The Week Ahead - 23/02/07

Feature: Your guide to what's hot and what's not

In this new CVG column we'll be taking a look at the week ahead (as the title suggests), bringing you up to speed on the releases coming your way over the next seven days that command your attention.

Most games are released on Fridays (to maximise weekend buying activity) but if something is brought forward or moves, this is the place to come if you want to track the title that just keeps on slipping (naming no names, S.T.A.L.K.E.R.). We'll even throw in one or two hardware and peripheral releases if we think they're worthy.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (23/02/07):

  • Blitz: The League, Xbox 360, Midway
  • Crackdown, Xbox 360, Microsoft
  • Final Fantasy XII, PS2, Square Enix
  • Fossil League, D3Publisher, DS
  • Ghost Rider, GBA, PS2, PSP, 2K Games
  • Infernal, PC, Playlogic
  • Kororinpa, Wii, Hudson
  • Midway Arcade Treasures, PC, Midway
  • Pippa Funnel 3: The Golden Stirrup Challenge, PC, Ubisoft
  • Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six, PSP, Ubisoft

You have to pity the publisher that brings a game out on the same day as the long anticipated Final Fantasy XII, which is exactly what Ubisoft is doing by releasing Pippa Funnel 3: The Golden Stirrup Challenge this coming Friday. It doesn't stand a chance...

Of course, different audiences, different markets but you have to wonder how anything is going to compete with Square Enix's 100+ hour PS2 behemoth. Can Crackdown make a dent in its hardcore following?


Final Fantasy XII (PS2)

How can we sum up this game in just a few words? 'Buy it!' is probably most succinct. If you've never played a Final Fantasy game before it's the perfect place to start. And if you have you should realise straight away that this mammoth chapter in the series has done away with random encounters entirely, the only thing that really grated in previous episodes.

There's a new 'gambit' system allowing you to tailor combat commands to your every whim and a kind of bizarre chess-style mini-game that lets you unlock special 'licence' abilities for your characters. It's all done with Square Enix's usual Úlan, story-telling genius and focus on sumptuous visuals. Pippa Funnel RIP.


Crackdown (Xbox 360)

This is Dave Jones' (the creator of GTA and Lemmings) latest title and it takes the free-roaming concept to the next level. Set in the crime-infested world of Pacific City the game sees you, literally, raining down justice on hundreds of thugs and perps. The title's main innovation is complete freedom of motion. There are no areas locked-off and the city's dizzy 'verticality' can be fully explored by your character's ability to leap and climb with abandon. But action is the main focus and there's a strong OTT explosive dynamic about the game that'll appeal to anyone who enjoyed Mercenaries or Just Cause. In fact it's everything those games aspired to be. Well worth a look if you prefer action over RPGs.


Ghost Rider (PS2, PSP, GBA)

Released to coincide with the movie, starring Nicholas Cage as a fiery-headed vigilante, Ghost Rider is Devil May Cry with a hint of Road Rash. We've played the game at preview stage several times and it's certainly enjoyable in a God of War-style way but lacks that game's exploratory charm and intricate boss encounters. The PSP version has been adapted to deliver shorter, more goal oriented missions and looks superb. Likely to be a decent movie tie-in but unless you are a fan of the comic-book there are better games out this week.

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