Visual Concepts has been working on basketball sims since NBA Action 98 so it's had plenty of time to perfect the sport. Sprinkling a little pinch of arcade speed on top of a rules-heavy recreation of the game, while constantly refining controls, has enabled the developer to hold its own and in some cases, topple the competition, even under the guiding hand of a variety of different publishers and branding. You can change the packaging all you like, but the core game has been keeping its head up, dribbling with the fingertips and driving the lane for some years now.
When last seen on these shores, the 2K hockey brand came complete with the ESPN name, so seeing 2K6 without the glamour and glitz of the ever-enthusiastic sports channel is a disappointment. It doesn't help that the presentation that's replaced it is straight-up ugly and a jarring reminder that EA does presentation like no other. Still, it may be regrettable that EA has bagged the ESPN name for itself, but the gameplay that makes the series stand out like polished black ice is still very much in effect. And with this year's tweaks and additions to play, NHL 2K6 is one of the best sports games on the current generation. You'll forget all about nasty menus and bland music as soon as you glide onto the ice.
Electronic Arts continues to dominate the UK's All Formats Entertainment Charts this week, with seven titles clogging up the top ten, barely leaving room for rival publishers Ubisoft, Codemasters and Konami to steal a little glory.
A big, steaming pile of dog poo. No, not the game silly, but one of the trophies you can collect during your Metal Slug 5 adventure. Oh, the mischief!
Let's not fanny around with a smart-arse introduction to Jacked; let's just deal with the pain like grown-ups. From the makers of Moorhuhn Invasion, Schnappi and Catch the Sperm 2, Jacked would like to be a cross between Burnout and crusty old Megadrive favourite Road Rash. Players scream around tracks on nitro-guzzling motorbikes swinging a collection of bludgeoning instruments at rival racers. It's a simple enough concept but it's rendered pointless by awful design decisions, ropey controls, mediocre presentation and a complete lack of... well, just a complete lack, if you get our meaning.
We’ve been so invigorated in a refreshing shower of high quality titles from the past three months that we’d forgotten games like this still exist. When not soaping-up with the next-gen, we’ve had the pleasure of pampering ourselves with a gift basket of minty fresh titles that have breathed new life into our crusty home consoles. We’ve deodorised with the perfumed prettiness of Shadow of Colossus and plucked the cheddar from our toenails with the ever-sharp TOCA 3. And while the piping hot water of Black sprays onto our face we reach out with squinting eyes and grab the Aeon Flux loofer. It’s damp and someone’s left their pubic hair on it.
You know there's no place for subtlety in a game when the training level instructs the player to 'harpoon enemy and throw onto rhino horn'. Later, a chap is strangled with his own intestines. Our vampiric heroine surfs down banisters in six-inch heels while firing a gun powered by human blood. Limbless stumps spurt crimson across the floor accompanied by a sound effect like a racehorse pissing on wet grass. BloodRayne 2 is as subtle as a kick to the nads.
So, do you want a nice drink or do you just want to get drunk?