Games Round-up: 24/04/09

The trouble with building a new site, especially one with as many new features as this one, is that it takes time.  Time that you could be spending with Fat Princess, or the sublime Outrun Online Arcade.  Or, you know, reviewing the massive pile of games that are starting to clog up the hallway.  So, whilst we plough through them properly to ensure you get the definitive score, we though we’d better do a little round-up in case any of the games were on your to-buy list but were waiting for the TSA opinion.

Wheelman

It’s really good.  Honestly.  Although the rest of the gaming press prefers to compare it to a toilet, we’ve been having a ball with Vin Diesel and his Adventures in Barcelona.  I mentioned it on the Second Nature Podcast a week ago, and I’m still enjoying the game whenever I get the chance to play it.  It’s not perfect, it’s not as good as GTA 4 but it’s certainly a really nice title and love him or hate him Vin fits the role perfectly.  Yes, the cut-scenes aren’t the best, the editing needs a bit of work and the storyline jumps about a little too much but where it counts, the driving, the game excels.  Handling is halfway between Driver and Saints Row, the in-vehicle melee, shooting and car jacking works nicely and the Barcelona setting provides a good mix of narrow alleyways and wide open straights.  Great stuff.

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3

I’d already played through most of this on the 360, so I was surprised when the ‘enhanced’ PS3 version didn’t really do anything different apart from add a few extras to the menu, the visuals are much the same, there’s even tearing when upscaled to 1080p and it’s practically identical in every way.  However, this shouldn’t really be a negative unless you’ve already splashed the cash: Red Alert 3 is a massive game, one that controls well and presents a decent challenge to the RTS fan.  Single player allows three different campaigns and the multiplayer will keep you going for months.  There’s a huge amount to enjoy here and PS3 owners looking for something different will get extraordinary value for money.

Buzz: Brain of the UK

This should have been done and out weeks ago, as it’s essentially the same game as the last PS3 Buzz! in almost every way.  In what can really only be paradoxically described as a stand-alone expansion pack, Buzz: Brain of the UK offers the same characters, same game modes and same options as Buzz! Quiz TV does but places more emphasis on ensuring the questions are relevant to UK culture.  Heck, even the Trophies are the same.  Still, if you’ve already got Buzz! and want more questions and some easy Trophies, it’s a done deal.

Astro Tripper

We got the version with Trophies, so it’s a more complete game, but this shooter from Pom Pom shouldn’t be overlooked without the added bonus of Silverware.  It’s top down but based on a horizonal 2D plain, much like the classic Uridium on the C64.  The action is fast and smooth and the levels, whilst not exactly plentiful, present a decent challenge.  As with all games like this the high score table will keep you coming back for more, but whilst there’s nothing actually wrong with Astro Tripper it is an old game now, and most will have already played it on the Mac or PC.

The Godfather II

Sure, it’s not the best looking game on the PS3, but don’t write off the Godfather sequel without knowing a little bit about it.  The game’s biggest draw is the Don Mode.  New to the series, this mode gives you top-down control over every member of your family, from the hired hands to the made men, where they are, what they’re doing and importantly, allows you to see what still needs to be done in New York.  The Godfather II is an open ended mix of strategy and gritty GTA-esque fighting as you and your cohorts set about trying to restore your family’s name in the Big Apple.  There’s loads to do and the omnipresent challenge of trying to manage your men works with the game rather than distracting from it.  We’ll need to play it through to completion before casting our final judgement, but this is another one that we’re really enjoying just now.

Skate II

It’s true, I didn’t really like Skate – I found the controls to be overly complicated even after practice and the PS3 version paled against the much smoother 360 game.  And so it’s even more of a shame to find that the same is true with the sequel, with the PS3 iteration running at half the frame rate.  Yes, the controls are tighter and there’s more of a structure in place, but whilst the Skate series is naturally more suited to real skateboards I’ve not skated since I broke my wrist trying to do a kickflip (seriously) so the more arcade-like Hawk series has always been my personal preference.  Still, we’ll press on with the game because the challenges are just starting to heat up and despite it’s graphical issues there’s still a solid game underneath.  Great soundtrack, too.

Reviews of all these games will be coming to TSA as soon as possible.

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