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The best action games for Android

Make war, not love: Here are the most interesting action games currently available on Android.

Sometimes, you just need a quick game fix. And even if you have a high-powered gaming rig at home that's raring to go, it won't do you any good while you're standing on a corner, waiting for a bus.

That's where mobile action games come in. Action games for Android come in a multitude of forms and sizes. And from modern-day war games to cartoony jaunts through Zombieville USA, the Google Play store has them all. You just have to know where to look. These eight titles are well worth your while as you while away some spare time.

Zombieville USA, $1

Zombieville USA assigns you the familiar yet thankless role of sole survivor of a zombie apocalypse. But instead of being dark and twisted, this game is bright and bold, with some of the cutest cadavers ever. Your goals are simple: Survive (of course), and gather loot--lots of loot. The formula is simple: Kill zombies, collect cash, escape levels, purchase goodies, and then do it all over again. Just goes to show you: Even when you're the last person alive after an apocalypse, you can still buy stuff.

As one of Mika Mobile's earlier productions, Zombieville USA isn't much of an overachiever. The most pressing issue for you is how to optimize your limited stash of ammo. But thanks to its respectable collection of weaponry, Zombieville USA deserves a place on your screen--at least until its successor finally comes out for Android.

Dead Space, $7

You're probably already familiar with the Dead Space franchise, a sci-fi/horror adventure for PCs and consoles that has evoked more than a few nightmares in gamer dreamland. Surprisingly, this mobile addition is unlikely to do the same. Though it operates fairly similarly--you're a solitary, non-combat-oriented character trapped on a ship teeming with spindly aliens--this Dead Space would be Hannibal Lecter's gun-toting, gum-chewing cousin, rather than the unnerving cannibal himself. It's by no means a bad game; it just won't prevent you from sleeping peacefully at night.

Lush visuals, a narrative that stops at nothing to shock and bewilder your character, decent combat, and the ability to weaponry to detach alien limbs for strategic purposes come together to make Dead Space more than worth the money you'll spend on it.

Samurai II: Vengeance, $3

Not every game looks good on the sharper displays that new smartphones use, but the cell-shaded graphics in Samurai II: Vengeance look great on any recent Android device. An arcade-style slash-'em-up, Samurai II tells the story of Daisuke and his quest for vengeance against the nefarious (and numerous) Orochi. Occasionally spiced with environmental hazards, Samurai II also has a light coating of RPG elements. You harvest experience from every kill, which you can then use to purchase combos, upgrade attacks, and inflate your health bar.

Shadowgun, $5

Shadowgun should be instantly familiar to anyone who has spent time with Epic Games' Gears of War titles. You are John Slade, a mercenary whose mission is to infiltrate a research facility. The plot happily eschews complexity, and that decision makes Shadowgun a decent third-person shooter. Occasional crashes or mishaps aside, this game proves itself to be exactly what it claims: a good shooter with good controls.

Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, $5

Smack ladies. Shoot people. Steal cars. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a fantastic port of the PlayStation 2 classic. It takes you on a debauched trip back to the 1980s--a time when (at least in certain quarters) Hawaiian shirts and pompadours were esteemed as signs of good taste. Grand Theft Auto is an open-world game with a character-driven narrative: You're a guy looking to rise to the top of the food chain, and you'll do anything to achieve that status.

It's up to you whether to doggedly pursue your overarching goal, or to let yourself get sidetracked by diversions. (Most players opt for some combination of the two.) However you decide to roll, just remember: It's not a serious chase until helicopters are involved.

Gunman Clive, $2

For a complete change of pace, consider Gunman Clive, a whimsical platformer that has won over many players on the strength of its sepia-toned, hand-drawn art style. Here, you play as Clive, a pistol-slinging hero trying to rescue a damsel from cruel bandits.

Gunman Clive is, in its own way, a 16-level love letter to old-school 16-bit platformers like Mega Man and Metal Slug. The massive, steampunk-flavored bosses and the eclectic collection of stages are two of the game's best features. The game's premise isn't exactly inspired, but the game itself is extremely well executed.

Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour, $7

You don't need to innovate to appeal to a mass audience. The "terrorists versus military" angle might be overdone, but Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour hits all the right notes and has stunning graphics to boot. Modern Combat 4 presents you 12 different missions, each playable at four difficulty levels. It handles well enough, though the inconsistent difficulty and the voice acting may grate on some players' nerves. Play this one if you're looking for a little Call of Duty on the go.

Age of Zombies, $1

A top-down shooter that takes the idea of zombie hordes to its logical extreme, Age of Zombies is a silly excursion through time and space. As Barry Steakfries, you have to negate the damage wrought by a mad scientist who decided that unleashing zombies on the deep past would be a neat idea--and then did it. And before you ask, the answer is yes: There will be zombie T. rexes.

As the game progresses, you get to try your hand at a wide array of weaponry. You start with a pistol, but will eventually acquire outlandish armaments ranging from turrets to flamethrowers. Peppered with dumb-as-bricks one-liners that will likely draw a snicker or two, Age of Zombies offers a short but meaty distraction from daily life.


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