- Xbox Live Arcade / 1200 Microsoft Points (Ł10.20)
Yeah, we're a bit late to the party with this one, but only because the game steadfastly refused to work on our 360. Fortunately, it was worth the wait for this slick, streamlined version of the classic board game.
But before the board game purists have a coronary, we should point out that Electronic Arts has been thoroughly respectful of the source material, presenting Risk in both old and new flavours.
For fans of classic Risk, nothing's changed from the board game, with the ability to play the same turn-based game of world domination that we all know and love. Playable offline or online, it ticks all the boxes you could wish for. The only problem is that playing a decent game of Risk can take absolutely hours, which is where Risk: Factions comes in.
Rather than simply tart up the existing gameplay with a few lazy gimmicks, EA has adopted the goal-based rules introduced in 2008, where the aim is to achieve specific objectives (such as controlling all the radar installations at once) rather than engage in a pure land-grab exercise.
Capturing enemy capitals, for example, grants you more units to deploy on the next turn, while securing control of a dam allows you to flood enemy territory. But with several key parts of each map to aim for, there's always an alternative strategy available. As ever in Risk, though, even the best-laid plans can falter at the mercy of the dice.
With five excellent campaign missions to master, and local or online play for up to five players, it's hard to think of a single reason why you wouldn't enjoy battling it out with malicious cats, malfunctioning robots, slavering zombies and hairy yetis.
Soul of Darkness
- DSiWare / 500 DSi Points (Ł4.50)
If even Konami itself can't seem to fashion a decent Castlevania any more, what chance has Gameloft of doing any better?
Unexpectedly, despite being the most blatant tribute imaginable, Soul of Darkness serves as a timely reminder of why Castlevania is held in such high esteem in the first place.
On a mission to save your loved one from the clutches of an evil vampire (as opposed to the cuddly sensitive ones you might come across in True Blood), it's the usual 2D platforming romp through intricate castles and cathedrals. Humming All About Eve and Sisters Of Mercy songs is, of course, mandatory.
It's only fair, then, that you get to dispatch an array of familiar foes, from gargoyles and werewolves to zombies and succubi. Armed with a fire spear and, eventually, an ice spear, you cut a dash, slashing wildly, showing everyone what a dark prince you really are.
As if there were in any doubt of your greatness, you'll eventually get to show off your shape-shifting skills, periodically changing into a bug, fish, or column of water in order to negotiate all those tricky-to-reach places. No-one said winning back your love was going to be easy.
With its pleasantly non-fascist checkpointing, sensibly compact level design and satisfying combat system, you'll appreciate Soul Of Darkness all the more. It's short, sweet and entirely unoriginal, but for all the right reasons.