Thursday 23 November 2017

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

With fortuitous timing, this Xbox remake of last year's PC hit arrives amid the frenzy of interest in TV's Game Of Thrones. A medieval fantasy stuffed with shady characters, sex, nudity, violence and machinations, Witcher 2's parallels with Game Of Thrones are a little uncanny. It might even seem calculated were it not for the fact that its gestation predates the success of the TV series.

Comparison to the epic Skyrim is inevitable too, with both games being sprawling RPGs rooted in a high-fantasy world of monsters and magic. Witcher 2's story is its strongest suit, a rattling good yarn filled with branching plot lines and people to help or hinder.

Geralt is a witcher, a genetically enhanced fighter specialised in slaying monsters. Wrongly accused of killing a king, he embarks on a blood-soaked journey to clear his name. Amid the story twists, the incidental detail -- the overheard conversations, the richly drawn world, the side quests -- paints a convincing picture of a society in chaos.

But unlike Skyrim, which hid its complexity until you were comfortable in its world, Witcher 2 overwhelms the player almost from the off with its heady mixture of combat, magic and crafting.

It's enough to deter many newcomers in its opening hours, but to persevere is to be gripped by its compelling narrative.

Flight Control Rocket

iOS

RATING: 8/10

The sequel to the utterly basic but maddeningly addictive air traffic control smash hit, FCR relocates the action to space for no good reason other than it can.

The mechanics remain identical -- guide aircraft to their landing strips by drawing a trajectory with your fingertip. But the developers have been unable to resist gussying up every other facet, from the 1950s-style sci-fi artwork to the plethora of new ships.

The increased ingredients make for a more frantic cocktail but left me yearning a little for the simple pleasures of the original.

Capcom Digital Collection

X360

RATING: 7/10

Eight games, one disc. Some classics, some not. That's par for the course in a re-issue package such as this. Capcom addicts will relish the likes of Super Street Fighter II, Turbo HD Remix and Commando 3 and be bemused by weird stuff such as Flock.

Jewel Master: Cradle of Rome 2

Nintendo 3DS

RATING: 6/10

Coming hot on the heels of the very similar Cradle of Persia for DS, Cradle of Rome 2 does little different, not even taking advantage of 3D or online multiplayer.

It's a simple match-three puzzler wedded awkwardly to a city-building mode. But neither proves particularly addictive in the long run.

Irish Independent

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