Itâ€™s August, which should mean beach and cider lolly weather but instead itâ€™s thunderstorms and muggy spells! Ah well, I guess the sun canâ€™t shine everyday. To cheer us all up, thereâ€™s yet another hot title from the Summer of Arcade!
Castlevania: Harmony of Despair â€“ 1200MP
With gothic graphics and well known characters lifted straight from the back catalogue of Castlevania games, this title will definitely appeal to all the hardcore fans of this classic vampire hunting 2D action adventure series. Sadly though, I doubt it will appeal to anyone else. Unquestionably a multi-player rather than a single player game, you and your buddies have 30 mins to complete each of the 6 maps to search for and kill your nemesis, Dracula. In fact, this game is all about death and being patient. Itâ€™s fun working out each level with your friends (you stand there whilst I pull this lever over here sort of thing) and you can revive each other if you have the elusive Water of Life but dying is the only real way to progress. Collecting cash, armour and weapons for your puny little human gives you a slightly better chance during each attempt as these items carry over after you die and the more you collect, the better the items that will become available but be warned it will take several deaths before you come anywhere near to having the correct equipment to beat the bosses (which if you fail to defeat, results in you starting the level again â€“ from the beginning)! Despair by name, despair by nature but very satisfying if you do ever reach the end.
Elsewhere to buy:
Phantasy Star Universe – Â£14.99
For anyone new to the futuristic Phantasy Star worldÂ – a warning before we go any further. If you wish to play online, youâ€™ll have to have sign up for a Guardianâ€™s License, which requires a recurring monthly subscription fee as well as downloading the free Add-on Ambition of the Illuminus. For a game that despite having a single player thread, was really designed as a MMO, this is quite a substantial amount over the course of a year, especially for one that seems a little bit repetitive and often feels a little, well, under populated in terns of other online players. However you can have great fun creating your own character in your own little bedroom as PSU offers a massive fully fledged crafting system. You can create your own items and sell them through player-run shops or simply gather up to six of your friends for real time action. Play as one of four races including the pointy-eared Newmans (excelling in magical and spiritual abilities), Beasts (muscles a plenty and strength to go with but useless with weapons), Casts (androids who excel in gunplay) or of course Humans (who are good at everything). The single player story will give you over 20 hours of play and is where youâ€™ll find all the available Xbox achievements, which makes sense considering how gigantic the online world is. Guide Ethan Waber through 12 dungeon riddled levels of interplanetary conflict as he joins up with the Guardians Security Organisation following an attack by evil aliens on the satellite colony where he was happily living in peace. As thereâ€™s no trial fee, Iâ€™d suggest you check out the single player first before signing up to the monthly subscription, as youâ€™ll get a good sense of the decent graphics, weapon variety and overall atmosphere before parting with your dosh. A great option if you love sci-fi and living your life online but perhaps a little steep in price for your average gamer.
Batman: Arkham Asylum – Â£29.99
A meaty price tag on this title too but worth absolutely every penny! Cast off any tension you might be experiencing when thinking this might be another lame title featuring a much loved character. Delivering a cracking storyline with amazing visuals, brilliant action and remarkable vocal performances â€“ Batman, one of the coolest superheroâ€™s of all time is up against the Joker, one of the creepiest baddies of all time who upon being returned to jail for the umpteenth time, takes over the madhouse resulting in all hell breaking loose! Based on Grant Morrisonâ€™s incredible comic, Arkham Asylum is thrilling, dark and slick. The game play is varied and exciting and will more than satisfy all Batman fans and gamers â€“ a rare but happy unison. Donâ€™t think about it, just buy this title now. Needless to say, this is absolutely my recommendation of the week. POW!
Too Human – Â£14.99
Add together Norse mythology with futuristic cyber-technology and a few thousand robots and youâ€™ll come close to describing Too Human but remain a world away from understanding where this is all leading which is mainly because this is billed as the first of a trilogy so donâ€™t get frustrated when after countless deaths (including beautiful but annoying unskippable 30 second long death scene), slicing melee combats or long ranged attacks you finally get to the end and see â€œto be continuedâ€¦â€ As it took an age to make this game, we probably wonâ€™t see the sequel for quite some time and thatâ€™s fine by me. It looks okay, thereâ€™s lots of weapons (though youâ€™ll constantly feel theyâ€™re not good enough as it appears you can always upgrade) and the online play offers a little more as you can work with a friend to mow down wave upon wave of enemies but overall, Too Human has too many bad elements to be good.
Add-Ons now and whoever said variety is the spice of life was onto something:
â€Replayâ€ by Iyaz
â€Hard to Say Iâ€™m Sorryâ€ by Chicago
I challenge anyone to come up with two more different artists or tracks, which are 160MP each.
Totally running the variety vein established above, there are dozens of add-ons for this title this week (156 to be precise), each as plain and simple and unimaginatively titled as the next:
Any add-on thatâ€™s a +1 (e.g. Goalie Shot Recovery Boost +1) is 80MP
Any add-on thatâ€™s a +3 (e.g. Skater Wrist Shot Power +3) is 120MP
And any add-on thatâ€™s a +5 (e.g. Skater Slap Shot Accuracy +5) is 160MP
You could spend a ridiculous amount of MPs here but at least youâ€™d end up with one champion winning Hockey team!
Finally, Indie Games and this week youâ€™re more likely to find a suitcase full of golden henâ€™s teeth on your doorstep than find a decent game on offer:
The No Button Game â€“ 80MP
As you know, we here at GGUK like to give you our personal impressions of new indie games available but with this one, Iâ€™m totally lost for words. Let me see if Iâ€™ve got this rightâ€¦ You put your wireless controller upside down on a box and instead of having to press awful buttons and swiveling silly analogue sticks, you simply tap the box (on the left or the right) to move your neon pink character along the equally vivid green platforms and this is supposed to be more fun than using buttons. Unfortunately, this game does not come with a box provided. No box? Donâ€™t panic, there is a one-button mode. Soâ€¦â€¦ itâ€™s actually The Not Quite No Button Game. Leave the box where it is and chuck this out with it – total rubbish.
Block Puzzleâ€™s Revenge â€“ 80MP
There are some really great reworkings of classic puzzle games on the market but this isnâ€™t one of them.Â The headache inducing graphics admittedly do have a nice school paper style graphics to them but the boards are made up of crosses, squares and circles that come in garish red, white and blue. This is Tetris across four boards each with itâ€™s own timer and with some seriously evil shaped blocks but the real heart of Tetris isnâ€™t there. Itâ€™s a juggling act rather than a thrilling strategy game that overall is poorly executed. Take revenge and donâ€™t buy this.
Slowturn Checker â€“ 80MP
Use this tool to check any faults you might have on your Xbox controllerâ€™s analogue sticks. Slowly rotate each stick two or three times for accurate results. Once you have depressingly found out that you donâ€™t own a perfect controller (unless itâ€™s absolutely box fresh), make sure you run out to your nearest supplier and buy at least two more, just in case. Am wondering if developers Wagman secretly work for Microsoftâ€¦.
Well, bit of a damp note to end on this week but with Batman in the wings and the Summer of Arcade continuing, at least thereâ€™s something to be cheerful about. Remember that if you download at least 3 of the titles on offer in the Summer of Arcade, youâ€™ll get 400MP back whereas if you download all five titles included in the Arcade by August 31st, Microsoft will give you a whopping 1200MP back to spend on more lovely arcade goodies!