Fresh iPhone Apps for Aug. 4: Cut the Rope: Experiments, Final Fantasy Tactics, A Space Shooter, Shift 2 Unleashed

Today’s big games haul sees a couple of extremely well-anticipated titles hitting the App Store. First is Cut the Rope: Experiments, a new edition to ZeptoLab’s physics puzzler with all new mechanics. Next, we have a game the video gaming crowd has been waiting for: Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, a beloved strategy title ported from the Sony PlayStation Portable. A Space Shooter is exactly what it claims to be (as well as fun), and Shift 2 Unleashed brings some high-quality racing action for a decent price.

Cut the Rope: Experiments (iPhone, iPad) $0.99

One of my favorite games in the App Store is Cut the Rope, and while the second Cut the Rope app released by ZeptoLab, dubbed Cut the Rope: Holiday Gift, was great, it only extended the Cut the Rope formula, it didn’t really alter it. But that’s where Cut the Rope: Experiments shines – it takes the standard mechanics of the game (cutting ropes so a piece of candy swings around a level in a certain pattern) and mixes it up by adding new elements.

Experiments isn’t necessarily harder, but it is challenging in new ways. Not only does it defy you to figure out the best way to complete its 75 stages, but you’re scored on how long it takes to complete them, so precision and timing are big factors. High scores are tracked on the title’s Game Center leaderboards.

Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions (iPhone) $15.99

An incredibly anticipated title from Square Enix, Final Fantasy Tactics is a port to iOS of a remake for the Sony PSP handheld of Square’s much-loved PlayStation game. It’s a deep and engaging strategy title filled with characters, which players outfit with weapons and armor and place in their team to use when they engage enemies. Each battle in FFT is set on a grid with different elevations and obstacles, and the player takes turns moving characters around and attacking enemies in order to win.

Square Enix has taken its time in bringing FFT to the iPhone. The game sports optimized graphics for iOS devices, reduced loading times from the PSP version and touch controls built specifically for Apple’s crop of technology. There’s currently only an iPhone version of Final Fantasy Tactics, but an iPad-optimized version is on its way as well.

A Space Shooter (iPhone, iPad) Free

Get your bullet-dodging finger ready; A Space Shooter joins the large field of vertical arcade shoot-’em-up games that crowd the App Store. It operates like many of those other games – use a finger to steer your ship and fire your guns, and the goal is to take out as many enemies as possible (and kill giant bosses) while also dodging tons of enemy fire.

A Space Shooter stands apart because of its high degree of polish and production values. It has some great voice acting and graphics. It also takes the standard shoot-’em-up formula of getting power-ups in each level and takes a sort of Mega Man stand, allowing users to gather new weapons from defeated bosses to use in later levels. The game is free to download, and the full version can be unlocked with an in-app purchase of $1.99

Shift 2 Unleashed (iPhone, iPad) $2.99

Another entry into Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed: Shift series, Shift 2 Unleashed is great for newbie racers looking to get into the game. It features some great 3-D tracks, a behind-the-wheel first-person gameplay mode, lots of races and online support through EA’s new system, Origin.

You get access to 40 different trial levels that let you pick up a race and immediately get into the action, or a campaign mode in which you’ll earn money, purchase cars and upgrade your rides in order to win more races. There’s also an easy racing mode that allows new racers to ease into the game by helping out with things like braking and drifting.

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