Games round-up: Halo, Ruse, Sports Champions, Start The Party
Halo fans get another incredible dose of shooter action as Reach is finally released on Xbox 360 this week, while Sony celebrates the launch of its new Move motion-sensing technology with two interactive titles, Sports Champions and Start The Party.
R.U.S.E is a real-time strategy with a twist on Xbox 360 and R-Type revisits some old shoot 'em up arcade ground on iPhone.
GAME OF THE WEEK: A SUPREME HALO SEND-OFF
Title: Halo: Reach
Platform: Xbox 360
It's been touted as the last hurrah for the Halo series, delicately crafted by Microsoft's Bungie development team, and pretty much all that fans want to know is whether Halo: Reach proves to be a fitting send-off for the series.
And the answer is a resounding yes. With a single player campaign packed with more meaty Covenant conflict than you can shake a carefully customised armoured fist at, and a mulitplayer experience that easily rivals the very best online action out there right now, Reach is an instant classic.
Fans of the series will revel in the epic storyline, while newcomers will wonder why they've dodged Spartan advances for so long. Refined combat, a host of strategic armoury options, and an Xbox Live community ready to effortlessly rack up millions of online hours of glorious FPS fun and frolics - what are you waiting for, Reach out and touch one of the finest shooters ever created.
ON THE MOVE
Title: Sports Champions - Move Compatible
So, it's finally here, the much hyped Move peripheral, hoping to snag a hefty chunk of the Wii motion-sensing market with a wand-like controller boasting a big blob on the end, which is tracked by the PlayStation Eye camera.
So, how does this translate to a host of interactive sporting activity, I hear you cry? Well, it's the jewel in the launch crown, giving motion gamers the chance to master disc golf, archery, gladiator duelling, volleyball, bocce and table tennis.
The latter is certainly the best, and the precision accuracy of movement is astounding. Archery is probably second on this list, and there's immense satisfaction to be had from exploding the flying watermelons in one of the more outlandish modes.
The other sports provide an almost tutorial-like glimpse of what Move can do, but don't really have enough to hold you for long, or keep you - and the rest of the family - coming back for more. Which is where Wii Sports really hit the bullseye...
Verdict: 78% Click here to watch trailer
YOUR FACE IN THE GAMING FUTURE
Title: Start The Party - Move Compatible
Have a good look in the mirror before you slip the Start The Party disc into your PS3 - you're going to be looking at yourself on screen for some time! Here's a bundle of silly mini-games that superbly showcase Move's extreme motion sensitivity, whether you're cutting the hair of computer characters with virtual clippers or blasting ghosts with your imaginary torch.
There's a reasonable amount of variety in what you have to do across the different games, but when you scratch beneath the surface and look beyond the shiny new technology, there's not much here that will suck you in to the point that you're happy to stare at yourself in the telly in the hope of achieving every mini-game's goal or high score.
For now, it seems that Sony has definitely put some sexy technology in place for the future, but there's still a way to go in terms of game quality.
THE THINKING MAN'S WAR TITLE
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Real Time Strategy
Chess is the oldest strategy game around and it can keep you thinking for hours on end, planning moves and counter-moves.
R.U.S.E. represents almost the perfect real-time strategy equivalent, allowing players to carefully assemble and manoeuvre their troops into position, while bluffing their enemies in order to lead their nation to victory.
Zooming seamlessly from the heart of the battlefield to the full, pulled-back theatre of war, R.U.S.E. boasts a fantastically intuitive interface that really sets the benchmark for this kind of title on consoles, and making the ability to deceive and mislead the enemy such an integral part of the game is an excellent twist, and one which also makes it a stand-out title within the genre.
Give yourself time to understand the finer points of the gameplay, though, you won't become a supreme commander overnight, but when it all clicks, R.U.S.E. represents a thoroughly satisfying challenge for wannabe warmongers or chess grandmasters alike...
YOUR TYPE OF SHOOT 'EM UP?
Genre: Shoot 'em up
R-Type was an Eighties classic, praised not only for its colourful, detailed graphics, but also for the sizeable shoot 'em up challenge it presented for even the hardest-core of gamers back then.
Bringing it to the iPhone is something of a brave decision, because the control method needs to be spot on to ensure the challenge remains big but not impossible and impaired for flummoxed fingers and thumbs.
Auto-fire works well and the two permanent buttons that charge your shots or send your powered-up satellite into battle are well positioned. Planting your thumb wherever you like on the other side of the screen to create a virtual joystick is ingenious and works for the most part, aside from when you're attacked from behind and may miss the enemies sneaking up on you. R-Type has always been about precision movement and recollection of level structure.
You'll need both in spades again on the iPhone, and overall it's an admirable port.
WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT
Despite having atrocious voices and appalling dance moves, Jedward's post X Factor experience has been nothing but positive, with rumours abound that the not-so-dynamic duo have already amassed £1 million each from record sales, book and TV deals and public appearances.
And they can chuck another £250k into the pot, according to The Sun, which reported that the twins have agreed to front Nintendo's Christmas marketing campaign, which has relied heavily on celebrity talent to sell Wii and DS delights in the run-up to the festive period. The pair, John and Edward Grimes, are said to be filming a video and shooting posters in the coming weeks.
In the charts this week, Mafia II grabbed one more week of glory before no doubt being swept away by Halo: Reach-mania, while Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2 surged up the chart from 10 to two. A flurry of new entries also burst on to the scene, with Tetris Party Deluxe, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep and R.U.S.E. all making their debuts from five to eight respectively.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Mafia II
2. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. 2
3. Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days
4. Toy Story 3
5. Tetris Party Deluxe
6. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
7. Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep
9. Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
10. Red Dead Redemption
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) ELSPA (UK) Ltd
Sony Move PS3 Trailers