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Oct 03

Be sure that there is a storm brewing

Do You SeePost a comment • 141 views

Be sure that there is a storm brewing, as too many games jostle for too few release dates, but this is the calm before, and we’ve just time to take stock. Within a month anyone will be offered the chance to buy Pro-Evolution Soccer 3 and its rivals, spookily faithful graphic novel-based shooter XII and platformer follow up Jak II, and that’s nothing against the hurricane due for the following month.

For my money, though, the titles to look forward to in October are Dog’s Life, literally a dog simulator, and a quirky title which for once heralds from outside Japan. None less than David Braben – geek hero of Elite fame ‘ is at the helm, and if the game includes even an smidgen of the unstructured gameplay from his landmark title, dogs might have an enviable life indeed. And Amplitude, a complete rebuild of the still unmatched rhythm-action compose-em-up Frequency, which for all its racket has been all but unheard since its release. Amplitude has received good press – including an astonishing magazine score that has prompted suspicion from some quarters – but still the odds are against it in the charts.

This week finally sees the European release of Advance Wars 2- Black Hole Rising. Peter Molyneux described its predecessor as the only decent real-time strategy game on a console, which is some compliment considering that he’s produced a few himself. But it rings true – in as much as it is known at all, the game became famous for the sweet compelling bliss of its gameplay, and it was also one of the few accomplished titles indigenous to the GBA. That the sequel is very similar will raise no objections, but also means that the uninitiated might do well to seek out the cheaper original.

And the story’s similar for Homeworld 2. It too is a prettification of a gripping sleeper hit, but unless your PC is fired up to the nines there’ll be little to tell it from the first in the series, which can be had for a tenner or so. Either offer true 3D strategy against a hypnotically ambient starscape of nebula and laser fire.

The most obvious additions to high street shelves this Friday will be a series of nearly identikit football titles each glorying in the name of one of sixteen renowned clubs. You read that right ‘ the Club Football series has licensed the sport to submission, with clubs ranging from Manchester United to some unpronounceable obscurity. Aimed at replica shirt buying fans, the game’s technology itself has become merely a sunk cost, against which brand cashflows can be leveraged. You might be appalled, but I suspect that won’t matter to CodeMasters.

And if you love your inner child more than your integrity, give Wallace and Gromit in Project Zoo a try. It should be pleasant enough sprint to the end, and for plenty of modern gamers, a brief reminder of what it was like to actually finish a game.

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