- PSN (PS3) / £9.99
- Steam / £9.99
- Xbox Live Arcade / 1200 Microsoft Points (£10.20)
Almost everyone loved Shadow Complex, and rightly so. With sales of around half a million, it seemed you lot did, too, so it's hardly surprising to see a swashbuckling rival ploughing the 2.5D furrow to impressive effect.
Krome's first 'episode' in what should be an ongoing series is a confident little tyke, too. Luxuriating in lavish production values and slick playability, this acrobatic cel-shaded hack-and-slash platform-puzzler barrels along at a frenetic pace.
With simple, intuitive controls making combat and exploration a pleasure, what starts off as a fairly routine blade-swishing blizzard soon settles into a more interesting groove. With secret-packed levels offering countless opportunities to poke around, it's a formula that's familiar but satisfying.
There's a decent amount of variety, too. Rather than risk boring players with more of the same, the radical changes of scenery and fast-paced mount levels change the pace just when it's required. It's a game with a welcome degree of character, too, with exquisite cut-scenes, brilliant lip syncing and decent voice acting helping to add a gloss that's becoming more common at the top end of digital offerings.
It's a beefy game, too. With each of the19 levels taking 25 to 30 minutes to romp through, the 'premium' price is, for once, fully justified. If Blade Kitten is a signal of intent for Atari's ongoing digital reinvention, then the future looks bright for all concerned.
Alien Breed 2: Assault
- Xbox Live Arcade / 800 Microsoft Points (£6.80)
After so many years of patient expectation, it was a real shame that Alien Breed's return to the scene didn't quite blow the doors off in the way we all hoped it would. While certainly solid in every department, the numbing repetition and inability to play through the main campaign with a buddy ran contrary to what most of us wanted.
Sadly, it's largely the same deal with Assault. While Team 17 has worked hard to create better set-pieces and more tense boss encounters, and has included a new upgrade system, you're still left growling about not being able to enjoy the whole affair with a pal. Sure, a separate co-op campaign exists in order to satisfy that urge, but it's not quite enough.
Objectively, it's a visually arresting game, with an excellent twin-stick move-and-aim combat system - but one that settles into a familiar, overly predictable rhythm. For the most part you'll follow endless waypoints, flick a switch here, power up a console there, while gunning down a procession of aliens. If you've played through the first episode, Assault can, at times, feel short on surprises.
On the other hand, if you missed the original, then Assault definitely serves as a better reintroduction. With an evident determination to cut the crap and get down to business, it's a tight, brutal no-nonsense corridor shooter. Completely predictable, but fun all the same.