NVIDIA’s next-generation SHIELD device, SHIELD Android TV, is a versatile and immensely powerful set-top box built to deliver a wide array of high-definition entertainment to your living room.
Whether you want to watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows or video in gorgeous 4K ultra high-definition, or keep track of your favorite sports team scores with entertainment apps like Fox Sports Go and CBS Sports, the new NVIDIA SHIELD has something for just about everyone.
Powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 processor, SHIELD Android TV also has you more than covered in the gaming department with its robust and constantly growing library of great games of every genre. With SHIELD you can stream AAA PC games either from the cloud or running on a nearby PC via GameStream as well as run the hottest Android games optimized to look and play great on SHIELD.
Here is a look at the latest slate of video games worth checking out on SHIELD.
This War of Mine
Once again it is small indie developers who are demonstrating what an artistic, powerful and important medium games have become. Sure, the headline grabbing games are big on budget, violence and controversy but it’s the smaller, more considered, projects that are able to deliver an emotional punch to the gut and really get us thinking about things outside the edges of our screens.
11 bit studios’ strategy game This War of Mine ($14.99) is more thought provoking than most. Opening on the premise that ‘In War, not everyone is a soldier’ the game puts you in charge of a group of civilians, holed up in a makeshift shelter, and caught in the crossfire of a city siege and having to face physical adversity and make tough moral decisions in order to survive.
Characters in the game have certain traits that may or may not be useful at certain times during the action, but by carefully utilizing and mitigating each character’s strengths and weaknesses respectively you can, hopefully, plot a course through to the declaration of a ceasefire.
During the day there are snipers all around the shelter so it’s up to the player to manage the day-to-day living conditions of the civilians. During the night, parties can be sent out to forage for supplies.
It’s all played out from a side-on view suggestive of a comic strip which both strengthens the story based nature of the game and enhances the idea that you are looking upon lives other, and less fortunate, than your own.
Time to get not so serious. There comes a time – normally at about 5pm after a particularly taxing day spent mostly dealing with idiots – when you just have to let loose. Rather than unleashing hell on the general populace of the real world, a magnificent alternative is blowing away hordes of mutants in Xenowerk ($1.99).
It helps that the removed isometric-style viewpoint gives you an almost out of body experience of the workplace environment. But more important is the opportunity to simply cut violent swathes through wave after wave of hideous nasties bent on your destruction.
This dual stick shooter is a masterpiece of stress and mayhem. Equipped with a torch that lights up a distressingly small area of the scenery and an arsenal of fun weapons, Xenowerk is entirely geared up to mess with your mind. It plays a bit like Luigi’s Mansion but without the constraints of Nintendo’s child friendly policies. Creep through corridors barely aware of what lies six feet in front of you, gently push doors aside… AND FIRE! The resultant splatter is a joy to behold, albeit while you try to regulate your heart rate back to safe levels. With a wide range of upgradable weapons, power-ups and 50 levels, each increasing in difficulty this is a shooter guaranteed to leave you wide-eyed and wired.
Xenowerk certainly won’t tax your grey matter too much, but your twitchy trigger fingers and your appetite for being consistently wound-up will be amply catered for.
Inspired by Sid Meier’s Pirates!, Windward ($9.99) is a pleasing mash-up of real-time strategy, role-playing and MMO. As captain of a ship, the challenge is to explore, trade and fight your way to becoming master of the high seas. There are four factions to choose from each of which has its own strengths. One is geared toward exploration, another combat, a third is best for trading and the fourth excels in diplomacy.
After the map has been generated – either procedurally or by yourself – you start off in one remote area that contains islands hosting various towns and villages. As you sail the seas you can often find barrels and crates floating around which contain random items such as money or resources for fixing your ship. Sailing around is great fun but ultimately you need to dock at a nearby port to access the real meat of the game. Once in port you can trade between towns, buying low and selling high, in order to increase your wealth, upgrade your ship and so on.
At this point you can also take on quests. These might be as simple as transporting an object from one place to another, hunting down pirates or establishing new settlements.
It’s not all plain sailing though. Once you stray outside of your starting territory you will come up against other factions and pirates and this is where things get nasty. Piloting your ship is relatively straightforward but because of the nature of sailing ships turning is a slow process, which makes combat a little tricky. You have to play a game of cat and mouse, circling away from the enemy in order to maneuver yourself into a position where the cannons along the side of your ship can automatically fire at your opponent.
It’s the mix of trading, upgrading, combat and exploration that makes Windward such a satisfying experience.
