The Best AirPlay Games On iPad
We group test the iPad's AirPlay compatibility with Apple TV, but which ones are the best?
Published on Jan 9, 2012
With every major game release on iOS, the question is raised whether these titles, built for a mobile platform, can compete with their console relations.
Now though the mobile gaming clan have a new weapon in their arsenal, in the shape of Apple TV and Airplay. It is now possible to sync not only sync your iPad with your TV, but to play dedicated gaming with redesigned control systems that turn your iDevice into the controller.
This is the next step beyond mirroring that has been around for a while now, and the release of iOS 5 has seen more games take the step of creating a dedicated AirPlay platform for their users.
So to celebrate we’ve gathered together some of the best to test out their credentials on this exciting new platform.
Real Racing 2 HD
iPad | iOS 3.2 | £4.99/ | 1.12.01
Already a big hitter in the world of iOS gaming, Real Racing has some of the best multiplayer features around, as well as the visuals to keep audiences engaged. It was also one of the first to embrace AirPlay as the next step in mobile gaming, so can it take the crown?
1. Response – Real Racing scores well here, with your iPad feeling like a steering wheel as the game acknowledges even those little jolts to correct your driving line. This transition to the big screen is great.
2. The Look – Anyone who walks into the room will assume you’re playing a console game, until they see the iPad in your hands. In full HD the game looks great, with tyre smoke and changing light two of the best graphical points.
3. Control Set Up – Rather than simply mirroring your iPad screen, the game uses your device to display a track radar and all your race statistics, but tapping the screen still controls braking.
4. Experience – A very good example of how to do AirPlay, anything but a perfect WiFi signal will cause some issues however, and while this was obvious in all the games it really stuck out here.
Looks fantastic with quality response and controls, and the Party Play features are the cherry on top.
iPad+ | iOS 3.1.3 | £1.49/ | v1.22
Designed from the ground up for the iPad, this game has taken some flak but remains hugely popular on the App Store. The first person shooter has the potential to be perfect for AirPlay, but lack of depth could be an issue.
1. Response – No lag or sense that you’re playing a mobile game here, even with the rapid screen tapping as you take out zombies of all shapes and sizes.
2. The Look – Another game that doesn’t show it’s mobile gaming status, although it’s the shame the slightly better rendered cut scenes don’t play on the TV, only on your iPad.
3. Control Set Up – This might throw you off initially as the original set up is inverted navigation, and with an iPad this feels strange. However the freedom with which you can tweak the controls makes up for this.
4. Experience – A blunt zombie-killing shoot ‘em up is always going to be a crowd pleaser, however only three levels does spoil the party somewhat.
Unapologetic and good fun in AirPlay, but it just needs to be longer.
iPad+ | iOS 4.3 | £1.99/ | v3.0
One of the lesser known titles on show, Enigmo is a puzzle game that involves you having to collect water pellets amongst other things. With the feel of a 90s arcade game this should look interesting when put on your TV.
1. Response – For the amount happening on screen, its very impressive. Often there are dozens of water pellets flying around the screen, but the AirPlay handles it comfortably.
2. The Look – Graphics aren’t really the big draw of this game, which has the feel of an old-fashioned arcade title, but the 360 degree camera is a nice way to show off different perspectives.
3. Control Set Up – Straightforward point and tap layout with all the buttons on screen. AirPlay just mirrors your iPad screen in Enigmo so there are no button layout changes to worry about.
4. Experience – You’ll find yourself torn between which screen to look at when playing this one, but the level of response and that fact the game is addictive still make it worth a look.
Straight up AirPlay Mirroring means this brings nothing innovative to the table, but the level of response is amazing.
iPad+ | iOS 4.3 | £2.49/ | v4.0.1
The other racing game on show, Cro-Mag looks as if it take some inspiration from Mario Kart, and should therefore do well in this test. Fun visuals and a prehistoric theme make it engaging to play, but its hectic nature will be a challenge for AirPlay.
1. Response – There is some lag time for this game, and given that it’s a racer this can significantly affect your driving, as you turn for corners that are already gone.
