Game reviews: Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy, Syberia: Complete Collection, Fossil Fighters: Frontier, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions and Top Eleven 2015
This week, Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy gets moving on PS Vita, Syberia's Complete Collection launches on PS3, and the Fossil Fighters are up and running on Nintendo 3DS. Elsewhere, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions and Top Eleven 2015 pop intergalactic and football fireworks on smartphone and tablet.
Operation Abyss: New Tokyo Legacy
Platform: PS Vita | Genre: RPG | Price: £29.99
RPG dungeon-crawling, Tokyo-style
From the team that brought us last year's excellent Demon Gaze comes Operation Abyss, a sci-fi dungeon-crawler RPG set in a near-future Tokyo. The city is under the constant threat of Variants - genetically engineered monsters - and the emergence of portals leading to a mysterious dimension called the Abyss.
As such, the government has established the Code Physics Agency to investigate these mysterious phenomena, and as part of the Xth Squad - a unique group of teens modified by the CPA's Code technology - you must evade traps, face down powerful monsters, and investigate the mystery behind the Abyss.
Key to the success of Operation Abyss is the cracking team-building system that allows you to recruit and train your unit of six team members to venture into the unknown - customising class, personality and morality to your liking.
Add in a dungeon set that's likely to take well over 40 hours to exhaust, and you have a bold, bulky sci-fi story that will keep your Vita screen alight long into the night as you lap up the secret doors, challenging enemies, and gorgeous art direction throughout. 87%
Syberia: Complete Collection
Platform: PS3 | Genre: Action/Adventure | Price: £23.99
Ageing adventure series is back with a bang
Amid all the hype and hysteria surrounding the next-generation releases of today, it's still possible to unearth a gem that has stood the test of time and offers an engaging, emotive experience, despite being more than a decade old.
Syberia is a pure adventure game, where players will discover a magical world of automatons, and meet amazing and intriguing characters in a series of mysterious and beautifully detailed European environments.
Add in the fact that Syberia 2 is also included in the bundle, and you have a bona fide bonanza of third-person expedition on your hands here. The central character, Kate Walker, is not in the same league as the likes of Lara Croft when it comes to gaming heroines, and Syberia doesn't take a combat-heavy tack on proceedings, favouring a logic puzzle-driven approach.
But there's a distinct charm to the unique storytelling, backed up by brilliant graphics that still perform admirably on Sony's ageing console. It really is a hidden gem, worthy of uncovering if you never saw it shine first time around. 81%
Fossil Fighters: Frontier
Platform: Nintendo 3DS | Genre: Puzzle | Price: £30.99
Prehistoric Pokemon-a-like, more for RPG pretenders than pros
The latest game in the Fossil Fighters series continues to deliver on its premise of offering a Pokemon-style playing experience.
RPG success can be found at the bottom of the trenches you dig to excavate fossils, which transform into real-life dinosaurs known as Vivosaurs. Battling your Vivosaurs with the wild ones that you encounter on digging adventures is a little complicated to comprehend at first, but the turn-based battle system can be tackled with confidence once you've familiarised yourself with the influence of elemental types attached to each beast. It's a pretty uncomplicated RPG outing, which acts more as a gentle introduction to the genre, rather than a comprehensive, challenging addition to your collection.
This is best illustrated by the overly-lengthy tutorial sections at the start of the game, which will prove useful to younger newcomers, but a pest to the pros. Overall, this is a prehistoric playground worth exploring, but with carefully-managed expectations. 74%
Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Platform: iPhone/iPad | Genre: Arcade | Price: £3.99
A mobile geometric war worthy of awards
Geometry Wars has already made ripples in the major console arena, offering a super-sharp arcade shooter experience for retro Meteoroid/R-Type fans. Here, Dimensions delivers a smartphone and tablet perspective on proceedings with a seamless port from the big screen to the touchscreen.
Packed with the full Adventure mode across over 50 levels, each with three stars to achieve, there's a whopping amount of content here for under four quid, and it plays out in a colourful, mind-bending mash-up of line-drawn Tron-like challenges, where you may be marauding around a three-dimensional play area shaped like a sphere, sausage, or something in between.
Best played on iPad, this is a console-quality app, which has been translated well to touchscreen controls. It lacks the enjoyable multiplayer mode from earlier iterations, but this is a small gripe when you look at what's been delivered for on-the-go gamers here. A must-have app for twin-stick shooter fans. 91%
Top Eleven 2015
Platform: iPhone/iPad | Genre: Football Management | Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
The Special One is gunning for virtual football glory
Top Eleven has been canny in securing Jose Mourinho as its poster boy for the pocket football simulation series. The 'special one' - fresh off the back of a real-world Premier League title - is now on hand to offer in-game advice and tips in the virtual simulation that has captivated more than 10 million players a month. The move from Facebook game to iOS offering is long overdue, and existing players are able to simply log in within the app to resume their most recent exploits on the pitch.
The mobile interface is smart and intuitive, allowing you to navigate the multitude of menus with minimum fuss. Overall, as a free-to-play management sim, it's perfectly good fun, but it won't be long until you're screaming from the touchline about one league fixture a day, the time delay for those all-important tokens and some other standard in-app purchase bugbears. Not really a title-winning performance, more top six material... 77%
WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT?
Details of FIFA's eagerly anticipated annual celebration of the beautiful game have emerged, and international women's teams will finally be gracing the virtual stage as 12 countries join the team roster for this autumn's 2016 edition. It's the first time that women have featured in the franchise since the first release back in 1993, and represents a landmark moment for football video games.
In other FIFA 16 news, EA Sports have dropped a bit of a bombshell by confirming that there will be no PS Vita or 3DS edition, or versions for either of Nintendo's major consoles - Wii and Wii U.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, The Witcher 3 deservedly kept its place at the head of the pack for another seven days, while the only new entry, Splatoon, debuted strongly at two. GTA V and FIFA 15 held firm at three and four, while Minecraft's Xbox Edition crept back into the limelight at 10, climbing three places from 13.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. FIFA 15
5. Farming Simulator 15
6. Battlefield Hardline
7. Project CARS
9. Mortal Kombat X
10. Minecraft: Xbox Edition
(Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2015 UKIE Ltd)