If you’re remaining loyal to your Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 for a while longer yet, you may be looking for something “new” to play. If that’s not the case now, then it may be in the not too distant future – a quick look at April’s release schedule reveals that there’s very little out.
We’ve taken this fleeting chance to round-up six games you may have missed. And if you have played all of these, then you sir have very fine taste.
Confession time: we played both Blur and Split/Second before they were released and early impressions lead us to believe that Split/Second was going to be the better of the two. Both were due out in the same month, if your memory needs jogging. The ability to remotely detonate parts of the track – turning the opposition into scrap and opening up new routes in the process – appeared to be more than what Blur was offering. To wit: Project Gotham Racing with WipEout-style weapons.
Activision clearly felt that Mario Kart was a better comparison, releasing a TV commercial featuring embarrassingly cute characters. While not the worst advert to ever air on TV, we would have liked of it more if it didn’t end with the cringe inducing line “Race like a big boy”.
Even though the now defunct Black Rock Studio had worked on racing games before – including the often forgotten ATV racer Pure – their expertise was no match for Bizarre Creations’ racing knowhow. Blur rarely puts foot wrong; an incredibly competent package of excellent track design, finely tuned vehicle handling and balanced weaponry. Online functions too were a highlight – the game has such a sizeable cult following that it’s easy even now to get into a multiplayer game.
In hindsight, I think Blur appeared to be the poorer of the two initially on the grounds that the weapons looked out of place in a reasonably realistic looking racer. With time though my eyes soon become accustomed to the contrasting neon hues.
Curiously, Blur features a track set on Brighton seafront, which is where rival racing studio Black Rock was based. You can pretty much drive right past their window.
Raven Software were one of our favourite studios. We used the word ‘were’ there as although the studio still exists, Activision nowadays has them working on Call of Duty map packs and nothing more. You can pin this on the poor performances of both Wolfenstien and Singularity, with the former said to have set back Activision an absolute fortune. Word has it that it had no chance whatsoever at turning a profit.
Singularity was their last shot at redemption. A slow-paced and intelligent shooter with a rich Cold War-era backstory, it’s essentially Activision’s very own Bioshock. With Bioshock 2 just a few months old at the time, had they marketed it in a similar manner as to how Irrational’s games are promoted, it would have no doubt performed slightly better at retail.
One thing Singularity does rather well is provide lots of gadgets and gizmos to play around with, including the TMD – a time manipulation device. This gadget not only rebuilds fallen bridges and repairs rusted control panels but it can also turn enemies into piles of dust by sucking the life out of them.
The game’s highlight, at least for us, occurs during a mission in which you’re ordered to retrieve a bomb from a ship known as The Pearl. There’s only one problem – the ship sunk many years ago. By this point the TMD has been upgraded a few times, and so with some extra power behind it, you’re able to raise the ship from the bottom of the ocean to a good-as-new state. Once on board it becomes evident that the ship isn’t going to stay shiny and new for long, and as you make your way to the cargo hold the walls and floors become coated in rust right before your very eyes. A new weapon becomes available on this mission too – a grenade launcher. The timing is genius – the grenades that it fires are spherical, so quite often they roll back towards you due to the ship rocking back and forth. In fact, dull moments are seldom come by, as there are plenty of unexpected, nay genius, moments such as this.
In an ideal world Activison would have put Raven to work on their movie and TV licensed games. Their X-Men Origins tie-in turned out incredibly well, and the studio could have no doubt worked their magic on the likes of Men in Black, The Walking Dead and other the licenses Activison has acquired since Singularity’s release.