It is really a year since the first Download Games Roundup? Already? If I'd known you were coming, I'd have baked you a cake.
A question I get asked by my esteemed colleagues on a frequent basis is "Don't you get bored of reviewing so many games all the time?". I suppose ten games a week sounds like quite a few when you annualise that figure. More than 500 a year? How am I not insane?
I suppose the answer to that is the instant nature of most of these games, coupled with a risk-taking creative sparkle that the full-priced offerings struggle to match. The difference is that you can pick up these games, play them for an hour or two, and really have the measure of them. You'll never get this 'it gets good after 20 hours' bollocks. If it's good, you know about it within about the first couple of minutes. It's like listening to a pile of hit singles, versus having to wade through a double concept album.
And on that note, pop pickers, here's this week's Bit Parade...
Rush N' Attack: Ex Patriot
- Xbox Live Arcade - 800 Microsoft Points (Ł6.80)
- Also on PlayStation Network - Ł7.99
As much as I loved Green Beret/Rush N' Attack on the Speccy back in the day, playing the XBLA port back in 2007 was right up there with being repeatedly smashed in the face by a wet plimsoll in the fun stakes. Naturally, I wasn't anticipating that a retro re-imagining would be any less of a relentless kick in the balls.
But evidently Vatra Games understands that today's gamers don't particularly enjoy one hit death bullet hell, and have taken a surprisingly forgiving stance with this latterday sequel.
With more than a gentle nod to the much-admired Shadow Complex, the approach is much more measured than you might have expected - especially after the recent release of the wholly uncompromising Hard Corps Uprising.
Rather than just chuck you into an insane scenario, with enemies blasting you from every angle, Ex Patriot eases you in rather more gently, and shows you how creeping stealth can be just as effective as going in all guns blazing.
Tasked with busting out of prison, you can slip in and out of hiding places, yank unsuspecting foe from gantries, and silently slit the throats of heavily armed goons, grab their weapon, and then go on a fevered rampage before the bullets run out.
It's a style of play that suits the premise perfectly, and one that's flexible enough to allow you to switch between approaches whenever the occasion - or your mood - dictates.
Ex Patriot also provides a sympathetic visual makeover, with its Unreal Engine-powered visuals allowing Vatra to opt for a shadowy intricacy that gives it a modern sheen, while also being respectful to the source inspiration.
It's also a reasonably lengthy game, too, with plenty of collectibles likely to push the game over the four to five hour mark.
For once, it's nice to find a retro revival that does true justice to an old classic, and for only 800 points you can't even moan about the price. Credit where it's due: Rush N' Attack: Ex Patriot surpasses every expectation we could have had of it.