Here's what we were picking from: Out This Week.
This week, we found ourselves standing next to some tarts from The Only Way Is Essex in Battersea Power Station one night and watching Leona Lewis sing to an ice rink the next, as gaming's two sleb-slinging titans of hype, Microsoft and Activision, went head-to-head in London. Kinect hit the UK exactly 24 hours after Call of Duty: Black Ops, and no C-list guest appearance was left unbooked. Is that Sophie Ellis-Bextor again?
Understandably, everyone else ran screaming from the shops this week. Only brave little Sonic stuck his head above the parapet, emboldened by his recent success with Sonic 4 and managing the unprecedented feat of two decent games in a row. "It's a riot of neon signage and lambent, Escher-like design, drunk on fizzing, synth-tinged J-Pop. It's stupefyingly fast and utterly thrilling," warbled Al of Sonic Colours, dizzied by the contrast with his usual diet of strategy games and German RPGs.
The eye of the storm gave us a chance to do some catching up, and the results were surprising. What's this – an innovative skateboarding game? And this – a good Sims on console? We enjoyed Xbox Live Arcade's bipolar mood this week, too – soothing one minute, raging the next.
But let's pull our heads out of the sand. There's no use denying that Kinect is the most exciting and novel thing to happen in gaming this week – provided you (literally) have room for it in your life. As you'll know if you read our launch coverage, it has a decent day one line-up as these things go: Dance Central is a dance game that's actually a game, Kinect Sports is a class act, and there's always the car-crash allure of Fighters Uncaged. "AAAAAAAAAAAAAA," said Ellie. "No no no no no no no," she added. It was a long day.
But it would also be useless, not to mention snobbish and contrary, to pretend that our game of the week could be anything other than the year's biggest release.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Never mind playable Taliban; how about playable Communist dictators? Black Ops' brilliant Zombies mode lets you be Fidel Castro, in the Pentagon, filling reanimated corpses with lead. How very un-American. We can only assume the Cuban government didn't see this bit, or it wouldn't have been so sour.
That's enough to make it game of the century as far as we're concerned, but you may also wish to consider the Dead Ops secret bonus game and the fantastic multiplayer, especially the Wager Matches which Tom found himself so addicted to. Next to these, the predictably noisy and narrow campaign is almost a sideshow – albeit one PT Barnum would have been proud of.
"The campaign is relentlessly aggressive and spectacular – a Jerry Bruckheimer tribute act stuck in permanent encore," wrote Tom in his 8/10 review, "while the multiplayer modes are a mixture of smart tweaks to working formulas, as focused on protecting that guaranteed bottom line as the campaign's yellow objective cursor is on making sure you never falter. The results are never less than entertaining whatever you choose to do, then, but not exactly brave and bold either."
That said, it must have taken some courage for Call of Duty underdog Treyarch to step up to plate after Modern Warfare 2 and the subsequent implosion of Infinity Ward. It's filled those intimidating boots with confidence, skill, and also a little something else which both IW and Call of Duty have often seemed to lack: a sense of humour.
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