This week, Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest burns bright on Nintendo 3DS, the Homefront Revolution launches on Xbox One and Out Of The Park Baseball 17 hits a home run on PC.
Elsewhere, Bushido Bear and Leap Day bounce about for your attention on smartphone and tablet
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Tactical RPG burns bright on the dual screen
Two kingdoms are at war - the peace-loving Hoshido and the glory-seeking Nohr. Who you decide to fight for will be the first of many important decisions you make during Fire Emblem Fates. As the prince or princess of Hoshido, who was raised by Nohr royal family, you’ll be torn between two families you love, and whichever path you take, you will face different types of challenges. This is an astoundingly deep turn-based tactical RPG with a brilliant story to string the many quests and battles together. You’ll ride your luck to enjoy victory at times, but you’ll also feel the rush of tactical glory when your tinkering with the game’s myriad customisation options pays dividends. It’s a fantastic challenge for seasoned gamers - rich, varied map set-ups and an excellent levelling up system that rewards the stronger bonds developed by soldiers you deploy onto the battlefield, bringing a more personal immersion to what is, at its core, playing a percentages game in battle with hidden dice rolls to keep you on your toes. The dual screen almost doesn’t do this game’s graphics and audio justice - it should be enjoyed on 40 inches-plus, but as a result, it will remain a pocket rocket you won’t be able to put down.
Title: Homefront: The Revolution
Platform: Xbox One
A shooter revolution you should think twice about being part of...
Homefront: The Revolution throws you into a near-future dystopia. Catastrophic events have brought the United States to its knees and enabled the Korean People’s Army forces to impose a brutal military occupation. Trapped in this American nightmare, Philadelphia has become a police state, where surveillance drones and armoured patrols keep her once-proud citizens at heel, crushing any dissent with totalitarian force. At a glance, the world you must hustle and hurry through carrying out wave after wave of stealth and shooter objectives is pretty good-looking. But it’s the over-familiarity you’ll find in these activities alongside a pretty sub-standard story that knocks Homefront: The Revolution back in its efforts to stand shoulder to shoulder with the countless other classy looking shooters on this generation of games consoles. Where the world construction and weaponry options succeed in isolation, the overall campaign experience fails to dazzle. Big (enjoyable) explosions and shouty central characters only serve to mask the bigger mistakes made in what could have been a solid sequel to 2011’s first Homefront outing.
Title: Out Of The Park Baseball 17
Genre: Sports Simulation
Stat-packed sensation hits a home run for sports simulations
Sports simulations aren’t everybody’s cup of tea. The lack of whizz-bang action, cinematic “jump” moments or sporting flicks and tricks to perfect, means hardcore fans are actually seduced by ludicrous levels of statistical accuracy, over and above the graphical razzmatazz. OOTPB 17 is a prime proponent of this design, delivering hands-down the most realistic baseball simulation we’ve ever seen. It’s the culmination of a decade’s work on the series, which can now boast official licence endorsements from MLB, MiLB and the MLB Players Association, meaning every logo, team likeness and player name is present and correct. And this game is statistically astounding, carrying records back to the 1800s and offering an encyclopaedia of baseball history before you’ve even picked your team and taken on your role as general or team manager. Every on-screen interface guides you seamlessly through the staggering array of game options in a way that never seems overwhelming, as you bid to build an all-conquering team by spotting success in the thousands of numbers you’ll pore over for hours on end. Clearly, not a game for your casual gamer, but those looking for a sports stat sensation can call off the search right now.
Title: Bushido Bear
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
A bear necessity for your smartphone
This is one cuddly bear who should be approached with extreme caution, once you see the damage he’s capable of with his twin swords. This tap and swipe slasher is reminiscent of the classic Fruit Ninja, but this time requires you to draw your sword line close to, but not touching, the cheeky demons that have invaded your forest, so they feel the full force of your blade without you dying by coming into contact. It’s a good twist on the game mechanic, added to by the various killing combo multipliers you can execute through longer, carefully-drawn sword trails. You can also collect a suite of upgrades in the game, in the shape of unlockable bears that offer additional skills such as teleportation and time slow, as well as bigger, shinier swords. The graphics are brilliant - sharp, super-cute and colourful - and overall the gameplay performs admirably for a free-to-play title, with the endless slew of enemies kept fresh through a randomising of the later wave formations. All in all, it’s a big bear with even bigger swords who does a superb job of shining on the small screen with some excellently executed touchscreen slasher action.
Title: Leap Day
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Forget every four years, let’s vertically platform every day!
Endless runner-style vertical platformers have seen huge success on smartphones and tablets, switching out traditional controls for gyroscopic tilts or limited taps and swipes at just the right time. Leap Day leans closer to the latter, with simple taps acting as all you need to know instructionally to tackle the devilishly designed levels ahead. You must guide your quirky character up and up and up, collecting fruit along the way to reach the end of each daily dose, refreshed automatically by the game every 24 hours. Fruit can be used as a kind of in-game currency to activate checkpoints during levels, saving you from the frustration of starting a level from scratch, when you’re thwarted by the enemies or obstacles standing in your way. These checkpoints are incredibly important, as the vertically scrolling levels go on for a long time. The key decision you’ll need to make, though, is when to kick a checkpoint into action, as the fruit will run out before you reach the top. It’s a subtle strategic touch in what is already an excellent free app, although this dilemma can be dismissed by paying the £2.99 full price to remove all ads and automatically turn on checkpoints as you pass them. Bizarrely, it negates a hefty chunk of challenge and, as a free app, you absolutely cannot go wrong with Leap Day’s lovely blend of colourful platforming action and strategic decision-making.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
Disney fans will be disappointed to hear the news that the Infinity series of games has been cancelled, meaning we’ll never get to see what 4.0 may have offered. The franchise has struggled to make a serious dent in the toys-to-life genre, which has been valued at around 1 billion US dollars. Despite being able to draw upon characters and environments from huge box-office hits such as Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar and Disney itself, Infinity has struggled to get a stranglehold on this sector, with LEGO’s recent Dimensions offering knocking it for six last year. It’s not all over, though, with two more retail releases scheduled - Alice Through The Looking Glass this month and the Finding Dory playset in June.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, Uncharted 4 pipped Doom to the post as the two heavyweight new entries did battle in their first week of release (albeit with a three-day head start). The arrival of these triple-A titles sent Call of Duty spinning down to third spot, while Tom Clancy’s The Division and Far Cry Primal held firm at five and six respectively.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
4. Ratchet & Clank
5. Tom Clancy’s The Division
6. Far Cry Primal
7. Grand Theft Auto V
8. FIFA 16
9. LEGO Marvel Avengers
10. Star Wars Battlefront
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2016 UKIE Ltd