The Week Ahead - 03/08/07

Feature: National save energy week...

Move on, there's nothing to see here. Yep, give this week a miss is our advice as there's nothing to shout about in terms of decent, compelling software. While another MotoGP on 360 might get motorbike fans in a lather it's hardly earth-shattering for the rest of us. Surf's Up? Okay if you've got kids. While Atelier Iris 3 on PS2 might be worth considering if you've never played an RGP before.

In fact the only good news we can dispense is that from August 3 Play is offering an Xbox 360 Premium plus FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage and Command & Conquer for £259.99. A good bargain but then rumours are circulating of an official 360 price cut in the very near future, so you takes your chances...

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (03/08/07):

  • Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm, PS2, Koei
  • MotoGP 07, 360, THQ
  • Practical IQ, PSP, D3 Publisher
  • Sellers DS, DS, Ubisoft
  • SingStar 90s, PS2, Sony
  • Surf's Up, 360/PS3/Wii/PS2/PSP/DS, Ubisoft

MotoGP 07 (360)

While this series is getting a bit long in the tooth now (though this is probably the last iteration we'll see since Disney bought out the developer a few months back) there's no question it's the greatest two-wheel sim ever to grace a console. This update is beautiful with those stunning skylines, gleaming bikes and near identical representations of the official MotoGP tracks. Online has been improved, customisation options increased, handling fine-tuned and there are more 'extreme' courses to try out - all great, but don't expect this to revolutionise what's been before.


The Settlers (DS)

The Settlers series has always been the poor man's Civilisation but it will still be intriguing to see how this massive empire building game turns out on DS. With two campaigns, four nations to explore, varied climates, six soldier types and 30 occupations to manage it certainly packs in the features, yet these titles never seem to have the bite, balance and brilliance of Side Meier's classics. Indeed, the little time we've spent with it shows a game that's high on bullet points but low on depth and cohesiveness.

Atelier Iris 3: Grand Phantasm (PS2)

Though tons of Atelier games have been released in Japan this is only the third to reach western shores, hence the title. The principle characters are Edge, a surly swordsman, and his female side-kick, Iris. They make an endearing pair due to the contrast but it's Iris' alchemy skills that provide the games biggest hook because all items found in the game can be 'synthesised' to create new equipment including healing items, armour, status attack potions and weapons. Though the plot clips along at a decent speed the combat is basic and the RPG mechanics very old fashioned. It will provide a mildly enjoyable 30 hour journey but one you'll feel you've been on many times before.

Surf's Up (360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS)

After Happy Feet and dancing penguins comes this mockumentary going behind the scenes at the annual Penguin World Surfing Championship. It's actually quite an amusing premise for a kids' movie when you think about it and this game does a creditable job of capturing the sense of humour and energy of the film. Sure, it doesn't do anything new in extreme sports terms, is a bit simplistic and short but for any parent wanting to sit down and play something with their pre-teen then it will provide a few laughs.