5 top Metal games for the iPad/iPhone

Apple's Metal technology allows developers to squeeze as much from the A7/A8 CPU and GPU as possible. Here are five of the best games to do so.

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  • Defenders Defenders
  • Zen Garden Epic Zen Garden
  • Asphalt 8 Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Modern Combat 5 Modern Combat 5: Blackout
  • Mr Crab Mr Crab
  • More stories
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Defenders

We reviewed the Mac version of Defenders last year, and it immediately struck us as a game that would probably work better with touch-screen controls on an iPhone or iPad.

It’s a fairly straightforward tower-defense game, in which you have to defend your base from wave after wave of goblins and other nasties. However, it uses the Metal graphics to good effect, allowing you to zoom in and out, or rotate your viewing angle to get a better view of the action. The game runs on most iPhone and iPads running iOS 6 or later, but you’ll need iOS 8 to get the full benefit of the fancy Metal graphics.

Price: free – with IAP
Requires: iOS 6 or later
More info: the iTunes App Store

Next »

Next Prev Defenders

We reviewed the Mac version of Defenders last year, and it immediately struck us as a game that would probably work better with touch-screen controls on an iPhone or iPad.

It’s a fairly straightforward tower-defense game, in which you have to defend your base from wave after wave of goblins and other nasties. However, it uses the Metal graphics to good effect, allowing you to zoom in and out, or rotate your viewing angle to get a better view of the action. The game runs on most iPhone and iPads running iOS 6 or later, but you’ll need iOS 8 to get the full benefit of the fancy Metal graphics.

Price: free – with IAP
Requires: iOS 6 or later
More info: the iTunes App Store

 

Epic Zen Garden

To be honest, Zen Garden is more of a demo than a proper game, designed to show off the capabilities of the Metal graphics system and the Unreal games engine developed by Epic Games. However, it’s free to download and the sheer detail of the eye-catching graphics gives it an almost hypnotic quality. Tap on a tree and you’ll see thousands of cherry blossom spring to life, or watch clouds of butterflies flutter past the water fountain.

Epic sells the Unreal Engine to other games developers – and students can try it for free – so it gives you a hint of the kind of games we can look forward to on iOS devices in the future.

Price: free
Requires: iPhone 6, iPad Air, iPad Mini (2nd gen)
More info: www.unrealengine.com

See also: iOS 8 review

 

Asphalt 8: Airborne

Asphalt 8 was already one of the most popular racing games for iOS devices, and it will run on most devices with iOS 5 or later. However, the recent 1.6.1 update to the game includes support for Metal graphics and Retina displays that makes it look really great on the latest iPhone and iPad models. Metal also provides speed improvements that allow you to hit the pedals and really ramp up the speed as well. This update also includes multiplayer races, and a mad race around San Diego harbor that has you dodging helicopters and trying to jump onto the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Price: free with IAP
Requires: iOS 5 or later
More info: the iTunes App Store

See also: iOS 7 versus iOS 8 comparison review

 

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

The sniper action is a bit bloodthirsty and may not suit everyone – the game has a 17+ rating, so it’s not for kids either – but there’s no doubt that Modern Combat 5 makes great use of the Metal graphics in iOS 8. The game starts with an impressive underwater intro sequence in which you swim through rippling water and clouds of little air bubbles before surfacing in a terrorist lair and then proceeding to shoot everyone in sight.

You can buy MC5 on its own for £4.99, which includes a single-player campaign and squad-versus-squad multiplayer mode, or you can buy a bundle that also includes the two previous games in the series for just £6.99.

Price: £4.99
Requires: iOS 7 or later
More info: the iTunes App Store

 

Mr Crab

There are a couple of other kids’ games that use Metal, but I’m not going to mention them here because of their shamefully expensive in-app purchases. Mr Crab also offers in-app purchases, but you get 14 levels of fun platform game action for free, and if you like the game you can buy additional level packs for just 69p each.

The tap-to-jump action is simple, but fast and challenging, and the game uses Metal to create neat effects, such as a trail of sand particles as Mr Crab tries to jump past the various obstacles and reach the top of his tower.

Price: free – with IAP
Requires: iOS 7 or later
More info: the iTunes App Store

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