Saturday 29 November 2014

Games of the week

Published 19/04/2013 | 18:00

TOMB RAIDER

X360/PS3/PC

BEATEN, bloodied, fearful, regretful, weary – this is not the Lara Croft who has passed into pop culture as a gaming icon.

Instead of the implausibly breasted cartoon character of old, we meet an idealistic young Lara who quickly hardens into a killer to survive brutal odds. Mind you, she still looks hot in a tight singlet.

This 'origins' reboot makes Bear Grylls resemble a big softie as Lara is forced to wade through mud and blood, scavenge supplies and dodge mortal danger from human and beast alike.

Despite this shift in storyline, the new TR sticks fairly closely to a familiar template, one appropriated wholesale by the Uncharted series and to which this bears a strong similarity.

Full of matinee thrills, climbing and combat, TR delivers more interactive action and narrative freedom than the cut-scene-laden Uncharted. It doesn't hurt that its foreboding landscapes – all rain-swept islands and gloomy tombs – are visually stunning.

The lack of emphasis on puzzles must disappoint some long-term fans, but the upside is a fluid, compelling story that allows Lara to reclaim her place in gaming's pantheon.

Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time

PS3/PS Vita

An under-rated hero of the PS2 generation, Sly could easily have been Sony's mascot to equal Nintendo's Mario, such was the charisma and clever game design on show.

Thieves in Time may not move the franchise along too far, but it's still an enjoyable platformer aimed at younger gamers. Stuffed with pantomime villains, cartoonish antics and undemanding gameplay, it outstays its welcome only when the swathe of mini-games becomes too intrusive.

As with most Sony games, if you buy the PS3 version you get the PS Vita edition free – cleverly, you can even save between versions via the cloud.

HarmoKnight

Nintendo 3DS download

Relentlessly cheery from the off, this rhythm-action title from the creators of Pokemon flatters to deceive. A 2D scroller with day-glo graphics and buoyant tunes, it fails to evolve its beat-matching gameplay beyond basic entertainment.

It doesn't help that the scoring system feels a bit random, albeit lenient, which is a cardinal sin in my book for a rhythm game.

Irish Independent

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