Xbox Live marks the spot. Windows Phone 7 launches in the UK on 21st October, and at today’s big press event, it was clear that gaming is going to play a big role in Microsoft’s new smartphone OS.
One of the announcements was that EA is going to be bringing its games to the WP7 Marketplace – it was a conspicuous absence from the list of launch games announced last month – and the walkthrough of the Games Hub on the WP7 operating system impressed, with its community features and avatars.
So which games will we be shelling out for once we have one of the launch phones in our sweaty mitts? Here’s the ten we’re most looking forward to, based on a mixture of hands-on demos, and knowledge from other platforms about games that have been confirmed as coming to WP7.
1. The Sims 3. EA’s social simulation was shown off for a few seconds at the launch event today, and looked like a high-quality product, matching its two versions on iPhone. It’ll be interesting to see how it fits with Xbox Live – will you be able to Sim-ify your avatar?
2. Bejeweled Live. Is Bejeweled a casual game? Yes and no. Yes, because it’s easy to pick up and play – so easy that your mum is probably addicted. No, because once you/she does, you’ll quickly become so addicted, you’ll class as a hardcore player. Bejeweled plus Xbox Live will be mobile crack, for sure.
3. Halo: Waypoint. Because it’s Halo on a phone. And because Microsoft has too much invested in the franchise to make something disappointing.
4. Hexic Rush. It might not be as famous a puzzle-game brand as Bejeweled, but don’t underestimate Hexic Rush. The original game was designed by Alexey Pajitnov – yes, him of Tetris fame – and Hexic Rush is an all-new version designed for quick’n’dirty mobile play.
5. Ilomilo. There are reports today that US operator AT&T may have bagged an exclusive on Ilomilo until the end of the year, although we’re hoping that’s within the US only. The Xbox Live game gets you to bring two characters together across blocky 3D levels, with an emphasis on solving puzzles. A sleeper hit in the making.
6. Tower Bloxx NY. Digital Chocolate’s block-dropping game has never quite been the Angry Birds-sized monster hit it deserves to be, having started as a mobile game, then moved to Facebook and Xbox Live Arcade. We still love it though, and you will too.
7. Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst. aka the other WP7 game that hardcore Xbox 360 gamers will be dribbling over (see Game 3). On Xbox 360 it’s an immersive third-person shooter (well, two of them), so we’re genuinely intrigued to see what direction it takes on WP7.
8. Tetris. You know, for old times’ sake. And because it might have achievements.
9. Age of Zombies. The wonderfully-named Barry Steakfries made his debut in a game called Monster Dash for iPhone. Developer Halfbrick Studios – who are also bringing Fruit Ninja to WP7 – are Microsofting up his sequel too, Age of Zombies. From the previews we’ve seen, it should be (un)dead good.
10. Real Football 2011. As yet, FIFA is unconfirmed for WP7, although we’re sure it will be coming. However, Gameloft’s rival Real Football is on Microsoft’s launch list, and on iPhone gives us the same warm feelings we used to get from Pro Evo on console.