Five Games to Show off Your Android Tablet

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Whether you’ve been an Android tablet user since the days of Honeycomb on the Motorola XOOM, or you just opened up your brand new Nexus 7, one thing is for sure: you’ve been looking for software which really shows off what your tablet is capable of.

Just as in the PC era, games are the best way to really push the envelope on hardware and show what all that processing power under the hood can do. The following games are must-have’s for Android tablets, and are sure to make your tablet-less friends consider heading to the Play Store to get their own Nexus 7.

Dead Space

Dead Space is one of the most impressive games available for Android by nearly any metric you can think of. Visuals, audio, gameplay, it’s all AAA. Dead Space isn’t some rail shooter, or simplified version of the original blockbuster, but a faithful representation of its bigger budgeted siblings. Everything that made the console and PC versions of Dead Space an instant classic is here, from the dismemberment game mechanic to zero-G jumps.

But don’t be fooled, Dead Space isn’t a port of the 2008 release but its own totally new game; complete with original story line and professional voice acting throughout.

If there is anything bad that can be said about the Android version of Dead Space, it’s that the game is fairly short: even the most leisurely of playthroughs won’t go past the 5 hour mark. Still, the overall quality of this game makes it one of the best ways to spend $6.99 in the Play Store.

ShadowGun

ShadowGun is another visually stunning game with a console lineage…though unlike Dead Space, ShadowGun is something of an “unofficial” portable version of the Xbox’s Gears of War. Everything from the look of the characters and weapons to the cover mechanics are borrowed from Gears, to excellent effect. Also like Dead Space, ShadowGun features considerable professional voice acting, making it seem all the more like a proper console game.

While it might not be the most original game on this list, there is no question that ShadowGun delivers the best third person shooting action on Android to date. With a well realized cover system, clever AI, and incredible visuals, ShadowGun is a fun (if somewhat shallow) ride.

Anomaly: Warzone Earth

Anomaly: Warzone Earth combines a unique take on the traditional “tower defense” game with stunning visuals and frantic gameplay. By putting players in control of the attacking forces going against the entrenched enemy, developer 11 bit Studios manages to breathe new life into a genre that has been done to death in recent years.

Graphically, Anomaly impresses with some excellent lighting effects and quality textures throughout. Even the smallest detail, like the burned out cars on the side of the road, are done expertly. It’s also refreshing to see a gritty and (relatively) realistic look in a genre which, in recent years, seems to have been dominated by more cartoony portrayals. The audio is also top notch, including a fair amount of narration before and during each mission.

The gameplay in Anomaly changes up slightly with each mission as you discover new units, capabilities, and enemies. Every mission feels different than the last, and with the steadily increasing level of difficulty, you’ll never think each one is “just another mission”. Once you fight your way through the main campaign, there’s a challenging squad assault mode where you face off against waves of enemies to keep you entertained.

Anomaly was part of August’s “Humble Bundle for Android 3“, but if you didn’t pick it up then (shame on you), its list price in the Play Store of $3.99 is absolutely a steal.

Apparatus

Apparatus doesn’t have a big name publisher or developer, nor does it have name recognition or marketing; yet it’s one of the top grossing games on Android. How? A simple concept, stellar execution, and most importantly, a committed community that is unique for a mobile game.

The general idea in Apparatus is to solve puzzles by constructing various contraptions, which are then animated in a realistic physics simulation. It’s reminiscent of games such as The Incredible Machine, which certainly makes for some large shoes to fill. To this end it does a respectable job, presenting the player with a multitude of levels that steadily go from simple to deviously complex.

But what really sets Apparatus apart is its community features, which lets the player create his or her own contraptions and upload them to a central site, where any Apparatus user can then download and rate them. In the community section, you’ll find everything from models of the Curiosity Mars rover to flyable jet fighters. It’s here that you’ll likely end up spending most of your time, as you explore the absolutely incredible creations from people who must have a shocking amount of time and patience.

On the down side, even on the most powerful of devices, Apparatus struggles to maintain a reasonable frame rate when the more complex contraptions are being animated. Combined with the fact that it hasn’t seen an update since December 2011, Apparatus is frustratingly close to perfection. Hopefully this isn’t the last we’ll see of Apparatus, as an updated version or a completely new sequel could very well take the indie game industry by storm.

Minecraft

The indie game sensation Minecraft had a pretty rough start to its mobile life, only offering a small fraction of what was possible in the full PC game. Originally, you weren’t even able to mine and smelt ore, which is more or less the whole point of the game. But recent updates to the mobile build of Minecraft have brought it within striking distance of the original, which easily gives it as much replay value as anything else on the Play Store.

In Minecraft, players are dropped into a vast world with nothing more than their imagination to defend them against the monsters that come out at night. By digging, chopping down trees, collecting and smelting ore, and crafting objects, players can create shelters, defenses, and weapons to help them survive. Or if survival isn’t your thing, you can kick the game into a creative mode where you are able to freely build anything you wish, from castles to starships.

At $6.99, the Android version of Minecraft comes in at less than half the cost of its PC and Xbox counterparts, for a good deal of the same content. While it might not be the best looking game available for Android, there is little question it offers more content per dollar than almost anything else in the Play Store.


Tom Nardi

Tom is a Network Engineer with focus on GNU/Linux and open source software. He is a frequent submitter to "2600", and maintains a personal site of his projects and areas of research at: www.digifail.com .

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  • Jrodd

    The only thing that urks me is there never seems to be enough space on your android tablet.
    We all know not to buy a 8 GB one (That only gives you 4 GB useable
    space) But 16 GB isn’t too much either. (If you keep other content).

    And
    you buy one with a SD Card Thinking “you can expand” nope. you can’t
    even do that. Just bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 2 8GB It doesn’t let
    me use the SD Card for apps go figure (I Know SD cards are slow and lead
    to worse performance)

    Can’t wait till space gets cheaper and theirs more of it. 16 GB should be bare minimum. even then your cutting it close.

    Great recommendations. Just bookmarked you guys!

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