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New Android games this month
Every month we'll bring you scorching hot new games, plucked from the undiscovered depths of Play Store obscurity, to help you stay on the cutting edge of what's worth playing on your Android smartphone. Be the one to tell your friends what's worth playing right now by checking the article at the link below.
Hearthstone: our current favorite
Blizzard is the master of iteration and I mean this in the most complimentary way possible. Whether it's MOBAs, FPS, or MMOs, these guys know how to refine a product to create a winning formula. The CCG is just another acronym Blizzard has tackled of late, and the fruits of its labor, Hearthstone, is successful on many levels.
Hearthstone doesn't offer anything radically new to this genre, it features one-on-one, turn-based battles with monster-summoning and spell-casting. The gameplay mechanics can be learned in minutes but the mastery of them is a never-ending pursuit. The variety of digital cards means there are many strategies to try out; crafting and refining the perfect deck of cards is just one of the stressful, though ultimately rewarding, aspects of Hearthstone.
It's free-to-play but I hesitate to recommend it as a casual experience. Sure, it can be enjoyed as such, but Hearthstone is going to try and dominate your life. Watch this video of the lead designer trying to justify a single card – one card of the thousands it offers – which arrived in a recent update. Hearthstone lives and dies by the balance of its cards and heroes, and Blizzard seems committed to making sure this remains in equilibrium, making it all the more tempting for me to keep playing. Damn you, Blizzard.Hearthstone
Shadow Fight 2: our current favorite
Shadow Fight 2 is a one-on-one fantasy fighting game featuring lifelike animations, intuitive controls and tons of weapons. It's relatively slow paced for a fighting game, meaning bouts are often as much about strategic decisions as they are quick reactions: trying to hold your nerve and defend against an onslaught of attacks with dwindling health is nerve-wracking. A free-to-play, offline classic.Shadow Fight 2
If you find yourself almost out of your data allowance or facing a long trip where you need to conserve battery life, offline games are a must-have in your games repertoire. Take a look at our roundup of the best Android offline games to keep on your phone for those no-internet fun times.
Roll the Ball: our current favorite
Roll the Ball is a slide puzzle game that requires you to use physics and engineering to win. Well, you at least have to do some planning which requires a good amount of strategy. This is a brain-training game that keeps you actively focused and planning ahead. So if you're in for a challenge, then this is for you.
The goal of the game is to get the ball from the start to the 'goal.' You do that by configuring the tiles so the ball can move through a continuous tube. The blue and red tiles cannot be moved, but rather have screws that connect them to the 'wall'. All of the wooden tiles can be moved, including ones with tubes and without. Remember, it's not always necessary to use every tube tile, so get creative with your moves.
Once you start solving puzzles, the tile volume increases. There are different features and bonus games that earn you hints that you can later use if you get into a jam. You can also earn them by watching videos. The only complaint I have is the ads. Unless you pay, they pop up every third game.
Download Roll the Ball from Google Play.
Cut the Rope 2
Our current favorite puzzle game on Android is Cut the Rope 2, in which you feed candy to a little green critter known as Om Nom. How do you do this? By cutting rope, of course.
This free-to-play title features painterly graphics and fiendishly clever puzzles. Don't be fooled by the cutesy visuals, though: Cut the Rope 2 gets seriously tough by the time you reach the later levels. But because success is only ever a few snips away, this one never gets old.Cut the Rope 2
The name says it all: Stack is a block stacking game that requires good timing and nerves of steel. While it's action packed, it has a simplicity that's refreshing. That's because the blocks and background colors change during the game and from one round to the next.
Timing is key in Stack. You need to build a tower with blocks that slide in from the left and right side of the screen. If you are just a tiny bit off, you will lose part of the block. As you lose more and more, it becomes more difficult to time and soon enough you miss entirely and your game is over. If you continually get perfect timed stacks your base will increase in size and it will become easier.
As you play more, you unlock gems. These gems go towards new block styles you can use. There are plenty of different choices you can make like retro, zigzag, brick and platinum. You can also watch a video to get more gems.Stack
Plants vs Zombies 2: our current favorite
Plants vs Zombies is one of the classic free-to-play tower defense games and its sequel might be the shining star of the genre. Plants vs Zombies 2 sees you employing the services of assorted shrubbery to defeat an approaching zombie army.
