6:00pm Thursday 16th September 2010
By Craig Willis
The Guide’s games page starts today, with Craig Willis, right, of HMV Oxford. Each month, Craig will review the latest releases.
* STARCRAFT II (PC/MAC) £39.99.
Somewhere in the corner of the milky way galaxy, we find the setting of the latest release from Blizzard Entertainment.
If you are unfamiliar with their work, they are the developers of the now legendary, World of Warcraft series. The team had a lot of success with the original Starcraft, receiving many “Game of the Year” awards. But that was back in 1998; can they do the same again a decade on? It certainly looks promising.
It’s the 26th century and the lead protagonist Jim Raynor is back fighting the good fight for the sake of mankind. Of course, it being the 26th century there are other species to battle against too. The brilliantly named Protoss and Zerg are just two of the alien races that return. Just like the original it’s a real-time strategy game, more reminiscent of the Command & Conquer games than Warcraft.
In comparison to the original the graphics have greatly improved – but then it has been 10 years. Another big improvement is that this is the first Blizzard game to be available on Mac. The game is pretty epic and with the improved multi-player aspect, you can get hours and hours of game play out of it.
So certainly worth the money but probably not for the casual gamer.
* MAFIA II (Xbox360/PS3) £39.99 This month sees the release of Mafia II and if you’re the kind of person who likes “offers” you can’t refuse, then this one for you.
Set between 1945 and 1951, Mafia II follows the trials and tribulations of Vito Scaletta as he tries to make his name in the city of Empire Bay.
Mafia II is reminiscent of the Grand Theft Auto series with a near identical control system.
And just like GTA it’s in the details where this game is most entertaining. You can change into your Sunday best or have a few beers from the fridge, listen to the different radio stations in your car with a soundtrack featuring hits from the 40s and 50s, or even go out to the diner for a snack.
Empire Bay itself is completely free to roam and it’s pretty vast, so lots of exploring can be done before carrying on to the next mission.
Of course it isn’t all about fun and games – pretty soon Vito has to get his hands dirty and do a mission or two.
The cinematic cut scenes are really something and you wouldn’t be blamed if you thought you were watching an episode of The Sopranos.
So is it just Grand Theft Auto in the 40s? Well, yes. But trust me, that’s no bad thing.
* REWIND SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2 (Sega) This being my first games column, it would be a travesty if I didn’t mention the game that started it all – Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
Back in the early 90s, the war between Sega and Nintendo was at its height. Mega Drive or Super Nintendo? Sonic or Mario? For me it was Sonic. The fastest blue hedgehog in the world was a lot more appealing than an overweight plumber with a big moustache and red dungarees.
The game itself was simple: race through 11 levels of varying difficulty, collect gold rings and defeat the evil Dr Robotnik (come to think of it, he also wore a big moustache and red dungarees).
Back then there was no hard drive or memory card to save your game on. So as soon as your mum called “dinner time” that was it. Next time you’d have to start from the beginning.
However if you are feeling nostalgic, Sega has released a collection of more than 40 original Mega Drive games, which now have the ability to save your progress. So after dinner you can continue where you left off.
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