Long read: Who is qualified to make a world?

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New PAL Releases Roundup

Alone, SingStar, Top Spin 3, Overlord PS3.

Tomorrow, as everyone knows, is International "Worth a look if you're a fan of the genre" Day. There will be a parade, followed by a singsong with popular young-persons' beat combo Mixed Bag and the Rent It Firsts. Party bags will include everything you expected in a fairly competent fashion but nothing to stretch your imagination.

On the plus side, once the muted indifference dies down and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, The Incredible Hulk on PS3, SingStar Vol. 2, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, ATV Offroad Fury Pro, Top Spin 3 and Soul Nomad have gone home, we'll be able to spend a bit more time with the interesting games sitting in the corner being mysterious - most notably, Alone in the Dark and Overlord: Raising Hell.

Neither had huge expectations attached. Alone in the Dark always looked a bit over-ambitious, and Overlord was a good but not entirely spectacular Xbox 360/PC release last year. But the latter's arrival on PS3 tomorrow refashions it to include all the downloadable content that's come out in the intervening period, along with a number of control and interface refreshments, prompting Kristan to get very excited and make happy noises about pumpkin hats.

And while Alone in the Dark will be rightly and savagely kicked around the Internet by people who agree that controls and other basic elements are broken, there's enough good, inventive and interesting stuff lurking in the shadows and enough variety to put you in a good mood overall, despite all the shouting. You can make your own bombs, a key objective is setting fire to trees, and there's swearing. Get in.

Central Park's a deeply mysterious place, too: why are there all sorts of big red trees throbbing and throwing off your GPS? Why do the bats look like worms out of Dune? Most importantly, why does the man on the game's box look like Hugh Jackman and the man in the game look like a grey-haired 50-year-old version who's been spliced with Jon Voight? And how is it that he hasn't got any spare pockets in his jeans for all the bits he keeps throwing away from his jacket? On the plus side, we'll soon be able to settle one question - "is the Wii version any good?" We're expecting a copy imminently and will let you know.

Finally, a quick reminder for PC fans that today marks the boxed release of the extremely excellent Sins of a Solar Empire, which has been available as a digital download for a while. If you're not intrigued about AITD's PC release (and we should warn you that we've only been given 360 code at this point), you can't go wrong with this instead. Which seems like a good cliché to end on.

This week:

  • Alone in the Dark (Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS2)
  • ATV Offroad Fury Pro (PSP)
  • Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What to Eat? (DS)
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (PSP)
  • My Health Coach: Weight Management (DS)
  • New International Track & Field (DS)
  • Overlord: Raising Hell (PS3)
  • SingStar Vol. 2 (PS3)
  • Sins of a Solar Empire (PC)
  • Soul Nomad (PS2)
  • Supreme Ruler 2020 (PC)
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, PS2, Wii, DS)
  • The Incredible Hulk (PS3)
  • Top Spin 3 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii)