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Mobile Games Roundup

Broken! Toys! Burn! Blast! Dead!

Amidst all the frenzy surrounding Sony's NGP, the company's upcoming PlayStation Suite platform for Android-compatible handsets became something of a footnote.

In case it passed you by, the plan is to offer owners of handset (of a certain specification, presumably) the chance to download old PSone games such as MediEvil, Syphon Filter and Cool Boarders 2 as well as unspecified original content via a PlayStation Store.

But given the advancement of mobile content in recent years, is there much demand for old games at the kind of price that Sony demands for them currently? I'm not convinced there is. With the exception of the occasional timeless gem (like Broken Sword II, reviewed below), time has not been especially kind to the PSone generation - even on the small screen, as the PSP amply demonstrates.

Of more interest, I suspect, would be 'remastered' versions – exactly the approach that the likes of LucasArts and Revolution have reaped rewards with. What would you like to see?

Dead Space

  • iPhone - £3.99
  • iPad - £5.99

Survival horror fans haven't exactly been well-served on mobile platforms to date, if the regrettable attempts to bring Silent Hill and Resident Evil to iPhone are anything to go by.

Mostly it's a control issue, and the general unsuitability of a touch-screen for manipulating your movement, camera and weapon aim at the same time. So how come Dead Space succeeds where others have failed so spectacularly?

For a start, IronMonkey Studios bothered to design the game for mobile play, as opposed to trying to squeeze the 2008 original into an ill-fitting suit. But rather than take the form of an on-rails shooter like Dead Space: Extraction, this all-new Dead Space is surprisingly faithful to the full-fat versions in every sense.

Meet old friends. And dismember them!

Before you recoil in horror at the thought of another borked touch-screen attempt at twin-stick action-adventuring, Dead Space is far more entertaining than it has any right to be. It not only captures the intricate, moody visual signature of Visceral's originals with stunning efficiency, but manages to faithfully translate the gameplay.

Despite the obvious limitations of overlaid thumbsticks, the less frantic nature of the combat essentially balances things, allowing you precious extra moments to move and aim.

And because the designers obviously understand this, they also crank up the opportunities for close-quarters combat, forcing you to swipe the screen to slice off the limbs of aggressors trying to give you a hug, or tap to shake off Swarmers. It's panic-inducing, but without making you feel completely hapless in the process.

Being a Dead Space game, there's also a satisfying sense of progression. New weapons, abilities and upgrades arrive at regular intervals, and levels rarely outstay their welcome.

This apparent desire to cut to the chase means that you'll blast through the 12 chapters in about four hours; short enough for the repetition not to set in, but long enough to satisfy. As a taste of what's to come, this is not to be missed.