Game On: Max Payne 3
"It's like Baghdad but with bikinis," sighs a weary Max Payne, last seen as a grizzled detective plying his trade with the NYPD.
Now the ageing, alcoholic Max has retreated to Sao Paulo to work as a bodyguard for the spoilt brats of the filthy rich. As he surveys a heaving nightclub, split evenly between scantily clad girls dancing and coked-up macho men with weapons, he wonders where it all went wrong.
Truth be told, life has never gone smoothly for Max, but the proverbial has really hit the fan in this third instalment, now in the hands of master storytellers Rockstar of GTA fame. At its core, it remains the same third-person shooter with its signature trick of slo-mo bullet time.
But with Rockstar's unerring eye and ear for cinematic drama, MP3 never misses a beat as it races through towering skyscrapers and shambolic favelas. A downbeat story told at an uptempo pace, it mixes thrilling shootouts with nerve-shredding set-pieces, gleefully augmented by your on-call bullet-time ability.
Playing Diablo must be what a magpie would feel like sitting in front of a one-armed bandit, except that the fruit machine pays out shiny loot with every pull of the handle.
This was always the staple of Diablo's appeal, a constant stream of gratification as you attack the monsters in its hokey fantasy storyline. Every click brings a torrent of gold or a new upgrade, whether that be magical pants(!) or a sword of destiny.
DIII hardly messes with the formula, content instead to deliver a massively streamlined and polished RPG experience. Gorgeously rendered dungeons and grotesque monsters vie for your eyes in this visual feast.
Never mind the early server troubles, nor the real-money auction house (yet to launch) and rush through the unchallenging early levels. A buffet of RPG delights awaits you.
Lego Harry Potter: Years 5-7
A port of the popular console games, this HP version takes careful advantage of the iPad/iPhone touchscreen while retaining the giddy sense of fun that made the originals a success.
Exploring, building and destroying the Lego-centric worlds is a treat for fans and the uncommitted alike.
A sprawling medieval fantasy with dragons? It takes courage to pit yourself against the epic Skyrim and Dragon's Dogma comes up short. Perhaps it's the lack of originality in the hero's journey, perhaps it's the glitchy gameplay (though that never stopped Skyrim).
You can admire the intriguing online aspect -- enabling you to lend characters to fight alongside other players or borrow one from someone else instead. You may respect DD's ambitious scope, with random encounters with dragons an enthralling prospect.
But ultimately you'll sense the whole package is less than the sum of its parts.