Five to Watch: The Next Wave of Gorgeous Mobile Games

The fall/winter of 2010 was a pretty great time for mobile games with jaw-dropping visuals. Firemint showed us that photo-realistic racing games weren’t exclusive to home consoles with Real Racing 2. Epic demonstrated how incredible the Unreal engine could be on iOS with Infinity Blade. iD Software brought us RAGE, EA Mobile brought us Dead Space – the list goes on and on… but then suddenly, it stopped.

2011 has brought us a bevy of games with beautiful art, but not many that have pushed the technical boundaries of mobile devices like we’d seen last fall. And the few that we were hoping might impress, like dream:scape, ended up being total duds. So where are all the gorgeous games that make us amazed at what these little devices are capable of?

They’re coming. Soon.

Shadowgun (iPhone, iPad, Android) – Madfinger Games are best known for their artistically stylish mobile-friendly action games Samurai: Way of the Warrior and Samurai II: Vengeance, but for all of the finger-swiping and frenzied combat those games offered, we never would have imagined that their next game could look like this. Powered by the Unity engine, Shadowgun looks to offer third-person shooter action similar to Gears of War as players take up the role of futuristic bounty hunter in the year 2350. Expected this one to hit the App Store and Android Market this September. (Preview)

Galaxy on Fire 2 Full HD (iPad 2, Mac) – Galaxy on Fire 2 was beautiful when we reviewed it last year. Really really beautiful. So what could make it look even better? How about a complete graphical overhaul to take advantage of the superior capabilities of the iPad 2. This re-worked gem is already available on the Mac, so expect to see the iPad 2 version hit sometime this fall.

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation (iPhone, iPad, Android) – Gameloft knows a good thing when they have one, and the Modern Combat franchise is an incredibly good thing – especially if you’re into mobile first person shooters. The third instalment in the series will feature a number of improvements to the multiplayer and a story that appears to be set in a wartime United States. More importantly, though, the visuals look phenomenal. Gameloft are boasting that the proprietary tech they’re using to run this game “will compete with the RAGE and UNREAL engines.” And you know what? I think they may be right. (Preview)

Hysman (iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, Mac) – When people think of great visuals in hidden object games, they’re usually talking aesthetics. In games like these, design and style are king. But what if they weren’t? What if someone decided to take the 3D visuals of big budget video games and create what they refer to as the “next generation of hidden object games?” Well then you’d have Hysman – a game coming to desktops and mobile devices in early 2012. (Preview)

March of Heroes (iPhone, iPad, Android) – First person shooters are always on the forefront of games that push graphical boundaries, so it should come as no real shock that this list contains two of them. Another title by Gameloft, this is the first of four projects they’re working on that will use the Unreal Engine. Asides from Infinity Blade though, no game has managed to pull off great looks and great gameplay using Unreal (see PD Prope Discoverer, dream:scape, and Bizango Blast to see what we mean). Could March of Heroes be the first non-Epic game to get it right? We’ll find out when the game launches – though no release date has been issued at this time. (Preview)

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