10 best shooting games for iPhone and iPad

From twin-stick heaven to first-person shooters, here's Macworld's definitive guide to the best shooting games for iPad and iPhone

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  • Best Mac games Call of Duty Black Ops 800 Shooting games
  • 5 darkside Darkside
  • 4 epoch 2 Epoch 2
  • 1 geometry wars 3 Geometry Wars
  • 10 modern combat 5 Modern Combat 5
  • 3 mutant storm Mutant Storm
  • 8 neon shadow Neon Shadow
  • 9 puk PUK
  • best free ipad games sky force 800 Sky Force 2014
  • 7 space invaders infinity gene Space Invaders
  • 6 panzerkampf 3 Tanks! - Seek & Destroy
  • More stories
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The best shooting games for iOS

From Sniper Games to Artillery and Catapult Games, along with First Person Shooter Games and spaceship shoot 'em ups, we've scoured the iOS App Store for the best shooting games so you can let off some steam.

Read on to find out which ones we think you should buy.

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Next Prev Best Mac games Call of Duty Black Ops 800

From Sniper Games to Artillery and Catapult Games, along with First Person Shooter Games and spaceship shoot 'em ups, we've scoured the iOS App Store for the best shooting games so you can let off some steam.

Read on to find out which ones we think you should buy.

 

Darkside

Outer-space mining colonies have it tough. They're surrounded by orbiting chunks of rock and under constant attack from evil aliens. Naturally, you'd think The Company would send in a fleet of crack pilots to deal with such problems. Nope - it's just muggins again, taking on all and sundry single-handed.

The first thing that will strike you about Darkside is how stunning the game looks. As you fly over an asteroid’s surface, it effortlessly rolls beneath you, structures and rocks rotating away into space. The second thing you'll notice - very quickly - is that space is really dangerous. Every rock you blast splits in two, Asteroids-style; enemy craft flit about, daring you to shoot them. Occasionally, you’ll collect a power-up, but you’ll more frequently find your ship splattered across a particularly large rock or becoming one with the universe after having been atomised.

Rather generously, you get the pulsating arcade mode entirely for free. For the reasonable sum of £1.49/$1.99, you can unlock Survival (one life) and Missions (100 varied objectives) modes; as an added incentive, this also unlocks smart bombs for your ship - ideal for when things get hairy.

FREE | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Darkside

 

Epoch 2

As we noted in the intro, the problem with 3D shooters on iOS is that there's no way to entirely successfully translate complex controls to a glass screen. Epoch 2 gets around this problem by putting the entire game on rails. So instead of freely roaming about and trying to point your gun in the right direction before shooting something, it’s all about careful timing built around a system of taps and swipes.

The backstory involves something suitably apocalyptic and dystopian, and the world now appears to be primarily populated by robots that are in serious need of a good service. All you really need to know is that all of the other droids want to shoot you, and so you'd best take them out first. To aim, you simply tap an adversary. You can then swipe to jump, roll, or get to cover (whereupon more gestures exist for reloading). A special tap move enables your droid to leap into the screen and smack its opponent’s head off, which is rather satisfying.

Levels typically barrel along, occasionally punctuated by brief cut-scenes of something you've shot blowing up in spectacular fashion. There are some fantastic set pieces, too; from the off, you're belting along atop a train, and only a few levels later, a gigantic metal worm makes it very clear it wants to melt your face.

There are minor niggles in benefitting from specific kit on certain levels, bought via in-game currency; IAP is inevitably suggested for helping speed things along. But if you're prepared to grind a bit, even for the initial outlay there's plenty of riveting blasting action to be had.

£3.99/$4.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Epoch 2

 

Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

On iOS, the term 'console like' is overused and frequently inaccurate. Too often, iPads and iPhones make do with second-best - games that lack the spark and quality of what you find on a PlayStation, Xbox or handheld. With Geometry Wars 3, though, you feel such a description is entirely justified. This is a gorgeous twin-stick shooter that matches its console-based cousins, with dazzling visuals, tight controls, and a wide variety of play styles.

