Page 1 of 0
The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim
7 New from
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released in 2006, nearly six years ago. Doesn't time fly...
I digress. As the name suggests, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the next in the series, and it improves on Oblivion in almost every regard. That alone should make it an essential purchase, but if you're still not swayed then look at the overwhelmingly positive praise lavished on the game from both professional reviewers and the members of the general public - yes, Skyrim really is that good.
Be prepared to lose another six years of your life...
Battle: Los Angeles
26 New from
It may be accused of being a touch derivative, even cliched and while there's some truth to such accusations it's an entertaining enough slice of nonsense with some great visuals and a few moments of genuine tension.
20 New from
Wannabe writer Eddie Morra is a mess; heartbroken, broke and suffering from writer's block. At least until an old acquaintance slips him an experimental smart drug, transforming him from scuzzy loser into "improved Eddie", a man with the midas touch. He's a genius. He's utterly charming. He can fight like Bruce Lee. He can speak many different languages. Of course, soon the side effects begin to take their toll (an impressively frumpy Anna Friel gets a few scenes up as a burned-out former addict) and Eddie soon finds himself haunted by blackouts and hunted by bad guys, threatening not just himself but those around him too. The material may be slightly daft, but it's well directed and Cooper is a suitably charismatic lead, carrying the whole thing with typical panache, and while for a moment it seems like the film is going to deliver nothing but a "drugs are bad" message, it takes another smart twist. It's not perfect; De Niro is underused and it says a lot for Cooper's perfomance that he manages to make De Niro's supposedly ruthless billionaire mogul look a bit toothless, but it's a very tongue-in-cheek thriller that's well worth your time.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
8 New from
Yes, Arkham Asylum is a pretty short game. The main story will likely take around ten - twelve hours to get through, but it's a thrilling ride and it really does do a fantastic job of making you feel like Batman.
At forty quid the length would be more of an issue, but now it's so cheap it's hard to find any reason not to recommend it. If you've not yet done so, buy it now.
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D (3DS)
4 New from
Ocarina of Time (OoT) is a genuine classic, and one of the most celebrated games of all time, and not without good reason. When it was released for the N64 in 1998 it was a revelation; a fully 3d adventure game with a scope that was scarcely believable. Many of the ideas in the game directly influenced titles of today, that's how important it was. It was truly a landmark in design.
However, thirteen years has now passed. Can OoT still hold it's head high? Yes is the simple answer. It's no longer quite the jaw dropping spectacle it once was, the once sprawling fields of Hyrule now feel rather empty and small, but it remains a brilliantly crafted adventure and the enhanced graphics and the truly terrific 3d effect mean it'll keep even OoT veterans happy.
Yes, it's showing its age a little now but if you've not played the game on the N64 before, I'd even suggest it'd still be worth that missing fifth star in the score. In any event, if you own a 3DS you need to own this game.
18 New from
This may well be my favourite title on PS3. It's one of those rare beasts, an instant cult classic that tries to do something a little different and more often than not gets it absolutely spot on.
It's not perfect; there's an element of chance in the combat that can sometimes seem to weigh heavily against you, and there are a couple of points in the story mode where the difficulty suddenly rises without much warning, but these are trivial complaints given the quality of the game.
It's a gem of a game that deserves a chance in every PS3 owners collection.
Dragon Age 2
14 New from
Dragon Age: Origins, despite the rough edges, was a fantastic RPG. All Dragon Age II needed to do was to improve the rather last-gen graphics and deliver the same blend of character and story and it would've been one of the best games of this generation.
Yet, this isn't the case. DAII abandons the world of Ferelden, moving the adventure to lands outside those seen in DA:O, yet rather than giving us a new land to explore events are largely restricted to a single city, and when the adventure moves outside the city walls you are typically taken to one of several identikit caves / dungeons / mountain paths to explore. This gets boring quite quickly because there's no reason to wonder "what's-round-the-corner?"
The biggest change is that the story is now focussed on a single character, Hawke, rather than a world threatening event. The game sticks with Hawke as he (or she) deals with life in the city, and while the city is eventful, dealing with treasure hunts, hostile visitors and near full-on civil war, you have little influence over the eventual outcome of most things. Hawke is our window into these events, but they would be happening whether he was there or not, there's no real sense that you're particularly important in the grand scheme of things. Realistic it may be, but it's just another way in which DA2 is inferior to DA:O.