PopCap delivers a colorful, addictive, well-balanced strategy game with near-endless replay value. It's continuously inventive and each stage has its own set of unique traits, which means that progressing through them always throws up new challenges.
As far as free-to-play games go, Plants vs Zombies 2 is pretty generous in terms of the unlocked content that is freely available. And it's also a helluva good time.Plants vs. Zombies 2
Defense Zone 2 HD
Defense Grid 2 HD is a more realistic tower-defense game, with a modern military theme. In comparison to its cutesy competition, it certainly has more grit, but it also has excellent gameplay.
There is a lot of tactical depth to the game, which may make it difficult to get into if you've never played a tower defense game before. However, I suspect that genre veterans will relish the challenge it presents.
Defense Zone 2 HD costs US$2.99 for the full version, but there is a light version available if you want to check that first. It’s definitely one of the best tower defense games on Android.Defense Zone 2 HD Lite
Castle defense is another free-to-play title. Set in a fantasy realm, it’s one of the older tower defense titles and there’s nothing exactly revolutionary to be found here. But Castle Defense nails the basics of the genre and acts as an excellent starting point for those who are new to this type of game.
The enemies walk along a fixed path which you must line with towers to prevent them reaching the end. The graphics and audio are just okay, but with more than 100 levels, three difficulty settings and an exciting upgrade system, Castle Defense will still keep you coming back for more.Castle Defense
Dragon Heroes: Shooter RPG
Essentially a vertical-scrolling shooter with RPG elements, Dragon Heroes: Shooter RPG lends some welcome depth to an inherently simplistic genre. By progressing through the levels, you can unlock a variety of heroes and upgrade their skills in a bid to save Dragonia from a spate of Dragons, who are also the bosses on each level.
The shooting gameplay is simple, colorful and kinetic and there are seemingly endless buttons to press in the menus, lending it a nice arcade vibe. The only gripe is the absurd loading time the game requires, particularly when starting up. It's quickly forgotten once you're blasting merrily away at dragons, but it can be frustrating when you want to dive in for a quick game and you have to wait several minutes to get onto a level.
The game feature several different modes, PvP battles and Guilds, so there's plenty to get your teeth stuck into.Dragon Heroes: Shooter RPG
The Walking Dead: Road to Survival
The Walking Dead provides the basis for another Android game, as well as more evidence that franchises thrive as well as zombies on the post-apocalyptic earth. The Walking Dead: Road to Survival is probably the richest Walking Dead Android experience yet. It functions mostly as a base-building game, and Woodbury is the setting in which you construct the usual workshops, training grounds and farms to get humanity back up on its feet.
Outside the base, there are missions and raids. The former finds you exploring the surroundings through story-led turn-based combat, and the latter lets you face off against opponents online, fighting for reputation and supplies. The story mode lets you make decisions at key moments, and will prove particularly enjoyable for fans of the comic books.
Overall, the game is pretty involving to start out with, and its dynamics function well, but its pay-to-win nature becomes apparent after a few hours of gameplay. There have been complaints about the random chance of characters and equipment you acquire and the cost of doing so. We would advise you to enjoy the game as far as possible for free, and try to avoid dropping any (or at least too much) money into it.Walking Dead: Road to Survival
Marvel Future Fight
Marvel Future Fight is a very attractive and immediately engaging addition to the Marvel gaming universe. You start out with Black Widow, Captain America and Iron Man, who are sent on a quest to gather a band of heroes capable of saving the world from a future trans-dimensional threat.
There's a choice of control styles – 1-touch or Pad – and you scurry around brief levels, hammering away at surprised villains until you reach a boss. Once you've unlocked more characters, you can swap them in and out of your trio and switch between them at any time throughout a level.
When things heat up, and the levels start taking multiple attempts to pass, you may find your finger hovering over the in-app purchases, but there's enough here to keep you entertained for quite some time before you get to that point.MARVEL Future Fight
Speedy Ninja’s name says it all: you play as an agile Ninja running speedily across the screen, battling through opponents with the aid of swords, fireballs and more.
