The Week Ahead - 14/12/07

Feature: Sounds like a dripping tap...

Just as you're gearing up for a jolly old Xmas holiday chock full of amazing games to play the industry goes into hibernation. Yep, it's about this time of year that publishers shut up shop and draw a line through their release schedules until early next year.

So what you're going to get for at least the next three weeks are the dregs: those games that maybe missed their appointed release slots and are slipping out to try cash-in on the last few days of festive consumer spirit.

So you've got a couple of versions of The Golden Compass, the PS3's belated port of Half-Life 2: The Orange Box and Beowulf and World Series of Poker: Battle of the Bracelets on PSP. Also of interest may be The Broken Sword Trilogy due for release on PC. A great stocking filler if ever there was one.

But you shouldn't be too downhearted: the last two months have been among the best in the industry's short history.

The complete list of games released in the UK this week (04/12/07):

  • Broken Sword Trilogy, PC, Mastertronic
  • Combat Flight Sim 3, PC, Microsoft
  • Zoo Tycoon 2: Zookeeper Collection, PC, Microsoft
  • The Golden Compass, PC/PSP, Sega
  • Spaceforce Captains, PC, JoWood
  • Winter Challenge 2008, PC, Cyanide Studios
  • Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, PS3, EA
  • Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Game of the Year Edition, PS3, Ubisoft
  • World Series of Poker: Battle for the Bracelets, PSP, Activision
  • Beowulf, PSP, Ubisoft
  • Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night, Wii, Vivendi

Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (PS3)

When Valve boss Gabe Newell told everyone PS3 was 'a waste of everyone's time' the alarm bells started ringing. Though containing all the same titles as the Xbox 360 and PC versions (so that's five, count them, five terrific games) reports have continually suggested that the PS3 port, which was developed internally at EA, has been plagued by technical issues.

The last time we saw the PS3 version there definitely were frame rate issues but we're hoping things have been smoothed out by now. Ouch: if this sweet suite of games really has been botched on PS3 then Sony is going to be a bit miffed.


Broken Sword: The Trilogy (PC)

If you've never played a Broken Sword game before then this package offers a brilliant introduction to one of the best adventure game series ever created. You get Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars, Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror and Broken Sword: The Sleeping Dragon.

All of them offer beautifully crafted scenarios, characters and puzzles and are a gentle way to floss the brain matter over Christmas and New Year. In fact, given that each game takes a fair few hours to complete you could find yourself still dipping in this time next year.

World Series of Poker: Battle for the Bracelets (PSP)

It's funny that in the macho world of poker, replete with cheats, bullies and gangsters, the ultimate token of acceptance is a dandy bracelet. There have been so many poker tournament games released in the last couple of years that they've almost forged a genre as popular as the FPS. This, however, is being bandied around as the ultimate poker game and it does include an impressive number of modes and options.

Along with 30 of the top players, you get practically every poker variant going, a comprehensive poker league, tournament play and real world locations such as Las Vegas and New Orleans. There are even poker tutorials from Phil Hellmuth, winner of eleven WSOP bracelets.