The Week Ahead - 22/06/07
17th Jun 2007 | 08:16
A bumper week for Nintendo gamers with some eight releases across DS and Wii, but the pick of the bunch has to be Metroid Prime Pinball and Mario Party 8. After a slow start in terms of releases the Wii seems to be picking up a head of steam and we do know that publishers are drifting to the console in their droves due to its surprise popularity.
But there's also something for everyone this month with the solid if predictable Armored Core 4 stomping its way onto 360 and PS3. FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage may also be worth a look if you enjoyed Bugbear's previous racing titles which didn't pay much attention to realism but were tremendous, exuberant fun.
So it's a bit of a stopgap week to be sure but greater things are on the horizon with The Darkness and Resident Evil 4 gearing up for release in a few weeks' time.
The complete list of games released in the UK this week (22/06/07):
- Armored Core 4, PS3/360, 505 Games
- Bratz Ponyz, DS, The Game Factory
- Cricket Manager 07, PC, Midas
- FlatOut Ultimate Carnage, 360, Empire
- Hot PXL, PSP, Atari
- Kirby Mouse Attack, DS, Nintendo
- Mario Party 8, Wii, Nintendo
- Megaman ZX, DS Capcom
- Metroid Prime Pinball, DS, Nintendo
- Monster Madness, 360, South Peak
- Overlord, 360, Codemasters
- Shrek the Third, 360/PS2/PSP/DS/Wii/PC, Activision
- Sim City, DS, EA
- The Sims 2 Pets, Wii, EA
- The Sims 2 Pet Stories, PC, EA
Armored Core 4 (PS3/360)
If ever the word Marmite could be attributed to one game series it's this. Some wallow enthusiastically in its over-complicated controls, overwhelming customisation and Japlish storylines others find it, well, over-complicated, overwhelming and silly.
In a bid to strike some kind of middle ground From Software has made things a little more accessible this time round going with a more traditional twin-stick control scheme and dropping the overheating which in previous games usually led to a quick death.
The missions are pleasingly varied and require you to think carefully about which bits and bobs you add to your Armored Core unit. Ultimately this isn't any kind of revolutionary leap forward but offers a very absorbing 37 missions for those who like to stomp around and feel all-powerful.
FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage (360)
We're big fans of the previous two FlatOut games here at CVG and while they never get the attention of the Burnout or Need for Speed games they're certainly capable of delivering some impressive carnage with the emphasis on physical fun. This time round 12 vehicles can compete at the one time (compared to eight in previous instalments) and there's five new single-player and two new Xbox Live multiplayer modes, including Hunter & Prey and Frag Derby.
With an impressive 8,000 dynamic (read for that smashable) objects per track and even more mini-games making use of ragdoll drivers exiting windscreens we look forward to reviewing this in full very soon. MotorStorm for 360? We won't have to wait much longer to find out.
Mario Party 8 (Wii)
Like previous Mario Party titles this is the epitome of banality against CPU opponents but get a few friends round your console and it can be entertaining. We use the word advisedly though because it still retains the rather exasperating randomness that will see lesser skilled players pipping you to the winning post due to a lucky throw of the die. But that's kind of the point.
Mini-games include rowing boats, punching statues and tightrope walking but they don't really make good use of the Remote and most of them get irritating quite quickly. Call us party poopers but Mario Party 8 is one for fans only.
Metroid Prime Pinball (DS)
In the US this has been getting very favourable reviews but we suspect more discerning European gamers will realise it's not nearly as charming and captivating as first impressions would suggest. There's just something too capricious about the ball physics and table designs and many of the boss battles border on annoying.
There are seven tables in all but only three of these are 'traditional' in the sense they broadly conform to what you'd expect down your local caf. On the surface this sounds like a lot of choice but the tables themselves are a little lacklustre with bonuses and features lacking real spark. If you're a Metroid Prime fan you may like it but pinball experts will be sorely disappointed.
Hot PXL (PSP)
Cynics might say this is Atari doing Wario Ware, and they'd be right. With 200 micro games and 10 boss battles the idea is to go through the Story Mode completing retro inspired three second games while unlocking 'urban and street culture' designs. It all sounds a bit copy-cat, but hey, it might just work.
There will also be music tracks from leading hip-hop acts, multiplayer modes and plenty of downloadable content so we remain optimistic it'll be fun in short bursts. Atari will also draw on its own games, like Battlezone, to add credibility.