What makes Speedy Ninja such a great endless runner is that the action takes place above and below a burning fuse that you run across, so you have to pay close attention to what is happening in both directions to make the best decisions and collect the most coins (the in-game currency of choice). When you have enough coins you can buy additional weapons and characters.
Speedy Ninja is not the most inventive endless runner, but it covers the basics well. It has flashy graphics with good effects, tight controls and challenging levels. Oh, and a dragon to ride.
Combining Spider-Man with an endless runner seems like a match made in heaven. Spider-Man swings through the streets of New York, climbs skyscrapers and fights exciting battles against Doc Ock, The Green Goblin and a whole host of other baddies from the Spider-Man universe in another polished title from Gameloft.
The look and feel of the game borrow heavily from the comics, with excellent cell-shaded graphics that work perfectly with the 3D level design. You shouldn’t expect an epic plot, but even non-Spider-Man fans will enjoy this one.Spider-Man Unlimited
If you like Mirror’s Edge, you should be right at home with Vector: it’s probably the closest thing on Android to DICE’s 2008 masterpiece. It features a silhouetted protagonist with a flair for parkour, on the run in a totalitarian city.
The animations are superb, and the character's movements look completely human. There are fewer collectible items than in many other endless runners – the focus more on survival rather than trophy hunting. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop never felt so good.Vector
Implosion - Never Lose Hope
Implosion - Never Lose Hope is a highly polished mobile game in terms of both graphics and gameplay. It’s a third-person action title that sees you slicing and dicing your way through hordes of enemies in the style of God of War or Devil May Cry.
You play as an armor-covered warrior equipped with a sword and a gun, dishing out damage to mutants across a variety of short and sweet locations. This game absolutely nails the controls and feel, working whether you want to button-mash, or build up combos with some more rhythmical strikes.
The graphics are as good as you'll find on the platform and the boss battles are often epic. You can play through the first few missions for free, but after that you’ll be required to buy it for US$9.99, which I think is entirely worth it.Implosion - Never Lose Hope
Into the Dead
Into the Dead isn't new to the Play Store, but it's still one of the best Android action games. Combining an endless runner and first-person shooter, Into the Dead sees you darting headfirst through mobs of zombies, testing your reflexes as you try to dodge those in your way.
Along the way, you will find weapon creates to help eliminate those directly in your tracks, including that old zombie kryptonite – the chainsaw. It’s a simple romp, but an often thrilling one. It's free in the Google Play Store, with in-app purchases.Into the Dead
Square Enix’s Hitman series has been a big franchise on PC and consoles for some time, but it has recently been given the smartphone and tablet treatment. The turn-based Hitman GO title was released last year, and now 'Squenix' has followed up with a first-person shooter, Hitman: Sniper.
Hitman: Sniper takes place largely in a fixed position behind a sniper rifle scope. You operate as Agent 47, an assassin for hire tasked with picking off a number of high-profile targets. Though it's easy enough to identify and take out the main mark, killing the surrounding guards in the best order brings some tactical depth to Hitman: Sniper.
There are around 150 missions to keep you occupied for the US$2.99 asking price, and few Android FPSs can instill the kind of tension that Sniper does. Once the NPCs get wise to you, things can get hectic.Hitman: Sniper
Reckless Racing 3
Reckless Racing 3 is Micro Machines-style racer with an isometric view, which allows you to look down from above, leading to some fantastically frenetic contests.
Reckless Racing 3 uses four on-screen controls for turning right and left, and driving forwards or in reverse. It might seem like a lot compared to other racers, in which you just tilt the screen, but it handles perfectly. That’s not to say that it’s easy to control – your car is perpetually sliding around the track and it’s a battle to keep it in place. It's the control setup that makes the experience, but thankfully the 3D graphics also look the part and the maps are highly realistic.
It’s a throwback to the arcade-style racing games from the 90s (anybody old enough to remember Super Skidmarks?) and it's one of the best racers on Android.
Angry Birds Go!
Angry Birds Go! is a free-to-play racing game from Rovio, the team that brought us the original Angry Birds.
