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Enslaved vs Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow

Debate: Which will YOU be picking up this Friday?

This week's release slate represents one of the lesser-discussed - but by no means unimportant - battles of this year's gaming calendar: The war of the sleeper hits.

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In the red corner is Ninja Theory's Enslaved: Odyssey To The West. UK-made with UK talent, it's the kind of game you could proudly drape in 'Cool Britannia' rhetoric (if that sort of thing didn't make us think about lies and war and Peter Mandelson).

It's colourful, crisp and gorgeous; a delightfully radiant vision of how a post-apocalyptic world might appear. Nature, as Dr Ian Malcolm tried to teach us all those years ago, will find a way.

Enslaved's patchwork of zestful hues is deliberately spoiled by the appearance of giant, unrelenting mechs - their unappeasable gunning and ferocious, canine-on-amphetamine chomping bringing a much needed air of menace to the game's gorgeous environs.

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The Namco-published title's got its fair share of Hollywood talent, too - in the shape of LOTR actor Andy Serkis and 28 Days Later wordsmith Alex Garland, who have both contributed to its creation.

It's picking up rave reviews - with a 10/10 in the News Of The World its latest heavyweight plaudit. CVG sister Xbox World sought to give it a very healthy 87 per cent score in its appraisal.

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Over in the blue corner, we have a much darker affair. Konami and Mercury Steam's Gothic adventure Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow revisits one of gaming's most iconic franchises with an excitingly filmic disposition.

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We spotted the potential of this one very early on - and with Kojima's magic peppered throughout, Mercury Steam has't disappointed with the finished product.

Protagonist Gabriel Belmont's quest to avenge/undo his beloved's demise encompasses over 20 hours of heart-racing gameplay - and, unbelievably it's almost all killer, no filler.

From the rain-drenched, stormy locales to massive battles with giant, wild-eyed foes, it's got it all. In fact, chuck in the vampiric subtext and plethora of pale-skinned deadly beauties, and it's like a Twilight fan's violent dream. Without all that namby pamby emo stuff.

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It's won the hearts and minds of a cynical games press - earning 90-plus per cent reviews all over the shop. Some - and we're not naming names here - are even claiming that it could be the greatest Castlevania ever.

It too offers a smattering of Tinseltown greats - with the booming vocals of Brit heroes Robert Carlyle and Patrick Stewart both cropping up throughout our brooding hero's mission.

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Problem is, both of these titles were fairly unfancied when they were first announced - and now they're both arriving at retail on the same day.

This has left hordes of gamers in a bit of a pickle: Which to go for? Enslaved's all-new adventure - complete with Brit-pleasing flecks at every turn; or Castlevania's stunning rebirth of a classic franchise?

They're both gorgeous and immensely playable beasts - but each game's tone is impressively unique. Either of them would be worthy of any action/adventure game fan's hard-earned.

But which will YOU be picking up this Friday - and why?

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