Hear that sound? A kind of ominous rustling, breathy noise like tumbleweeds blowing through a town in a Sergio Leone movie... Yep, it's the sound of the games industry packing its bags for the summer. This week's a stinker and no mistake.
The standout titles have to be the two new SOCOM games, Combined Assault on PS2 and Fireteam Bravo 2 on PSP but while they both look like creditable additions to the series they're hardly the sort of games you lose sleep over from fevered anticipation.
Edios' Pony Friends on DS is good, if you're a seven year old girl and the two Bone games on PC might be worth a look if you enjoy comic book point-and-click shenanigans. Then there's Spider-Man 3, finally released on PS3 for anyone who's been waiting for the extra content in the form of a Green Goblin stage controlled via the Sixaxis controller.
To be fair, next week is looking far, far better with over four times more games lined up on the schedule, including the latest Pirates of the Caribbean adventure on all formats. Okay, so let's not start a conga but it's a damn site better than what's been served up this week.
The complete list of games released in the UK this week (18/05/07):
- Ankh: Heart of Osiris, PC, Xider
- Bone: The Great Cow Race, PC, Xider
- Bone: Out from Boneville, PC, Xider
- MinDStorm, DS, 505 Games
- Pony Friends, DS, Eidos
- Power of Destruction, PC, Profenix
- Pro Evolution Soccer 6 (Classics), Xbox 360, Konami
- SBK 07: Superbike World Championship, PS2, Koch
- SOCOM: US Navy Seals Combined Assault, PS2, Sony
- SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 2, PSP, Sony
- Spider-Man 3, PS3, Activision
SOCOM: US Navy Seals Combined Assault (PS2)
It's been out since last November in the US and reviews have mainly been positive. The single-player campaign has been expanded and there's new multiplayer features including maps and weapons for hardcore fans. If anything, the title has been criticised for being more like a SOCOM expansion pack than a brand new iteration but if you've never experienced the best online multiplayer game on PS2 this is a good place to start. Thing is, times are moving on and with titles like Gears of War and Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2 wowing the online community over on Xbox Live, SOCOM on PS2 is starting to feel like retro gaming.
SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo 2, PSP, Sony
Like its PS2 counterpart Fireteam Bravo 2 has been out in the States since last year but this has been impressing PSP owners due to its excellent 16 player Wi-Fi multiplayer battles. These include Capture the Flag, Target and Tug-o-War and while you might experience the odd lag issue the game runs at a decent framerate with plenty of action if you join a full game. Cleverly there's also an interesting 'Crosstalk' feature which means you can share saves between the PS2 and PSP version of the game with actions performed in one affecting troop behaviour and objectives in the other.
Spider-Man 3 (PS3)
Reviews of both the movie and videogame have been mixed - essentially there's a divide between fans of the series and those of us who like quality. The reality is that the game is a disappointment. Sure, there's plenty of the old Treyarch web-slinging around the city joy but the combat, boss battles and structure feel rushed and disjointed. Worst of all the graphics whores among you will get no pleasure from viewing this on even the most expensive AV set-up: it simply looks a bit naff and last-gen. You get some extra audio commentary and Green Goblin Sixaxis action in this version but it wasn't worth the wait.
There's nothing like jumping on a bandwagon if you're an upcoming game publisher. Modelled largely on Nintendo's Brain Training series MinDStorm sees you stimulating your noggin by completing ten kinds of mental challenges to test your reasoning, endurance, intuition, analysis and observation. So expect a lot of spot the difference games, sliding puzzles, geography tests and general knowledge questions. We enjoy this kind of pub-quiz workout but the game seems a bit on the steep side at £30. More of a budget release we think.