It looks like a cartoon with neatly cel-shaded graphics and plays something like Mario Kart. It features a number of different modes, such as avoiding obstacles, racing others, crashing through a predetermined number of items, and boss chases.
It feels like a playable version of Wacky Races. Cars can be upgraded, and new characters are unlocked as you progress, each with their own unique characteristics.
It’s clear that the painterly visuals arrive from a highly talented team of artists; the animations and backgrounds are consistently strong. The shallow learning curve also makes it easy and fun to get to grips with, and once you get past the introductory levels you're in for an entertaining ride.Angry Birds Go!
Reminiscent of Nintendo classic Wave Race, Riptide GP2 is a futuristic jet ski racer. The career mode is fairly typical; you earn money depending on your race position, which you can then use to buy simple vehicle upgrades.
What it lacks in originality, Riptide 2 makes up for with excellent 3D graphics and tight controls. Rotating your device, even slightly, translates accurately on-screen. It might be too sensitive for some, but the controls and sensitivity can both be customized to your liking.
To make races more interesting, there are ramps placed around the map – successfully completing a trick on them grants you a boost. It presents a nice risk/reward scenario into the courses, as failing to land the trick properly will actually slow you down.
It’s tough to get a three-star rating on every race, but the challenge is welcome in a game that handles as good as Riptide GP2 does. Check it out via the Play Store link below.Riptide GP2
Marvel Contest of Champions
Featuring some of the greatest Marvel characters ever, Marvel Contest of Champions is the Android brawler you’ve been waiting for. Battle your way through a variety of stages as you level up and unlock new characters in this epic quest.
It’s Marvel Contest of Champions' control precision that makes this one of the best fighters out there. It feels incredibly fluid and responsive: simply swiping with your thumbs in different directions brings out a range of perfectly animated attacks, and there are no annoying on-screen controls to try to connect with.
You’ll have to be running a pretty modern device to play it smoothly, but if you’re itching to battle it out as some of your Marvel favorites, you need to check this out. It's free in the Play Store, with in-app purchases.MARVEL Contest of Champions
We've been playing WWE Immortals recently for an epic mix of fantasy and, well, almost reality. The game fuses the cast of Injustice: Gods Among Us with pro-wrestlers for some awesome, silly fun. The graphics and animations are top-notch, and you can tag up to three characters for some thrilling three-on-three match-ups. Get ready to rumble.WWE Immortals
SOULCALIBUR (yes, all caps) is an arcade classic: the fact that so little has changed between its release in 1998 and now speaks volumes about its mechanics.
It’s a somewhat predictable fighter by today's standards. There aren’t any surprises here in terms of gameplay, but its tried and tested formula provides some of the most enjoyable battles in the genre. You don’t need to memorize a whole bunch of complicated button presses to unleash a combo in this fighter; anyone could have a decent, ahem, stab at playing it. Yet it maintains the nuance to allow experienced players to gain an edge in combat.
SOULCALIBUR features a variety of fighters, each with unique weapons and moves, but it disappointingly lacks multi-player support. It's one of the more expensive games (currently US$13.99) in the Play Store, but as a pure fighting experience on Android, it’s one of the best.SOULCALIBUR
XCOM: Enemy Within
XCOM: Enemy Within is one of the best Android strategy games because it wasn't founded on free-to-play principles like many other popular strategy games from the Play Store. It was built to be enjoyed without any additional purchases.
It was an award-winning strategy title for PC long before it ever made its way to Android, so expect top-end graphics, but also a top-end Play Store price. We can assure you it is well worth the initial investment, though.XCOM®: Enemy Within
DomiNations might be fairly new on the Android scene, but it has already amassed over a million downloads and a high level of critical acclaim. Running somewhere between Clash of Clans and Civilization, DomiNations is a base building game in which players take control of an entire nation "from the stone age to the space age" to explore, expand and conquer the world.
The level of strategy afforded by DomiNations is far beyond what is seen on most Android games. Should you spend money on building a stronger army, or plow it into researching a new technology at the library? DomiNations is filled with these minute-to-minute decisions that could swing the chances of victory in your favor, as well as some sweeping battles to take part in. It's free to play and you can check it out in the Play Store.DomiNations
What do you think is the best Android game? Let us know in the comments.