Games review roundup: Halo: Reach; RUSE; Sports Champions; Grease: The Video Game and our Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep competition
Before we delve into this week’s reviews proper it’s worth flagging up our Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep competition; we’re giving away not only a special edition copy of the game but also art print packs, magnet sets and postcard sets — enough to keep the kids occupied for a while basically.
The competition closes on 15 October, click here to enter.
Platform: Xbox 360
And so, the final Halo ever to be designed by its creator, Bungie, is upon us. Halo: Reach, a series prequel, casts the player as Noble 6, member of elite Spartan squad, Noble Team as they look to prevent Covenant forces from wiping humanity off the face of the planet.
Halo: Reach is a diverse adventure from inception to finale, not only sporting an impressive new look, but also boasting impressive AI; something of a franchise signature. It’s true that Reach plays it reasonably safely, innovation taking the form of gameplay tweaks rather than grand redesigns, but Bungie can’t really be blamed for not wanting to fix a working machine.
Perhaps the best of the additions is the oft-discussed space combat section, though on the short-side it serves to demonstrate the flexibility of the new engine perfectly, adding another mode of play to a game which continually presents the player with diverse encounters and objectives.
Your Spartan comrades are admittedly on the predictable side, a rag-tag bunch of gentle-giants, lone guns, wild cards or else grizzled, by the book career soldiers; but you can’t help but form an attachment to them. The plot meanwhile, in the tradition of all overly elaborate sci-fi operas, weaves an epic tragedy spanning land and space — a fitting end to Bungie’s Halo legacy.
Online options similarly impress, even offering a powerful map editor, Forge, which enables fans to create ever more detailed maps to take online. In fact it’s no stretch at all to predict that long after Bungie’s next project — whatever that may be — is released, Halo fans will still be blasting away on Reach’s virtual battlegrounds. *****
Platform: PS3 Move
As PS3 Move is to the Nintendo Wii, so Sports Champions is to Wii Sports Resort; a more advanced re-imagining carrying a sense of déjà vu. Sports Champions features six activities in all: frisbee golf, gladiator duel, beach volleyball, archery, bocce (boules by any other name) and table tennis. The mature visuals, much more realistic that the cartoon Wii Sports, impose heightened realism while each sport plays exactly as you’d expect; Move mapping gestures with superb accuracy. More sports would have been better, but this is a must for early Move adopters; showing off the potential of Move while delivering an experience better than most party orientated games. ***
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
RUSE, a real-time strategy game set in WWII, might be a little clichéd – just wait until you hear those over-the-top Brit and US accents – but offers a truly tactical RTS with a well structured learning curve which gradually turns up the difficulty. The ruse mechanic, various means of espionage carried out by decoding enemy transmissions or deploying spies, makes for an entertaining system of attack and counter that provides an element of depth mission from many similar titles.
It translates magnificently to consoles too, the controls having been ingeniously thought out to make troop selection simple; it even supports PS3 Move. Eugen Systems deserve high praise indeed for attempting such a complex game on home consoles; here’s hoping more developers follow their example. ****
Grease: The Video Game
Platform: DS, Wii
Publisher: 505 Games
It’s more than 30 years since Danny, Sandy, Rizzo and co negotiated their way through their last year at Rydell High on the big screen. Now, would be T-Birds and Pink Ladies (I imagine there’ll be more of the latter than the former) can warble along to their favourite songs, master the hand jive and steer hot rods down Thunder Road. It’s all a bit slight but proper clips from the film and a party spirit just about keep things on track. Altogether now, “Summer loving, had me a blast…” **
By Rebecca ArmstrongTagged in: Games review roundup, grease the video game, halo reach, kingdom hearts birth by sleep, ps3 move, ruse, sports champions, videogames
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