This week, Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 kicks off on PS4, Forza Horizon 3’s Ultimate Edition races onto Xbox One, while Recore locks and loads on the same system.
Elsewhere, Oz: Broken Kingdom and Ember offer up two fantasy worlds for smartphone and tablet owners to explore
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
A return to the top for FIFA’s arch rival?
Every season, football’s multi-million pound players traipse onto the pitch to do battle in another Premier League season, signalling the advent of the annual digital football derby as Pro Evolution and FIFA unleash their latest efforts. And it looks likes Konami’s jewel in its sporting crown is equipped to mount a title challenge, delivering possibly the best simulation the series has ever seen. The gameplay mechanics are astounding, where first touches are calculated by player attributes, as well as more real ball physics directly affected by that initial player control. Different players will receive the ball in unique ways based on how you move them, dictating the flow of the game based on a staggering array of unpredictable ball movements. It’s detail like this that really dazzles, but raise your head a level and you’ll see pristine presentation (albeit missing a few official licenses here and there) and a multitude of modes that will keep you kicking for months. When it comes to the crunch, hardcore football gamers are after the most authentic experience possible and it’s difficult to see how the fanfare of FIFA 17, releasing in a couple of weeks, will dampen this devastating on-pitch display from Pro Evo.
Title: Forza Horizon 3: Ultimate Edition
Platform: Xbox One
As real as racing gets - down under
The ridiculously successful Forza racing franchise is off to Australia and you’re now in charge of the Horizon Festival. In the land of Oz, you can customise everything, hire and fire your friends, and explore the antipodean environment in more than 350 of the world’s greatest cars. As the ultimate celebration of cars, music, and freedom of the open road, the new Horizon Blueprint feature gives you the power to create your own unique experience and instantly share your custom gameplay. You can even hire friends to star in your festival and win you more fans. If they’re not winning you fans, fire them. From Danger Sign Jumps and Convoys to Drift Zones and Showcase events that pit you against a fleet of speedboats or a giant zeppelin, the staggering selection of game modes not only delivers from a choice perspective, but also when it comes to showcasing car handling. Put simply, it’s brilliant, and integral in making Horizon 3 a contender for the very best racer on the market. It’s beautiful, too and the incredibly realistic vehicles and Australian vistas prove the power of the Xbox One, and only serve to increase the urge you’ll have to explore every corner of this massive open world.
Platform: Xbox One
A cracking action adventure to shake you from your cry-sleep
This futuristic action adventure asks you to assume the role of Joule Adams, a young survivor of a terrible cataclysm who journeys from Earth to the desert world “Far Eden” to build mankind’s new home. But when you wake after centuries in cryo-sleep, nothing has gone according to plan and, with your “Corebot” companion, Mack, you must set out on an adventure to unlock secrets from the past, defeat powerful foes, and bring new life and hope to Far Eden. The combat tactics you’ll get to employ in this frenetic fantasy romp are great, using colour-coded bots and weapon types to take down particular strains of enemy. It’s a lovely touch that never feels patronising to the gamer, instilling a feeling of real power, provided you can master the split-second timing required to succeed. There’s a gorgeous world to explore throughout the 10-15 hour campaign and, although there’s a bit of back-tracking required to nail the side quests that allow you to face the finale, Recore does an excellent job of delivering a fine physical platforming challenge allied to those excellent aforementioned combat gameplay twists.
Title: Oz: Broken Kingdom
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Dorothy ducks out of a darker RPG return to Oz
It’s certainly not set up as a cheery jaunt along the yellow brick road, but The Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow are just three of the characters from Frank L. Baum’s creation to be transported into this 3D RPG with card-collecting connotations. It’s a darker slice of this fantasy world (without Dorothy featuring) that you’ll explore, through a series of turn-based battles that call upon those cards to aid your defensive and attacking performance. A diverse collection of enemies require care and attention in your tactical planning as you progress further through the game, aided by a collection of stats to digest before deciding on the approach to each encounter. Once you enter the combat itself, the action is pretty quick-fire in its turn-based set-up, with only up to three waves of baddies to blitz, meaning you can keep the experience fresh and progressive even during short bursts of play. You may grind to a halt on some of the later stages, though, which will test your resolve to stump up some real-world cash for the resources you require. This can be quite intrusive to the overall fun that’s there to be had in Oz’s Broken Kingdom, but other than that, it’s an enjoyable and lovely looking game.
Keeping the RPG action burning bright
There’s no shortage of action-drive RPG apps to download right now, so why should Ember be worthy of the all-important smartphone storage? Well, as a passion project that’s been 10 years in the making, Ember pays homage to the classic RPGs that have gone before as you enter the game world as a resurrected Lightbringer summoned to protect the dying Embers as the world teeters on the brink of collapse. Cue exploration galore in this lush isometric environment, as you undertake key missions and side quests, looting all the way to build up your armour and weaponry offering. The combat system is great, with all the traditional hack and slash mechanics you’d expect aligned to the ability to pause time dynamically to select and unleash spells or specific items from your inventory. It works a dream on the touchscreen, ensuring players can firmly tick the action accessibility box, while also enjoying a chunky adventure that feels bigger than it should be for a mobile offering.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
The resurgence of the Pokemon brand has been credited with an upturn in fortunes for Nintendo’s DS handheld consoles in the US, after it was revealed that 2DS sales were up 500% year on year, while the 3DS sales were up 83%. Pokemon titles Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire also understandably reaped the benefit of the Pokemon Go phenomenon, up 57%.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, a trio of new entries dominated at the summit of the top 10, with Bioshock: The Collection piping Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 to top spot. NBA 2K17 bagged third place, while Recore also debuted strongly at five.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Bioshock: The Collection
2. Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
3. NBA 2K17
6. Rocket League
7. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
8. Grand Theft Auto V
9. No Man’s Sky
10. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2016 UKIE Ltd