All-out action from a Chinese cracker
This week, Dynasty Warriors 8 slices onto PS3, The Smurfs 2 bounce onto Xbox 360, and Peugeot revs up some Pocket Racing on iPhone. Deus Ex: The Fall also provides big budget shooter action on iOS and Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few goes gun-crazy on Nintendo 3DS
Dynasty Warriors 8 | PS3 | Action | £34.99
After eight iterations, you’d hope the Dynasty Warriors franchise was reaching its peak. And sure enough, it seems the lessons from previous versions have all been taken on board as you set out to follow the stories of the kingdoms of Wei, Wu, Shu and Jin through the actions of historical military and political figures of the time.
It proves to be a masterclass in balancing tactical depth with all-out action. And it’s in these action areas that the biggest improvements are uncovered, with each character’s abilities standing out as totally unique from the other 70-odd that are playable. The game also packs in a mass of ingenious weapons, an awesome audio soundtrack and a host of other delicate gameplay touches that will detract from the odd framerate issue when dozens of enemies are on screen all at once. The DW8 developers have clearly listened, learned and responded to criticisms of earlier titles, delivering a ludicrously enjoyable dose of ancient Chinese hack’n’slash. You should definitely snaffle it up this summer.
The Smurfs 2 | Xbox 360 | Family | £22.99
Following hot on the heels of the kid-friendly movie sequel, there will also be a barrage of blue-faced folk onto consoles this summer. In this action-packed adventure platformer, Smurfs fans of all ages get the chance to dive into the magical Smurfs Village and relive moments from the feature film, taking in sights from diverse New York City to Paris and the Arctic Tundra to the Lava Jungle. Offering solo or co-op play, nine Smurfs act as playable characters, each with unique special abilities to use when navigating through the 30-odd levels across six different worlds. Whether you’re Papa Smurf chucking magic potions to stun enemies, or stomping on them as Grouchy Smurf, the game offers good family action fun for gamers, without ever really pushing the boundaries of what this genre could offer. It’s definitely one for the younger gamers out there, but delivered to an acceptable level of quality to avoid the dreaded movie tie-in moniker.
Heavy Fire: The Chosen Few 3D | Nintendo 3DS | Action | £14.99
Purported to offer “blisteringly fast-paced action set in a modern-day Afghanistan”, Heavy Fire should have shooter fans rushing to lock and load, particularly with the addition of 3D visuals. This on-rails shooter harks back to the days of Time Crisis and Virtua Cop, where you must despatch enemies with sharp-shooting skills at each stage of every level, moving through conflicts and continents at pace. However, the gameplay, glitches and choppy graphical presentation also prove to be reminiscent of a bygone gaming era, rarely raising the experience beyond the pedestrian. Minimal customisation, regular awkward aiming and limited audio prove to be three bullets to the chest of this title, even if everything else was as frenetic and visceral as you’d have hoped. Even the admirable number of guns to unlock won’t stop you from wanting to down weapons and simply surrender to the enemy.
Peugeot Pocket Racing | iPhone / iPad | Racing | FREE
Pocket Racing and Pocket Racing 2 have already served iPhone gamers well with their retro brand of top-down addictive race action. Here, Peugeot boosts proceedings with a serious injection of power and perks for mobile gamers, including 11 exhilarating new tracks and a cracking range of sport and concept cars, such as the super-sporty 208 GTi and all-electric EX1 Concept. From London to Lombardy, and Spain to Singapore, PPR looks, sounds and plays fantastically well. Whether you’re steering with on-screen buttons or tilt controls, the responsive handling is complemented by automatic acceleration and gear changing, plus the ability to fine tune gear ratios, turning sensitivity and downforce. Fifty in-game achievements can be unlocked through World Tour, Cone Challenge and Time Trial modes, while socially integrated leaderboards also allow you to check your Facebook pals’ progress, or post times to Twitter see if they can knock you off your podium perch. Whoever wins out there, though, Peugeot Pocket Racing will continue to ride high in pole position in the App Store.
Deus Ex: The Fall | iPhone / iPad | Action | £4.99
Deus Ex: Human Revolution was critically acclaimed on PC and consoles, and delivered one of those game experienceS where the ambiance and visual make-up of the futuristic world ensured your time with lead character Adam Jensen would never completely sink from your gaming consciousness. The Fall represents an ambitious attempt to mirror the same level of graphical grandeur, slick stealth/shooter mechanics and a sci-fi story to totally suck you into your touchscreen. And for the most part, it succeeds. The often-unresponsive floating joystick mechanic operates well as you dash down dark corridors, take cover to lure enemies towards you, or embark on an all-out bullet-fest. Meanwhile, excellent graphics and audio crank up the entertainment level further. This then leaves only a couple of niggles, around in-game glitches and some ridiculously hard moments in the story, in an otherwise wonderful action adventure for iPhone and iPad.