The Week Ahead - 01/06/07
28th May 2007 | 08:00
By now you're used to us moaning about the fallow summer period, but the scary thing is, it's only just starting. Stay focussed and look on the positive side. As we've said before publishers often use this period to sneak out the odd triple-A title in the hope it will clean up due to the lack of competition. And while total sales are always more important than kudos a publisher knows that it has far greater chance of getting a ChartTrack number one now than at any other time of the year.
Take this week for instance which sees the release not just of one excellent game, but two. Shadowrun in particular is something to look forward to - it's Microsoft's first cross-platform Live game encouraging PC and Xbox 360 owners to fight it out and resolve the old chestnut of which is better, mouse and keyboard or controller.
Well, actually we all know mouse and keyboard is faster but there's nothing like a controller to make you really feel like you're squeezing a trigger. Then there's the superb Tomb Raider Anniversary, a trawl through Lara's best bits for those who prefer exploration and puzzling. Other than that this week is a bit limp, but - take a deep breath - next week: Forza Motorsport 2!
The complete list of games released in the UK this week (01/06/07):
- Code of the Samurai, PS2, Midas
- Heatseeker, PSP, Codemasters
- Herbie: Rescue Rally, DS, Disney
- Lucinda Green Equestrian Challenge, PS2, Empire
- Meteos: Disney Magic, DS, Disney
- Shadowrun, PC/360, Microsoft
- Smash Court Tennis 3, PSP, Sony
- The Shield, PS2/PC, Empire
- Tomb Raider Anniversary, PS2/PSP/PC, Eidos
- Wario: Master of Disguise, DS, Nintendo
- World Championship Poker Featuring Howard Lederer, Wii, 505 Games
Shadowrun (PC/Xbox 360)
We're really excited about this one, mainly because Microsoft has been putting mammoth amounts of effort into balancing the cross-platform online multiplayer features so PC and 360 owners can go head to head with a degree of fairness. From what we've played the combination of magic and technology works fantastically well and the game is chock full of interesting gameplay components. Multiple team mates can be resurrected, for instance, and while this reduces your magic 'essence' they'll be bound to you AND automatically transfer over a portion of the wealth they earn. Or how about turning into a puff of smoke so bullets can't harm you? With some fantastically novel weapons, the ability to glide around levels and three superb multiplayer games: Raid, Extraction and Attrition we'll be first in the queue when the Leaderboards fire up on Friday.
Tomb Raider Anniversary (PS2/PSP/PC)
Okay, so it's a year late (which is down to the fact the game was practically completed by Core Design before it was handed over to Crystal Dynamics, again) but Anniversary promises to be every bit as engaging as Tomb Raider Legend. The twist, of course, is that you get to explore many of the best chambers, levels and tombs from Lara's early adventures on PSone but they've all been given a massive makeover with modern technology (if you can call PS2 modern). New animations and acrobatic moves, improved gunplay, puzzles and monsters should ensure this is fresh even for the nostalgic among us. And with tons of bonuses to unlock like music, costumes, artwork and commentaries this should be a compelling trip down memory lane, with spikes.
Wario: Master of Disguise (DS)
We include this merely to warn you that it's going to frustrate the hell out of you. On the surface a Wario game from Nintendo should be cause for celebration, unfortunately it wasn't developed in-house and came from Japanese shovelware experts Suzak. What emerges is a game full of innovation, but of the bad sort: innovation just for the sake of it. The main premise is to find a valuable Wishstone by completing levels and beating bosses using a series of disguises. These disguises must be drawn on the touchscreen with your stylus but bad motion sensing results in all kinds of frustrating costume changes. When you add to this some of the dullest mini-games in history and boring level design you have a bit of a dud on your hands. Hardly Nintendo's finest hour.
Smash Court Tennis 3 (PSP)
There are three tennis franchises capable of competing at the top level: Sega's Virtua Tennis, 2K's Top-Spin and Namco's Smash Court Tennis series. Historically, the Smash Court games have always come in last due to a lack of dynamism, not to mention the crucial fun factor. Unfortunately, Namco Bandai's first tennis outing on PSP it looks like business as usual. The main problem is that this series doesn't really know if it wants to be light-hearted and knockabout or a challenging simulation. There are some fun looking mini-games based on the likes of Pac-Man and Galaga but the main game just feels a bit mechanical. From what we've played it lacks the fluidity and flamboyance of its main rivals, especially the virtuoso Virtua Tennis 3. Match point to Sega.