This week, Battleborn steams onto Xbox One, the Project CARS - Game of the Year Edition screeches onto PS4, and Stellaris launches onto PC.
Elsewhere, Egz and Angry Birds Action! provide two interesting takes on the action-puzzle genre on smartphone and tablet
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Platform: Xbox One
A weird and wonderful future shooter
Battleborn is a next-gen hero-shooter from the creators of the award-winning and best-selling Borderlands franchise. In this distant future, the only hope for the last star in a dying universe is a new breed of warriors, who must put aside their differences to drive back an unstoppable menace. Here, you’ll choose from a myriad powerful heroes and fight together alongside your pals in an intense co-operative campaign, or battle against them in fast-paced competitive multiplayer matches. On the character selection front, you’re spoilt for choice, with more than two dozen wildly different combat styles to master, upgrade and enjoy to the max through the diverse skill tree systems afforded to each. These skills will be put to good use through the solo campaign, but it’s in the competitive multiplayer where all your super-charged flicks and shooter tricks come into their own, against opponents with a level of nous that exceeds the sometimes sedate computer foes. Boss battles certainly liven it up, and the visual style is very much akin to Borderlands, bringing a quirky charm to what is shaping up to be a sharp, solid shooter for the summer.
Title: Project CARS - Game Of The Year Edition
A revelation in console racing
Project CARS started life as a crowdfunded concept. And it’s a ringing endorsement of power to the people as, over five years later, it has blasted from the pits as arguably the finest looking racing game the console world has seen, with a slew of awards to accompany it. If your jaw doesn’t hit the floor when you see this game in all its HD glory, it will almost certainly reach the leather driver’s seat. Dynamic rain and other weather effects are a joy to behold as you wrestle to extract maximum performance from one of dozens of high-powered vehicles available to you from the off. Controls are challenging without being over-frustrating (though racing in the rain is extremely difficult), and the feedback you’ll get from differing terrain and bumps in the road will further immerse you in a simulation where attention to detail is second to none. A variety of single player modes ensure you’ve got every opportunity to hone your skills before unleashing your competitive spirit online where fully-loaded race weekends, leaderboard-based time challenges and other events pack the community calendar. And this ecosystem has evolved brilliantly online, meaning there’s even more bundled into the GotY edition - over 50 cars, four tracks and hundreds of features and improvements since launch. A revelation in console racing.
Prepare to be star-struck by intergalactic strategy
From the medieval strategy of Crusader Kings II, lead designer Henrik Fahraeus has turned his eyes to the stars in Stellaris, a new science fiction strategy for PC gamers. Beyond our own solar system, new planets, new discoveries, maybe even new civilisations await, with a dynamic decision system and a heavy emphasis on exploration and scientific discovery. You’ll need to research much more than just bigger lasers or stronger hulls - and getting a grasp of just what is around you and how it can be best used will take plenty of time for starters. Here, thousands of planets populate procedurally generated star systems, giving you the largest possible theatre for performing the emergent stories that developers Paradox have become famous for, with an enormous selection of customisable ships and alien races to set your sights upon. Your interstellar exploration will be rewarded as you traverse, discover, interact and learn more about the species you encounter during your travels. So, are you ready to etch your name across the cosmos using war or diplomacy? Either way, you’ll have an intergalactic blast...
Title: Egz - The Origin Of The Universe
A colourful and quirky action puzzler, boiled to perfection
Egz are delicate little beings, much like their traditional chicken-laid counterparts. Too much flinging around and they’ll be destroyed, which is where your own delicate handling will need to come to the fore in this enjoyable golf-style action puzzler. You must navigate a series of colourful alien-like environments by chipping your Egz around each level, aiming for safe spots and other helpful elements, such as zip-wires and grappling hooks, to help you progress and keep your limited energy bar intact. When that runs out after you’ve sustained too much damage, it’s a gooey mess you’re greeted with along with an invitation to start again. You’ll happily accept, because Egz is a gorgeous looking game, with a bright, engaging visual style that complements the smooth control system and physics engine. It’s great to see indie games like this continue to mix it up alongside the big budget studios, and Egz is well worth the price of a box of six large free-rangers.
Title: Angry Birds Action!
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
A flapping frenzy on your phone and cinema screens
Impeccable timing for a mobile fly-by, just as Angry Birds hits the big screen for the first time. Anyone would have thought it had been planned. So, while the hype has been perfectly handled, what about the game itself? Well, flipping the view from side screen to up and over your shoulder, Angry Birds Action! looks like more of a pinball table this time out, but the premise is still very familiar. Catapult your feathered friends around each level to take out enemies and obstacles in a certain number of shots, amassing a score that will award you up to three stars and take you onto the next stage. There’s a nice difficulty curve to keep you interested, as well as a series of random events that pepper the levels with additional elements to keep the challenge fresh. As a free to play title, developers Rovio have played fair here, with an energy system that lasts a pretty long time before you even consider dipping into your pocket. The big question though, is whether ABA has enough of that replayability factor to actually make you want to spend your hard earned cash a week or two later down the line. All things considered, it probably doesn’t, but that won’t detract from a free download and loads of fun with another really polished avian action puzzler.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
Virtual reality may be the new hardware on the block when it comes to consumer entertainment, but it has certainly got tech fans hot under the collar. Recent research from Newzoo suggests that 11% of people with an internet connection between the ages of 10 and 65 are considering buying a VR device. eSports fans look like being a crucial group for VR manufacturers, too, representing 63% of the interested market. Unsurprisingly, hardcore gamers seem to be putting a headset on their list - among those who plan to buy one, 72% already own a gaming keyboard and 69% a gaming mouse.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, Ratchet & Clank kept a firm grip on top spot for a second week, while Call of Duty: Black Ops III jumped five places from seven to two. LEGO Marvel Avengers also performed well, climbing five places from 11 to six, as did Far Cry Primal jumping back into the top 10 at nine, from 17.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Ratchet & Clank
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
3. Dark Souls III
4. Tom Clancy’s The Division
5. EA Sports UFC 2
6. LEGO Marvel Avengers
7. FIFA 16
8. Grand Theft Auto V
9. Far Cry Primal
10. Dirt Rally
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2016 UKIE Ltd