Gearburn picks: 5 Great social games for iOS

Social games: the end of hardcore gaming or its untimely saviour? Decide for yourself as we look at the top social games for iOS, which are all incidentally, free to play.

CityVille Hometown

Zynga, the kings of copying original titles, know how to reel the suckers in. CityVille Hometown, an updated version of FarmVille, offers little in the way of innovations, but has the same emotional hook which reels users in for that elusive “one more game”. Users or “residents” remain active by engaging with in-game characters, who just happen to be Facebook friends building their own neighbouring communities. Players are quickly introduced to the basic mechanics of the game such as building, decorating and naming the citizens of the town. Thankfully, the game remains fresh with a constant injection of quests dished out by the tiny characters within the title.

Buddy Rush

Buddy Rush is a rare find, a free title which doesn’t rely on the crutch of in-app purchases to alleviate “level grinding”. It’s 3D, filled with colourful characters and sidesteps basic RPG traditions in order to introduce a level of hand-holding which is never pandering to the user.  Essentially, Buddy Rush builds on the legacy which Diablo carved out. Kill, loot, rinse and repeat. As with the best social games, Facebook friends can be buddied up to tackle the toughest dungeons and missions. The title is regularly updated and available on every iDevice platform.

Gardens of Time

Gardens of Time is the spiritual successor of Where’s Waldo? Scan an area, find objects, decorate, socialise, challenge players and visit “beautiful locations.” Gardens is a visual delight, it’s hard to fault Disney when it comes to graphics. Think of Gardens of Time as the most “Zen” social game on the market, even more so than Zen Bound. The real-world locations, such as the Great Wall of China, Eiffel Tower and the Pyramids are utterly engrossing and on an iPad, the insane level of detail boggles the mind. As for the social feature, visiting friends’ gardens is a compelling option, namely to see which bastard has decorated their garden better than yours.

Hanging With Friends

Oh Zynga. You take the oldest game in the world and you turn it into an insanely addictive social title. Hanging with Friends is hangman with power-ups and ridiculously cute avatars. In Hanging, your loss results in a burning death via volcano, so watch your friends closely as you compete against them. As with Words With Friends, Hanging is turn-based, so there is no pressure until the last few moves, this is where the tension begins to pile on. We say, bring it!

Bejewelled Blitz

Welcome to social gaming crack at its finest. Bejewelled Blitz may be classified as a gem-matching puzzler at heart, but the social aspect pulls it into the danger zone. Isolation, blistered fingers and watering eyes are the hazards of Bejewelled Blitz. Once you hook up your Facebook account to the title, the rush begins. Instantly, your list is populated with a top ten list of those who have beaten your score. You have to be number one, you have to be the best. It’s a formula which competing titles are unable to match in terms of style and gameplay.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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