With nearly 200 free and paid titles available for download on the App Store, Gameloft is quite possibly the most prolific iOS game developer around. Their aim for the majority of their titles is bringing console-like experiences to iOS devices. For better or for worse, the formula that they have arrived at to accomplish this task is to ape the ideas of established console franchises and create their own versions of them. Opinions on this tactic are mostly divided into two different camps, those who like it and those who don't.
Personally, I'm somewhere in the middle. On the one hand, Gameloft provides me the kinds of games that would otherwise not make it onto my preferred mobile gaming platform. But on the other hand it can be hard to swallow just how blatant some of their “inspiration” from other games is, and it's always nicer to see a developer coming up with original ideas for games. Here's a quick rundown of some of Gameloft's most prominent titles from 2010:
Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus, $6.99 - [Lite / iPad] – Gamelofts' take on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is actually one of the best first-person shooters available. A fun (if cliché) campaign is just icing on the cake for one of the most impressive online suites ever seen in a mobile game.
N.O.V.A. 2 - Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance, $6.99 - [iPad] – This homage to Bungie's Halo is also one of the most competent FPS games in the App Store, with a lengthy campaign and a meaty online component. The environments, enemies, and weapons will seem all-to-familiar to fans of the legendary Xbox series, but it's pretty neat to have it all in your pocket.
Shadow Guardian, $5.99 - [iPad] – Fans of Nathan Drake can say hello to Jason Call as Shadow Guardian does its best impression of the Uncharted series. This third-person cover-focused shooter is technically competent, but is missing the unforgettable story and characters that made the original Uncharted games so successful.
Eternal Legacy, $4.99 - [iPad] – Overly dramatic storylines, turn-based battling, and bad haircuts can only mean one thing. No, not the latest Final Fantasy game, but rather Gameloft's version of it. Eternal Legacy borrows heavily from the Final Fantasy series, and is a competent gameplay experience but lacks in quality of story and character development which makes it feel a bit lifeless.
Zombie Infection, $4.99 - [Lite / iPad] – Zombie Infection is the Gameloft equivalent of Resident Evil 5 on consoles. It gets almost all of the gameplay elements right, and is actually a really fun title to play, but again a lack of quality in story and characters makes the overall experience feel hollow.
Gangstar: Miami Vindication, $6.99 - [Lite / iPad] – Clearly a take on GTA: Vice City, Gangstar: Miami Vindication puts you in a gigantic crime-filled sandbox world and lets you do pretty much whatever you want. Unlike the official GTA game on iOS, Miami Vindication emulates the fully 3D third-person perspective of the console titles, but the visuals suffer somewhat because of it.
Let's Golf!® 2, $4.99 - [Lite / iPad] – This is an arcade-style golf game with wacky characters and over-the-top moves just like Sony's Hot Shots Golf series. The unrealistic style of Let's Golf 2 is complemented with an excellent golfing engine, and this sequel to last year's edition is an improvement in just about every way.
Real Golf 2011, $4.99 - [Lite / iPad] – If Let's Golf is Gameloft's take on the Hot Shots series, then Real Golf 2011 is their version of the Tiger Woods PGA Tour franchise. Strangely, there is already a Tiger Woods game on the App Store, but the newest edition hasn't yet seen the light of day. In lieu of this, Real Golf 2011 offers a solid round of realistic golf when the cartoony nature of Let's Golf 2 won't do.
It's not all copycat games, as Gameloft does do some pretty solid work with licensed IP's like Spider Man Total Mayhem [99¢/Lite/HD], Splinter Cell Conviction [99¢/Lite/HD], Prince of Persia Warrior Within [99¢/Lite/HD], and Brothers in Arms 2 [$4.99/Lite/HD]. Regardless of how you feel about their methods, there's no denying that Gameloft has contributed a ton towards pushing the iOS platform into a more serious gaming direction. For the most part their games are pretty fun and feature a lot of content for under ten dollars (not to mention the frequent sales they have).
It would be nice to see Gameloft invest in more of their own original ideas, since they are obviously a very capable studio. At the same time, if it wasn't for them I wouldn't have a facsimile of Halo that I can tote around in my pocket at all times. It will definitely be interesting to see what avenues Gameloft explores in 2011 after such a productive 2010.