Call of Duty: Ghosts
THE punishing annual grind has finally taken its toll. Like every franchise relentlessly updated every 12 months, Call of Duty walks a delicate tightrope between avoiding alienating ardent fans and pushing the series forward enough for non-believers.
Ghosts is no failure but it lacks the rounded package that made last year’s Black Ops II so compelling. It’s found most wanting in the single-player campaign. We’re greeted by a tired mish-mash of clichés riffing on the space hokum of James Bond’s Moonraker and the invasion of US soil by a foreign power (South American, bizarrely).
Notionally, you’re playing as one of a squad of terrifyingly deadly guerrillas facing overwhelming odds. But most firefights break down into a linear slog that becomes all too familiar, even when factoring in the attack dog and vehicle sequences.
Sure, much of CoD’s audience couldn’t give a toss about anything except multiplayer mode but the campaign takes a big step backwards from stronger previous instalments.
It’s not as if multiplayer massively improves to compensate. It runs like a well-oiled machine, the 15 or so new maps providing weeks of fresh killing fields.
New modes such as Extinction (Gears of War’s Horde by another name) and Squads (essentially multiplayer against bots) add to the entertainment.
But curious design decisions in the main multiplayer systems relating to perks and weapon loadouts will not sit well with Black Ops II veterans.
Maybe CoD developer Infinity Ward was consumed by the task of bringing Ghosts to Xbox One and PS4 – though by all accounts the game plays almost identically on these next-gen platforms.
But for whatever reason, this is the first year in the last half-decade where CoD is no longer an automatic recommendation.
iOS/Android/Windows Phone 8
GLEEFULLY resurrected in sumptuous 2.5D technicolour for consoles last year, Rayman’s platforming adventures continue in glorious style on tablets and phones. A deceptively simple auto-runner to begin, requiring just one-fingered control, Fiesta Run incorporates Sonic-style dashes through opulent cartoon worlds.
But the challenge quickly ramps up to the point where memory becomes as important as reflexes, particularly with the addition of a punch button to complicate timing of your jumps.
We could have done without the blatant (but optional) power-up cheats that tell you where and when to jump to maximise collection of the glowing doodads. But if you’re a long-time Rayman fan (and especially if you didn’t fork out for the quite similar Rayman Jungle Run last year), you’re in for a treat.
OUR hopes have been dashed so many times that most of us have given up believing Sonic will ever recapture the glory days. Lost World ain’t gonna change that, even though it flatters to deceive in its opening levels.
Taking a leaf from the 3D worlds of Super Mario Galaxy, Sonic navigates curved surfaces at speed, bouncing on enemies, grinding on rails and zipping between platforms. At least, that’s the theory.
But confusing combat, contrary controls and lazy level design make Lost World a poor and distant relation of the Super Mario Galaxy’s brilliance.