If you've not encountered Geometry Wars before, it's an arena shooter, which finds you in an enclosed space, fending off waves of neon foes. You use your left thumb to move and your right digit to direct fire. As the immediate vicinity fills with ships, you must weave through the carnage and eradicate everything, trying to pick up power-ups and 'geoms' along the way. Diamond-shaped geoms can ramp up your multiplier to dizzying levels, potentially massively increasing your score.

In Geometry Wars 3, everything is wrapped around 3D shapes, bringing an added dimension to proceedings. The meat of the game is a quest with dozens of levels that keep you on your toes by mixing up game modes, such as limiting where you can fire from, or only giving you a single life. You must at a minimum one-star a level to access the next, but the barrier is set reasonably low (except on the trickier boss levels), making Geometry Wars accessible; you’ll need to be something of a master to crack the three-star quotas, though, and the insanely tough Ultimate mode.

£3.99/$4.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions Evolved

 

Modern Combat 5: Blackout

The fifth in Gameloft's FPS series starts off by flinging you through a kind of high-octane theme park ride crossed with a Bond movie. You shoot some guys, end up on a boat, and are then chased along Venice waterways by speedboats and a helicopter.

Adrenaline suitably now at maximum, you're then tasked with working your way through a series of short mobile-friendly missions, travelling the world to stop a maniac trying to end civilisation. What this typically means is skulking about various locations and shooting adversaries in the head. Now and again, quicktime events veer from typical FPS territory, so you can enact something suitably gory (an early example being stabbing scissors into an attacker's neck), but mostly it's a case of sneak/shoot/try not to get shot.

There's some boneheaded AI in evidence, and Modern Combat's world appears to be one where everyone can take an awful lot of bullets before expiring; but it looks great, has the kind of brainless enthusiasm of a popcorn action flick, and controls as well as can be expected for something trying very hard to be Call of Duty on mobile.

The intensely annoying freemium system costs it several places on our list, though. Modern Combat was once a premium title but now you have energy that slowly replenishes; this won't make any odds if you only play a couple of missions per day, but if you're after extended gaming sessions, you'll have to regularly pay; a pity, then, there's no practice range with 'IAP' as a target.

FREE | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Modern Combat 5: Blackout

Read next: 

The 115 best iPad & iPhone games

Best free iPhone games

The 67 best Mac games

 

Mutant Storm

In a sense, Mutant Storm is quite similar to Geometry Wars, sharing key gameplay mechanics. It's a twin-stick shooter and a fight for survival, against a seemingly endless array of nasty critters. But Mutant Storm feels like a very different game when you're in the thick of it.

Mutant Storm's arenas are all enclosed and the majority are tiny, rapidly becoming packed with things that want you dead. There's great variety in your foes, from explosions of furious bugs that spew bullets to beautiful floaty alien cephalopods that hypnotise shortly before blowing your tiny craft away.

Despite having been released in 2012, Mutant Storm still looks gorgeous on a Retina iPad, with its distinctive, vibrant cell-shaded backgrounds and inventive enemy designs. But it's the intense action that propels it towards the top of our list: this is an exciting, relentless arcade experience, whether you're fighting your way through the 89-scene Adventure mode or trying to improve individual level scores in Tally mode.

£2.29/$2.99 | For iPad | Download Mutant Storm

 

Neon Shadow

Neon Shadow is a first-person shooter without pretence, and it's all the better for it. There's a very slight storyline - mechanoids have taken over a space station, thanks to a malevolent AI, and it's your job to go and sort them out. Naturally, rather than doing this by 'turning it off and on again', this game's engineer reboots the system by blowing most of it up.

The game is hobbled a little by the limitations of touch controls. You move by dragging on the left-hand side of the screen, aim by dragging on the right, and tap a large fire button to unleash bullet-shaped destruction. But the game's swift pace and generous aiming makes it feel significantly less fiddly than any of its iOS rivals, even if you do occasionally find yourself looking at the floor while an irate robot attempts to melt down your armour into a particularly natty hat.

There are additional weapons to collect, bosses to destroy, and no faffing about with reloading, jumping, or complex landscapes. Through distilling the best bits of first-person shooters into something that works on iPhone and iPad, Neon Shadow in our view becomes best-of-breed on iOS.