Killing Floor: Calamity
Anyone who has experienced the full blown Killing Floor experience on PC will be aware of what an assault on the senses it is. It’s a first person, zombie blasting splatterfest and it is relentless. What Killing Floor: Calamity ($9.99) does is pretty much the same but it’s a top down shooter so while the premise is familiar, the gameplay has a whole new feel.
As with the other Killing Floor releases you choose a perk at the start of the game, which determines which weapons you will be best at using. Then you simply have to survive wave after wave of drooling zombies and mini bosses before ultimately taking on the Patriarch.
Killing bad guys gains you bonuses so that between levels you can upgrade your arsenal. In the FPS versions of Killing Floor, a major part of the combat is pulling off headshots. Even though Calamity is viewed top down the headshot remains a crucial part of the mix thanks to a control system that allows you to actively aim for the head of an enemy. In the heat of battle it’s not always possible to pull off a headshot but it’s a nicely designed feature that mimics the gameplay of the other Killing Floor games brilliantly.
As with the other games, Calamity is also all about cooperation. Here, the multiplayer aspect is limited to just two players but it’s a crucial part of the gameplay nonetheless. Choosing different perks that complement each other is key to success and using medkits on another player is far more effective than them self medicating.
Essentially, Calamity is Killing Floor, just viewed from a different angle and it’s none the poorer for that change.
Pure Pool ($5.23) is without doubt the finest videogame pool experience bar none. The good news is that the game, bundled with the snooker DLC from other versions is coming to SHIELD Android TV.
The first thing we love about Pure Pool is the atmosphere. For a start the table is magnificent. You can practically feel the baize and the balls are pleasingly shiny. But the surroundings also add to the ambience. The high-class pool bar with its laid-back punters and jazz soundtrack is simply perfect.
But the star of the show is the pool itself. Lining up short shots is a doddle as you get some indication of the possible outcome but for the longer shots it’s entirely down to your judgment as to how to pull off the desired play. Novice players needn’t be put off as Pure Pool makes taking shots and adding spin and masse effortless. In fact there’s not much to say about the mechanics of the gameplay other than it just feels like real pool.
There’s a career mode to get stuck into where you take on AI players of increasing ability as you work your way up the professional pool leagues. And of course should you want to you can head online to take on other players. Add to this the fact that you can also play snooker with its added complexities and an entire career mode of its own and you have the complete package. Armed with SHIELD Android TV and a copy of this you need never go to the pub again.
If the images of this game have something of a familiar animation style you probably won’t be surprised to learn that developers Steel Wool Games was started by a team of former Pixar employees. Their expertise in character design and creating beautiful environments is apparent from the moment you start to play. On the Android scale of eye-candy this ranks pretty high.
You play the part of a hapless alien space janitor called Zak whose rather mundane job is to clean the spaceship while all the other astronaut bug hunters get to have a nice long cryogenic sleep. Unfortunately, in a moment of incompetence Zak ejects the entire crew and cargo of trophy bugs into space where they end up getting scattered all over a little planet we like to call earth. As a result Zak has to head down to terra firma to sort out the mess he’s created.
Gameplay-wise Flyhunter Origins ($2.97) is a classic old school side-scrolling platformer, which sees Zak kitted out in a jetpack and flyswatter jumping his miniature way through levels of seemingly gigantic flora and fauna. Occasionally it switches to a third person perspective for bonus chase levels and that really is just about it.
There’s not a great deal of complexity to the gameplay, but what it does deliver are stunning visuals, an entertaining story, amusing cut-scenes and, importantly, some clean simple platforming that takes you back to an earlier era of gaming.
Twin Runners 2
If you’re one of those masochistic gamers who like to play games that you can never really win Twin Runners 2 ($2.49) is going to be both your best dream and worst nightmare. It’s essentially another endless runner but take a closer look because this one has a bit of a twist to it.
In this game you control not one but two runners, in this instance they happen to be twin ninjas. It also has a twin stick element to it. You control each character with a tap from your thumbs. Each tap changes a ninjas direction so you have to anticipate what’s coming for both little fellas because each one’s maze has a different design. And this is why it gets painful. The mazes are an obstacle course and because of the variations in layout you not only have to be ambidextrous but also able to work out two routes at once in order to win, which you won’t. You will die. Often. But you will keep on trying because it’s that sort of game. The mix of retro style visuals, punishing skill levels and fiercely addictive gameplay is a recipe for fun and frustration in equal measure.
We dread to think how many smartphones have been smashed up as a result of this game, but fortunately our SHIELD Android TV kit is a lot less likely to end up heading into the wall amidst a barrage of swearing.
The NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV, which comes with a SHIELD controller, is now available to purchase starting at just $199.99 for the 16GB model.