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Weekly App Store Picks: October 31, 2009

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As another week passes, the seams of Apple’s App Store have been stretched even further with a deluge of new releases. Digging through the latest apps, I’ve selected four fresh picks for you to check out.

It’s Halloween and so my top pick for this week is Alive 4-ever, a top-down zombie shooter with plenty of guts and gore to go around. I’ve also been checking out TowerMadness Zero, NASA and WordPress 2.

Alive 4-ever ($1.79)

appicon_alive_4everAs it’s Halloween, I thought that at least one of my top picks this week should be themed for the occasion. Despite the clumsy sounding name, Alive 4-Ever is a surprisingly polished top-down shooter. The plot is simple and disgustingly cliché: for whatever reason, a zombie apocalypse happens, you take to the streets to rescue other survivors.

The game takes its inspiration from some of the best zombie titles out there, including Resident Evil and Left 4 Dead. There’s a battalion’s worth of weaponry on offer, including zombie-slaying classics like the AK-47. Plus, if you’re after more firepower you’re able to purchase bigger, stronger, faster guns in the shop after each level.

There’s also a Bluetooth multiplayer mode, allowing you to jump into the action with three other friends. Alongside guns, zombies and survivors, the game throws in experience points too. Completing a stage earns experience points, these precious points go towards upgrading your character. In effect, you’re able to become the ultimate undead-destroying warrior.

TowerMadness Zero (Free)

appicon_towermadness_zeroEarlier this month, our own Alfredo Padilla took a look at 49 different tower defense games for the iPhone. Owing to the epic nature of his list, days later Alfredo distilled the document down into five tower defense games worth owning. All of Alfredo’s picks costs a few bucks though and, in this cash-strapped climate, some of us don’t have much money to burn on iPhone games.

That’s where TowerMadness steps in. The game is available in two monetary flavors. You can purchase it for a couple of bucks, or you can download the Zero edition: a totally unrestricted ad-supported version of the game for free. The ads are unintrusive and targeted in such a way that, for the most part, they feel relevant.

Of course the iPhone doesn’t need another tower defense game. Aside from being free, TowerMadness is a pretty good representation of the best qualities of the genre. All the usual TD staples are there — waves of enemies, upgradable towers, strategic play — but it’s all wrapped up in excellent graphics too.

NASA (Free)

appicon_nasaNational organizations seem to be slowly switching on to the iPhone. Last year, the BBC decided to create an iPhone-specific version of its excellent iPlayer site. Canada’s National Film Board just released a wonderful app for viewing its content on the go. And now NASA has released its very own app, allowing us earthlings to keep up-to-date with space mission news.

The app is essentially like having a tiny mission-control in the palm of your hand. There’s a listing of all NASA Missions, all of which have awesome names like Mars Express and Mars Odyssey. Tapping through to a mission section provides a mission briefing, photos, videos and an ever-so-slightly ominous countdown timer.

For me, the best part of the app is the video section. Rather than attempt to visualize the various space happenings described in the app, the videos bring these extraordinary happens closer to home. You can observe spacecraft launches, see astronauts float around in zero gravity, listen to people in space describe their experiences, and watch history in the making.

WordPress 2 (Free)

appicon_wordpress2The original WordPress app just wasn’t so hot. With a clunky and convoluted interface that was all function and no form, it immediately felt dated. And, for writers and bloggers alike, it certainly wasn’t the most inspiring environment in which to attempt to pen a post.

The user interface has been updated but still, on first look, the app looks worryingly basic. In fact, it’s disconcertingly similar to its clunky counterpart, WordPress 1. I appreciate that the WordPress app is here to serve a function, but, discounting features, surely it could have been executed with a little more pizazz?

Anyway, looks are not the most important thing with WordPress 2. This version introduces several new features to the mix. There’s automatic saving and restoring of posts. A new comments interface which includes author URL and Gravatars. The app even stores password in the keychain. If you’ve got your own WordPress blog, this is certainly an app worth checking out.

That’s all the picks for this week. I’ll be back in seven days with a fresh selection of App Store recommendations.

In the meantime, what apps have you been using this week?

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