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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Galaxy on Fire 2 HD

Infinity Blade

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation

Real Racing 2

Siegecraft

Last year's starship combat epic got a fresh coat of paint and shinier graphics in October, specifically targeted at the iPhone 4S/iPad 2. Vast nebulas and the gritty details of asteroids pop off the screen. The added explosion and fire-effect detail make a big impact in a game that has so much dark, empty space. It's also a universal app, which could help justify the high price.
$9.99
Caption by / Photo by screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Epic Games has become the poster child for next-gen iOS gaming, thanks to last year's jaw-dropping combat game. Yes, it's really just D&D meets Punch-Out, but what a fantastic marriage that is. Infinity Blade 2 is just around the corner, but until then, the original's been updated with new weapons and items to collect, a new enemy, and a brilliant-looking graphical upgrade just for iPhone 4S and iPad 2 owners. On a tiny screen, this is as console-quality as it gets.
$5.99
Caption by / Photo by screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Clever, clever Gameloft: between the releases of Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 has come the next chapter of the iPhone's successful me-too military shooter. Online and local multiplayer and a solid campaign only need a physical control stick to achieve perfection. The iPhone doesn't have that, but this cutting-edge game will shock you otherwise. Avoid the blue-credit in-game purchases; you don't need them, just earn the credits the good old-fashioned way.
$6.99
Caption by / Photo by screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Multiplayer, online racing, a deep career mode, and easy-to-learn controls have made Firemint's Real Racing series the best driving games in the App Store. Real Racing 2 on the iPhone 4S finally looks as good as it does on the iPad 2: car interiors, lighting, and road textures have all been upgraded. For those with an Apple TV, this game also supports AirPlay mirroring for big-screen play. I had mixed results in my casual tests with mirroring (I prefer playing on my personal screen), but it's a fun extra. Sadly, the iPhone and iPad versions of this game are separate purchases. Boo.
$4.99
Caption by / Photo by screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
Here's the budget shopper's show-off-your-4S game, but it's not just eye candy. Tons of levels put you behind projectile weapons fending off orcs and other oncoming creatures--consider this Angry Birds meets tower defense. The expansive, PC-game-quality levels are almost too finely detailed on the 4S' screen (iPad owners can use the universal app to better effect), but it's certain to impress onlookers.
99 cents
Caption by / Photo by screenshot by Scott Stein/CNET
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