New from the people who brought you LocoRoco comes this rhythm-based PSP title. You get to explore a 2D world populated by tiny warriors (they're called Patapons, you see), and make them march to musical beats. Or retreat, attack or defend, if you like.
You'll also have to collect resources and develop strategies to help your tribe grow and conquer. There are archers, infantry and cavalry to control, and more than 100 weapon and shield upgrades to play with. You can earn extra upgrades by completing five music-based mini-games.
Comparisons with LocoRoco are inevitable, as our reviewer Dave found out. "While Patapon has got the same quirky sense of style and visual charm as its predecessor, it doesn't offer the same easy breezy gameplay," he observes.
"Instead, it offers an imposing amount of depth and a considerable amount of micromanagement. Which isn't necessarily a criticism - it's just that forewarned is forearmed, and if you're nuts about LocoRoco there's no guarantee that you'll go bonkers for Patapon."
If you're willing to risk your sanity, Patapon is out in Europe on 22nd February.
Try before you buy: A demo of Patapon will hit the PSP Store on 21st February. It's got a special feature that will allow you to transfer your saved game over when you get a retail copy. Plus it'll give you a Spear of Protection. Never get in an unlicensed mini-cab without one.
Sins of a Solar Empire
It might sound like the title of a Ulysses 31 episode but hold up. Sins of a Solar Empire is being published by Stardock, the same people who brought us the excellent Galactic Civilizations II. This latest effort is said to mark "the birth of the RT4X genre, seamlessly blending spectacular tactical combat with grand-scale space strategy".
You'll have to develop your economy and research new technology in order to increase your military power. There's also plenty of diplomacy and trading to be done, and then it's time to test out your ships on 3D tactical battlefields.
The game is being developed by Canadian studio Ironclad, whose staff members previously worked on Homeworld: Cataclysm and Treasure Planet. Sins of a Solar Empire is out for PC only on 4th February, and you can pre-order a digital or boxed copy over on the official website.
Small robot you know: Bet you thought there was going to be a link to the Ulysses 31 opening theme here. Not so predictable my friend! In fact, it's a link to Philip Schofield and Gordon the Gopher singing the Ulysses 31 opening theme. True aficionados only watch it in French anyway. OoOOLEEeeEEeeEESE...
Dynasty Warriors 6
Well if you'd sold 15 million copies worldwide, you'd probably do a sixth instalment too. Dynasty Warriors 6 promises to mark a massive leap forward for the series no honest, featuring as it does a brand new engine and all manner of extra bits.
Based on epic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the game is set in Ancient China during the third century. Familiar characters have been "re-imagined" and come complete with new weapons and fighting techniques. They've motion-captured some of Asia's leading stuntmen and women for tip-top animations.
The new Renbu attack system and controls will make it easier to pull off super-fast combos, and you can expect "the most chaotic and challenging Tactical Action experience to date". Thousands of soldiers will swarm the battlefields and you'll have to use the landscape to elude them.
Improved AI means enemies will devise and rethink tactics as battles progress. They'll also have packs of hunting dogs and patrol boats at their disposal. To top it off, all this will be presented in glorious 60fps high definition.
Dynasty Warriors 6 is coming to PS3 and Xbox 360 on 7th March.
Fighting talk: Dave's already reviewed DW6 on import. It's "absolutely up there with the best of the series so far", he reckons. "It's as good as the game has ever been, and so there's never been a better time to try it out."
Universe At War: Earth Assault
You remember Petroglyph, the developer behind Star Wars: Empire at War. Now they're doing Universe at War: Earth Assault, a real-time strategy game for PC and Xbox 360.
It's set in the near future and sees multiple enemy factions coming from across the galaxy to do over the Earth. Key features will include 'Tactical Dynamics', a system that allows you to train and customise units on the real-time battlefield. You can also modify your weapons and defences, and fully customisable tech trees are promised too.
The world features deformable terrain and whole cities and territories can be destroyed. The multiplayer modes have been "inspired by popular MMOs" so you can take part in a persistent online campaign for supremacy.
The PC version is already out. Rob says, "The heart of Universe at War is a beautifully crafted strategy game which could have been one of the best things in the genre in years." But it isn't, thanks to an unimpressive graphics engine, boring single-player mode and Games for Windows Live Gold nonsense. Still, "If you're planning on playing LAN multiplayer games, or if you're an Xbox Live Gold subscriber already, we can happily recommend Universe at War; it's tarnished brilliance, but brilliance nonetheless."
Here's hoping the Xbox 360 version will fare better when it's released on 7th March.
Come and have a go: You can try out the game by downloading a demo over at 3D Gamers, if you like.
As you can tell by the final entry we've run out of jokes and YouTube links, so now seems like a good time to end our strategy and simulation roundup. Just time to mention Operation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising - and a mention it'll have to be, since Codemasters has yet to issue much information about it.
We should also highlight expansion pack Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War - Soulstorm, out on 7th March. C&C3 is getting an add-on too in the shape of Kane's Wrath, coming to PC and Xbox 360 this spring. Speaking of which, 360 owners will be able to enjoy World in Conflict and Supreme Commander later this year. Cheerio!
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