We all moan when the games industry packs up and suns itself for a couple of months, but we'd rather look on the bright side of this situation. For a start, this release drought leaves the high street stores desperately trying to spur demand with all manner of tempting sales. Even a cursory glance at the many sales on at present reveals that a whole range of relatively new releases are being discounted to scarily low levels in an attempt to get stock moving. Unreal Championship 2 on Xbox for Ł14.99 anyone? The deals are out there...
And the news this week that Sony has dropped the price of Platinum releases should give PS2 owners the opportunity to plug many a gap in their collection, with the promise of three-for-Ł20 type offers coming soon. Now if only Sony would have the good sense of releasing its less-celebrated gems (ICO, Sly Raccoon) onto a co-existing budget label we'd all live happily ever after. Microsoft and Nintendo may well be sitting on their hands over following Sony's lead, but you can bet your bottom dorrar that it'll happen sooner rather than later.
But all this cut-priced shenanigans doesn't mean there aren't any games out this week worth bothering with. Indeed, Sony has God Of War out today - probably the year's best PS2 title, and the subject of an enthusiastic 9/10 review elsewhere on the site last week. The problem is, many of you wouldn't necessarily know much about the game given the lack of marketing push behind the Sony Santa Monica-developed action extravaganza. Telling the story of Kratos' violent exploits in mythical Athens, it's one of those games that seems to effortlessly build on what's gone before and stands out all on its own for being exceptional at everything it does. Sure, on the surface it looks like another Devil May Cry-style hackandslash, but behind the blizzard of blades is a masterpiece of game design that controls beautifully, looks stunning and is one of those rare games that can be enjoyed by newbies and experts alike. Don't waste any more time. Just buy it.
Elsewhere, Xbox Live fans can finally get their hands on the boxed version of the Halo 2 Muliplayer Map Pack. We've not been sent our copy yet (tsk), so we don't have much of an idea whether it's worth the Ł14.99 Microsoft is asking for it, but given that it's from Bungie itself you can't really go wrong. With nine new maps and a special documentary that gives a new insight into New Mombassa, it's a slightly pricey way to enhance your multiplayer enjoyment, but given the popularity of Halo 2 online, there's evidently a big demand for it. Expect a review of this pack sometime next week. And yes, a bloody Conker review, you ungrateful sods.
DS owners, meanwhile, should avoid Space Invaders Revolution like some sort of stinking, rancid, maggot infested plague. Although the original designer of the 1978 arcade phenomenon had a hand in overseeing the project, don't allow that to give this pointless update any credibility whatsoever. It's just one of those generic updates that slaps in an untouched original version alongside a "New Age" version that tweaks the original concept in ways that ceased to be interesting about 18 years ago. If you really have to have Space Invaders on a handheld, we're quite sure there are cheaper and better ways to do it. Asking full price for this is, frankly, insulting. Go and see War Of The Worlds instead and have a slap up nosh with a mate in Eds Diner if you need to see alien invaders being shot (in the cinema, obviously!).
The extraordinarily badly-timed release of Bomberman DS had our eyes nearly popping out of our heads once we realised how insensitive the title was the day after a terrorist attack, but, ach, what the hell. It's a classic that has reviewed really well on the DS and is most definitely one of a handful of games that any self respecting gamer should consider investing in on the Nintendo handheld.
And to wrap up this week's slightly subdued column (sorry, being witty the day after your city has been blown to smithereen's aint easy), there's the cheap and cheerful Crazy Golf: World Tour from Liquid Games on PS2 for budget fiends, and Jo Wood's Soldner Gold compilation pack on PC.
See you next week when Tom's irreverent and quite probably irrelevant rants will be back in full effect. Stay safe, stay in, play God Of War and realise that Sony wasn't lying about what the PS2 was capable of after all. It just took a very talented team five years to prove it.
- PAL Releases
- God Of War (PS2)
- Bomberman (DS)
- Halo 2 Multiplayer Map Pack (Xbox)
- Crazy Golf: World Tour (PS2)
- Soldner Gold (PC)