The Earth's only real problem, it has often been observed, is humanity. Plague Inc. thus offers the opportunity to save the planet by eradicating our species from existence, giving you control over the evolutions and mutations of various infectious diseases - the means to spread, and then the tools to finish the job. The only obstacles are medical science, hand-washing, and occasionally air filters.
Even the name has perfect symmetry. Olo is one of the classiest productions you'll ever see on iOS, a minimalist multiplayer game that's as achingly gorgeous as it is perfectly tuned. I know I'm throwing around superlatives like confetti here, but there's no denying it: Olo, in the common parlance, is a beaut.
The reason I don't own a Playstation Vita is because some things can never be forgiven. In greener days I had a crap job, and saved up for months to buy a premium PSP pack at launch - loads of accessories, a few games, a fat £300. Man was I hyped. Fool me once, Sony, and it's shame on you.
After recovering from the last boss of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, you may need a cold shower. Yet as the credits roll the elation acquires a funereal tinge, a sadness that action movies have just been superseded. Revengeance is the future of high-octane entertainment, a game that blasts out of the gate and simply doesn't stop until the final strike hits home - though there's plenty of slow-mo along the way.
At the beginning of a game of Spaceteam, the avatars of two to four friends are 'beamed up' onto a spaceship. Around five minutes later, this happens:
The History of Nintendo: 1889-1980 by Florent Gorges and Isao Yamazaki; Pix'n Love Publishing, £24.99
For those new to all this, the clue's in the title: it's all about champions duelling with a bit of might and magic, innit? Duel of Champions comes from a storied lineage of Might & Magic-based collectible card games (CCGs), and among its many changes is a defining one: this is free to play, and on iPad to boot.
The endless runner is surely the platformer of our age, if only in the way in which breakout successes have led to a huge field of champs and also-rans. The bar is always getting higher, in other words, and yet Time Surfer sails over it effortlessly. It may have obvious influences, but it makes something new from them.
In the Walking Dead comics, fighting a zombie is always a massive deal. Its survivors are all too aware of the dangers involved, the risk of attracting attention, and how one false step means death. They'll do almost anything to avoid a big fight. So the series doesn't seem ideal for a video game subtitled 'Assault' - but the first of many surprises here is how smartly it's approached unfamiliar territory.
In an age where great iOS games seem to come out every week, you always need that little bit extra to stand out. Wave Trip is unusual enough, a 2D left-to-right flying game where the level's elements are also the sounds. But as well as its own layouts, called songs, Wave Trip offers a brilliant interface for building your own and brings in other user-generated content seamlessly.
There is a particular category of game - not a specific genre - that can be called endless. Tetris would be an obvious example, and at another pole there's something like Disgaea. Games where the core idea is so beautifully executed it can be escalated and repeated ad infinitum yet never loses its freshness. Things you could play forever. Devil May Cry 3 is one of the best, and despite its turbo-charged action is the ultimate slow-burner.
This week has seen two big stories about premium games trying to squeeze ever-more money out of their players. They're not immediately obvious bedfellows; Square Enix's Final Fantasy: All the Bravest is a mobile title divided into cash-hungry chunks, and Dead Space 3 is as typical an AAA console title as you'll get. But both excite the same feeling of unease, and not just because they share a common theme of exploitation; it's that point where something bearable becomes too much.
This came out last summer, but I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of it until a festive App Store sale and snazzy icon tempted a punt. It turns out to be a rare treasure, a high-concept hybrid role-playing game that manages to pack an epic and funny quest into the most unusual of structures.
One of my most vivid memories is watching an Armistice Day service as a kid and, during the minute's silence, noticing old people crying. This was a puzzle. For me, and I suspect for you too, the World Wars are something that happened a long time ago - not only in the literal sense, but in the sense in which the actual experience is fading out to the point of vanishing entirely. My parents grew up among people who had lived through and fought in the Second World War, whereas I vaguely remember a great-uncle who'd been in the air force. Even as a kid, I understood that I didn't understand something. The World Wars seemed like history rather than real and recent events.
I know it's unwise, but this review is being written at a high pitch of fury. If I could erase Strike Suit Zero from existence I would, but as it is I'll settle for removing it from my hard drive and raising a glass as its bytes blink into oblivion. I rarely properly hate games, and have never detested something quite as obviously accomplished as Strike Suit Zero before. Don't let the prettiness fool you; buy this and you might as well peel off your skin and jump in a vinegar bath.
