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Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike, by Microsoft, have officially landed on the App Store.Spartan Assault pits you against the Covenant with missions geared to tell the story of the origin of Spartan Ops. InSpartan Strike you'll delve into the events surrounding Halo 2 as you lead UNSC troops against the Promethean forces. Both games give you all new stories in the Halo universe and let you complete weekly challenges for experience. You'll have to fight hard to beat your friends to the top the leader boards.
Both Halo: Spartan Assault and Halo: Spartan Strike are available for $5.99 each.
iOS is yet to have its cornerstone first-person shooter franchise. While it has a couple of really good ones from Gameloft and a few good ports from older games, we have yet to see a truly deep and original mobile-first FPS franchise. Especially one that takes advantage of the touch screen and doesn't just try to adapt button controls to a screen. In short, iOS needs it's Halo. Industrial Toys might be the people to do it.
Let me clear this up. There is no shortage of first-person shooters on iOS. Gameloft has released some really good ones like NOVA 3 and Modern Combat. We've even seen classics like Doom and Call of Duty ported. But the fault these all have is they were conceived on or derived from controller-based shooters. This invariably leads to problems when playing, no matter how good the controls. Thumbs will always cover important parts of the screen, they will slip from the correct virtual control. And for FPS vets, the most important factor: touch controls are slower as it takes time to look at the virtual buttons.
Ben Cousin's Scattered Entertainment released The Drowning last year, which hoped to be exactly this. Tremendous amounts of thought went into the game and it's original control scheme, yes, and it was developed exclusively for touch screens. But it just didn't take. It was not well received by the press or users. There is still some hope for The Drowning as a franchise, but it seems unlikely at this point.
I'm also not saying that I want Halo on iOS. What I want is an original franchise, conceived for and developed for touch screens and connected devices. One with a deep original storyline, endless multiplayer capabilities, perfect controls for a touch device, and a future. No matter how how close others have come, we just don't have that. Yet.
This is where the team from Industrial Toys comes in. This LA-based company certainly has the chops to make a killer FPS franchise for iOS. The company was founded by Bungie co-founder/co-creator of Halo Alex Seropian and Tim Harris (Denuo, Alley Cat Comics). Their team for this project includes superstars of music, art, and story; including comic artist Mike Choi (Marvel/DC) and author John Scalzi (Old Man’s War, Redshirts). Seems like they have the talent they need and our first look at their upcoming Midnight Star game shows great promise.
The first experience most will have with the game will be through the interactive comic, Midnight Rises. This comic ties in with two-way communication to Midnight Star. The story, set 120 years from now, starts when first contact is made from outer space. The interactive comic will lead the reader through the build up to the launch of the USSM Joplin, the craft fitted to communicate and intercept the source of the signal. Along the way the story will introduce the characters in the game and provide backstory.
The comic app will also provide potential players the ability to pick up items that can be used in the game. And this is just the tip of what make this dual app approach so interesting. The choices made in the story app influence the characters in the game. And progress in the game unlocks new parts of the story in the comic app. It will be interesting to see how such an integrated dual app approach works out.
Midnight Star starts off after something has gone wrong and the crew of the Joplin is fighting an alien force, as the story of what happened unfolds. The game features a new take on touch controls for a first-person shooter that looks quite good, even in the pre-release build I saw. It also features nearly endless multiplayer capabilities both in the form of friend challenges and leaderboard type challenges.
In one of the most original forms of asynchronous multiplayer, a player can create a challenge for other players - either friends or open to all. That challenge can be a speed run, high score, accuracy, or other challenge on a particular level in the game that lasts for a set amount of time. Each player that accepts the challenge enters an amount of in-game currency set by the originator into the pot with the top players in the challenge splitting the winnings.
Melee type combat has been a sticking point for touch games. How to accurately and quickly they make the player react has generally been less than perfect. With Midnight Star, melee will take for form of quick reactionary tapping of on screen symbols. Each symbol will need to be touched a designated number of times in a certain amount of time to ward off the attack.
Progressing will provide new weapons and parts to upgrade current weapons. The game is clearly set up to be a free to play game, but at least in my limited experience with it this doesn't seem to get in the way of the gameplay.
Looking at the screenshots included with this post doesn't really do it justice. Industrial Toys are not ready to release in-game video just yet, but this Unreal built game looks amazing with very smooth gameplay. Here's the previously released teaser trailer.
Is Midnight Star the Halo-like franchise I think iOS so desperately needs? It would be presumptuous to say yes at this point, but I have hope. It will certainly be a huge step in the right direction. The guys at Industrial Toys are very experienced in the area and committed to the idea of bringing a Halo-like experience to touch screens.
Look for Midnight Rises (the interactive story) in the spring, and the game Midnight Star soon after. We'll have more news on Midnight Star as it develops.
A lot of gamers don't know that before there was Halo, there was Marathon. The series, which Bungie created for the Mac almost 20 years ago, has finally made its way over to iOS, but not in exactly the manner you would expect. This is the tale of a labor of love, and a major studio being really cool with one of their properties.
Daniel Blezek was one fan of Marathon who really wanted to see the game come to iOS. Bungie couldn't take time out of their busy schedule to port such an old game to a new device, so Daniel asked if he could do it himself. Bungie gave its blessing and in his free time, between raising 5 kids and working full time as programmer, Daniel managed to recreate not only all 27 levels of the original Marathon, but also port over the entirety of Marathon 2. He even built in a super-special "Master Chief Mode," because he's just that swell of a guy.
