Tablet & smartphone games for the hardcore gamer

Anand Ramachandran        Print Edition: April 2012

You've probably heard of Angry Birds. Yep. Rovio's blockbuster smartphone game about annoyed avians being catapulted into the air at their porcine antagonists has been downloaded over 15 million times, and has been catapulted, excuse the pun, into popular culture. Angry Birds is the poster child of the new touch gaming revolution. It's the game everyone has played.

You probably haven't heard of Shadowgun.

And yet, Madfinger's incredibly gorgeous third-person shooter is one of the most significant games released for smartphones last year-one that silently heralds the beginning of a major gaming revolution.

Today's smartphones and tablets, powered by increasingly capable processors, have emerged as serious contenders in the gaming arena. iOS and Android devices are now a bonafide gaming platform-and a serious threat to the established Nintendo and Sony handheld systems, at least in terms of sheer numbers.

And, while games like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Cut The Rope have spearheaded the rise of casual games on phones and tablets, the hardcore gamers still cling to their PS Vita and 3DS systems because they have been unable to find truly hardcore gaming experiences on their tablets.

However, this scenario is changing pretty rapidly. Consider the following examples.

Shadowgun (Android / iOS)

A third-person cover shooter with eyepopping graphics, Shadowgun could be the game that finally makes hardcore gamers take to smartphone and tablet gaming. It's like playing Gears of War on your phone.

Emissary of War (Android / iOS)
This superb hack-n-slash is like a funnier, lighter version of Diablo-without losing the addictiveness. The clever touch controls make killing things more fun than ever.

Samurai 2 (iOS / Android)
A stunningly beautiful third-person chop-em-up with amazing cel-shaded 3D graphics. Slicing enemies into two has never looked better. One of the absolute best action games on a phone or tablet.

Majesty-The Fantasy Kingdom Sim (Android/iOS)

A port of the hit real-time strategy title from 2000, Majesty is a unique, innovative and full featured strategy title that plays beautifully on tablets.

Myth Defense 2 (Android)
While tower defense games are fairly common on phones and tablets, Myth Defense 2 shines through as the most hardcore and challenging of the lot. An absolute gem-not for the weak.

Infinity Blade 2 (iOS)
The undoubted champion of mobile graphical powerhouse games, Infinity Blade 2 is truly a sight to behold. There are console games that don't look this good.

Dead Space (Android/iOS)
A superb mobile version of EA's hit console horror shooter. Now you can kill Necromorphs while waiting at the bus stop. Yay!

Battleheart (Android / iOS)
A frantic, hardcore squad based RTS-RPG hybrid with deceptively cute graphics. This game is far deeper and more challenging than it looks-if you don't master its delicate balance of strategy, roleplaying and tactical combat elements quickly, you will die. A lot.

Grand Theft Auto 3 (Android / iOS )
Yes, you heard right. It's one of the greatest hardcore games ever, and you can now play it on your phone. We shall say no more.

Machinarium ( iOS )
The classic PC adventure comes to iOS. Amazing visuals and challenging puzzles-this is one of the best adventure games of the modern era, and a mustplay for iPad owners.

More hardcore gaming goodness for Android and iOS devices
Done with the main list of games above and lusting for more? Here are some more games that promise many more hours of immersive hardcore gameplay.

Everlands HD
Radiant HD
Deadly Dungeons
Zenonia 1,2 and 3
Asphalt 6
GTA:Chinatown Wars
Dungeon Hunter HD

That's just a partial list of great games on smartphones and tablets that offer deep and rich experiences for hardcore gamers. There are many more in virtually every genre available on app marketplaces even today.

In fact, it could even be argued that, in terms of sheer variety of games, Android and iOS may soon be on par with the 3DS and PS Vita as platforms. Throw in the fact that the games are much cheaper, and we have a platform that looks very attractive indeed. The ball is in Nintendo and Sony's court-we'll be watching their response with great interest. The Vita in particular, with its multitouch screen and downloadable mini games, seems to be a clear admission from the traditional gaming giants that the threat from smartphones and tablets is very real.

Meanwhile, if you own a smartphone or tablet, and are looking for richer and more hardcore gaming experiences, do check out the titles listed above. They may just help you put off that Vita purchase for a few more weeks.

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