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The Week Ahead - 20/07/07

Feature: Listen closely, and you can hear the stop of the summer blockbuster

Another slow week but at least you can console yourself through the summer months by going back to all those games you somehow never quite finished. E3 is also providing a great deal of news and the fact your 360 now has a three year warranty surely means you can thrash it for all its worth safe in the knowledge that it'll get repaired for free.

In terms of releases Transformers: The Game is supposed to be the big summer blockbuster but actually feels more like a funeral in a scrapyard. The Darkness eventually creeps out onto PS3 and Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword on PC is by far the game with the greatest depth this week. Wii fans who like doing IQ tests will delight in the release of Big Brain Academy but the rest of us might just skip this and wait for better fruits to arrive.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (20/07/07):

Big Brain Academy, Wii, Nintendo
Civilisation IV: Beyond the Sword, PC, Take 2
Generation of Chaos IV, PSP, Midas
Shrek the Third, PSP, Activision
StateShift, PSP, Midas
The Darkness, PS3, Take 2
Transformers, 360/PS3/PS2/DS/Wii, Activision

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The Darkness (PS3)
We've been through the 360 version of The Darkness a couple of times now and can unhesitatingly recommend it. In truth the PS3 iteration is no different and as far as we know the only reason it was delayed in Europe was down to distribution logistics (incidentally both versions were released simultaneously in the US).

So the bottom line is this: if you don't already own it then you're missing out. For us it represents the best FPS on PS3 to date. Sure the AI can be a little erratic and it didn't quite get the last minute spit and polish it deserved but in terms of characterisation, storytelling, atmosphere and visceral impact this has the lot. Once you get the hang of shooting out lights and unleashing your Darkness powers on enemies it's utterly compelling.

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Big Brain Academy Wii Degree (Wii)
Although you would think this is like the excellent Dr Kawashima's Brain Training games on DS you'd be wrong. In fact, Nintendo, in our humble opinion, seem to have forgotten what made those games so good, namely that you could dip in for a short mental workout every day and measure your progress by bringing your brain age down.

Here the tasks are more akin to sitting an exam with the end goal making your brain 'heavier'. Patent nonsense. Challenges are split into five categories: Identify, Memorise, Analyse, Compute and Visualise and while you may get a kick out of stimulating your noggin for the first few days this simply lacks the charm of its DS counterparts.

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Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword (PC)
As the title suggests this second Civ IV expansion pack focuses on all the exciting technology that made the humble blade obsolete, think bombs, SAMs, nukes even cyborgs and space craft. With 10 fresh civilisations, 64 new building types and 12 scenarios you're really going to get your money's worth if you're a Civ fan.

Of particular note are the new scenarios which will allow players to approach the game from multiple angles including building and spreading a mega corporation, dominance of outer space and even controlling a team of mechanised robots in the squad-based Afterworld mod. Likely to be deep and very absorbing.

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