Games Central - A fine, fitting end to the Nathan Drake nexus
Elsewhere Inks and Smash The Office deliver pinball precision and workplace mayhem to smartphone and tablet
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
A fine, fitting end to the Nathan Drake nexus
The Uncharted series’ incredible rise from low-key entry to the action genre to must-have summer blockbuster on Sony’s PS4 is testament to its single-mindedness in delivering an experience that beautifully blurs the lines between movie-style spectacle and immersive gaming. The fourth and final instalment is a fitting tribute to all of the above, as A Thief’s End hauls lead character Nate out of retirement to embark on a hunt for pirate treasure with his long lost brother, Sam. The brilliant voice-acting interplay between these two provides a rock-solid narrative hook, aided and abetted by delicate refinements to a game engine that has thrived on its core mechanics of environmental challenges and frenzied enemy combat for nearly 10 years. A loosening of level linearity will be welcomed by gamers hungry for Nate to embrace a more open-world approach, but it’s tight enough to ensure that when one of the franchise’s many stunning set-pieces comes calling, you’re more than happy to be pushed down the required path. It’s difficult to find fault with A Thief’s End, as it’s everything any action gamer could possibly want - jaw-dropping visuals, intense gunfights, and the constant feeling of childhood Indiana Jones-style adventure. We can just be annoyed that Nate won’t be making a fabulous fifth outing...
Platform: Xbox One
One great big FPS Boom! It’s Doom...
It was one of the titles credited with bringing the First Person Shooter into popular gaming culture, and lord knows there have been enough of them since. However, well over a decade later, we can certainly make room for the Daddy of them all to lock and load for another outing, and there’ll be no taking cover or stopping to regenerate health as you beat back Hell’s raging demon hordes. You’ll need to combine your arsenal of futuristic and iconic guns, upgrades, movement and an advanced melee system to knock down, slash, stomp, crush, and blow apart demons in creative ways. In multiplayer, Doom’s signature, fast-paced arena-style combat really shines, as you use your personal blend of skill, powerful weapons, vertical movement, and unique power-ups to annihilate the opposition. An intuitive level editor opens up almost limitless gameplay experiences, with your own creations instantly playable within the online FPS-fan community. A big, bad, trigger-happy old friend has just knocked on your living room door and, on this occasion, we’re more than happy to let it back in.
Title: Professional Farmer 2017
A lovely virtual life on the farm, without the smell...
It’s time to get your wellies on, as Professional Farmer 2017 throws you headlong into the life of a farmer with all its incredible tasks and challenges, the likes of which are rarely replicated in any other job. Where else can you drive incredible tractors, control original machines, cultivate your fields and market your produce for profit? Of course, aside from animals and machinery, there’s a strong commercial angle to this simulation. The better your fields are tilled, the more animals you breed, and the more products you produce, the better your profit and income. But living the rural dream will not be easy - requiring hours of virtual hard work, farming skills, a strong sense of business and plenty of fresh air. There’s a juicy, organic carrot at the end of the stick, though, as improvements in your skills will unlock additional machines, fields and tractors for you to buy. Everything is presented through crisp, bright graphics, and the excellent tutorial mode will do a good job of getting you started, demystifying many of the impressively detailed options available to you. Wannabe farmers and aspiring agriculturalists will no doubt enjoy the feature-packed career mode, but if you just want to take a John Deere tractor for a spin, you’ll love that too!
Painting + pinball = perfect gaming partners
Inks is a fantastic fusion of art, pinball and puzzle gaming, which gives players the opportunity to create their own uniquely colourful interactive canvases while tackling a host of ingenious table set-ups. The puzzle element comes to the fore as you must ping your pinball to explode cunningly placed coloured targets, and the force with which you strike them will determine the shape and size of the gloriously messy paint explosion that ensues. As your ball rolls through these ponds of colour, you’ll start to draw a coloured trail around the game board, which is both beautiful to behold and useful to track the best angles to hit those hard to reach corners from. More obstacles are unveiled on later levels, and the toughest boards require some serious thinking time to uncover the right way to approach them if you’re going to earn top marks by completing all colour explosions in the minimum required amount of moves. It’s Jackson Pollock-esque to look at, bizarrely therapeutic to play and packed with dozens of different levels to let your creative spirit loose on. Lovely stuff.
Title: Smash The Office
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
A whirlwind of destruction in the workplace
Big-name titles such as Grand Theft Auto have become used to courting controversy with its mature themes and violent gameplay, still winning out amongst age-appropriate gamers thanks to the series’ incredible production values, storytelling and all-round open-world awesomeness. Smash The Office is likely to draw some similar headlines, as you assume control of a thoroughly fed up white-collar office worker whose sole goal is to do as much damage as he can to his work environment in 60 seconds. There’s little more depth to it than that, but a well-constructed combo and power-up system allow you to unleash even greater destruction on your surroundings, delivered through some solid 3D smartphone graphics and tight virtual controls on the touchscreen. If you’ve seen the Michael Douglas film Falling Down, you’ll know where Smash The Office is coming from and, for pockets of frenetic and fairly mindless mature gaming fun, it ticks plenty of gaming boxes. Just don’t expect your strategic brain to be stretched in any way...
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
West Ham Utd have become the first football club in the UK to sign a professional eSports FIFA player. Sean “Dragonn” Allen is recognised as one of the top players globally on the game, and recently lost out on away goals in the dramatic final of the 2016 FIFA interactive World Cup where he held a 5-3 lead going into injury time of the second leg. He has been given his own squad number by West Ham - 50 - and will now compete for the club in a host of FIFA eSports ranking events.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, Battleborn shot straight into the number one position after its first week of release. Call of Duty held firm at two, while Ratchet & Clank fell two places from one to three. GTA V climbed four places from eight to four, while Far Cry Primal also made a positive move, up from nine to six.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III
3. Ratchet & Clank
4. Grand Theft Auto V
5. Tom Clancy’s The Division
6. Far Cry Primal
7. LEGO Marvel Avengers
8. Dark Souls III
9. EA Sports UFC 2
10. FIFA 16
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2016 UKIE Ltd