11 apps that will look great on the new iPad

With so little time to get "Retina-ready," not many apps have been upgraded in time for release, but this collection of apps will look great, ready or not.

Jason Parker Senior Editor / Reviews - Software
Jason Parker has been at CNET for nearly 15 years. He is the senior editor in charge of iOS software and has become an expert reviewer of the software that runs on each new Apple device. He now spends most of his time covering Apple iOS releases and third-party apps.
Jason Parker
5 min read
Real Racing 2
Real Racing 2 was going to be on this list, but we found out it will be ready in time for launch. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

If you're getting the new iPad on launch day tomorrow, you probably can't wait to see the new Retina Display. Having seen it first hand, I can tell you it looks beautiful, but the only problem is there aren't very many third-party apps available yet to take advantage of all those extra pixels. As I wrote earlier this week, it takes time to upgrade the big apps.

CNET has a full list of apps that will be ready to go when the new iPad releases (and more are coming as I write), but there are plenty of apps that will look great even without a graphics upgrade. As more updates trickle in over the coming weeks, expect to see all of these apps updated to take advantage of all 3.1 million pixels on the new iPad.

Riptide GP
This stunt racer offers some of the best water effects in iTunes App Store. The environments are great, too--if you have time to look at them. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Riptide GP ($1.99)
I had a hard time deciding whether I thought Riptide GP deserved to be in this collection, but after firing up this jet ski racer, I was once again impressed by the constantly changing, super-realistic water physics. Probably the smallest download of the bunch (at only 40.5 MB), developer Vector Unit did an amazing job of making jet ski racing not only realistic, but also look fantastic.

Looking like a console shooter, Shadowgun offers some of the best graphics you can get on the iPad with excellent frame rates. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Shadowgun ($4.99)
When I first launched Shadowgun on my iPad 2, I spent several minutes in the first room, trying to lift my jaw off the floor. High-res graphics, beautiful lighting and shadows, and an overall console-quality feel really brought iOS gaming to a new level. Any conversation about iOS graphics (or third-person shooters, for that matter) isn't worth having unless you include Shadowgun. Once the game is upgraded, I can't even imagine how great it's going to look, but even as is, you're in for a visual delight.

Art Authority
Browse through hundreds of high-resolution paintings with this app that simulates a museum experience. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Art Authority ($4.99)
While this list is mostly about games (because they will probably be affected the most), another genre of apps will also look great on the new iPad. Art Authority is a fairly simple app that lets you browse fine art as though you're at a museum.

Editors' note: While writing this post, the folks at Open Door Networks let me know the new version of Art Authority is now available and upgraded for the new iPad.

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation
Possibly the best online multiplayer first-person shooter on iOS is loaded with great-looking environments and gun models. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation ($6.99)
Not-so-loosely based on the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Combat 3: Fallen Nation almost feels like playing a console shooter (with online multiplayer) on a touch screen. The game already impressed us on the iPad 2 with great-looking environments and highly detailed gun models. Expect the downloads for this shooter to skyrocket after the launch of the new iPad because it so closely resembles the mega-hit Call of Duty games.

Infinity Blade II
Infinity Blade II was announced alongside the iPad 2. Even without Retina Display support, it is an amazing looking game. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Infinity Blade II ($6.99)
Infinity Blade II hardly needs an introduction, and neither does the Unreal Technology it was developed with. This swipe-to-slash melee combat game features amazing vistas, and highly detailed character models and enemies. It was the game that Apple showed off for gaming on the iPad 2 and the precursor to Infinity Blade: Dungeons, a hotly anticipated title out later this month. If you want great-looking visuals on your new iPad, start with this download--you won't be disappointed.

Dark Meadow
The Unreal Engine figures prominently in this list, and the attention to graphic detail in this game is outstanding. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Dark Meadow ($5.99)
Not a breakout hit like many of the other apps in this collection, Dark Meadow is a kind of point-and-touch adventure (though that is oversimplifying it), with a heavy dose of action to go along with it. But what's immediately striking when you launch this horror-genre game are the high-quality graphics, realistic-looking lighting and shadows, and the overall creepiness factor of trying to escape an abandoned insane asylum. The higher resolution will only make it better--and by better I mean even scarier.

Dead Space
Dead Space is an incredible-looking game even on the iPad 2. On the new iPad, it almost might be too real. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Dead Space ($9.99)
In the horror game genre, realism is extremely important for helping the player relate to the action. Having played the PC version of the game, I couldn't imagine the iOS version being anywhere near as good. While it's not quite on par with the desktop version, the graphics in Dead Space are shockingly smooth and the gameplay is tight--even on a touch screen. The new iPad will make it even smoother, and once the game is updated for the new display, the investment of $9.99 will definitely pay off.

Guardian Eyewitness
Guardian Eyewitness isn't new, but it's an easy app to recommend for high-resolution photos from around the world. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Guardian Eyewitness (Free)
Guardian Eyewitness has been out since 2010, but anyone can appreciate high-resolution provocative photos that depict current events from around the world. What makes this app interesting is you get a new photograph daily, and you get the photographer's details for how the shot was taken. You can also swipe to go backwards in time and view hundreds of previous photos. All the images are beautifully done and can only improve with a higher-resolution screen.

Weather effects, smooth action, and tons of different stadiums will showcase what the new iPad can do. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

FIFA 12 ($9.99)
Soccer fans are already aware of EA's FIFA 12 for iOS, because it is the most realistic "football" game available and the graphics are amazing. The smooth gameplay is truly a feat with so many moving parts, and with the added processing power and better graphics on the new iPad, you're going to see even better looking player models and weather effects. But even in its current state, expect FIFA 12 to be more vibrant, with more seamless action on the new iPad.

Mass Effect: Infiltrator
Though not as graphically rich as the desktop versions, Mass Effect: Infiltrator will be a hot title on iPad launch day. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Mass Effect Infiltrator ($6.99)
With Mass Effect 3 as one of the hottest games out now on both consoles and desktop computers, you would expect the iOS version to be a simple game that was more of an afterthought--you couldn't be more wrong. While it's not as deep as its desktop and console cousin, Mass Effect: Infiltrator has great-looking graphics that will translate well to the new iPad. One drawback: I'm not that impressed with the character models (important in a third-person shooter), but the environments definitely look fantastic.

Inspire Pro
Artists will appreciate the more vibrant colors of the new iPad. Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Inspire Pro ($4.99)
Are you an artist or just want to sketch in color on your new iPad? Inspire Pro gives you painting tools and simulated oil-based paints you can use to experiment or paint a masterpiece depending on your skill level. On the new iPad, colors will be even more vibrant, making your brush strokes that much more satisfying. A quick look at some of the demo art (see screenshot) within the app shows just how much you can do.