This week, Sebastien Loeb’s Rally EVO speeds onto PS4, Life Is Strange’s Limited Edition launches on Xbox One and Tetris Ultimate throws some shapes on PS Vita. Elsewhere, Crashlands and Baum provide RPG scavengers and physics puzzlers plenty to get their teeth into on smartphone and tablet.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: Sebastien Loeb Rally EVO
Let a racing legend show you the way
A name. A legend. Four wheels. One of the most exciting rally challenges we’ve seen for years. Launched headlong into the world of rally alongside one of the most iconic figures in the history of the sport, this is one uncompromising rally simulator. Created in collaboration with the nine-time rally world champion, this race will positively power-slide into your home, get the adrenalin pumping and deliver all the thrills and spills you’d expect from the world of gritty racing and flying gravel. If you opt to launch yourself into the career mode that replicates the life of a rally driver, you’ll be competing for a place on Sebastien Loeb’s team, with the great man himself as your mentor to guide you through all the secrets of the sport. Elsewhere, in offline mode, you get to work on your skills and perfect your driving style for the most rewarding experience, or to ensure you aren’t left red-faced in the leaderboard standings when you finally summon up the courage to challenge friends and rivals from all over the world online. For a brand new franchise, EVO certainly ticks a lot of the racing boxes, and it’s a welcome addition to the genre on PS4.
Title: Life Is Strange: Limited Edition
Platform: Xbox One
It’ll be strange if you haven’t played this yet...
Life Is Strange found fame in 2015 as an offbeat episodic title that won more than 30 Game of the Year awards. Following the story of Max Caulfield, a photography senior who discovers she can rewind time while saving her best friend Chloe Price, you soon find yourself investigating the mysterious disappearance of fellow student Rachel Amber, uncovering a dark side to life in Arcadia Bay. And so begins a brilliant adventure in a world of beautifully depicted adolescence, where the teenage friendship between Max and Chloe acts as the comforting backdrop to devilish puzzle solving, moral dilemma decision making, and no shortage of storyline cliffhangers. The five chapters ebb and flow in quality, really hitting the high notes in two to four and, despite a few dodgy scripting sequences, you’ll be swiftly sucked into this experience emotionally. Bundle in a directors’ commentary, 32-page art book, and 14 licensed tracks from the game’s official soundtrack into the Limited Edition and you have a cracking treat for yourself to celebrate making it through the wet and windy first month of the year.
Title: Tetris Ultimate
Platform: PS Vita
A puzzling classic puts in another star performance
The world’s most-loved puzzle game continues to find new audiences on the latest generation of consoles, and this PS Vita handheld outing takes brick building to even dizzier heights in the Ultimate edition. With six exciting modes, a host of new features and unique visuals, the evolution of this iconic game manages to bring a refreshing new twist to the original addictive format that never seems to date. There’s something so satisfying about perfectly arranging those different shapes, cranked up to another level when you’re partnering with friends or going head to head against them. A suite of community features ensure you’ll never lose your competitive edge, too, as social feeds and global leaderboards keep you up to date with all the movers and shakers. While the accompanying audio may be a little full-on for a long playing session, when you’re in the Tetromino-arranging zone - an almost meditative state that gamers can struggle to break out from - you probably won’t even hear it!
An alien adventure with no shortage of activities
Crash landing on a strange planet is a tough enough experience for any wayward explorer. But Crashlands also demands that you set up a system to deliver the packages you tumbled onto terra firma with, now that you can’t scoot around the intergalactic skies any more. Don’t underestimate the work you’ll have to put in to achieve this goal. Build a base, beat off the advances of the mysterious planet’s monstrous inhabitants and continue to explore the terrain to take the game in interesting new directions. The developers should be applauded for making this alien adventure such a diverse mix of action, exploration and RPG crafting without leaving players feeling dazed and confused. It certainly doesn’t hold your hand when you first start playing, but don’t be put off - once you’ve found your bearings you’ll have a blast.
There’s nothing better than playing an ultra-crisp physics puzzler on a smartphone. The touchscreen controls are superbly suited to dragging a lead character around the gameplay environment, which in this instance equates to a water droplet travelling around a twisted tree that is desperate for a drink. In each level, you must travel to the tree’s flower to complete the stage, navigating your way around thorns and other obstacles that become increasingly complex and intrusive the further you progress. Your success is also judged on the time it takes for you to reach your goal, plus the familiar three-star system to recognise extra performance highlights, such as picking up all available collectibles. Baum looks beautiful, much more so than you might expect for under two pounds, and this is only offset by how swiftly you’ll glide through the experience. It’s certainly fun while it lasts though, with an interesting organic concept that has been expertly executed.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
Nintendo gamers will already be excited at the prospect of Zelda titles Hyrule Warriors: Legends and Wii U Zelda launching in 2016, but the anticipation can crank a little higher with the news that a special Zelda-themed New 3DS XL is also scheduled for release as part of the franchise’s 30th birthday celebrations. The gold coloured handheld console boasts a Hylian Crest that will be familiar to Zelda fans, and hits stores on March 24. Hyrule Warriors will be available to buy from March 4.
Meanwhile in the charts this week, Call of Duty: Black Ops III remained in the number one position, while FIFA 16 and Grand Theft Auto V traded places at two and three respectively. Resident Evil’s Origins Collection was the highest new entry at six, closely followed by Life Is Strange at seven.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
2. FIFA 16
3. Grand Theft Auto V
4. Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Siege
5. Star Wars Battlefront
6. Resident Evil Origins Collection
7. Life Is Strange
8. Just Cause 3
9. Fallout 4
10. Dishonored: Definitive Edition
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2015 UKIE Ltd