Long read: What might the ultimate character creator look like?

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(This week's new releases.) Election fever grips the nation.

After a night of historic significance (I convinced my sister to buy a Nintendo DS), those of us living in the UK awake this morning to a country transformed. Yes! It was a robot in disguise all along! Now we march on the US, the Atlantic swirling round our robotic ankles (formerly Cornwall) and a maniacal Mancunian cackle emanating from our lips as our twirly arms (East Anglia and Wales) batter their missiles out of the air and we hurl council estates and Dorset at coastal defences and smother the White House in that frickin' Millennial tepee! Hahaha!

Or, rather, we awake to a country very much the same with just a few more games to buy instead. And lots of talking of swinging from Natasha Kaplinsky. Enough of that though. You're not all from round here. Although, amusingly, the British decade running 97-07 or whenever it all ends will presumably, if there's any humour left in the world, be best summed up by the immortal "Blair Blair Blair".

So, to the games. And what have we got? Well, rather like a certain scouse football team, a lot of reasonable prospects hoping to overachieve in the face of withering competition and determined marketing (or, at least, withering competition). Heading up the list (if there is a natural leader) is probably Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Released yesterday in the face of suspiciously few reviews, it's made by The Collective, who have been doing quite well with third-person action-adventure stuff for a while (Indy Jones, Buffy The Vampire Slayer before Chaos Bled all over it, etc.), and the screenshots look nice, but fortunately for you by the time you feel comfortable buying it - so, when you've seen the film - everyone will have given it a proper going over. Including us.

Other games queuing up for your money in convincing fashion this morning include Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on GBA, Pariah, the new Tenchu, and Yoshi's Touch and Go on the DS. The handheld duo first: Chain of Memories (let's see if I can get this right) features hero-of-the-first-game Sora and involves a mysterious castle and card-battling. Which we're kind of in the mood for at the moment. Yoshi's Touch and Go meanwhile is a bit on the short side but is fun while it lasts; the idea is to float Baby Mario down to ground by drawing clouds and then draw platforms for Yoshi to jump along on his path to the end of the level. Which is cool if you've ever wanted to be a kind of ethereal puppetmaster with a sinister grin who pushes prams down hills and things. You are literally killing babies if you don't draw clouds.

Which leaves Pariah and Tenchu in the "convincing" pile. (Because, let's be honest, unless you have some sort of pathological hatred of Gran Turismo, there is little reason to consider Enthusia Professional Racing.) Pariah, first of all, is what Digital Extremes (often enough the unsung heroes of the Unreal franchise) have been up to lately, and has been reviewing competitively. Which is to say well. Not brilliantly, but well. Kind of like a decent-ish Unreal game with elements handled in a manner consistent with other Xbox shooters. Yeah so I haven't played it and I'm kind of fudging it. Presumably that'll soon render me... Oh typical. The example of an actual "pariah" on Dictionary.com, according to my pal whose DNS is working today and looked it up when I said I was trying to think of something to say about it, is also called Tom. It's a famous Tom, mind, but why the hell is it always Toms who end up social outcasts? Eh? Answer me! Answer me or I'll sing folk music at you and rub tar on my naked skin! I'm warning you! [He'll figure it out soon. -Ed]

Anyway, the other option today is Tenchu: Fatal Shadows. Shadows, for me, are not usually fatal, unless they are the shadows of, say, grand pianos falling out of the sun. Haven't seen or played it, but I do have one observation: having confused the brand with various different names (Fatal Shadows follows Wrath of Heaven and Return From Darkness, both of which were good but, er, the same game), releasing another Tenchu that looks pretty much the same graphically and has another ambiguous name seems a little odd. It's a series crying out for a bit more ambition, really. Tenchu fans: dig out your rental cards.

Also, there's Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, which is reportedly an action game that looks a bit like the film/anime series/whatever it's meant to be (I am a cinematic idiot who has no idea) and isn't that bad. How not bad it might be is something I'm going to defer to others' judgement on. Go read Gamerankings if it's your sort of thing. Sorry. It won't be the last time I disappoint you.

Finally, today also marks the release of Turbine's latest expansion for Asheron's Call 2, Legions, with Codemasters now mothering the series ("ASHEROOOOOON! Get back in 'ere and do your Leejuns!"). It includes a copy of the original game and one month's free access, too. Mind you, I was under the impression that AC2 came out in 2002 and everyone played World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and Guild Wars these days, so I'm not sure whether that's terribly exciting. Neither's anyone else, by the looks of it; I can't see any reviews anywhere.

All of which leaves us with just Forza Motorsport to remark upon. It's out in the US, reviewing very strongly, and out here next week. Tune in on Monday, hopefully, for our review. Get it? TUNE. Brilliant. That's the sort of comedy we're all going to miss after I get brutally beaten to death in Los Angeles next weekend for asking directions to the nearest fag machine.

Oh yes, I was going to end on quotes from now on, wasn't I? Er. Okay. "You buy retail version of I'll chop you into little bits!"

  • PAL Releases
  • Asheron's Call 2: Legions (PC)
  • Enthusia Professional Racing (PS2)
  • Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex (PS2)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (GBA)
  • Pariah (PC)
  • Sacred Underworld (PC)
  • SRS: Street Racing Syndicate (PS2, Xbox)
  • Star Wars Galaxies: Episode III Rage of the Wookiees (PC)
  • Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith (PS2, Xbox, DS, GBA)
  • Tenchu: Fatal Shadows (PS2)
  • Yeti Sports Arctic Adventures (PC)
  • Yoshi's Touch and Go (DS)

  • Key US Releases
  • Forza Motorsport (Xbox)