It's one of those weeks, again, where the best that the download gaming sector has to offer is just too damned good. Games like Costume Quest and Super Meat Boy provide the kind of must-have experiences that absolutely demand the focus of a full review. If for whatever reason you don't think these type of games have the same gravity as a boxed game, at least check out the trial.
According to Foundation 9, Xbox Live is already "past tipping point", with around 30 per cent of consumers online and buying download titles. And that figure is only going to rise over the next few years. Elsewhere, you've got the likes of Valve boasting about 30 million accounts on Steam, and Blitz predicting a digital-only future for the next round of consoles.
When it comes to this week's crop, though, it's another healthy one, mixed with some inevitable rejects that sully the good name of the good ship download. Remember, we're here to warn you off the bad as well as celebrate the good.
Swords And Soldiers
- PSN / Ł7.99
- WiiWare / 1000 Wii Points (Ł7.20)
If you're going to be boring enough to release the 407th tower defence variant in 2010, you'd better make sure it's a good one. Luckily, Swords And Soldiers developer Ronimo Games has a few tricks up its sleeve, including surprise boxing gloves that pop out and bloody the nose of any critic that dares to question its supreme wisdom.
Swords And Soldiers isn't so much tower defence as tower attack, where the emphasis is firmly on sticking it to your opponent before they do the same to you. There's precious little room for manning the barricades and waiting for the inevitable onslaught - you've just got to get up and at 'em as quickly and effectively as possible.
The first priority is mining for gold so that you can purchase all the units and enhancements you'll need; the second is feverishly building them as fast as you can. With its RTS-style build system, you have to continually keep one eye on the fate of your burgeoning army while also being mindful to restock your units and buy upgrades when you can afford them.
Once the game gets into its stride it's engagingly frantic stuff, and is helped no end by a brilliantly intuitive control system that maps one-off special attacks to R1 and unit-building to L1. With very few things to actually control or direct out on the side-scrolling battlefield itself, you're given the luxury of focusing your attention on more exciting matters, such as when to heal, or when to dispense lightning justice on tricky foes.
Swords And Soldiers also has substance to it - tons of campaign missions, Skirmish mode and multiplayer options to keep you going, more than justifying the price. Indeed, with its comic visuals and light-hearted touches at every step, Swords And Soldiers wants to be this year's Plants vs. Zombies, and damn near succeeds.