After a holiday season overflowing with great games that could easily last you through the middle of the new year, there's one simple reason we're looking forward to these ten titles: the potential for them to be even more inventive, of greater quality, and deliver more fun than anything we saw in 2010.
if you thought iOS gaming was great last year, then you ain't seen nothing yet. 2011 has the potential to top last year's amazing haul with even more top-tier developers creating exciting games that we can't wait to play.
Role-playing games, racers, strategy titles, and adventure - there's something coming for everybody in 2011.
Dead Space - EA Mobile
The arrival of space age survival-horror series Dead Space is sure to be an event. January will see the game hit iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with intense third-person action that sets up the events of the console sequel also due early in the new year.
EA Mobile is taking an aggressive approach, opting for a full free-roaming action experience rather than compromising with an on-rails shooter or casual spin-off.
While complicated controls could spell trouble for this ambitious game, we came away impressed with the highly detailed visuals, challenging combat, and slew of upgrades to unlock. There's no doubt it has the authentic look and feel of a Dead Space game, which is enough to make it worth anticipating.StarFront: Collision - Gameloft
Even if StarFront: Collision aims to capitalise on the popularity of StarCraft II, the lack of a truly compelling real-time strategy game built specifically for iPad has us eagerly awaiting its release.
All the components of a serviceable strategy game are intact: solid touch controls, a variety of units and structures to build, several single-player campaigns, and multiplayer.
Nailing the controls and interface doesn't look like an issue for StarFront: Collision, which means it's fingers crossed for the quality of strategic gameplay.
Furthermore, it should be interesting to see how the controls fare on the smaller iPhone and iPod touch. If the campaign can dish out some challenging scenarios and multiplayer is robust, then Gameloft could have a real winner early in 2011.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth - 11 bit Studios
The tower defence craze has seemingly subsided, but Anomaly: Warzone Earth should rekindle interest in this once blazing genre. Inverting the formula and putting you in control of units that traipse along set paths lined with defensive towers, it's an enormously inventive game.
Sharp visual design and easily understood gameplay mechanics should make it a blast to play. Feature parity among iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad versions make it even more attractive, even if the stiff level of difficulty could ward off all but tower defence veterans who have been hardened by tough titles.
Scarlett and the Spark of Life, Episode 2 - Launching Pad Games
The inaugural episode of Scarlett and the Spark of Life made clear this original adventure series is one to watch in 2011. Sharp writing, a folksy visual style, and classic adventure gameplay could rocket this iPhone and iPod touch title into the exclusive ranks of Broken Sword and Monkey Island.
Fulfilling this promise comes down to whether developer Launching Pad Games can fully develop the quirky cast of characters and build on the thus far thin plot.
Furthermore, a hint system and integration with a social gaming network such as Game Center of OpenFeint would round out an excellent second instalment.
Chaos Rings 2 - Media.Vision/Square Enix
Old skool 2D role-playing games have been all the rage, but Square Enix has us looking forward to 3D sequel Chaos Rings 2. Closer to a PlayStation-era epic than side-scrolling romp, this forthcoming follow-up could light up the charts with quality role-playing much like its predecessor did in April 2010.
Unfortunately, we don't have a lick of information on Chaos Rings 2, which means we're left guessing what new features, characters, and scenarios await. Even more, we have no idea when to expect it, as Square Enix has slated the sequel for a general 2011 release.
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP - Capybara Games
The exquisite pixel art of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP should be enough to excite you about this unique adventure game that slipped into 2011. Developer Capybara Games insists on the extra time to tweak elements and polish up gameplay, which is fine by us if it results in a better game.
Unabashedly original in both visuals and gameplay, the game sees you playing as a sword-wielding adventurer that scours a towering mountain for clues about a mysterious force lurking on the peak. Searching for clues, interacting with wildlife, and confronting odd creature should make for a cerebral, though compelling experience.
Xenome, Episode 2 - Nine Pound Studios
The post-apocalyptic role-playing of Xenome, Episode 1 was decent, but had the makings of something bigger and better, which is why we're looking forward to its follow-up. Xenome, Episode 2 hopefully addresses our complaints, while keeping the perfectly pitched doomsday atmosphere.
Varied quests, more character customisation options, perhaps some online features for trading items and improved graphics designed for iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch would rocket this sequel in league with the best iOS role-playing games.
Not a single detail has been leaked, but we know Xenome, Episode 2 is in development and should emerge before the end of 2011.
Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions - Square Enix
Yes, it's coming. It's taken far longer than anyone expected for Square Enix to get its act together, but Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions has been pegged for a spring 2011 release and we're eager to see the results. More time to tweak the interface and polish up the controls sounds good, though the proof will be in the pudding.
It seems unlikely that any new content will be included in this iPhone and iPod touch release, but it's safe to assume the bonus features found in the recent PSP version will be offered. Integration with Game Center for achievements and multiplayer would be nice, though at this point a timely release is good enough.
The Shadow Sun - Ossian
Stunning visually and in terms of the depth of gameplay it promises, The Shadow Sun could reset expectations for role-playing games on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad in 2011.
Instead of catering to a casual crowd with stripped back customisation and simple features, this heavyweight role-playing game will offer in-depth attributes, skills, and abilities that put a big spotlight on customisation.
Dynamic, branching dialogue should also set the game apart from the linear chats that define more titles. Developer Ossian wants to bring the sophistication of a console role-playing game to iOS devices, while at the same time infusing it with accessible controls and straightforward design elements. We can't wait to find out if it succeeds in its goal later this year.
Jet Car Stunts 2 -True Axis
Sequel to one of our top ten best iPhone and iPod touch games of 2009, Jet Car Stunts 2 has been a long time coming. Developer True Axis Games has been shy, keeping details on this highly anticipated follow-up to itself. However, that isn't stopping us from looking forward to its 2011 with glee.
New tracks and expanded online functionality are expected, though a level editor and community sharing would be a huge leap forward for this young series. Expect improved graphics too, with high resolution support for iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch.