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PS2: 12 Games of Christmas • Page 2

I'm not dead!

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

That one is shower gel, this here pants, that one is a bottle of whiskey (must thank uncle Frank), and that one is a, oh, er, a, wait, what? Obviously it is the most unconventional role-playing game you should buy, silly. For those unfamiliar, the Profile series is based on a group of Norse gods called Valkyries, who swoop down and appear before brave humans before they die and offer them the chance to fight for the gods. Silmeria is the Valkyrie in question and she has been banned from heaven by Odin for an unspecified offence - probably something to do with low scores. Her new home is the occupied body of Alicia, Princess of Dipan, and together the two embark on a voyage to recruit an army to get back at Odin.

Exploration is presented in gorgeous 2D with battles in 3D. Even the fighting is quirky with a timing system where you punch face buttons to coincide with different character attacks. Get it right and you could trigger chains and special abilities, a necessity for tough encounters. Put its deep, statistical element together with bright splashes of creativity and you have a Japanese role-playing adventure that will leave you glowing longer than the whiskey you bought for you dad.

Ear, ear: Silmeria sounds like similar. Which is nice. Who are you?

SingStar Rock Ballads

singstar
"Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom."

Karaoke is a bit like sushi; the idea is disgusting at first but grows after your first taste, and you have probably eaten raw salmon or belted your vocals out to a song in a club, the shower, or at a concert anyway. Sony knew all this and based its incredibly popular SingStar series on it, pumping out iteration after iteration to hungry crowds craving variety. But lately it has all fallen a bit flat, with forgettable chart songs populating the music selection. Thank god for Rock Ballads.

No backing out from the vocals in these, either you put everything on the line and soar up the ladder to the big notes, or you crash and burn like a timid little mouse. Loser. And when the booze dries up and your friends have deserted you, what stands before you is a superb vocal training exercise that will reward your singing the more you invest in it. Big, ballsy and brilliant.

Will you make me some magic with your own two hands? Well, will you?

Buzz! The Mega Quiz

buzz
"Yours for 50 camels."

Is that Jason Donovan? Yes. Jason Donovan is Buzz, the charismatic quiz game host who is genuinely very funny and the base of some excellent drinking games. Buzz is another unlikely hero, and something you will likely find appalling in principal until you have a buzzer in your hand and are vying for points in a quick fire round. You see, whether in an argument or in front of company, it is only natural for us to prove how much we know. We do it while watching shows on telly, selectively ignoring the hard stuff in favour of some obscure fact we remember from school. Here you are finally in the hot seat and actively slugging it out, telling yourself you will not rise to the bait but failing every time.

There are numerous outings of Buzz, most recently Hollywood. While these are as fiendishly compulsive for the same reasons, the Mega Quiz is the real jewel in the crown, our very special pick. One to delight friends and family with, while even managing to have a little bit of fun yourself. Just don't blame us if it resorts to blows.

Gulp: take a drink each time Buzz insults assistant Rose.

God of War II

gow2
Griffon something to think about.

The problem with getting a little over-zealous and swamping your friends in fantastic Christmas presents is that they will expect the same treatment next year. And Sony Santa Monica walked into the same trap with action sequel God of War II. After all, how do you improve on one of the finest PS2 action titles of all time? Well, like this, apparently.

Returning are jaw-dropping visuals out of place on an ageing piece of equipment like the PS2, along with the most compelling blend of hack and slash since Moses asked a bunch of animals onto his boat in return for a steady supply of meat and dairy produce. Er. Never overwhelming but balanced so finely you glide giddily from one atmospheric gore-dripping sequence to another, stopping periodically to best bosses as big as your dad looked when you were little. Every area here boasts improvements on the two year-old original, and only narrowly misses out on top marks because it is essentially the second part to a formula already seen. The prospect of Sony Santa Monica finally getting to grips with the PS3 in its third instalment is mouth-watering.

Not you again: GOW2 marked the second time Harry Hamlin played the role of Perseus, the first being 1981 film Clash of the Titans. Yes.

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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