Like any serious gaming system, Apple's iPad allows you to play with friends and family through multiplayer mode, either wirelessly or locally on the same tablet. Here now are our seven favorite multiplayer games, in no particular order.
PadRacer (SMHK Funlab, $4.99, released May 12)
"PadRacer" reminds us of the old Atari arcade game "Super Sprint," an overhead race car game where you try to get to first place in the fastest time possible. The game supports two players simultaneously, so you can speed against a friend to the finish. The reason we recommend it, though, is because of its compatibility with the iPhone/iPod Touch. While you keep tabs on the race on the iPad device (via an overhead display, similar to Sprint), you use your portable device to steer your car. It’s a swell idea, and a nice example of interactivity between the tech devices. Grab a friend and hit the track.
N.O.V.A.- Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance HD (Gameloft, $6.99, released April 1)
Although there is a "Call of Duty" game available for the iPad, it’s focused more on killing zombies with friends than taking them on competitively. If you’re looking for a game to frag others with, "N.O.V.A. HD "is the app to get. Along with a solid 13-stage single-player campaign, the game also includes Deathmatch for up to four players, either locally through Bluetooth or online. The game runs seamlessly in these match-ups, and plays wonderfully with its optimized controls. Plus, it’s half the price of "Call of Duty," a steal at $6.99. Lock and load, soldier.
Glow Hockey 2 HD (Natenai Ariyatrakool, $1.99, released April 12)
Okay, so air hockey may not be as high on your “must have” list as, say, the latest racing and shooting games. That said, we have several reasons why you should get "Glow Hockey 2 HD." Number one, it emulates the action of real air hockey, right down to the slow coaster movement. Number two, it’s dirt cheap, going for a measly $1.99. Third and most importantly, it’s addictive to play against someone else. You can either play against each other on the same iPad, or hook up via local Wi-Fi for a match-up. Either way, you’ll have a swell time trying to score on your opponent, while keeping the puck out of your own goal. Plus, it’s cheaper than a real air hockey table (and much easier to move to your new apartment).
Uno HD (Gameloft, $4.99, released April 1)
At one point or another, you’ve probably played Uno and put up with your fair share of Draw Four’s and Skip cards, right? Well, now you can do it all over again on the iPad, for about the same price you’d pay for the actual game (maybe even less, depending where you shop). "Uno HD" looks superb on the iPad, with an easy-to-use touch interface and the ability to customize your decks and tables. In addition to a solo player tournament mode, the game also fully supports multiplayer. You can all play on the same device, or hook up for a match via Wi-Fi. Either way, you’ll be laying down cards with a big smile on your face. Until someone gives you a Draw Four, that is…
Real Racing HD (Firemint, $9.99, released April 1)
Not too many racers out there look good and offer a competitive angle to boot, but "Real Racing HD" is one of the proud few. This game is a dazzling iPad racer, with its beautiful car models and wide selection of tracks. Now, it doesn’t offer direct multiplayer (at least, not yet – Firemint is reportedly working on a patch), but it does have the next best thing. You can upload your best racing times via Ghosts and see how they compare with other racers. Better still, Firemint picks a select few every week for online tournaments, in an effort to see who really rules the road. We suggest taking a few practice laps, because the competition gets pretty furious out there.
Worms HD (Team 17 Software, $4.99, released April 1)
"Worms" has been a great party game for many years now, appearing on a number of consoles, handhelds and downloadable game services. Now it’s available for the iPad, and it’s nothing short of excellent. You guide teams of worms into turn-based battle, using everything from rocket launchers to land mines to exploding sheep to wipe out the enemy. The game is all right in single player, but your best bet is to get your friends involved. Up to four players can take part in local and Wi-Fi battle, customizing their teams and putting them through their paces. This is a game you’re bound to larva.
Scrabble (Electronic Arts, $9.99, released April 1)
Last but definitely not least, we have Hasbro’s classic word game, "Scrabble," where you lay down tiles to form words and grab more points than your opponent. It’s a very addictive game, one that’ll drain your iPad battery rather quickly if you’re not careful. (Bring your charger.) Along with ample single player challenges, the game allows you to challenge friends through pass-and-play and Facebook. You can also play locally on the same device through Party Play, although you might want to be careful about boasting if you’ve got nothing but consonants.