What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Peggle, Xbox 360, PS3, PC, iPhone
I'd always dismissed Peggle as a bit of fluff. From what I'd seen it was nothing more than a game in which you fire a ball onto some pegs and then watch as it bounced around. Luck appeared to play a major role. Yet, after a session with the game this week I've seen what all the fuss was about. I'm not convinced there's a great deal of skill required, but it's still great fun and a perfect game to stick on if you've got a few minutes to kill. There's something really very satisfying about the way everything slows down when your ball is about to hit the final peg and the music kicks in.
Neon Kelly, Previews Editor - Super Street Fighter IV, PS3 and Xbox 360
Thanks to an act of unexpected kindness, I've recently come into possession of a Street Fighter FightPad. I've long held out against investing in a full arcade stick because a) they cost an arm and a leg and b) doing so would essentially require me to re-learn the game from the ground up. Most people I've asked about this reckon that it takes about 20 hours' worth of stick use before you fully recover (and then exceed) your form, and at the moment that prospect is a little too painful for me to consider. In the meantime, the FightPad represents an excellent halfway house. You get an introduction to the six-button layout for your normals, plus the addition of a "proper" D-Pad, without the alienating weirdness that initially comes with a stick. I've only a few bouts on it so far, but the early signs are extremely promising - which is to say that I can still make Blanka slide about like the slippery git he is. It also feels a lot like a Mega Drive pad, which is nice from a nostalgic point of view.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer - James Bond games
What a sorry state of affairs my life has become; I haven't played a single game for my own personal satisfaction this week. I have, however, seena good ten minutes of the new 007: Blood Stone being played – so I thought I'd offer my two cents on that. It's an ambitious title, combining action, third-person shooting, stealth and driving into one cohesive package of double-oh-awesomeness. Daniel Craig and Judy Dench have leant their voices and likenesses to the title, and the game retains the gritty, action-orientated feel that the more recent Bond films have strove to achieve. It's everything you'd want from your next-gen James Bond video game adaptation, but I do have some slight concerns. What are those concerns, I hear you scream? You'll have to keep your eyes peeled on the site early next week to find out.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - DeathSpank, Xbox 360 and PS3
DeathSpank's certainly a hefty one - it clocks in longer than most retail releases - so it's a good choice if you're looking at getting some bang for your buck. The problem, though, is quality rather than quantity: its blend of hack 'n slash and puzzling adventure never quite hits the mark. The game looks great, the voice acting (protagonist excluded) is sublime and it's an undeniably interesting concept. DeathSpank is just a drag to actually play and, like (fellow Monkey Island veteran) Tim Schafer's Brutal Legend, this one will go down in a history as a bit of a disappointment.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - PokePark: Pikachu's Adventure, Wii
Combining all the brilliance of Pokemon characters with all the tedium of having to pile together twigs to create extensive PokePark beaver dams, PokePark: Pikachu's Adventure is basically an extensive web of mini-games for PokeFranchise fans and children who haven't developed the objective ability to say a game is rubbish. To be fair, it's not exactly an Adventure as much as it is multiple chase games put onto the Wii, so if you really like shaking around a Wii remote then this is for you. If you blindly adore Pokemon regardless of whether or not a game is actually fun then this is also for you. For everyone else, avert your eyes.
Sebastian Ford, Video Producer - Transformers: War for Cybertron, Xbox 360, PS3, PC and Wii
It was a bit of a group effort, but the single-player is now done and dusted. It's exactly what a Transformers game needs to be, and if anything makes the movie-licensed experiences appear even worse than before, if that were indeed possible. Cybertron is the natural stomping ground of the Transformer, and the environment has been designed to reflect this both aesthetically and in terms of manoeuvrability. Completing the campaign has also unlocked some pretty awesome chassis for multiplayer, which is one of the most addictive online experiences I have come across this year. Perhaps it's the dark industrial style mixed with the Unreal Engine, but I get a strange Gears of War vibe from it at times too. Now I can't stop thinking about a kind of Unreal All-Stars game. That would be... Epic... o_0