Entertainment Reviews

Friday 22 August 2014

Infamous looks second to none but holds few surprises

Reviewed: Infamous Second Son; South Park - The Stick of Truth; Nintendo Pocket Football Club

Ronan Price

Published 11/04/2014 | 00:00

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Infamous: Second Son for PS4
South Park: The Stick of Truth
Nintendo Pocket Football Club for Nintendo 3DS
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INFAMOUS: SECOND SON

PS4

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 16+

AS AN exercise in wish-fulfilment, nothing comes close to videogames. You can be the hero, the villain, the hunter, the hunted, you can fly, you can become invisible, you can leap 100 metres in the air.

Sometimes you even do it in the same game. Second Son lets you do this and more – but then so did its Infamous predecessors and their inspiration, titles such as Crackdown and Prototype.

Second Son, though, is the first next-gen crack at the superhero/supervillain genre and you’d expect some mind-blowing extensions of the formula. But you’ll be waiting.

Much of the effort was spent building a richly detailed approximation of Seattle in which to set the neo-fascist takeover of America – you have to Stick It to The Man and take back the streets one jackbooted trooper at a time.

Except that being an overpowered superhero means you’re almost invincible and the enemy must attack in numbers to stand a chance of taking you down. That in itself is enjoyable, coupled with your unusual blend of mutant capabilities (based on turning into smoke or neon or stone).

Combat is a whirl of acrobatic dashes, lethal projectiles and the scaling of or falling from great heights.

The comic-book vibe extends to the wisecracking lead (voiced by Troy Baker – Joel in the Last of Us and Booker in Bioshock Infinite) and the underdeveloped binary choices of good/evil.

Second Son holds up well, especially in its graphical splendour, but its open world cries out for a depth of activities that never materialises. It makes you wonder what GTA creators Rockstar will do with all that next-gen horsepower at their disposal.

 

SOUTHPARK: THE STICK OF TRUTH

PS3/X360/PC

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 18+

PREPARE to be offended. But if you’ve watched the TV series, you’ll know the makers don’t so much skirt the line marking the edge of good taste as urinate all over it.

That translates pretty literally into The Stick of Truth, a surprisingly entertaining gaming offshoot stuffed with scatological jokes and unprintable insults, with a turn-based RPG at its core.

The combat, though, is a little too fussy for its own good, requiring superhuman timing for blocks and strikes and coming around far too often.

But Stick of Truth is easily sustained by its lacerating satire and endlessly inventive swearing. It bears emphasising, though - no one under 18 should be allowed play, no matter how mature parents might think their little darlings are.

 

NINTENDO POCKET FOOTBALL CLUB

Nintendo 3DS download

RATING: 6.5/10

AGE: 7+

FIRST impressions last and NPFC never quite recovers from its lo-fi presentation. Popular classics such as Football Manager never bothered with complex visuals, obviously, but this management sim struggles to convey its undoubted subtleties with its cheesily animated matches.

NPFC charges you with turning a bunch of hackers into league-winning pros, mostly by observing their matches and choosing which players to train up and how.

There’s a certain logic to the stats enhancement but NPFC gives little guidance as to the best course of action – does your left-back need more speed or stamina? Most aggravatingly of all, you’re forced to watch each match (all eight minutes or so) with little influence on the play bar substitutions and occasional tactical changes – the latter of which seems to make little difference.

After watching a dozen or so of these games – the ball ping-ponging from one end to the other – you begin to feel like Arsene Wenger after his 1,000 matches in charge at Arsenal: weary.

 

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