GAMES: Quality for a quarter of a century
This week, Madden 25 touches down on Xbox 360, Lost Planet 3 enters the PS3 atmosphere and Final Fantasy XIV takes a Realm Reborn online on PC. Elsewhere, Rayman Legends hits PS3 and Asphalt 8: Airborne screeches onto iOS
Madden 25 | Xbox 360 | American Football | £34.99
This American Football franchise is as synonymous with the console world as Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog. For decades we’ve been delighted by a gradual reimagining of gridiron from one hardware generation to the next, and this 25th anniversary edition doesn’t disappoint in taking the series to the next level. Truly unleashing the power, precision, and creativity of the NFL running-back, an all new Run-Free mode throws much of what you thought you knew about the series out of the window - for the better - and plays a huge part in delivering one of the best NFL games you’ve ever seen. Whether you’re a slashing tailback, dual-threat QB, or ball-hawking safety, you can unleash thirty new moves and string together devastating combos with an all-new precision modifier. Yes, the learning curve to get you up and er... running with the new game mechanics may grate at times, but it’s absolutely worth it, and this is the biggest revolution in the franchise for the best part of 15 years. Perfecting your on pitch actions will take months, before you’ve even entertained the prospect of the incredible Owner mode, where every last detail of NFL team management is awaiting your instruction. Put simply, this game is beefier than any blocker you’re likely to encounter on-field - awesome!
Lost Planet 3 | PS3 | Action | £30.99
Beware, the extreme and unpredictable conditions that characterised the Lost Planet series are back - and harsher than ever before. Revealing new truths about the foreboding planet and the colonial history of E.D.N. III, you’re presented with a diverse range of gameplay styles, including on-foot battles and some pretty intense first person action. But this third entry seems to have lost the stand-out moments of the first two titles, which allowed you to forgive the occasional gameplay error. In delving deeper to the commendably engaging single player narrative, you’ll come across moments of atrocious AI and graphical glitches that dampen any enthusiasm for seeing this story through to the bitter end. Even the boss fights (a previous highlight for Lost Planet fans) have been neutered to the point of not being recognised as such. Though multiplayer modes perform well, there just seems to be too much about this third instalment that has strayed from the fun in LP1 and LP2. A harsh winter in outer space that will definitely leave you feeling cold.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn | PC | RPG | £15.99
Final Fantasy can probably boast one of the most devoted fan-bases around, and - drawing upon many hallmarks from the whole franchise - A Real Reborn brings the massively-multiplayer online adventure to current gaming generations. The game takes place five years after the realm of Eorzea was ravaged by the unleashing of Bahamut, the most powerful of the god-like Primals. As you dive headlong into this epic storyline, you’ll need to explore the world around you to the fullest to learn more details of events, while also honing your skills with the Armoury System (that allows your avatar to change role, abilities, and skills on-the-fly, without needing to create multiple characters). Such a flexible class system feels like the freedom afforded to gamers has been tripled, and along with unique events that allow for dynamic open world battles and adventures with other players online, A Realm Reborn looks set to add another hefty chunk of RPG fans to its merry band.
Rayman Legends | PS3 | Action | £26.99
Rayman Legends’s narrative follows on from Rayman Origins, after our heroes have awoken from a 100-year nap. During this extended snooze, nightmares have been allowed to infest the Glade of Dreams and, once Rayman has risen from his mysterious slumber, he must set off on a new adventure with his friends to restore order in the universe. Travelling between five different worlds, Ubisoft delivers an awesome single and multiplayer platform adventure, where you must defeat legendary enemies to save the Teenies from these evil villains. From traditional Rayman platforming action to new music rhythm-based stages, the innovative action never lets up, all presented in the crisp cartoon-style that we’ve come to know and love from this modern day Mario. Rayman is definitely deserving of being mentioned alongside the plumber’s finest hours, and Legends offers a tour de force of all-out action.
Asphalt 8: Airborne | iOS | Racing | £0.69
Some gamers savour the prospect of re-living real-world racing physics on their gaming platform of choice. Asphalt 8 asks you to forget about all that nonsense and embrace the over-the-top on-track action that rewards outrageous jumps, skids, swerves and shunts with even more in-car firepower propelling your vehicle to even dizzier high-speed jinks. Win races, win money and buy more powerful vehicles is the simple premise, but beneath the arcade bravado is a rock-solid game engine that’ll have you giggling your way through the twisting, turning array of excellent track set-ups, without a second thought for how disregarding the brake pedal would have altered the race outcome in the real world. An additional bit of graphical polish wouldn’t have gone amiss, but it’s a small gripe when the pull of venting your virtual road rage on the next race (especially when you head online) is so darn powerful.