There are extremes, and then there's DmC. This reinvention of Devil May Cry is capable of leaving you open-mouthed in amazement, gazing in wonder while clutching the joypad so hard it creaks - but it also easily segues into boredom and, occasionally, frustration. When DmC gets going it is sensational and when it slows down it's barely average. It's the 10/10 game that won't stop forgetting itself.
Hairy Tales, what a name. Behind it is a little bearded bloke you have to guide through levels that are ever-shifting puzzles, an unusual blend of route-planning and frantic mid-run swiping. Strategy-runner? Action-Lemmings? Whenever you're struggling to quite place something in a genre, that's usually a good sign.
Super Ox Wars is a shooter by Llamasoft, aka Jeff Minter and Ivan "Giles" Zorzin, which in a just world would be all the description required for this to shift truckloads. It is, true to form, another wonderful game, but it's also one that begs an overwhelming question of the studio's ongoing output. Let's phrase it like this - is an overarching aesthetic a studio's identity, or can it become a comfort zone?
This is an import review of the Japanese edition of Anarchy Reigns (known as Max Anarchy), first published in July last year. We present it again - with a few minor edits to bring the review up to date - to mark the game's release in North America today and in Europe on Friday 11th January.
Talk about context. The War Z is a forgettable experience, easy enough to dismiss with a few nasty words and the faintest of praise. But it is impossible to ignore the game's damned developers, who since its release have revealed themselves to be either incompetent buffoons or crooked shysters. The amazing details make it impossible to review this in a bubble - not least because The War Z clearly wasn't made in one.
In Far Cry 3, I'm always driving to distraction. Rook Island has come to feel like a special kind of freedom, its looping roads and bumpy dust tracks criss-crossing with breadcrumb trails, always suggesting unplanned stop-offs. Freedom does, nevertheless, feel like an odd word for this achievement. What, in a virtual world, does freedom even mean? The freedom to execute a pre-programmed action? To take a road less travelled, but one built by a team of hundreds for just that purpose? The freedom to switch off?
You could say that PunchQuest has pedigree. An endless puncher by Rocketcat Games, the developer behind a superb series of hook-based platformers, its randomised design showcases craftsmanship and imagination of the highest order. No mean feat when the only goal is to punch as many enemies to death as possible.
Swearing creatively; difficult thing to get right. You just about get away with 'Stealth Bastard Deluxe', but as soon as the subtitle 'Tactical Espionage Arsehole' comes up we go from laugh to cringe. It's a bit try-hard, and its greatest sin is misrepresenting the game behind it - SBD is a refined and original take on the sneaking genre, not a crass parody. The most heartfelt profanities here are delivered, as they should be, by the player.
The idea of being a king is endlessly fascinating. What would you do? Who would you kill? And, most importantly, who can you trust? Worn down every day by myriad disputes, planning for the enemy at the gates, constantly paranoid about inside jobs. "What infinite heart's ease," moans Shakespeare's Henry V, "Must kings neglect, that private men enjoy?"
Are you sure your ready for war? says the screen. Yes Im ready. Press C to BATTLECRY. C.
If anything needs a makeover, it's surely the humble turn-based hex game. Ever-present, tried and trusted but somehow a little too fusty and dusty to get truly excited about, hex strategy tends to be all substance and no style. Just saying the phrase makes you feel like a spod.
ZombiU is a re-imagining of the very first game that Ubisoft ever published, and represents a back-to-basics approach of the best kind. No timid attempt at carving off a slice of the bloated zombie market, ZombiU takes a new path - one that cuts a swathe through the horde. If it's not quite perfect then that's no terrible criticism, and whatever else, it is one hell of a launch title.
The thing about Mario is that, as much as he looks like a little dungareed chap, he's not really a character. Ever since Nintendo's rise in the 1980s, he's been an icon: the embodiment of pure gaming joy, a wah-hooing hero eternally saving Mushroom Kingdoms in between entering every sporting event going. It's funny to think of how many different Marios there have been - and it's this aspect of the character that Paper Mario has always riffed on.
This review is intended purely as an assessment of how Doom 3's content and gameplay stand up today. If you're interested in the features and technical aspects of this new version, Digital Foundry will have extensive coverage for you over the next two days.
Buy XCOM, it's a belter. I know it's Big Game season, but this is so good I've chalked up 43 hours in four days and want more in the near future. XCOM absorbs you into a universe of Tonka toy soldiers and B-movie science-fiction, a rich and smartly streamlined strategy experience that's a hell of a credit to the design of the 1994 original. Re-imagining? Remake? Whatever it is, XCOM brings back and revitalises a classic.