The games we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - New Star Soccer, iOS
I realise I'm terribly late to the party with this one, but I'm currently really enjoying this footy game on my iPod Touch. I'm not entirely sure how it's so good, as it's neither hugely in-depth as far as management goes nor a complete on-the-pitch gameplay sim. It's quite simple really, but with just enough input required to make you feel like you've made a difference. Perhaps that's the key. In some ways it's the same reason I loved Game Dev Story so much, and probably why this is the first iOS game I can see myself spending hours with since I hung up my game dev boots.
The game might also be trying to tell me something about my real life, as it's now twice penalised me for poor fashion sense. I don't care if you're mean, game! I'll do my talking on the pitch, making brilliant passes, intercepting the ball and scoring from 34 yards.
Martin Gaston, Reviews Editor - Battlefield 3, Xbox 360
I'm sure I've said this recently (probably last week, actually) but I'm continually floored by just how different Battlefield 3 is now than it was nine months ago. Playing Close Quarters this week really made me realise just how DICE is committed to making a modern FPS that ticks every box there is. On one hand it's a shame they chose to tick the Call of Duty box before it decided to bring out Armoured Kill which, if you ask me, is the DLC that everyone who likes Battlefield really wants.
I often say Call of Duty is the best infantry-based modern shooter on the market. And I still think it is - at least on Xbox 360, because Battlefield 3 on PC is basically a whole different game. But Close Quarters helps show that DICE's effort can compete when it wants to, and while it might not be the DLC everybody wants, I think it's also a lot better than I originally gave it credit for.
David Scammell, Staff Writer - Aliens vs. Predator, Xbox 360
As the rest of the globe continues to get suckered into the Prometheus hype (no spoilers please! I still haven't yet had a chance to check it out), I've taken the opportunity to dive back into Scott's sci-fi universe with AvP.
How I wish I hadn't bothered. Part shooter (Marine), part stealth-platformer (Alien), and part obscure first-person brawler (Predator), AvP's medley of poor game design and awkward gameplay mechanics ruin an otherwise great concept.
There is some entertainment to be found within Rebellion's repulsive title, though. The Predator's kill animations are some of the most gruesome I've ever witnessed in an FPS (at one point, he grabs a marine's spinal chord through his chest, ripping his head down through his neck and out through his ribcage), and as a piece of fan service, it does an okay job. The odd crossover between the three mini-campaigns occasionally threatens to raise interest, while the inclusion of Bishop as the game's bad guy offers a decent nod back to the original films.
But beyond that, AvP strikes me as a spectacular flop. If it meant not having to play through AvP, maybe that guy in the chair got a better deal...
Neon Kelly, Deputy and Features Editor – Hidden In Plain Sight, Xbox 360
And what, you ask, is Hidden In Plain Sight? It's an Xbox LIVE Indie title, but don't let that put you off. Give it a chance, and I guarantee it's the best 80 MS points you'll ever spend - provided you can find a friend to play it with.
As with the much-celebrated Spy Party, the aim here is to deceive your mates. There are five game modes here, but they all work along similar lines. Ninja Party finds everyone taking control of masked ass-kicker in a sea of identical NPCs; to win, you must either kill all the other human players, or ring five bells dotted around the map. Elsewhere, Catch A Thief focuses on coin theft: The money-snatchers blend in with the crowds, and the other player(s) try to work out who they are – passing judgement with the help of a sniper rifle and three bullets.
Most of the time Hidden In Plain Sight resembles a medieval Where's Wally, with the added frisson of gunshots to the head. It's a recipe that works extremely well, but the best of the five modes mixes things up a bit: Death Race grants each player control of a random character and a rifle with one bullet, then asks that you shuffle your little dude across the finish line before your rivals. The catch, of course, is that taking the lead will inevitably draw suspicion – which in turn tends to draw fatal bullets. The end result is a hilariously tense contest, with players clumsily advancing in jerky fidgets, and then screaming obscenities as they accidentally shoot a harmless skeleton/wizard/mudman.
I've done a terrible job of explaining this, but trust me - it's brilliant.