Zippy space-opera with mass appeal
Mass Effect 2, X360/PC
Sprawling epic doesn't even begin to do justice to Mass Effect 2, a space-opera with echoes of Star Wars, Star Trek and Blade Runner from developer Bioware, masters of the role-playing game (RPG).
Bioware took a long, hard look at the original Mass Effect, an engaging if clunky action-RPG of an elite soldier on a mission to save the galaxy. For the second in the planned trilogy, no stone has been left unturned in the quest to streamline everything from combat to exploration to weapon and skill upgrades.
Visually majestic, compellingly written (with voices including Martin Sheen and Carrie Anne Moss) and expertly paced, Mass Effect 2 takes the player on a gripping rollercoaster ride. For gunplay thrills, it's not quite up there with pure shooters such as Call of Duty. But it throws in so many other elements that the sum is greater than its parts.
It's the best 50 quid you'll spend all month.
Hustle Kings, PS3
A cheap download from the PlayStation Store it may be, but Hustle Kings doesn't skimp on the myriad ways to play virtual pool. The gleaming venues look like no dank pool hall you've ever seen but the game itself is faithfully recreated, with lots of potential for trick-shot action as well as solid eight-ball matches offline and online.
The only sour note is the deplorable decision to sell limited supplies of special cue chalk (effectively for trick shots) for real cash money.
Each 'cheat' may cost only 25c but it's a cheap shot that hopefully won't catch on in other games.
Savage Moon: Hera Campaign, PSP
A gutsy but flawed attempt at the tower-defence genre, Savage Moon pits you against a flood of invading aliens. Defend your bases with strategic placement of gun turrets and construct choke points to funnel the bloodthirsty blighters into your hail of bullets.
Again, a cheap download but less compelling due to lack of multiplayer and some bland levels.