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The Week Ahead - 02/03/07

Feature: Updates, ports and sequels ahoy

The poet T.S. Eliot once said that April is the cruellest month. Not if you're a videogame punter it isn't; it's the end of February beginning of March that's a bitch if you want to get your hands on good games.

It's arguably the fallowest month, a time when publishers are too afraid to test the post-Christmas wallets of consumers and release schedules get changed by the minute. And let's face it, everyone is suffering from S.A.D and looking forward to spring (or the launch of PlayStation 3 as we like to call it).

If you picked up Final Fantasy XII last week, then you should still be busy with the new battle system. If not, check out what's coming your way this week.

The complete list of games released in the UK this coming Friday (02/03/07):

  • Jade Empire: Special Edition, PC, 2K Games
  • Resident Evil 4, PC, Ubisoft
  • Sonic and The Secret Rings, Wii, Sega
  • The Sims 2 Season, PC, EA
  • Titan Quest: Gold, PC, THQ
  • Titan Quest: Immortal Throne, THQ
  • Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2, PS2, Ghostlight

As you can see it's something of an anaemic line-up and among the motley games preparing to hit the shelves this Friday are a lot of updates, ports and sequels. Which is not to say any are bad per se, it's just that they're not exciting in terms of fresh, vibrant next-generation experiences.
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Sonic and The Secret Rings (Wii)

By far the most interesting title this week is the first Sonic game on Wii and with such slim pickings it has to be our top recommendation. Let's face it Sonic has hardly been on top form in the last few years but this looks like righting a lot of wrongs. The focus has gone back to speed, goal oriented missions and, of course, frenetic gameplay courtesy of the Wiimote. What we've played at preview stage suggests a very addictive title with the emphasis on score attack and repeat run-throughs of levels. It also has a cute mod-'em up aspect allowing you to boost Sonic's abilities in over 100 departments. With Wii titles a bit thin on the ground, this is definitely one to try if you're in a post-Zelda haze.

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Jade Empire: Special Edition (PC)

Jade Empire was one of the best RPGs to emerge in recent years, if only because it got away from the usual taverns and dwarves clichés. But then any game by Knights of the Old Republic developer BioWare is destined to be good. This special PC edition adds a few monsters, moves, items and intuitive controls designed specifically for PC but really that's all marketing hype - we can see through it. Fundamentally this is the same game that graced the Xbox back in 2005, but if you missed it then you're in for a deep and rewarding adventure with a refreshing eastern flavour.

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Resident Evil 4 (PC)

We can unequivocally say this it one of the greatest games of its generation if not EVRE. When Capcom announced Resident Evil 4 back in 2004 it was greeted with waves of apathy. But then new details emerged: the fact zombies were not going to feature, a new over-the-shoulder aiming perspective, the ability to leap through windows and bar enemy progress with environment objects, plus chainsaws... It all pointed to a radical overhaul for a series that had become a bit putrefied.

What emerged was something better than even fans anticipated: a totally absorbing, terrifying and fast-paced game so absorbing it could even impinge on your everyday reality. In terms of new features for this PC port don't expect a Hessian sack full, just a couple of unlockable costumes and a new weapon. Still a must-have game if you don't like consoles.

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