Features

The Week Ahead - 30/11/07

Feature: The calm after the storm

It's that time of year when bookmakers start laying odds on which game is going to be the Christmas number one. Given that it's been Need For Speed for the last three years you'd have to be daft to bet against it, although with odds of around 5 - 4 you're not going to get much of a return on your investment.

With Assassins Creed currently in the CharTrack All Formats number one slot you may find better value there at 14 - 1, with Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare another good outsider at 20 - 1. But that's wishful thinking isn't it? EA's chav favourite is surely going to do it for four years in a row.

Releases this week are certainly less stellar, though we have been spoiled over the last fortnight. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, The Golden Compass, Blacksite: Area 51 and Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice are all worth a look though.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (30/11/07):

Alan Hansen Sports Challenge, Wii, Mastertronic
Ben 10, Wii, D3Publisher
Blacksite: Area 51, PS3/PC, Midway
Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions of WWII, PS3, Ubisoft
Boogie, DS/PS2, EA
Bratz: 4 Real, DS, THQ
Bratz: The Movie, GBA/Wii/PS2, THQ
Cars: Mater-National, PS3/PC/DS, THQ
Cheggers' Party Quiz, Wii, Oxygen
Crazy Pigs, DS, Mindscape
Dancing Stage Universe, 360, Konami
Ed, Edd, n Eddy, DS, D3Publisher
FIFA Street 3, PS2/PS3/360/DS, EA
Football Manager 2008 Handheld, PSP, Sega
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, PC, Activision
Jenga, DS/Wii/PS2, Atari
John Woo Presents: Stranglehold, PS3, Midway
Looney Tunes ACME Arsenal, 360/DS/Wii, Warner
My French Coach, Wii, Ubisoft
My Spanish Coach, Wii, Ubisoft
My Horse and Me, PC, Atari
Pursuit Force: Extreme Justice, PSP, Sony
Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, PS2, D3Publisher
RealPlay Range, PS2, In2Games
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Wii, Nintendo
Sudden Strike 3, PC, Empire
Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, PS2, Sony
Telly Addicts, PSP/PS2, Ubisoft
The Stranger, PC, Empire
The Golden Compass, PSP/DS/PC/Wii/PS3/PS2/360, Sega
Ultimate Mortal Kombat, DS, Midway

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Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles (Wii)
This is kind of like a light-gun medley of all the games in the Resident Evil series, with the exception of Resident Evil 4. The controls are tight and satisfying with precise aiming and some good old shaking to reload your gun clip.

Fans will lap this up as you take down hordes of zombies in all the classic locations including the mansion, the gardens, the basement and the train. If there's one flaw it's that the headshots are a little random and after seven hours things can start to get repetitive. However, plug in an extra controller for a friend and the coop mode lifts the fun to a new level. Umbrella Chronicles provides a fleshy snack to keep you going until Resident Evil 5.

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Blacksite: Area 51 (360/PC)
The original Area 51 on Xbox and PS2 was a good but dumb blaster, exactly what you'd expect from a game involving hordes of aliens breaking out of the US government's infamous research centre in the heart of Nevada.

There's the same mix of bullets and goo in this sequel but it has a much harder political edge with a plot touching on America's war in Iraq, the erosion of civil liberties, the dangers of corporate greed and why George Bush is a political monster. Developed by ex-members of Looking Glass Studios, responsible for both Thief and Deus-Ex, this seems promising but will probably end up as good but dumb blaster again.

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