If there’s one mobile games publisher whose titles Windows Phone needs in order to appeal to mainstream gamers, it’s Gameloft. The Paris-based developer has made a massive business of cloning popular console games as smartphone titles, in addition to publishing actual licensed and wholly original titles. Sadly, Gameloft never fully supported Windows Phone 7. They released a few quality games (Splinter Cell: Conviction, Assassin’s Creed) and several buggy and/or severely delayed ones (Let’s Golf 2, Asphalt 5, Brain Challenge, and Real Soccer), but none of their most popular franchises.
Thankfully that should be changing with Windows Phone 8, as Gameloft has just announced a whopping 12 games for Microsoft’s new mobile OS, most of which are true heavy hitters! Check them out after the break.
Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour (pictured at top): The Modern Combat series is essentially a clone of Call of Duty. Yet unlike Activision’s stripped-down Call of Duty: Zombies on iOS, Gameloft provides the full campaign and competitive multiplayer experience that fans enjoy in console FPS games. Modern Combat 4 (which isn’t even out on iOS or Android yet) will utilize the Havok physics engine, promising to impress the eyes with realistic physics and real-time shadows. It will also support online multiplayer.
Since Microsoft sadly doesn’t seem to believe in Windows Phone enough to port their flagship Halo franchise to it, Gameloft picks up the slack with N.O.V.A. 3. This sci-fi first-person shooter involves such exciting activities as piloting a mech, manning a turret on a moving vehicle, and of course providing sniper coverage for NPCs. The touch-screen controls are said to be quite intuitive, and gyroscope aiming is also supported. Plus it will have online multiplayer.
The Amazing Spider-Man:
We played the iOS version of this game at E3 and loved it. The official adaptation of the recent (and terrific) movie, Amazing Spider-Man has fantastic graphics, intuitive web-swinging controls, and (not so good) voiced story scenes. The actual game design differs from the console version, but it still feels like a console-quality game. As a huge Marvel fan, I’m looking forward to taking down the Lizard on the go!
Order & Chaos Online:
What’s the biggest hole in the Xbox Windows Phone 7 lineup? RPGs! Besides Final Fantasy, there aren’t any. Order & Chaos Online will fix that in a big way. It’s not just an RPG, it’s an MMORPG – a World of Warcraft clone, to be precise. Players will be able to create their own unique character and venture online with other players to combat foes and complete quests in real-time. The iOS version is graphically rich, controls well, and apparently without too many lag issues, so our version should be an absolutely enthralling experience as well.
Ice Age Village: Based the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift, this title combines city building with zoo management. Players will create a village and breed all manner of prehistoric animals to populate it. There are even minigames like one based on Fruit Ninja. It’s basically like Bug Village but faster paced and with far more stuff to do. I don’t enjoy the Ice Age film series, but the game sounds like fun.
A physics puzzle game in which a toy shark must eat rubber ducks in order to rescue his girlfriend. You aim the shark and launch him, and then he bounces around the level knocking into things and eating them. It supports Play-Pause-Resume, so it should be coming to Windows 8 too.
Asphalt 7: Heat: Asphalt 5 may have been old and not that good when it finally arrived on Windows Phone, but part 7 has the potential to be much better. We played it at E3 and enjoyed the arcade-style racing and beautiful graphics. Let’s just hope the difficulty is more reasonable in Asphalt 7, since part 5 got downright annoying (not to mention grindy) towards the end. Regardless of the single-player difficulty, the new version should have much more staying power thanks to the inclusion of online multiplayer.
The Dark Knight Rises:
For some reason, there has only been a single, largely forgotten console game based on the Nolanverse Batman films, the original Xbox-era Batman Begins. Gameloft's take on the third film plays much like Batman: Arkham City, allowing Batman to explore Gotham City and take on story missions at will. On top of fighting foes on foot, Bats even gets to drive the ugly bat tank, bike, and jet things from the movies. This one should play a lot like The Amazing Spider-Man but without the web-swinging.
UNO & Friends: Sure, the single-player UNO game for Windows Phone 7 sucked. Who wants to play such a simple card game all by their lonesomes? But Uno & Friends (not yet released on any platform) corrects that version’s faults by including online multiplayer! It also supports Play-Pause-Resume, which seems to indicate that it will be coming to Windows 8 as well.
Fashion Icon: This is basically an RPG about being a vapid female stereotype. You’ll play as a lady blogger who dresses up, attends exclusive parties, and bags boyfriends like they were groceries. This is one of those games in which doing things costs energy, so you’ll need to check in with it throughout the day instead of just playing all day, unless you want to pony up for PDLC items. Hey, the Sally’s games are fun, so maybe Fashion Icon will be too. It will support Play-Pause-Resume, at least.
Texas Poker for Prizes:
This game, which isn’t out for iOS and Android yet, will be a free-to-play Texas Hold ‘Em simulator. It doesn’t impress graphically, with a very flat and no-frills art style. But looks aren’t the most important things in a card game; speed, gameplay, and single-player/multiplayer features are. This one will have Play-Pause-Resume and online multiplayer, so it should topple Full House Poker easily enough.
Real Soccer 2013: Alright, so the gimped version of Real Soccer that recently launched on Windows Phone 7 was pretty bad all around. But Gameloft may just redeem itself with Real Soccer 2013, which we can only hope will actually come out before the end of the year 2013 instead of two years later (the iOS version just came out this month). The lack of multiplayer (even on iOS) is somewhat disconcerting considering that even FIFA offers that essential feature. 2013 is a freemium game, so we’ll be able to find out how it stacks up without the need to purchase it outright.
A bright future
Gameloft did not announce a release schedule yet, so it remains to be seen when these games will reach Windows Phone 8. Since some have not been released on any platform yet, there is the possibility that they could launch simultaneously on WP8, iOS, and Android. However, the late release of the WP8 SDK makes that scenario a bit unlikely, at least for the time being.
Let’s also hope that these games will be less glitchy than Gameloft’s Windows Phone 7 lineup. Three out of the developer’s six WP7 games have broken Achievements that were never fixed – not the best track record. By all accounts, Windows Phone 8 is much easier to develop for, so glitchy Achievements should be scarcer going forward. Gameloft is also showing more confidence in WP8 by announcing a larger lineup filled with higher quality games. Surely they will put more care into these ports than the previous ones.
Texas Poker for Prizes has been cancelled, and Fashon Icon is likely cancelled as well. In their places, Gameloft will release Six Guns and Kingdoms & Lords. Check out the new teaser video here.