Games: Underdog puts the boot in
PES 2017, (XO/PS4/PC), 5 Stars, Age: 3+
Published 09/10/2016 | 02:30
David vs Goliath. Mayo vs Dublin. Leicester vs the Premier League. Everyone loves an underdog. Except maybe in football sims, where FIFA outsells Pro Evo Soccer by a margin of probably 10 to 1.
You'd have to return to the PS2 era for a time when PES deserved its reputation as a plucky upstart, outfoxing its megabucks rival FIFA. But this year is different. PES 2017 won't beat FIFA in the charts, but on the pitch - purely in terms of footballing gameplay - it dominates.
Forget the lack of glamour because, as always, it boasts few official team names, competitions, etc. Focus, instead, on the PES secret sauce - how the players interact, the animation, the passing and artificial intelligence.
The flow of the game feels at once natural, unpredictable and yet logical. Without FIFA's bells and whistles, PES 2017 fields a lesser team, but it's a title contender where it counts.
(XO/PS4/PC), 4 Stars, Age: 3+
Though a series in transition, FIFA is hardly in danger of relegation. It's still untouchable in its brilliant (and improved) Ultimate Team card-collecting mode and the new game engine renders almost everything in sumptuous new detail, though while playing you'd hardly notice.
An expensively produced story mode called The Journey builds an engaging soap opera around a young player's rise through the ranks. Simultaneously touching and twee, it's a welcome novelty.
But the transition to the new engine also exposes FIFA's seams. Accelerated game speed can't hide some fractionally slow animation and the usual annual tinkering has made passing more difficult.
So FIFA 17 is a lavishly finished Man City to PES 17's scrappy Leicester underdog. It all depends on which you prefer.
BioShock: The Collection
(XO/PS4/PC), 6 Stars, Age: 18+
Three of the finest role-playing shooters in one amazing package? Yes please.
The dystopian world of the original BioShock has lost none of its astonishing power - an underwater colony decaying into anarchy, richly detailed and deftly written. Featuring a star turn by Irish actor Karl Hanover among a fabulous cast, BioShock is one of the greatest games of all time.
BioShock 2 continues the underwater saga to powerful effect while BioShock Infinite takes to the clouds and almost tops the original.
Six stars out of five. It's that good.