Game reviews: The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
This week, The Elder Scrolls goes Online on Xbox One, LEGO Jurassic World roars onto PS4 and Payday 2's Crimewave Edition lets rip on the same system. Elsewhere AlphaBetty Saga tests your wordplay puzzling skills and Hitman Sniper demands a steady hand on smartphone and tablet
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
Platform: Xbox One
Tamriel takes the RPG biscuit
Wow. Just when you thought the RPG world couldn't get any bigger and more immersive, along comes the latest iteration of the Elder Scrolls franchise to take the benchmark and lift it a few feet higher.
For the first time ever, you can now explore the legendary world of Tamriel with your friends on a console. Here, you'll embark on heroic single-player quests, explore the sprawling world alone or with pals, or join forces with hundreds of others in player vs. player battles as they all seek to unravel the secrets of an incredible playing environment. We're talking hundreds of hours of content here, so don't rush the experience.
The narrative is arresting from the off, allied to slick combat, customisation and character-building mechanics. And this is just the start. As with all successful massively multiplayer online titles, the launch of the game only hints at the future potential for players that stick around in this glorious fantasy world.
And after just a day or two with this universe at your fingertips, you'll know that this is virtual land well worth living in for the long term. 90%
LEGO Jurassic World
A prehistoric playground to be proud of
Hold on to your LEGO studs, and prepare to discover Jurassic Park for the first time in brick-built form! Here, you'll find a disc bursting with the stories from the three blockbuster Jurassic Park films as well as this year's Jurassic World.
Following the quartet of action-packed storylines, everything has been meticulously reimagined in LEGO form and is told in TT Games' signature classic LEGO humour, as you play out those unforgettable scenes and action sequences from the films.
Not only that, but you'll also be able to fully explore the expansive grounds of Isla Nublar and Isla Sorna, unearthing your very own dinosaur discoveries. The action's not limited to human characters either.
You can even take control of some of the prehistoric critters, too, tackling the infectious mix of exploration, puzzling and combat action through the eyes of the predators as well as the potential prey. It's another golden success star for the LEGO gaming cabinet, as the old films are reinvigorated for a new generation, while this year's big film release gets a movie tie-in to be proud of - a rare occurrence these days. 87%
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition
Crime does pay to play, just about...
The premise of Payday 2 plays to every action movie fan's most memorable moment - the perfectly played out bank job. But, despite promising 30 missions of extreme shooter action, it's immediately disappointing to discover that many of the challenges in this game follow the same structure, resulting in repetition and a feeling of being short-changed.
That's a shame, because at times this title does give you an adrenalin rush from bagging all the booty without being discovered, or winning out in a fire-fight with the cops after you've blown your cover.
The four-player co-op feature is a pretty unique option, and the addition of detailed skill trees ensure that levelling up can be channelled down the route of your gameplay preference, be it stealth, technology, tactics or brute force.
Overall, Payday 2 is a crime spree that's probably worth taking on, particularly with the Crimewave Edition additional content available on latest generation consoles for the first time. Just don't expect to strike gold when you crack the safe. 79%
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
A puzzling, spelling sensation
King sure know how to make ultra-addictive endless puzzlers. Not content with the saccharine-filled Candy Crush, we had the Farm Heroes to frolic with in another expertly executed iteration of the match-three genre.
Here, AlphaBetty Saga manages to combine more matching in dozens of objective-based levels, yet this time there's the added complication that all of the tiles are lettered so your matches must make spelling sense, as well as aid your progress on each board.
It's a brilliant next step for King fans looking for a little more of a cerebral challenge beyond the tactical swiping in the aforementioned titles. And you'll get that in spades, as the power-ups that are gradually introduced become crucial to bringing special tiles to the bottom of the board. Word play remains central to the action, though, and the bigger your vocabulary, the better.
Presentation-wise, this feels like another member of the puzzler family, with a familiar vertical scrolling game board, where you can chart your own and Facebook friends' progression, while the in-game graphics are crisp and colourful throughout. Scrabble tiles are given a whole new lease of life here, and you'll love the quick gaming fix that 10 minutes a day with AlphaBetty can bring. 85%
A sniping sensation from Agent 47
Hitman GO took the assassin's exploits in an entirely different turn-based direction recently, but Sniper returns to the franchise's roots, putting you in charge of Agent 47 to do what he does best - dispatch his enemies with brutal efficiency and minimum fuss.
Here, the sniper rifle or, to be more precise, the 13 sniper rifles on offer are your best friends, as you tackle more than 150 individual missions, taking out target after target with your impeccable aiming skills.
The game is simply gorgeous, and pretty memory intensive as a result, so it's best enjoyed on some of Apple's later devices. But this, and the app admission, are prices worth paying as Hitman: Sniper quickly establishes itself as one of the finest shooter experiences on smartphone and tablet, as well as another deliciously atmospheric encounter with everybody's favourite follicly-challenged killing machine. Skill, subtlety and subterfuge executed this way is a sure-fire route to success. 88%
WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT?
RPG fans have been rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of entering the post-apocalyptic world of Fallout once again, after it was announced that the fourth title in the series would be with us soon.
It will be the first addition to the award-winning franchise since 2010, and promises a huge 3D open world, set in the devastated environment of Boston. Although a release date hasn't yet been confirmed, fans can still savour the trailer online, offering the promise of yet more incredible RPG action, this time featuring a dog as a potential secondary controllable character, as well as simply stunning visuals on the next generation of games consoles.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, The Witcher 3 continued its dominance of the top 10, while GTA V climbed one place from three to two. No new entries made it into the upper echelons of the chart, and the established top titles continued to jostle for position, as Project CARS jumped from seven to six and Farming Simulator 15 fell from five to seven.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
2. Grand Theft Auto V
3. FIFA 15
5. Battlefield Hardline
6. Project CARS
7. Farming Simulator 15
9. Minecraft: Xbox Edition
10. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2015 UKIE Ltd