Tuesday 12 December 2017

Ace Combat Infinity: Air on a free string

REVIEWED: Ace Combat Infinity; Pullblox World; Entwined

Ace Combat Infinity
Ace Combat Infinity
Pullblox World
Entwined for PS4
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

RATING: 7/10
AGE: 12+

SOMETHING for nothing is the new business model, with the intention of getting you hooked on a taste of the good stuff before you hitting up for money to keep playing.

But free-to-play is a still rare sight on consoles, presumably because it requires a sizeable investment that may never be recouped by the developers. Hence Ace Combat Infinity launches as a PS3 exclusive and with a relatively thin package compared to previous instalments of the dogfighting franchise.

Yet Infinity is nonetheless a recognisable and polished member of the Air Combat family, just one that is going to require ongoing investment to keep playing at a reasonable pace.

There’s the usual hokey campaign – pitting  you as a member of a UN squadron fending off the airborne attacks of terrorists above near-future cities and wild terrain. But it’s a short-lived diversion that escalates quickly into a grind for currency to keep flying unless you pay €15 for the Elite mission pack.

More interesting is the four-on-four multiplayer mode that squares off two teams for the most kills – an unusual dynamic that involves both co-op and competition. Here, it’s easier to accumulate the cash and fuel that keep your aircraft aloft and upgraded. But there it still jars there’s no traditional player vs player dogfights.

Sooner rather than later too you’ll hit the free-to-play barrier that limits to you one sortie every four hours – unless you shell out, of course.

Perhaps by that time you’ll have decided whether Infinity merits your cash. But it’s still not clear whether Infinity will ever develop beyond its modest reinvention as a free title.



Wii U download

RATING: 8.5/10

AGE: 3+

NOTIONALLY a sequel to the criminally overlooked 3DS gems Pullblox and Fallblox, Pullblox World reprises similar fiendishly clever puzzles on the bigger canvas of the Wii U.

But it hews far closer to the first game’s ideas, ignoring Fallblox’s playful integration of gravity and gadgets. As unfortunate as that omission may be, PW still offers a tantalising and bountiful challenge, with 250 new missions plus a level designer with which you can publish your creations to the world.

The concept is relatively simple – a collection of sliding blocks that must be arranged in stair-step fashion to reach the top and rescue a lost child. But wrapped in that humble idea lie puzzles of Rubik’s Cube proportions.

Truly, your brain risks a meltdown in later stages, as the spatial navigation demands that you speak fluent 3D. Thankfully, if an individual puzzle stumps you, Pullblox lets you skip to the next level without penalty.

If you’ve just bought a Wii U on the strength of the fabulous Mario Kart 8, consider Pullblox World as your next purchase.

PS4 download

RATING: 4/10

AGE: 7+

REMEMBER the fable of The Emperor’s New Clothes? The idea that people may be afraid to point out the blindingly obvious for fear of appearing stupid.

Entwined wants you to believe it’s an incredibly clever little game, artsy, different and possessed of hidden depths. Sony gave it stage time all of its own at E3, to highlight its indie cred.

You're charged with guiding two flying characters simultaneously through neon tunnels. But this is no Rez, this is no Journey. Scratch the surface and there’s nothing more to Entwined, no allegorical meaning, no gameplay subtlety. What you see is what you get: not much.

It’s like watching an iTunes screensaver, only not as entertaining.


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