Games round-up: from Assassin's Creed to Need For Speed
Start your engines for another bout of burning rubber in Need For Speed Hot Pursuit on PS3, or experience incredible Renaissance-era action in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood on Xbox 360.
Also, you could always wave your Wii Wand in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Ross Wilkinson reports
GAME OF THE WEEK: TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Title: Need For Speed Hot Pursuit
Console racer fans have had plenty to get their teeth into in 2010 and Need For Speed Hot Pursuit has made a late winter burst to grab the top spot on the podium going into the lucrative Christmas period: And it blows the competition away. Not only does it benefit from the same super-tight controls and jaw-dropping visuals that developers Criterion constantly delivered in the Burnout series, but it also offers up a cops and robbers-style career mode that sets it apart from the host of similar titles on the shelves right now. Blasting through this mode from both sides of the law will show you just how differently the same stretch of road can play out, depending on your driver objectives. Also, it's surprising just how much strategy you'll need to deploy to reach the later stages, where the cream of the souped-up motors come out to play. Add to that an incredibly satisfying online experience, and you have a game that's sure to hit the spot in stockings around the UK this Christmas.
PREDICT A RENAISSANCE RIOT
Title: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
Platform: Xbox 360
Genre: Action Adventure
The critically acclaimed Assassin's Creed experience is back and better than ever, as Ezio returns in an epic struggle against the powerful Templar Order. Now a legendary Master Assassin, Ezio must journey into Rome to strike at the heart of the enemy. And this time, defeating the corrupt tyrants entrenched there requires not only strength, but leadership, as you (Ezio) must command an entire Brotherhood that will rally to your side. This team-attacking capability is one of the major new developments for the stunning series - which is also enhanced by a host of new Renaissance-era gadgets and gizmos to help you in your epic quest. Yet again, the graphics are stunning and the story is as engaging as ever. When also considering the full-blown multiplayer mode added to the Brotherhood offering, gamers will find an embarrassment of action riches at their disposal here: All of which should see Ezio-mania live on for some time yet.
WHAT TRICKS ARE UP HARRY'S SLEEVES THIS YEAR?
Title: Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Genre: Action Adventure
The climax to an incredible era approaches, as the Harry Potter movie releases catch up with the books to provide fans of JK Rowling's creations a fitting visual crescendo. Sadly, this particular video game counterpart fails to live up to the inevitable hype, offering a disjointed, repetitive action affair that whips through key plot developments all too quickly. It also notably departs from the puzzle and mini-game format favoured by earlier incarnations from the series. Unfortunately this is to the detriment of the overall gaming experience. Where the films, LEGO game (episodes 1-4) and the Order Of The Phoenix game all conjured up the kind of Potter immersion that the author would have been proud of, the Deathly Hallows merely begs the question: "How will the developers raise their game to bring the eponymous hero back from the brink for episode two, just when he should be celebrating his gaming grand finale?" A serious dose of Hogwarts-inspired magic is required, let's put it that way...
GONNA MAKE YOU SWEAT...
Title: EA Sports Active 2 - Kinect Compatible
Platform: Xbox 360
Clear a space in the lounge and transfer all fragile valuables into another room, as EA Sports Active 2 - the home-based workout in a box - comes to Xbox 360. Making full use of the Kinect hardware's motion sensing capabilities, this title comes complete with new leg and arm straps as well as a heart monitor, which can track every press up and sparring session you complete. And it's the community element of the title that really adds a new dimension to the experience - with users able to track their fitness data through automatic uploads and then compare with the progress of friends. And the sheer scale of exercises to tackle is enough to make you exhausted, with more than 70 different tasks available to mould into your perfect personal fitness program. Alternatively, you can try out the ones designed by professional personal trailers. All in all, Sports Active 2 is a fab way of showing what motion sensing gaming can bring to the party, so get your shorts and sweatbands sharpish!
A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES
Title: Prince Of Persia: Trilogy In HD
One-disc game bundles often throw up some pretty incredible bargains, and the Prince Of Persia series has offered some impressive action on the previous console generation, so how does it fare in HD? Well, perhaps even more intriguing is how it shapes up in 3D. Yes, here you have the chance to play through more than 30 hours of Sands Of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones in stereoscopic 3D - provided you have a 3D TV. As a result, the trio of games benefits from some great new technology - even if the games themselves are exactly the same. But for gamers who didn't experience the series first time around, this is a brilliant introduction to the Prince Of Persia world - which spans two decades. Slick, fluid, bloodthirsty action tied expertly to responsive controls ticks pretty much all the boxes for many gamers, and the fact that the visual presentation has also been brought up to date definitely makes this one trilogy worth revisiting.
WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT
Games publishing veterans Mastertronic and visionary British company 3MRT have joined forces to launch a series of exam-busting games for the iPhone and iPod touch.
The apps have tried to fuse cutting-edge game design with GCSE-syllabus questions to create educational applications that have been proven in independent trials to increase pupils' knowledge within the chosen subject. The InQuizitor range of Apps - now available on iTunes - is based on the latest national curriculum.
The range combines question and answer sessions with gameplay rewards and studies have shown the apps increase a student's knowledge of a chosen subject.