'Pandorum,' 'Modern Combat,' 'GeoDefense Swarm' - iPhone Gaming Round-up

Kicking off a new weekly feature today. Similar to "Game Plan," I'll be calling out three solid iPhone gaming picks each week, which will hopefully help you navigate the overwhelming landscape that is the App Store. And we're off!

Pandorum ($3.99/Lite)

In the style of "Dead Space" comes "Pandorum," a creepy survival horror shooter set on a derelict space ship. It's based on the movie of the same name, but despite being a franchise tie-in, it's actually pretty solid. 3D graphics, a handful of sci fi guns and a bunch of deformed alien monster beings. There's also an "Eternal Darkness"-esque sanity element where you have to keep injecting yourself to keep from losing it (which results in shaky aim and a narrowed point of view). There's a Lite version available if you'd like to get a taste. Definitely gives you a sense of the controls and whether it's your sort of game.

Modern Combat: Sandstorm ($6.99/No Lite)

GameLoft may be infamous for their tendency to play off competitors' game concepts as their own (see: "GangStar," "Hero of Sparta," "Guitar Rock Tour," "Let's Golf" and "Blades of Fury"), but damn if they don't do a good job in the conversion process to iPhone. "Modern Combat: Sandstorm" is pretty obviously "inspired" by "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," with its setting, controls and title, but the fact that it manages to bring a 3D, objective-based FPS to the iPhone is impressive nonetheless. Just mind the difficulty, which can be a bit punishing. Sorry, no free version available. But there are plenty of gameplay videos online, which may help you decide.

GeoDefense Swarm ($.99/No Lite)

I'm sure you're already overloaded with tower defense clones on the iPhone, but "GeoDefense Swarm" is easily one of the best yet released, and for a dollar it's hard to ignore. Based on "GeoDefense," "Swarm" features more open maps, with the "creep" directed by your tower placement, rather than a set path. The graphics are "Tron"-styled and look superb. There's also Open Feint support for online high score tracking (but no achievements just yet). If you're a fan of the genre, you should definitely be willing to part with a greenback for this one.