Version tested iPhone
Online leaderboards and achievements are a bit of an unnecessary mess when it comes to mobile phones - not least on iOS, where you quite frequently end up logging on to both Game Center and Openfeint at the same time. Sometimes Crystal is involved as well, or instead, just to add to the fun.
Apple could certainly do with tidying a few things up, no doubt, but one thing that Game Center provides that generally goes unremarked is a very quick means of seeing how well certain games are selling.
When you notice that you're ranked 1,103,583 out of 1,577,591 in Tiny Tower, for example, it doesn't just illustrate how much you suck, but that an awful lot more people have downloaded that than the piddling 81,576 that have registered their Zoo Keeper DX scores. Angry Birds, predictably, manages 14.7 million registered scores, while the acclaimed Magnetic Billiards is currently at a miserable 13,514.
While you can't take Game Center registered users at face value, they do provide a sense of proportion to a market currently bereft of reliable data - and perhaps more pertinently, a distressing reminder of the gulf between the hits and the also-rans.
Oh, and by the way: games! Yes, it's very much an iOS-fest this week, but for very good reasons. Android and Windows Phone 7 remain firmly in our thoughts and will return.
Hector Episode Two: Senseless Acts Of Justice
It was almost embarrassing how good the original Hector was. Not for Straandlooper, the Northern Irish animation company that managed to plop its unflinchingly seedy adventure into our ungrateful laps from absolutely nowhere - but for everyone else who had been trying for years to make something worth mentioning in the same breath as the adventure genre's standard-bearers of old.
Rather than get all cantankerous about it, Telltale did the decent thing, took Straandlooper under its wing and made sure the sequel got made. Here it is, and there we are.
In proper episodic style, Senseless Acts Of Justice picks up directly where the previous one left off; you definitely won't want to spoil it for yourself by getting on board midway through the story. If you've any interest in adventures whatsoever and have not picked up the first episode, it's mandatory.
The new episode sticks to the reliable formula: a cast of British society's flotsam provide continual comedy value merely by being themselves, while hapless detective Hector finds himself in all manner of hideous situations, forced to deal with people even more reprehensible than himself. If someone decided to make Life On Mars: The Game, it wouldn't be a million miles from this.
As with all adventures, coming up with a decent array of puzzles can make or break a game, no matter how spiky the dialogue is or how well illustrated it may be. Fortunately, challenging-but-fair lateral-thinking puzzles in the fine tradition pepper the proceedings, and often prove as amusing and satisfying as the rest of the game - just as they ought to be. If you're stuck, a hint system prevents any residual frustration.
Although Hector gets so much right, there are the odd moments when you wish some of the regional accents were a little more credible. Non-natives may never even notice, but some of the (otherwise relentlessly sharp) lines fall flat as a result.
Nit-picking aside, Senseless Acts Of Justice is another harrowingly accurate exploration of the eccentric, perverted, vomiting British psyche. This is less of a game, more of a documentary.