When they debuted in 2012, Microsoft’s Surface and Surface Pro 2 devices were hailed as contraptions. Though many acknowledged that there might be a market for a device that shared the features of both a laptop and a tablet, few concluded that Microsoft had managed to mix these devices into something normal users would consider purchasing. Coming almost three years after that initial reveal, the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 3 are more than just contraptions. They’re the best Surfaces, and arguably the best Windows 2-in-1’s money can buy.
Sure the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 3 make great laptop and tablet replacements for the most part, but what they don’t get credit for is also being pretty decent gaming machines. The hardware inside the Surface 2 doesn’t allow users to install games from outside the Windows Store, but that’s ok because the games that are available in the Windows Store are pretty robust. The Surface Pro 3 does allow users to install apps outside of the Windows Store.
Here are 5 of the best Surface Games available in the Windows Store in no particular order.
Halo: Spartan Assault
Early this week Microsoft revealed Halo: Spartan Strike, a new top-down shooter that sends players after Covenant alien forces. That game wouldn’t have been possible without the first Halo game to be available on a smartphone: Halo: Spartan Assault.
Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down shooter too. With an assortment of weapons and abilities, users are tasked with decimating Alien forces. Microsoft added new weekly challenges for users to compete in and weapons and armor abilities allow for some small character customization. Halo: Spartan Assault was a prequel, a way for those who’d purchased Halo 4 to get some background on what happened before that game. Players are able to earn XP for inclusion in Halo 4.
Halo: Spartan Assault is available for $4.99 in the Windows Store. In addition to allowing users to earn Xbox Live achievements, purchasing this version of the game also unlocks a version for Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system. That’s the software that Nokia’s smartphones run.
Halo: Spartan Assault can be played with or without a wired Xbox controller.
If games like Mario Kart and Crash Bandicoot showed us what a fun character driven arcade racer can be, Asphalt has shown us that racing games on a smartphone or tablet can be fun too, despite a lack of physical controls.
Asphalt Overdrive is the first Asphalt racing game to stray away from core racing mechanics. Players still acquire new cars, but the whole point is to actually acquire new vehicles and then use them to get away from the cops as quickly as possible. Everything has an 80’s theme too, giving you the impression that you’re trapped in a version of Magnum P.I. or something
In addition to escaping from the police there are other mission types from trying not to hit things and pulling off stunts successfully. Users who feel comfortable connecting Asphalt Overdrive to their Facebook accounts can compare their achievements with their friends. The game also has a built-in event system for one-off events to get extras.
Asphalt Overdrive is completely free on Surface devices. That being said, there are some in-game purchases.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout
Modern Combat 5 effectively hopes that users will appreciate being first-person shooting mechanics, leaderboards, and skill points on devices that just have touchscreens. They will, but I think the real reason users pick up Modern Combat in droves is because of the game’s graphics. They’re simply impressive for anything not running on a living room console. It also doesn’t hurt that the game is absolutely stuffed full of different options and add-ons. For example, players can create their own squads to battle each other. That is impressive considering multiplayer is still not something we’re seeing a lot of in mobile and tablet games these days.
Modern Combat 5: Blackout is $6.99 on Surface devices. It doesn’t include Xbox Live Achievements, but does unlock a companion version for Windows Phone devices.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
What can one say about the Grand Theft Auto franchise that hasn’t already been said? These games are the poster child for immersive worlds and satire in gaming. For many, they’re the only open-world games worth playing.
Late last year Rockstar Games confirmed that in addition to releasing GTA 5, it’d be bringing Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to tablets and smartphones.
In addition to better graphics, users can expect a new camera system that gives them better controls. Surface users play as CJ, a kid who served jail time and is now trying to prove that he did not commit the crime the police say he did. $6.99 gets Surface users Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Touch and Xbox controller support are included.
Finally, Ilomilo Plus combines great graphics and a great puzzle experience. In the game users pull, push and jump over different cubes to reach their partner. There’s a single player story, but there’s also a cooperative player mode for users who like teaming up with their friends.
Ilomilo includes online leader boards too and there’s Xbox Live Achievements.
Have fun playing these games on your Surface 2 or Surface Pro 3.