Tuesday 23 December 2014

Murder mystery is a bit suspect

REVIEWED - Murdered: Soul Suspect; Lemmings Touch; Worms Battlegrounds

Published 20/06/2014 | 22:21

Murdered: Soul Suspect
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Lemmings Touch for PS Vita
Worms Battlegrounds for PS4/XOne

MURDERED: SOUL SUSPECT
XOne/PS4/PC/X360/PS3
RATING: 6/10
AGE: 16+

YOU’RE a dead man. That’s not some idle threat. Just a statement of fact. How original that you’re being asked to solve your own murder. Not terribly original at all, actually, seeing as Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective mined the same seam more successfully in 2011 on the DS.

M:SS explores the notion on a grander, more realistic scale but paradoxically ends up feeling like a smaller, less developed version of the dilemma facing the recently deceased.

It starts promisingly with tightly edited montage explaining the backstory of Salem police detective Ronan O’Connor (we need more videogame protagonists named Ronan, methinks). Each life event morphs on to his body as a tattoo, in the style of the yakuza.

But he’s barely on-screen for a minute before being ejected from a fourth-floor window with a bullet in his chest. This, naturally, isn’t good for his health and when his ghostly form finally comes to, he’s compelled to unravel the mystery of who killed him and why.

It sounds intriguing and for a while it is but you realise that M:SS lazily relies on a disparate collection of game systems that individually aren’t terribly interesting.

Not being bound to an earthly body means you can pass through walls and sneak up on the living, possessing their bodies and reading their minds. Yet they rarely have anything useful to say (and repeat the same two soundbites over and over) and there’s little that resembles that ingenious real-world manipulation of Ghost Trick.

Gameplay devolves into a languorous walk around locations, clicking on blatant clues and jumping to obvious conclusions.

The tortured narrative may keep you playing for its short running time and you have to admire the developers for trying to break out of tired gaming clichés. But M:SS doesn’t gel as a cohesive experience, hampered too by several technical shortcomings.

 

 

LEMMINGS TOUCH

PS Vita

RATING: 7.5/10

AGE: 3+

DEATH, taxes … and Lemmings. Three of the few certainties in life. Since the mindless rodents’ debut in 1991, the game has been ported to every platform known to man.

Now the lemmings have infested PS Vita but though they have learned no new tricks there’s a fresh feel to the franchise. The lemmings still must be shepherded from the entrance to the exit of each 2D landscape, using individual creatures as diggers, builders, blockers, etc.

The 100 levels take place across a new set of crisp, colourful worlds, enhanced (or complicated, maybe) by new objects such as sliding bridges and falling blocks. Some missions feature the perverse twist of Evil Lemmings, who must be stopped from reaching the exit, even though you can use them to help the good lemmings to the goal.

However, the touch controls struggle to manage the lemmings in tight confines and you feel there’s a few missed opportunities here, including new lemming abilities and the level editor, previously found in the PSP version.

 

WORMS BATTLEGROUNDS

XOne/PS4

RATING: 6.5/10

AGE: 12+

IT must be nostalgia week because here comes another one exhumed from the vaults. Like Lemmings, Worms has been remade countless times across the generations, with very little to distinguish them.

Certainly, there’s no reinvention of the worm here. Battlegrounds assumes the default position, pitting a team of wrigglers in turn-based combat using outrageous weaponry.

The lack of progress may be somewhat acceptable in a handheld rehash such as Lemmings Touch but in a full next-gen release? Not so much.

Amusing as the patter supplied by The IT Crowd’s Katherine Parkinson is, the single-player is just dull. Multiplayer remains entertaining by virtue of old reliables such as the Concrete Donkey weapon but there’s precious little here to showcase the massive power of the XOne/PS4 hardware.

 

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