1. Civilization Revolution
If you’re not already familiar with the franchise, it may be easier to think of Civilization as a modern-day version of Risk, in which you choose a historical figure to lead your civilization in a turn-based scaled progression of time. As you turn your tiny village into a thriving metropolis, animated advisers help guide you through the finer points of diplomacy with your adversaries and scientific advancement through research. Unlike Risk, however, there is more than one path to victory — in addition to world domination, you can also win a match by technological advancement, cultural growth, or economic achievement.
Several difficulty levels allow you to scale up as you master the various aspects of the game. If you’re already a fan of Civilization or the strategy and management genre in general, our only caveat is the many hours you may lose to this $12.99 title.
Get it: Civilization Revolution for $12.99
2. N.O.V.A. HD
The game controls are simple and intuitive, with a virtual pad supplying character movement, finger-swiped camera controls, aim-assist and other shooter essentials like weapon selection, a reloading mechanism, and grenades. The iPad’s touchscreen is used to great effect here, making N.O.V.A. HD feel arguably more at home here than on its iPhone version cousin. Visuals and production values are high, and voice acting adds depth to the experience as well.
Although the title is undoubtedly derivative of Halo, and the storyline cribs a number of sci-fi action cliches, N.O.V.A. is still loads of fun to fire up and shoot some baddies. You may even find yourself marveling that this type of experience is happening on a portable device.
Get it: N.O.V.A. HD for $6.99
3. Plants vs. Zombies HD
If you haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing “PvZ” yet, it’s well worth a first try in this format. The premise is to prevent your home from being invading by incessantly spawning zombies of varying abilities. You’ll need to use an arsenal of different plant types with different skills along with various obstacles to slow down and destroy the oncoming hordes over multiple levels. With four different game modes to choose from and lots of replayability factor, this creative and humorous title is one to consider picking up.
Get it: Plants vs. Zombies HD for $9.99
4. Labyrinth 2 HD
With oodles of challenging levels featuring obstacles galore, there’s no shortage of fun gameplay in this app. Multiplayer mode adds a whole additional dimension to the game, and yet another really cool feature is the level editor which allows you to create your own obstacle courses, share them with your friends, and download custom maps created by other players.
Get it: Labyrinth 2 HD for $7.99
5. Real Racing HD
Get it: Real Racing HD for $9.99
6. Mirror’s Edge
In the iPad version, finger swipes send Faith leaping over, sliding under, or wall-running and more around obstacles in her path. Getting into a consistent groove helps Faith pick up speed to achieve ever more death-defying leaps across rooftops, off of buildings onto precarious scaffolding, across chasms to crane-held beams and more. Interspersed cut scenes keep you engaged in the storyline as well, and multiplayer modes provide the ability to race through the city against your friends.
At $12.99, it’s one of the more expensive titles in this list, but in our opinion the silky smooth acrobatics and compelling world creation are well worth the expense.
Get it: Mirror’s Edge for $12.99
7. MiniGore HD
Get it: MiniGore HD for $4.99
8. Geometry Wars: Touch
You can unlock different gameplay modes by mastering earlier levels, and gameplay is enhanced with an appropriately frenetic soundtrack and sound effects.
Get it: Geometry Wars: Touch for $4.99
9. Diner Dash: Grilling Green
The iPad-specific Grilling Green edition features a healthy eating theme, in which Flo embarks on a mission to serve “DinerTown” denizens greener, healthier foods. Players of previous titles will be happy to find new tricks in Flo’s arsenal to help her move patrons through the restaurant swiftly enough to avoid being overwhelmed by incoming customers.
Get it: Diner Dash: Grilling Green for $4.99
10. Radio Flare REDUX HD
Featuring a licensed soundtrack from a number of A-list techno and house producers, Radio Flare includes 33 different planetary levels to groove and blast through. Unlockable rewards provide new challenges and a Visualizer mode lets you cruise through levels without enemies to appreciate the eye-popping visuals and pumping tunes.
Get it: Radio Flare REDUX HD for $4.99