With three of this winterâ€™s biggest games out this week there’s plenty to tempt hard-earned money out of your wallet. Square-Enix’s Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition is out as well, ready to remind us what games were like back in 2012.
As Alien: Isolation launched on Tuesday weâ€™ll start with SEGAâ€™s deep space survival horror first. When reviews went live last Friday a pattern quickly emerged – UK gaming sites loved it, while US critics werenâ€™t quite as taken. It would seem that the focus on survival over shooting didnâ€™t to go down too well with journalists across the pond. Most critics did however agree that at around 12 hours long it would have benefited from having a few scenes cut. We complied a review round-up last week which you can view here. Rest assured that itâ€™s immeasurably better than Aliens: Colonial Marines.
The often delayed DriveClub has been getting mixed reviews too. Incredibly mixed, in fact. Currently the Metacritic stands at 72%, comprising of a lofty 9.5 from PlayStation Universe, 6/10 from Eurogamer, 5/10s from both The Metro and GameSpot and 2/5 from Giant Bomb. “It just isn’t much fun to play. The core act of driving a car feels off in a way that completely put me off of playing the game. Without that in place, the rest of it just falls apart. The PlayStation 4 has been without a serious racing option since launch, and Driveclub doesn’t fill that gap” GiantBomb said.
Thankfully the next big racer isn’t far off – Project CARS is due out 21st November.
At least we can always rely on Activisionâ€™s Skylanders crew to bring the goods. Whereas the Disney Infinity games have been wishy-washy so far, the Skylanders games get better with each passing year. Last yearâ€™s edition – Swap Force – even brought back memories of the beloved Banjo-Kazooie. The â€˜big new thingâ€™ for Skylanders Trap Team are Pokeball-style crystals that enemy Skylanders can be trapped inside before then becoming playable characters. Amusingly, when placed in the new portal the crystals talk – villains can be heard demanding to be let out and such. No doubt this feature will drive parents up the wall. An even bigger focus on new figures may also leave some parentâ€™s purses empty. Although all existing toys can be used with it, word has it that they aren’t quite as useful as before.
Curiously, the 3DS version doesnâ€™t utilize the crystal traps. This is presumably because carrying them around would be vastly impractical. Like always this handheld version comes with two different figures from the console iteration – the genie like Gusto and mini-figure Barkley. The mini-figures have been around for a while but previously they have only been available as competition prizes. We were once lucky enough to win one with a packet of Fruitella.
Scores for Trap Team so far include 4/5 from GamesRadar and 8.75 from GameInformer. The iPad version has also gone down a treat. Believe it or not, itâ€™s the identical to the console version. Pocket Gamer called it “one heck of an achievementâ€ in their review.
Just like the general brightness of the Skylanders games, the announcement of Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition had us rubbing our eyes. Not only is the original knocking on a bit now, but it was briefly free on both Xbox Live and PSN. Then we saw the price and rubbed our eyes once again as itâ€™s a full price release. Bearing in mind here that Metro Redux could be found for Â£25 at launch, the Â£40-odd asking price for Sleeping Dogs struck us for as mighty high.
No doubt weâ€™ll be repeating these very words when Saints Row IV gets re-released early next year.
Despite all this nay-saying though, Sleeping Dogs was an incredibly impressive game with a rich atmosphere. Driving, shooting and even melee combat felt spot on. We’re hoping that the difficulty level has been smoothed out for this HD remaster as we distinctly recall getting stuck in some nightclub fight scene for almost two ruddy hours.
After a long running beta game maker Project Spark is finally out on Xbox One, available as either a free download or as a starter pack that retails for around Â£25. That gets you one month of Project Spark Premium membership and a bunch of themes, landscapes and characters to create games with. These are of course paid for DLC in the version that’s free to download. Weâ€™ll probably have some words about this at some stage in the future. Maybe even a full review.
On a similar note, Killer Instinct is getting a retail release this week too. Retailing at around Â£15 it includes the â€˜Combo Breaker Packâ€™ with all characters, plus T.J Combo from the upcoming KI: Season 2. We like Killer Instinct a lot as it’s everything a fighter should be – flashy, substantial and highly satisfying.
Iron Galaxy Games must be rushed off their feet currently as their other beatâ€™em up – Divekick – is out on PS4 and Xbox One this week as well. The two-button brawler will set you back Â£7.99.
Last week were pointed out that dungeon crawler Nature Docturine may get shoved to one side by the bigger boys (read: games). This week itâ€™s Akibaâ€™s Trip Undead & Undressed on PS3 and PS Vita that may pass over gamerâ€™s collective heads. Shame, as the concept is something of a head turner – itâ€™s a RPG featuring a recreation of Japanâ€™s Akihabara District and as such as is filled with Japanese culture references. The idea is to identify vampires by using an in-game phone app, and then attempt to strip them off their clothes to expose them to sunlight. Thatâ€™ll explain the â€˜undressedâ€™ part of the gameâ€™s title, then. Review scores have mostly been around the 6/10 mark with frame-rate issues, long loading times and sloppy combat highlighted as problems. If you can look past these faults though then it may be worth investigating for concept alone.
Our final retail release to cast our eye over this week is NBA 2K15. General consensus has it that itâ€™s an improvement over the last iteration which was pretty spectacular to begin with. â€œBattling for space and effectively using a screen to set up a wide-open jumper is superbly satisfying, and while it can be a struggle to keep up on defence, the interaction between all 10 men on the court at any time has never looked or felt this realâ€ said GameSpot, who dished out 9/10.
Over on the download services stealthy RPG Styx: Master of Shadows sneaks onto Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Itâ€™s Â£22.49 with PS Plus for the next two weeks, or Â£24.99 otherwise. The Xbox One version on the other hand costs Â£23.99. If the gameâ€™s green goblin protagonist rings a bell thatâ€™ll be because he also starred in the underrated RPG Of Orcs and Men. It would appear that itâ€™s a typical Cyanide Game – its heart is in the right place but would have clearly benefited from a bigger budget. At less than Â£25 though the price tag should accommodate for the rough edges.
Also on PSN this week: the apparently superb Pix the Cat (Â£9.49 with PS4/PS Vita Cross-Buy support) and the factually superb Spelunky (Â£11.99) on PS4. Both are free on PS Plus this month, along with Dust: An Elysian Tale, Rainbow Moon, Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara, Batman: Arkham Asylum and – at some point – DriveClub: PS Plus Edition. Sony are currently experiencing DriveClub server woes.
Next week: The Evil Within (out Tuesday on PS4, PS3, Xbox One, 360, PC), Raven’s Cry (PS4, PS3, PC), Borderlands: The Pre-sequel! (PS3, 360, PC), F1 2014 (PS3, 360, PC), MXGP – The Official Motocross Videogame (PS4) and Winx Club: Saving Alfea (3DS, DS).