Game of the Week

Join the dots.

Here's what we were picking from: Out This Week.

Surprise!

I'll leave it to the EG historians among you to determine if this is the first time in the site's 11-year history that we've awarded two 10/10s in a single week. It seems likely. What's probably more relevant is the unexpected way in which it happened.

But first, let us salute a game that in any other week we would have been proud to crown king. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit might owe more to Burnout than it does to cherished bearers of this overworked brand like 3DO Need for Speed, the original Hot Pursuit and Most Wanted. But that doesn't mean it's not a spectacular revival, with its clever Autolog network, glamorous stable of licensed sports cars, brutal multiplayer and blistering pace.

"If Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is remembered for one thing, it will be for putting the 'speed' back in Need for Speed," wrote a breathless Tom before awarding a 9. "The line between brilliant, beautiful speed and epic, catastrophic head-on collisions is measured in milliseconds, and every extra pixel of clarity is vital we haven't strained this intently to decipher the vanishing point since F-Zero GX on the GameCube."

You might think that he would have taken the opportunity afforded by Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, with its stealthy gameplay and open-ended structure, to slow down. But the game was so good that he consumed it at a voracious pace twice on the way to deciding this supposed side-story was, in fact, the crowning achievement of a maturing series.

"Never before have we seen a game whose open world is so densely packed with things to do while maintaining such high quality... [It] started life as what sounded suspiciously like a fund-raising stopgap conceived on the back of an overdrawn chequebook and blurted out during a conference call. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood is anything but that, however it's one of the best games of 2010."

A 10! Well that decides that, we thought when we published the review on Tuesday evening but the week wasn't finished with us yet.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

That Ubisoft Montreal turned a game of Brotherhood's quality around in a year is one thing, but the real sign of the times is that we went from only being vaguely aware of a game's existence, to seeing it released and discovering one of our games of the year maybe even the generation in less than 48 hours.

Pac-Man Championship Edition trailer

Such is the brave new world of download gaming. It can be difficult to keep up with, but the immediacy, surprise and sheer kid-in-a-sweet-shop thrill of it more than make up for that. Remember when every great release wasn't preceded by an 18-month-long ceremonial procession of hype? It's not just the neon aesthetic and fine-tuned score-attack dynamics of Pac-Man CE DX that take us back to the good old days.

"To say that this is a must-buy is doing it a disservice," said Kristan, so charged up with power-pill fervour that he burst, Hulk-like, from the confines of the weekly download roundup in a full 10/10 review."When we look back at the great score-attack games of this generation, this will be right up there at the top table. Like Trials HD and Geometry Wars before it, it's touched by true design genius."

And he, having played more of this sort of thing than anyone else alive in the past few months, ought to know. The original Pac-Man Championship Edition was already one of our favourite download games, a refined and compulsive arcade classic that was every bit as modern as it was retro. More than its modest title might suggest, DX takes this inspired twist on a classic game design and twists and expands it still further. Eat it up, clean your plate and come back for more.

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