Daniel may also be crazy, because he's giving away both Marathon games for free. Just hop on the App Store and download them and they're yours for absolutely nada. So why not grab a copy and support a passionate fan who just wants to share the thing he loves with the rest of us?
It turns out that Bungie Aerospace is the label given to a project by Bungie that's set out to help small independent developers launch their mobile and social games. The first title undertaken through this concept is going to be that of Crimson: Steam Pirates.
Developed by HareBrained Schemes, Crimson: Steam Pirates has some great pedigree behind it with some of its team having contributed to the likes of MechWarrior, Shadowrun and Crimson Skies and numerous other titles.
Crimson: Steam Pirates is going to be a turn-based strategy game that promises a mix of strategy and action as players must anticipate and counter their enemies' moves. As an iPad exclusive, Crimson: Steam Pirates offers the first chapter of the game for free and include 8 missions (or voyages, to keep the nautical theme) in all, as well as two 'pass-and-play' multiplayer scenarios.
Plenty of depth should be on offer with over a dozen types of ships, subs and airships promised. There'll also be 20 crew members with unique special abilities, that will hopefully mix things up nicely. Something else to be excited about: there'll be Bungie.net integration offering leaderboards and what we hope will be a plethora of statistics to compare with friends. Those who have played Halo online recently will know what we're talking about. Bungie knows how to do online statistics wonderfully well.
For the lucky souls attending PAX Prime, Crimson: Steam Pirates will be available to play at the event. For everyone else, it's not long to wait with the game set for release on September 1st on the iPad only.
When it comes to companies with a huge amount of influence in the game design space, it is hard to argue that Bungie isn't among the frontrunners. Having successfully birthed both the Marathon and Halo franchises, they also draw one of the largest fan followings in the entire industry. After recently breaking ties from the Microsoft fold and signing a ten year contract with Activision to create a groundbreaking new game universe, it was assumed that they would be setting their sights on creating a new console franchise. While this assumption may still be true, it seems like they may also have more ambitious, and dare we say portable plans.
Using the moniker of Bungie Aerospace, the name of Bungie's business entity post-Microsoft, recently filed a trademark for the name "Crimson." As bland as the name may seem, this may be pointing towards the company finally making strides into the iOS space. The official filing description reads as follows:
"Computer game software downloadable from a global computer network; Computer game software for use on mobile and cellular phones; Downloadable computer game software via a global computer network and wireless devices" -- VIA USPTO Filing
Though I would hate to be the one to jump to conclusions too early, the wording above seems pretty definitive in stating Bungie's intentions to at least breach the portable gaming front in some way, shape, or form. It is hard to say whether this might be in the form of a full game, stat monitoring, or even a pre-release ARG, but one thing is for sure, this should be exciting news to all iOS gamers. Lets just hope that they can continue their hot streak of amazing game worlds, because I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeves next!
Gameloft's N.O.V.A. is a landmark title for the iPhone/iPod platform. This Halo clone might be lacking in originality, but it's an amazing title that showcases what the iPod is truly capable of. FPS fans, this is one you've got to grab!
After months of waiting for followers of the title, Gameloft have today announced the release of N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. Possibly one of the most anticipated App Store titles of the year, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance is a science fiction first person shooter set in futuristic environments. Graphically stunning, the game centers around man-made artificial satellites called near-orbitals, created to allow people to live on due to the Earth no-longer able to sustain life.
For the protection of these separate near-orbitals they each came together to create N.O.V.A, or the Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance. A team of mercenary operatives tasked with the mission of fighting to defend mankind. Forced back into battle against your will, you play as Kal Wardin, a retired marine. Knocked out cold by members of the N.O.V.A, Wardin finds himself assigned to a string of life-threatening missions.
Highly compared to that of the Halo franchise which has become insanely popular all over the world on Microsoft's Xbox platform, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance plays out over a satisfying 13 campaign levels, each taking you to a different landscape, including: a jungle, snow, spaceship, bunker and a forgotten alien city. There are six weapons within the game which you can take advantage of to help you on your mission. These include: an assault rifle, a shotgun, a sniper rifle, a handgun, a rocket launcher and a plasma gun. Plus, in certain levels you'll also get to use grenades and even rock out on machine gun turrets!
As well as playing the game yourself, N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance can be played in multiplayer mode, too. In this mode, 2-4 players can play in local and online multiplayer deathmatchs, over Wi-Fi and you can versus up to 2 players via a Bluetooth connection. In total, the game's mutliplayer option offers a range of 5 in-game maps in which you can choose from.
Already a 5-star hit wonder after less than 24 hours on the store, and receiving huge critical acclamation, I can't help but think N.O.V.A is going to be an instant App Store hit, if it isn't already! I have to say, having picked up the game myself and played through a level or four, this game sports some of the best visual based graphics I have ever seen on the iPhone (and iPod touch) platform. I'm not just saying it, it's like N.O.V.A crosses that invisible barrier of mobile game to console wonder, and in my personal opinion, Gameloft has excelled.
Be sure to stay tuned for our full in-depth review of N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, very soon. In the meantime, feast your eyes on some in-game shots from the game below!