What we've been playing this week.
Tom Orry, Editor - Mafia 2, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I really wanted to love 2K Czech's take on mafia life, but at times it's such a slog that I found myself desperate for a bit of mindless shooting. It's worth sticking with, as the story and characters are among the best in any game released this year, but the tedious tasks you're forced to do definitely grate after a while. Driving is part and parcel of the open-city genre, but I can't remember having to do it for the majority of a game before. A little more of Mafia 2's best bits would have made this an absolute must-buy, instead of the budget purchase it sadly is.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor - Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
I genuinely don't know what to make of Dog Days. It's really not a very good game, whichever way you look at it: it's extremely basic in it's approach to third-person shooting, it's largely devoid of tactical options, and it's hugely repetitive. The early weapons are so inaccurate that they barely seem to work at all, and most of the game simply consists of you blowing away wave after wave of angry Shanghai gangsters. It's a bit duff, in other words – and yet somehow I felt the need to complete the thing over the course of two days. In retrospect, I think the game's visual style has a lot to do with this: the whole hand-held shaky cam thing works really well, and it results in a genuinely gritty feel. Kane and Lynch are nothing but thugs really, and the whole "story" is nothing but a parade of gun-based murder. Kane and Lynch 2 is gaming equivalent of a video nasty; I can't say that's a good thing, exactly, but it's so nihilistic that it feels quite unique. I can't exactly recommend it, though.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC
Other than the stunning voice of Keeley Hawes, I haven't really felt much love for the recent Tomb Raider games. But Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is something else entirely: it uses the tone of the franchise to set up its own isometric universe of traps, puzzles and combat, wrapping it all up with an agreeably nostalgic bow. Levels are good by themselves, but the whole game opens up considerably when you go back to try and challenge yourself on time and score attack modes. Crystal Dynamics should leave the blockbuster theatrics to Nathan Drake and focus on this - it's easily the best game they've done since the original Soul Reaver.
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, PC
If you've been clamouring for a sensible reason to spend all of your time in front of a computer screen until your muscles atrophy and become a kind of paste, then look no further. The entire world has already spent the better part of a month going on about StarCraft 2, but I can vouch that there is no better feeling than coming out with the perfect Build Order and then realising that you haven't eaten in about six hours because you were too busy trying to create a giant wall of marauders outside your base.