Tom Orry, Editor - Kinectimals, Xbox 360 and Kinect
It's cute, looks pretty and is clearly aimed at pre-teen kids, but it's hard not to like Kinect launch title Kinectimals. You get to play with a wild kitten on a lush green island, brush its hair, throw it balls, and teach it tricks. There's something quite charming about saying "play dead" and then watching the cat stick its tongue out and flop to the floor. I even had a good time steering around the little car it was riding on, and throwing objects at skittles is good fun and shows off the Kinect hardware very well. I expect this is what the younger family members will be playing on Christmas day when everyone else has fallen asleep.
Neon Kelly, Deputy Editor - Deadly Premonition, Xbox 360
Deadly Premonition has made quite a name for itself, thanks to its bizarre nature and reputation as "that good-bad-good" game. Now, thanks to Rising Star Games, us Europeans can sink our teeth into this oddball, open world Twin Peaks homage. The game itself certainly lives up to its reputation: the controls are ropey at best, the graphics and animation are shonky, and some of the basic features have been implemented in a way that makes little or no sense. But look beyond these failings, if you can, and you'll find a hugely original horror-mystery caper. Deadly Premonition has a wicked sense of humour, and the plot is actually pretty damn sharp. It also contains some of the nastiest moments I've seen in a game for quite some time. An overdue review will be popping up on the site next week.
Martin Gaston, Staff Writer - Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Xbox 360, PS3
Everyone's been banging on about Enslaved lately, but I'm not really interested in a game with combat so basic it might as well play itself. I'm both a show-off and a naturally difficult person, you see, so when told that the mammoth Castlevania: Lords of Shadow was probably a bit too hard on Knight difficulty I immediately pledged to complete the entire game on Knight difficulty. Crikey. I've never tasted humble pie, but I'm thinking it might be a little something like this. I'm at the end of Chapter V now, and have observed the following things: most of the enemies are big sods, but the bosses are complete ballaches and require near-perfect play; I find watching Patrick Stewart do flips and act like a badass completely ridiculous; and bloody hell there's a lot of climbing to do. I absolutely will complete it, but I might give myself a hernia in the process. It's probably a bit too hard on Knight difficulty.
Jamin Smith, Staff Writer - Dance Central Xbox 360 and Kinect
I got my groove on this week, busting out some crazy moves with Emily Gera in Dance Central. Perhaps you read my review? I went and gave the game an 8, lauding it as 'the perfect application of Kinect' and 'a huge leap forward for the dance genre'. It's true, too. Most of the games in the Kinect launch line up are a load of tosh (hopefully we'll be able to bring you a review of the unfathomably bad Fighters Uncaged next week), but Dance Central can hold its head high as the best Kinect game currently available. A certain Martin Gaston has been talking a lot of smack about 'pwning' me at the game (he reckons his experience with Just Dance 2 makes him Usher, or something), so there might be a little dance battle on the cards at some point next week...
Emily Gera, Staff Writer - Plants Versus Zombies, PC
And would you look at that, here I am playing Plants Versus Zombies again. The game I can always rely on when I don't have an Internet connection or cable, or anything better to do beyond playing Tower Defense with plants. It's been my go-to game to play since I moved flats the other night, and it's officially replaced the time I usually spend zoning out to the block-marathon of Friends at 6pm. If it weren't for the fact that this game was sitting on my laptop I'd have spent the last three nights staring forlornly at walls until my Internet kicks in. Thanks, PvZ, you're there when I need you the most.
Tom Pearson, Video Producer - Force Unleashed 2, Xbox 360 and PS3
Whom, vom vom vuurmmm ccerchiiiiiiiiiiii: The sweet sound of lightsaber fury. I've been enjoying The Force Unleashed 2 this week. There is one huge flaw with this, and many other games in the Star Wars franchise. When you hit someone with your glowy stick, you expect it to go clean through and for them to end up in two separate parts. Also, if there's one thing that the films have taught me, it's that wielding a lightsaber is rather dangerous. So why on earth does Starkiller hold his like he wants to slit his wrists? It may look cool, but it's not practical. Remember there's only so much the force can teach you... about health and safety.