you are into casual puzzle games, Where's My Water will be right up your alley. Or, rather, right up your sewer, which is where Swampy the Alligator lives. Unfortunately, he's having a problem with the other alligators, who are stealing his supply of water. It's your job to guide the water to Swampy by digging channels. Where's My Water? is a quickly addictive game that continues to add new levels, so the fun doesn't stop.