Games: Reawakening the Lego love
Lego Star Wars: Force Awakens: (PS4/XO/PC/PS3/X360), 5 Stars, Age: 3+
Much as JJ Abrams' reboot rekindled our love for the Star Wars movies, so this Force Awakens game reinvigorates a tired series.
Coming full circle to the franchise that started the long-running Lego tie-ins, the parallels with the first game in 2005 are legion. But instead of churning out the umpteenth reductive clone, the developer has subtly tweaked gameplay in ways that breathe new life into a familiar rhythm.
At its heart remains the easy-going exploration of Star Wars-themed levels, smashing and reconstructing brick objects. Intact too is the uproarious humour, cheekily riffing on sacred cows (Han Solo's wig, Kylo Ren's Darth Vader infatuation), loaded with sight gags and featuring the full voice contribution of the movie cast.
But the fun of playing as Rey, Finn, BB-8 (and hundreds more) is enhanced by the new flexibility in reconstructing Lego objects (some puzzles require multi-step builds), the cover-based blaster battles and, hallelujah, the aerial dogfights in X-wings and TIE Fighters. Highly recommended for Star Wars and Lego series fans alike.
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime
(PS4/XO/PC), 5 Stars, Age: 7+
Full marks for the misleading title, for this intriguing 2D cooperative shooter guarantees to make enemies of the best of friends. Lovers is a rare example of couch co-op, requiring two to four players to sit in the same room and work together to rescue hostages in a 2D maze filled with angry aliens.
The twist is that your spherical ship has eight stations (four weapons, one shield, map, cannon and driver). That forces the two to four players to run madly between each station to fend off enemies, protect the hull and propel the spacecraft.
It's riotous stuff, funny and challenging.
Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
(Wii U/3DS), 3 Stars, Age: 3+
A solid if unspectacular tie-in with Rio, this latest Mario and Sonic features 17 Olympic events, some augmented with amusing special moves.
Colourful and undemanding, it's best played as a family party game given the lack of online multiplayer.
Dull events such as volleyball are easily outshone by more entertaining fare in football and rugby 7s.