And that, sadly, is the bottom line. DA2 is technically better; the graphics and environments are much better looking than before, and the combat is faster paced and more fluid, but the story never grabs you in the same way, the game curiously failing to engage like its predecessor. Despite the rather negative tone to this review, DA2 isn't a bad game, far from it; it's a competent and entertaining enough game in its own right as the three star score will attest, but it still feels like a bit of a let down coming as a sequel to Origins.
Saints Row 2 (Classics)
11 New from
Technically SR2 was never going to win any awards. It's certainly competent, but in some aspects it still feels a little like a tarted up Xbox/PS2 game visually.
Not that you'll care about any of that.
SR2 is all about messing about and it gives you all the tools to do just that. It takes itself far less seriously than the likes of GTA4 and is a better game for it. The story is also pretty good, (if a little cliched in some parts) there's a lot of content and the multiplayer modes are equally diverse and entertaining.
While it's definitely not a game for the kids, SR2 remains one of the best sandbox games this generation, a game with its tongue very firmly in its cheek. With SR3 on the horizon, there's never been a better time to surrender to the charms of Saints Row.
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels Of The Starry Skies
12 New from
Sounds a little daft that, doesn't it?
Yet DQIX refuses to be pigeonholed, it manages to feel completely familiar yet also utterly unique.
First things first though, the main meat of an RPG is it's story and in truth DQIXs could be said to be a little lacking. There's essentially a single narrative thread holding the story together but for the most part you're travelling from town to town and dealing with individual problems encountered there, the main narrative being almost silenced in the process. I find it a charming way of presenting the story, yet I can understand those who may criticise it for not being engaging enough, or for nor instilling any sense of urgency. It may also draw ciriticism for one of it's greatest strengths; the ability to customise your own character. Yes, you can make your own party but the options in the create-a-character are a bit limited, and while it's fun to make a likeness of yourself and you best friends / girlfriends/ cousins etc, it does mean that not a single member of your party has any real character development outside of that which you dream up for them. Again, not really something that bothered me hugely, but it is a valid criticism.
So the story and characterisation could be lacking yet I've still awarded it four stars? How so?
Well, for all it's faults, it is still a grand adventure and great fun to take part in. DQ has a very unique and easy charm that makes it almost impossible to dislike and even in the more sombre moments, there's a very real (or surreal!) sense of humour. For the most part it's a very old-school JRPG with all the good and bad that comes with the territory; combat is turn based, you move from twon to town doing good deeds to progress the story and you fight monsters to earn experience to make yourself stronger.
The vocation system (essentially allowing every party member access to one of eight different classes) allows you to choose exactly how you wish to defeat the enemy, be it with brute strength, with Magic, with trickery or any combination of the above.
It's also one of the most rewarding games you'll ever play, regardless of genre and regardless of the limits of being on the DS. The story itself may take sixty or seventy hours to beat, but only then does the game really get going. The post-game content is huge. Gargantuan even. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of hours of content, be it extra quests, extra dungeons or new bosses, DQIX has always got something new to show you. So, a single player MMO? In some cases, it can feel a bit like that, especially once the main story is done and dusted. There's nothing to drive you forward except your own determination to find ever stronger monsters and ever better equipment, and because the game is far less popular in the UK than in Japan, the local-only multiplayer mode, which was trumpeted as a major selling point, seems unlikely to see much use.
Ultimately, it's not perhaps as good as the much-loved DQVIII on PlayStation 2, but it's still one of the best RPGs on the DS and well worth checking out.
Steel Diver (3DS)
22 New from
A game combining strategy and action sections should be a lot more fun than this. The main missions, the sideways scrolling sections, are very slow paced and largely uneventful, and the controls (using the stylus to alter dials which in turn affect your movement) never feel natural. The strategy sections fare equally poorly - the pace is glacial. I enjoy strategy games where the rewards match your patience, but these quickly become simply boring. Better were the action sections, using the 3DS built in gyroscope to sink enemy boats and subs. Sadly, in practice it's almost identical to the 3DS' inbuilt "Face Raider" game and as such it's relegates Steel Diver to being three mini-games rather than a cohesive whole, and none of the three parts is in any way strong enough to keep the package afloat.
Okay, no more bad puns, honest.