Gears iPad Review

One of the coolest things about Nintendo's Metroid Prime trilogy is the ability to transform hero Samus Aran into a morph ball and guide her through hostile 3D worlds, hitting switches and navigating past different obstacles. If you love these sequences but wish they were longer, we strongly suggest downloading Gears for the iPhone and iPad. While not a direct Metroid knockoff, this challenging and physics based App bears a striking resemblance to Nintendo's classic sci-fi adventures. Both gorgeous and incredibly thrilling, it's without question one of the App Store's best.

Set within a post apocalyptic world, Gears tasks you with guiding a power collection sphere (a metallic ball) through three unique worlds and 27 levels, where you have two primary goals: reach the end before time runs out, and collect pickups along the way to boost your score, which posts to an online leaderboard through Game Center.

You control the sphere using one of two control schemes, both of which work impressively well. The first, swipe, lets you guide the ball with a finger, by far the easiest way to play. The second, tilt, forces you to physically maneuver the device.

While responsive, the accelerometer controls come with a huge learning curve. On the positive side, though, you have the option of adjusting tilt sensitivity, which goes a long way to making Gears user-friendly.

As expected, maintaining balance is key to success, but you must also keep an eye on the constantly changing terrain. Crescent Moon Games did an outstanding job with each level, designing narrow ramps, constantly turning gears, switches that open doors, trampolines (we love those) and other things that'll make rolling that ball to safety quite difficult, depending on whether you play on Easy (no time limit, unlimited lives), Normal, Hard or Brutal! (one life, barely enough time).

That said, Gears is the type of game that can be incredibly easy if all you want to do is reach the end of a level, but borderline impossible when the objective is to snag each and every collectible along the way. Bottom line, you'll die a lot, watching helplessly as the sphere plummets into lava or explodes into a thousand fragments, but you'll love every minute.

It also helps that the App has a wonderful presentation, with graphics optimized for iPad 2 and the iPhone 4's retina display. It remains to be seen whether the developers pushed the tech to its limit, but we wouldn't be surprised if that were the case, with the silky smooth play, impressive special effects and phenomenal use of color. There's a lot to take in, with rocky ledges, bodies of water, green/purple pipes, rotating gears and rising/falling platforms. This is one of the best-looking App Store games.

Topping this off is a stellar soundtrack that probably belongs in some critically acclaimed action RPG, but it still fits the overall theme. Great stuff.

By now, the message should be clear: buy Gears immediately. You shouldn't own an iPhone or iPad without this game, and the fact that it's currently on sale for $0.99 (and a universal download, to boot) means you have no excuse, unless you hate having fun.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Download Gears

What's Hot: Gorgeous visuals, beautiful soundtrack, two unique control schemes, reminds us of Metroid Prime, challenging levels, Game Center support, universal download.

What's Not: Tilt controls have a big learning curve.