79p/$0.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Neon Shadow

 

PUK

We're stretching the definition of 'shooting' a bit here, because PUK is really an artillery game, where you catapult things at other things. Imagine an ultra-minimal take on Angry Birds played against the clock and you’re there.

In PUK, then, you're faced with a screen of pucks and targets. Pull back and release to send a puck on its way; hit the target and you get to feel smug for approximately half a second. Because then you’re on to the next level, randomly chosen from 1000 unique options.

Level design varies wildly. Some are insanely simple - one puck and a single, massive target. Others give you six or seven pucks and targets all over the place, sometimes behind walls. In each case, you have only seconds to aim, fire and hit everything. Miss and you’d best hope your puck returns to the firing area; if not, another puck (if you’ve any remaining) can be used to nudge it on its way - assuming you’re not already out of time.

Through stripping everything back, PUK has a purity unmatched on iOS; and its pace makes the game thoroughly compelling. You know at any point a single missed target could spell the end of your run - galling during initial plays, but truly maddening when you’re a veteran chasing a high-score in the dozens!

£1.49/$1.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download PUK

 

Sky Force 2014

Sky Force 2014 is a good example of why it's never smart for videogame characters to get cocky. Blasting everything to kingdom come by way of a souped-up spaceship, the game's protagonist is quite literally brought down to earth due to the villain's penchant for insanely massive lasers and blowing up heroes. Some deft parachuting staves off disaster, but the pilot suddenly finds himself in the next mission flying something akin to an airborne peashooter.

Your aim, then, is to work your way back to the point you can have a second crack at the big bad. This is done by tackling a range of gorgeous levels, blowing up anything that goes for you, and collecting stars, used for buying upgrades.

FREE | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Sky Force 2014

 

Space Invaders Infinity Gene

When you think of shooting games, Space Invaders probably springs to mind. There is, however, a tiny problem with Space Invaders: it's a bit rubbish. That might sound harsh, but 1978's most popular arcade game hasn't stood the test of time, with its invaders slowly inching across the screen, awaiting pot-shots from your underarmed and ponderous tank.

Space Invaders Infinity Gene begins life as this ageing title, but swiftly abandons it by rapidly evolving. Every time you complete one of the shortish levels, you move on through the history of shooting games. Things start to scroll and become more animated. Before you know it, you're being hurled along at insane speeds, repulsing hundreds of tiny invaders (who’ve suddenly discovered some serious manoeuvrability), threading your way through bullet hell.

The game's minimal aesthetic makes it feel a little like an arcade game Jony Ive might design, and the thumping soundtrack urges you on at every opportunity. The staccato nature of the gameplay might feel a bit odd at times (not least given how abruptly some levels end), but this makes Infinity Gene perfect for on-the-go mobile gaming, taking on the challenge a few short levels at a time.

£3.99/$4.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Space Invaders Infinity Gene

 

Tanks! - Seek & Destroy

Some games are subtle. Tanks! - Seek & Destroy (formerly known as Panzerkampf 3) very much isn't. This is a game about blowing things up, and then blowing more things up, with the help of a bloody great big tank.

You're dropped into a sparse landscape, comprising a battlefield peppered with vector shapes. Enemy tanks then beam in, and must be swiftly dealt with before they damage or destroy your tank. Over time, sluggish introductory trundlers are joined by smarter 'Heavy Sixer' tanks, fleet-of-foot droids that zoom about the battlefield, and helicopters. Collectables briefly provide you with additional firepower, but your demise is inevitable - it's just a matter of how many of the blighters you take with you before that moment comes.

Aside from the sedate 'Novice' option in the standard Combat mode, Tanks! - Seek & Destroy is a frenetic roller-coaster ride. The tilt steering controls feel more like a madcap racing game than driving gigantic military hardware, and the breakneck non-stop gameplay merges the best of classic arcade fare with modern pyrotechnics and touch controls. And if you find it all a bit easy, fire up Rage mode, which gives you infinite respawns, a two-minute timer, and precisely no shields. Tanks a lot, you might say about that last bit, before being arrested by the pun police.

£2.29/$2.99 | For iPad & iPhone (Universal) | Download Tanks! - Seek & Destroy

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