Monday 25 September 2017

The laws of gravity no longer apply

Lawbreakers (PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 16+

Lawbreakers
Lawbreakers
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Gravity? We don't need no stinkin' gravity! Lawbreakers takes the free-floating ideas of Titanfall and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare to their logical conclusion. It builds an entire game around the concept of high-altitude, high-speed frag-fests where you spend more time pirouetting through the air in low-to-zero gravity than you do scampering along the ground.

But Lawbreakers comes with a warning: no noobs need apply. There is little to no concession for the uninitiated bereft of hundreds of hours in twitch shooters. No tutorials, no explanations, imperfect matchmaking and that frenetic pace combine to form an intimidating arena for anyone but hardened shooter fans.

When it works, it's exhilarating, a breathless blur of kill or be killed across five modes similar to King of the Hill and Capture the Flag. The nine character classes - heavy, healer, assassin, etc - feel pleasingly diverse with their broad range of powers that draw inevitable comparison with the wildly popular Overwatch. Yet, even at the budget price of €30, Lawbreakers' relative inaccessibility makes it tricky to anticipate it will attract the numbers required to sustain an online shooter these days.

That's You!

(PS4) ★★ 12+

PlayStation used to be the king of social games: from Buzz! to SingStar, many an alcohol-fuelled evening ended with a laughter-filled session on the couch playing quizzes or murdering karaoke.

That's You! marks the debut of Sony's PlayLink series, an attempt to bring back the glory days, with simple party games for the PS4 controlled by your smartphones. It's less of a game, more of an interactive experience in which you attempt to prove you know your friends well.

You might be asked "Who would laugh at a teacher's lame joke?" or "Who would make out with a stranger at a fairground?" and everybody votes. Obviously, the more players the merrier (up to six) and That's You! also encompasses some Snapchat-like japery such as drawing on photos of each other.

But it quickly runs out of steam because it's a slim package, with nothing like as much replayability as Buzz! Still, it's currently free for PS Plus subscribers, which is about the right price.

Children of the Zodiarcs

(PS4/PC) ★★★★ Age: 12+

This indie production resembles the unholy offspring of a night of passion between a tactical RPG and a card battler, with some dice-based randomness for extra spice.

The bright aesthetic and reasonably interesting story - a bunch of orphans in a cruel world - are really just window-dressing for the intriguing combat. Zodiarcs' turn-based strategy leans heavily on your choice of cards but these depend on the luck of the draw augmented by dice rolls.

It's not as random as it sounds, and the game rarely plays unfair. It feels a bit of grind at times but Zodiarcs is a gifted child that demands attention.

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