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The Week Ahead - 12/10/07

Feature: How Bizarre

You only need look at the release schedule this week to see everyone is ramping up for Christmas.

By this time next month expect a list as long as Shaquille O'Neal's arm. What's more interesting is that Ubisoft is clearly very cash-rich, either that or someone's been putting something funny into the water. Seven games on its books for one week alone is impressive and there's much more quality to come in the form of Assassin's Creed and Haze. So respect to a publisher which six years ago was only known for Rayman.

Two games stand out proud this week: Skate and Project Gotham Racing 4. While Skate clearly sets a new benchmark for boarders we'd have to give the prize to PGR4, which is brilliant in its own right but also includes Geometry Wars: Waves. You won't be disappointed.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (12/10/07):

American Civil War - 1861 - 1865, PC, Ascaron
Blitzkrieg 2: Liberation, PC, CDV
Civilisation IV: Complete, PC, Take-2
Crash of the Titans, 360/PS2/Wii, Vivendi
Dogz 2008, DS, Ubisoft
Dolphin Island, DS, Ubisoft
Donkey Kong: Jungle Climber, DS, Nintendo
Fashion Designer, DS, 505 Games
Folklore, PS3, Sony
Heores of Might & Magic: Tribes of the East, PC, Ubisoft
I-Spy: Funhouse, DS, Nintendo
NBA Live 08, PS3, EA
NHL 08, PS2, EA
Pippa Funnell 2: Farm Adventures, DS, Ubisoft
Race 07: Official WTTC Game, PC, Atari
Rail Simulator, PC, EA
Real Football, DS, Ubisoft
Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, Wii/DS/PC/PSP/PS2/360, Activision
Star Assault, PC, Kalypso
Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron, PSP, Activision
Tarr Chronicles, PC, CDV
Top Trumps: Horror & Predator, DS/PS2, Ubisoft
Top Trumps: Dogs & Dinosaurs, PS2/DS, Ubisoft
The Whittaker Family Presents: Horse Life, DS, D3 Publisher

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PGR 4 (360)
With Forza Motorsport 2 setting a high bar for performance racing the pressure was on Bizarre Creations to do something special with its latest Project Gotham game. Unsurprisingly it's come up trumps with a game that feels much more emotional than previous iterations.

The fresh focus on the career mode is welcome with the tedious unlocking of events now replaced by a feature which sees a growing fan base following your progress and cheering you on at every race. With the not insignificant addition of dynamic weather, a beautiful bevy of bikes and refinements to the handling and online modes this is the most passionate Project Gotham to date, and well worth getting even if you've fallen out of love with cold driving simulations.

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Skate (PS3)
Let's face it Skate needed to happen if only to break the monopoly held by Neversoft's Tony Hawk's games for the last eight years. Not that those games were bad, but there's been a feeling that they've been resting on their laurels recently. By contrast Skate feels fresh and innovative with a majestic analogue control system that avoids the furious button mashing of old.

Physics and animation combine to deliver a real sense that you're learning incrementally. The downside is that this learning experience can be excruciating for the casual gamer but for anyone who enjoys the sheer joy of mastery through hard practice this is an essential purchase.

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Folklore (PS3)
A Folklore type of game always comes out on a new console a few months after it has launched: graphically resplendent, pungent with possibilities and promisingly deep, but ultimately mediocre. Folklore is set in the world of Celtic mythology, think Blarney stones, faeries and leprechauns, although there's a good deal of Japanese demons and aberrations in there too for good measure.

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