Skate 2, Silent Hill, EndWar, NFS, Sonic, Argonauts.
It's that time again. If the recent F.E.A.R. 2 and Street Fighter IV features did not sate your face-off needs adequately, we're back with the more traditional roundup format, boasting a six-strong set of releases that collectively sum up both the good and the bad of multiformat development as it stands right now. And this month's assortment adds a new meaning to the term 'cross-platform', as we get to see what PS2-era assets look like in a brand new PS3/360 game!
As per the norm, we've worked hard in bringing you the best-possible assets to show you how the games compare on both platforms: that'll be digitally lossless 24-bit full-range RGB grabs freshly and brutally culled from the HDMI ports of our PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 Elite, and accompanying h264-encoded videos from the same sources. You all know the score by now - streaming video actually becomes relevant for the purpose here, by slowing down the video and zooming in on a section of the screen, with one pixel in the excellent Eurogamer video player equating to one pixel on your HDTV.
So, bearing in mind the additional title-specific coverage you've been enjoying of late, there's a somewhat pared-down roster this time, combining some of the most recent 2009 releases with a bunch of high-profile 2008 tail-enders that worked hard in avoiding our radar.
Devoted followers of all things role-playing have been well served by the long-running battle between good and evil, and Rise of the Argonauts frames its re-imagining of Jason and his quest for the Golden Fleece in the starkest of traditional contrasts: Jason, already king and faithful protector of Iolcus, is set on his path by the murder of his new wife, Alceme, on their wedding day, by the suitably putrid, Hecate-worshipping Blacktongues.
It isn't long, however, before proceedings are sprinkled with welcome ambiguity. Jason seeks the Fleece not to serve the usual notions of loyalty, honour or selflessness but simply to resurrect Alceme, and soon finds himself in league with the gods Ares, Hermes, Apollo and Athena, all of whom will see their own interests served by his decision to abandon his people to the regency of Pelias, whose manner and dress sense are enough to illustrate Jason's rather daft decision, even for players who aren't aware of his role in the original Greek mythology from which Rise of the Argonauts borrows most of its cast.
After a fevered introduction to combat, Jason is initially consigned to trotting through the vast halls of his palace and the surrounding village passing on news to the bereaved families of guards killed in the initial Blacktongue assault, in-between listening to fortune-tellers, conversing with servants, noblemen-and-women and his guards about his duties to Iolcus (the ones he's not bothering with for the next ten hours), and the virtues of the gods and their various dominions. Apart from some sparring, there's little besides running around and talking for over an hour, before Jason finally takes delivery of his ship, the Argo, and sets off on a course to recruit the gods' descendants so he can locate the Fleece.
"Till death do us part." Aw. Rarely, though, has the aforementioned parting arrived as quickly as it does in the marriage of King Jason to his Queen, Alceme. Her hand in his, the lovers lean in for a kiss that will mark the start their life together. But the consummation is over before it begins: Alceme sinks to the ground, all vacant eyes and bluing lips, an arrow shaft quivering from her bosom. Jason spins on his heel to see a group of Ionian archers fleeing across the palace ramparts, then turns back to see his wife dead and his heart broken.
What do RPG fans want? Rise of the Argonauts' lead designer Charley Price believes they want a strong, customisable character with choices to make. And beyond that, it should be simple. Price says he's been busy "discarding the baggage of Dungeons & Dragons" for Argonauts - due out on PC, PS3 and 360 later this year - because it's laborious and repetitive. There's no juggling inventory items, no health or mana bars, no levelling up, XP or grind, and menus are few. This is a third-person action-RPG built on Unreal Engine 3. And Argonauts doesn't stop at reinterpreting the genre; it also wants to resurrect Ancient Greece.
Jason and the Argonauts made bold cinematic footprints in 1963, largely thanks to painstakingly created stop-motion animation widely considered as one of the greatest achievements in 20th Century film. We can still remember those plasticine skeletons being smashed all over the place, and Jason's battle with the three-headed Hydra. It's a tale so well known that when Codemasters announced it was remaking the tale with developer Liquid Entertainment, we felt a little joy rising inside.
Codemasters is showing off more of its swanky upcoming action-RPG Rise of the Argonauts, in development at Liquid Entertainment and due out next year on PC and "major console platforms" - thought to be PS3 and Xbox 360.
You can catch the latest trailer on Eurogamer TV now, while screenshots are ready to be viewed through the reflective inner surface of your shield in our Rise of the Argonauts screenshot gallery.
As the name suggests, RotA puts you into the Kingly shoes of Jason, ruler of Iolchis, on a quest alongside mythological heroes Hercules, Achilles, Atalanta and others, exploring the islands of Aegean and trying to earn the favour of the gods.
Codemasters showed key titles for the year ahead at its Code07 event in Bedfordshire earlier this week, airing nine titles and making announcements for Operation Flashpoint 2, Rise of the Argonauts and Race Driver One.
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