Even if you don’t have an Xperia PLAY, your ordinary Android-powered phone can still become a monster gaming machine. The Android OS allows you to play thousands of apps including many games. But, is your Android phone ideal for gaming? What kind of hardware specifications needed to play the greatest and the latest?
Perhaps, HTC Dream with its physical keyboard and trackball, was among the first decent Android phone for gaming, although its 528 MHz ARM11 processor was quite weak for today’s standard. The latest crop of Android smartphones leaves the T-Mobile MyTouch 3G Slide and HTC Dream in the dust. Latest hardware improvement has inspired the development of more sophisticated games for Android, such as HAWX and TurboFly 3D. For Android devices with reasonably current versions (2.1, 2.2 and 2.3), nearly all games in Android will work well. However, owners of first Android devices (1.5 and 1.6), should stick only with low-end 2D games such as Jewellust and other light puzzle games, due to the lack of 3D capabilities.
Wading through the Android Market is sometimes quite challenging even for veteran gamers, as games are available at varying price points. Your first destinations should be “Just In”, “Top Free” and “Top Paid”, to find the newest and best games the Android has to offer. The market is organized in several categories, such as Arcade & Action, Racing, Sports Game, Casual and a few others. It would be a good idea to start by viewing games based on users rating and check the comments. Not only you’ll know whether the game is fun to play, there are often notes on missing features and compatibility issues that are often not easily known at a glance.
Unlike the Apple’s App Store; when buying apps and games from Android Market, the return policy allows you get a refund in 24 hours after the purchase. If you’ve bought a game and don’t like it, you are one tap away of getting a refund and the payment is linked with the Google Checkout account. You have a 24-hour period to decide whether a game is a keeper.
These are two examples of high-end Android games:
- Dungeon Hunter II. It is among the more CPU-intensive Android titles out there. Dungeon Hunter II was originally released for the iPhone and should be a good choice for those who love hack n’ slash RPG games. Visuals are the real high point of Dungeon Hunter 2 and they are quite impressive for an Android game. Levels are nicely designed and the details are rich. Whenever you add new equipments to your character, they will appear in-game. Unfortunately, on Android devices with lower hardware specification such as 600MHz processor and no dedicated GPU, the animation can be stiff and the models look angular.
- Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus. Once upon a time the very idea of developing military FPS on a phone would quickly elicit fits of laughter among hardcore gamers, but thanks to the addition of powerful hardware on Android phones, those doubters have been completely silenced. Levels in this game boast an amazing degree of details and varieties, while the characters are animated properly. For added cinematic experiences, the game is slowed down and zoomed in when you hit a distant foe. Without doubt, the visual improvements come at a price. Don’t even think of buying this game if your processor is slower than 1GHz.
Nowadays, you can get diverse Android models and each manufacturer often releases a slightly-modified Android version and some models even have certain standard features removed due to corporate decisions. Consequently, those who are new Android devices are often intimidated by so many Android models. Phones with physical keyboard can be a big help for gaming, so your choice can be either Motorola Droid 2 Global (1 GHz Cortex-A8 processor, PowerVR SGX530 GPU) or HTC EVO Shift 4G (800 MHz Scorpion processor, Adreno 205 GPU).
You should decide what features you want to have in a gaming phone. It should have a speedy CPU and good GPU. Two examples of high-end Android phones are LG Optimus 3D P920 (Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor, PowerVR SGX540 GPU) and Motorola Atrix 4G (Dual-core 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor, ULP GeForce GPU). Future Android devices will be equipped with even faster CPU (1.5 GHz) and better GPU (Adreno 220). But if the above devices seem too expensive for you, cheaper phones like Samsung Galaxy Ace (800 GHz CPU, Adreno 200 GPU) should be enough for most casual gaming.
These are other considerations for choosing an Android-based gaming phone:
- Android version: Many games will run well on Android 2.1, but as each update includes significant speed enhancement and better support for latest hardware, you should at least use Android 2.2 or if possible Android 2.3.
- Audio: Because many Android phones have weak internal speaker, at least it should have a headphone jack or if possible Bluetooth stereo.
- Screen resolution: The bigger the better and if you consider screen size as a priority, you may need to choose an Android tablet instead, for example the Motorola Xoom. TFT display is adequate, however for better quality, you should choose a Super-AMOLED display. The screen resolution should be 480 x 800 pixels or above. Avoid tiny Android phones like XPERIA X10 mini or Samsung Galaxy Mini S5570, as not only the display is too small, most of the time they have weak hardware as well.
- Other features: Accelerometers is often needed in high-end titles for better gaming experience.
One exciting segment in gaming is emulation. There are a number of emulators available for the Android, which allow users to play classic titles from many obsolete platforms, such as Atari, NES, SNES, SEGA, and Gameboy Advance. They may not look pretty, but if many people could be hooked up with the Legend of Zelda on NES decades ago, so can you. Other worthy emulators for Android are PSX4Droid and FPse, which allow you to play Playstation One (PSX). Of course, playing Tekken 3 on a touchscreen Android phone won’t be fun (except on Xperia PLAY, perhaps), however you can be glued to your phone screen for hours with other excellent PSX titles such Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VIII and Chrono Cross.