Saturday 14 December 2019

Games: Watch out, teamwork is everything

Overwatch (XOne/PS4/PC) 5 Stars Age: 12+

Ronan Price

Ronan Price

Chess: an ancient game of near-infinite possibilities and gambits populated by many pieces with wildly diverse move sets. Overwatch: a thoroughly modern game of vast permutations and strategies filled with almost two dozen characters possessed of a marvellous miscellany of superpowers.

Like chess, Blizzard's Overwatch conceals complexity in what appears a straightforward pitched battle for control of territory. Sure, this arena shooter also reeks at first blush of intimidatory frenzy. Teams of six versus six (chosen from the usual classes of attack, defence, tank and support) face off across one of 12 maps. But Call of Duty it ain't.

Teamwork and careful observation almost always win the day over run'n'gun bluster. Every character has its riposte. For instance, a seemingly overpowered hero such as Bastion, who can transform slowly into an opposition-chewing turret, proves vulnerable to sniper fire or quick rear-guard attacks.

The option to change hero after every death (as opposed to between rounds in similar games) enables teams to shift strategy on the fly, uncovering new weaknesses in the opposition defence.

Presented in typically polished Blizzard form, each hero brims with character, each map teems with nooks, crannies and canny design.

You could fault the relative paucity of modes and maps. But Blizzard has committed to dripfeed a steady stream of free content, cementing Overwatch's claim as a candidate for game of the year.

Lumo (PS4/PC) 4 stars Age: 7+

Isometric adventures fell out of fashion a decade or two ago, overtaken by fancy scrolling 3D visuals. But gamers of a certain vintage will shed a little tear of nostalgia for Lumo, a sweet homage to a lost genre.

Reminiscent of Spectrum-era classics such as Knight Lore and Head Over Heels, this platform-puzzler demands pixel-perfect jumping and a keen eye to interpret its angled perspective on more than 500 rooms.

Defiantly old-school down to its low price, Lumo breaks no fresh ground but its comforting familiarity transports the player to a simpler time in gaming.

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