- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2014

Here’s some top gift ideas for the iPad gamer in the family.

Kingdom Rush: Origins (Ironhide Game Studio, Rated 9+, $4.99) — One of the premiere tower defense games for Apple’s mobile gaming system returns with a prequel set of battles based on its elven and sorcerer mythology.

Within a comic-book-style, animated universe, a commander strategically places a series of towers (purchased from a limited amount of gem reserves) on sides of a winding path and attempts to eliminate waves of enemies trying to reach a final gateway.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO GAME GIFT GUIDE: Best picks for Sony’s PlayStation 4

He has at his disposal, barracks that deploy soldiers to defend the path, elf archers that rein arrows down on foes, a stone druid on a mount throwing massive boulders, a sorcerer in his stone buttress casting power bolts and a powerful hero who is the final defense in front of the gateway.

A commander must stop 30 enemy types including goblins, bandersnatches, giant spiders, airborne dark fairies and a rabid hyena, as he carefully uses upgraded towers and obstacles — such as regenerating poison-spitting plants, massive tornadoes and lightening storms and even ferocious Ewoks — to make real time decisions and win the battle.

Also, simply conquering the 15 battlefields is not enough as player can go back in and try to succeed again in each arena, this time with diminished resources, to attain more upgrade points and gems.

SEE ALSO: VIDEO GAME GIFT GUIDE: Best picks for Nintendo’s Wii U

XCOM: Enemy Within (2K Inc., Rated 17+, $12.99) — An extraterrestrial invasion threatens Earth and a player commands both a military installation and elite soldiers to stop it in one of the best turn-based strategy games ever built for Apple’s multifunctional tablet.

The action mixes resource management (including the return of alien autopsies) and a variety of missions where troops are positioned and attack or retreat, all delightfully controlled by simply tapping of the iPad screen.

This expansion to “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” basically offers the same dire story but delivers some great extras.

Players will appreciate an enhanced genetics and cybernetics lab to create super soldiers with the mysterious alien resource Meld (canisters are hidden on battlefield) as well as mech-style warriors, a new hostile human faction called the Exalt and unexpected attacks on the underground military base.

Sure, the price is a little high, compared to most other games in the mobile space, but it’s a gift worth giving for fans of the X-Files and interactive chess.

Oddworld: Stranger’s Wrath (Oddworld Inhabitants Inc., Rated 12+, $5.99) — An innovative Xbox game from 2005 finally arrives on the iPad still looking as gorgeously bizarre as ever and with action refined for touchscreen controls.

A player controls the Stranger, an epic bounty hunter mixing the charm of Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” and stature of Star Wars’ Cad Bane, as he combs the wastelands of Western Mudos to bring in, dead or alive, some nasty outlaws and make lots of moolah.

The macabre magic of the game is tied to our anti-hero’s‘ arsenal. He essentially captures an assortment of live critters scurrying about in environments and loads them onto a double-barreled cross bow to shoot at the bad guys.

These cuddly creatures include Stunkz (stink bomb skunks), Bolamites (spiders that wraps a web around victim), Fuzzles (a Tribble with razor sharp teeth) and Zappflies (electricity-emitting insects).

A lucky player will find at 20 hours worth of first- and third-person, strategic action amidst this beautifully rendered spaghetti western.

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