This week, Ashes Cricket 2013 steps up to the crease on Xbox 360, LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey powers onto Wii U, and Company of Heroes 2 puts you in charge of the Soviet Red Army on PC
Ashes Cricket 2013 | Platform: Xbox 360 | Genre: Cricket | Price: £32.99
This summer’s big cricketing event is only three weeks away, as the Aussies head over to the Northern Hemisphere to try and wrestle that tiny urn away from English hands. Here, you’re at the crease, in control of the ultimate rivalry in Test cricket, with a brand new game engine creating the most authentic leather on willow experience around. Your batsmen have 360 degree control over shot placement, and the satisfaction from impeccably placing a drive between the fielders then racing away for four is infectious. Meanwhile, a new line and length bowling system gives bowlers the tools to set plans for batsmen throughout a day’s play, as you utilise the freedom to set your field of choice. Of course, intelligent automatic field placement exists, but where’s the fun in that?
Overall, it’s a an improvement on 2009’s effort, with dynamic features such as deteriorating wickets and weather conditions also affecting play. There are still only the two officially licensed sides - England and Australia - which limits the authenticity a little, but let’s be honest, it’s all about those two this summer anyway, isn’t it?
LEGO Legends of Chima: Laval’s Journey | Nintendo 3DS | Action | £25.99
Those folk at LEGO games have been pretty busy of late, and now Laval’s Journey has been added to the building block giant’s stable, delivering a challenging handheld adventure linking closely into the popular Legend of Chima toy line. You’re on the hunt to unlock the secret of the legendary triple-CHI armor before the evil Cragger can deploy its awesome power to threaten the balance of Chima itself. Across the 15 levels of intense action, including the Lion Temple, Gorilla Forrest, Rhino Quarry and Croc Swamp, you’ll need to harness the power of CHI to leap, swing, fly and fight, using a number of different characters you unlock along the way. Each of these boast different abilities and will come in handy at particular points in the game. For example, gliding across the skies with Eris the Eagle or digging tunnels with Worriz the Wolf. All in all, an engaging story for younger gamers will keep them chugging away at the platforming combat combos, while seasoned LEGO fans will identify the mark of quality that this game also possesses, making it well worth a look.
Company of Heroes 2 | PC | Action | £26.99
The original Company of Heroes thrust you into the Saving Private Ryan scenario, and went on to deliver one of the most visceral real-time strategy experiences on any games system. But that was seven years ago, and times have changed. Now, you take command of the iconic Soviet Red Army in brutal frontline warfare to free Mother Russia from the invading Nazis, while Company of Heroes 2 takes on the very best RTS titles that money can buy on PC. And it delivers a brilliant wartime adventure, as you stretch your strategic skills and tactical expertise to the limit. The tactical combat is fine tuned, and while dictating from a zoomed-out perspective may present the best opportunity for success, going in close will uncover the incredible detail that this battlefield can display. It’s beautiful, brutal, and a worthy wartime successor to the original, as you wield the might of the Soviet Empire and smash your way to Berlin.
Man of Steel | iPhone / iPad | Action | £1.99
If ever there was a blockbuster movie that wouldn’t fly past without a video game tie-in, it’s the new Superman offering, Man of Steel. It’s shooting onto iOS devices faster than a speeding bullet, offering a third-person action fighter that takes a lead from the events of the movie, but ultimately amounts to a fast and frenetic thump-athon as you tackle the intergalactic bad guys both on your own earthly patch and up in space. Aside from your flying fists, you can launch enemies into the air, throw them to the ground and get them hot under the collar with your heat vision, providing all the superhero combos and power-ups you’d hope to employ dressed in that famous red and blue suit. That said, there’s scope to unlock other outfits as you trade blows through battle after battle. It all proves to be good fun for a while, but soon your phone-holding fingers start to feel the fatigue from all that fighting. Well, we’re not actually superhuman, are we?
Way of the Dogg | iPhone / iPad | Action | £1.99
So, Snoop Dogg (or is it Snoop Lion now?) has diversified his hip-hop empire into touchscreen gaming, offering iOS owners the chance to get down to his phat beats while also beating up adversaries in this new rhythm action title. Starring as America Jones, you get taken under Snoop’s wing as he trains you up to exact revenge against the guys that double crossed you at the start of the game. What this actually entails is ‘finding the beat’ to the soundtrack of Snoop’s classic tracks, using the rhythmic melodies to time your punches, kicks and other blows in battle. Tapping and swiping will execute your moves and, as you build up your power meter by timing things right, you’ll then be able to land the killer blow with one final digit-driven gesture on screen. Clearly, fans of the rap legend will jump at the chance to re-live his back catalogue as the backdrop, and even casual fight / music fans will struggle not to raise a smile in this OTT, slightly nonsensical music brawler.