2. The Look –Translates nicely from the iPad with it’s cartoon style graphics, you certainly won’t feel bored playing it on the big screen.
3. Control Set Up –An unusual combination of touch and tilt controls here sees you tap and hold to accelerate and tilt to turn. In truth it doesn’t work for AirPlay as your eye is drawn to your iPad screen.
4. Experience – Fun to play, and to watch should you have spectators, but there are just one too many kinks for Cro-Mag Rally to be a serious contender to win this group test.
Good fun but the screen lag can have an impact on the quality of your driving
iPad+ | iOS 4.1 | Free | v4.0.2
One of the best looking mobile games around should make the transition easily, and bumping up those graphics into full HD should be a treat. With a strong control set-up already in place this could be the game to beat.
1. Response – No problems here, MetalStorm and AirPlay work in smooth harmony, and this is very necessary given that the game requires both motion controls and some button tapping.
2. The Look –MetalStorm has always been one of the better looking games on iOS, and this hasn’t changed, with the transition to big screen taking place comfortably. Nice missile tail smoke as well.
3. Control Set Up – Full AirPlay rather than just Mirroring means your focus is on the TV, with your iPad being the motion controller, as well as displaying the weapons buttons.
4. Experience – The cockpit UI for your iPad is a very nice touch and adds to the theatre of it all, the motion controls aren’t perfect, but this game is still worth trying out in AirPlay.
One of the best AirPlay converts graphically and with a solid control set-up to please everyone.
iPhone+ | iOS 4.1 | £0.69/ | v1.3
Another newcomer but growing in popularity, this game takes tower defence to an impressive new level by putting you at the guns of an AC-130, with the aim of protecting humans from the undead. Sounds like AirPlay perfection already.
1. Response – Considering the amount of swiping and shooting you have to do, the game keeps up really well, only ever hindered by the WiFi, but it doesn’t ruin the response
2. The Look –The UI in AirPlay has been well thought out, with your iPad screen displaying a radar and the TV taken up by the infrared camera associated with an AC-130. It all makes the game very compelling.
3. Control Set Up –Nice and straightforward in that you swipe to move the camera and locate the advancing zombies, and tap to fire. Nothing overcomplicated to ruin a very good game.
4. Experience – The AC-130 mission was one of the highlights of CoD: Modern Warfare and that sentiment carries over into this game. Plenty of weapons, environments and zombies to have fun with.
One of the lesser know titles coming in, but Zombie Gunship can stand up to its AirPlay rivals.
iPad | iOS 4.1 | £0.69/ | v2.3
This game has gone down very well because of the high quality of its visuals, but the reactive nature of the controls could be an issue when playing over AirPlay, given that there’s an unpredictable Internet connection involved.
1. Response – While there is a little bit of lag this almost makes it feel more like an authentic pinball machine that you’d find at the back of an arcade.
2. The Look –Full HD on your TV with no focus on the iPad, and it looks great. Four different table styles for you to play with, all unique and exciting.
3. Control Set Up –Again applying the simple is best thought process, your device screen is mostly clear, with just the firing and paddle operation to deal with.
4. Experience – This could be brilliant, as the tables look great and the control set up is strong, but the lag hinders play enough for you to notice, and it will cost you at least one ball.
Has all the ingredients for a great AirPlay game, but is being held back by some response issues
iPad | iOS 3.2 | £4.99/ | v1.4.9
Already looks and feels like a console game even when you’re playing on your iPad, so bring it closer to home and this shooter has the potential to sparkle if the control set up has been handled properly.
2. The Look – Lacks some of the polish shown by its competitors in this group test but you could still put on a par with the original Halo for example, and there are some great environments to explore.
3. Control Set Up – One of the best we’ve seen, with clearly defined sections of your iPad screen for movement, vision and shooting. You’ll take to it very quickly as it feels natural and console like.
4. Experience – With a solid control base and an engaging set of missions to work through, N.O.V.A feels like it was made to be played on a big screen with your iPad as the controller, and as a result is a contender
A must-have for anyone getting into AirPlay gaming, especially with it’s multiplayer options.