Limbo brings brilliant black and white action to iPad, Civilization V offers up a Brave New World on PC, and The Serious Sam Collection explodes onto Xbox 360. Ride To Hell: Retribution also speeds onto 360 and Motion Tennis serves up an interactive treat on iOS
Limbo | iPad/iPhone | Action | £2.99
A boy in search of his sister. That is all you’re told. And so begins a dark, intriguing and challenging 2D platform puzzler. The old adage of less being more has never been more directly demonstrated in a game that relies only on a black and white colour palette, minimal audio and no spoken or written dialogue. It’s sparse, but sensationally so. Progressing your young protagonist through the four to five hours of incredibly atmospheric gameplay will present a serious challenge to even the most seasoned of adult puzzle gamers, but don’t let that put you off. Puzzles are there to be thought about, played around with and then overcome with whoops of success and warm feelings of gaming satisfaction. Limbo has all this in spades, with excellent pacing and increasing difficulty as you move into more industrialised environments and the harsher puzzle mechanisms you have to master. It’s art, it’s entertainment, but above all else it’s a brilliant game.
Civilization V: Brave New World | PC | Strategy | £15.99
The Civilization series has had strategy fans hooked for the best part of two decades. It’s the kind of game that can take over your life, or at least every waking hour either side of the 9 to 5. This expansion pack for the fifth incarnation takes things to a whole new level, introducing nine new civilizations, international trade, and the opportunity for victory through cultural dominance. It’s this latter feature, augmented by the impact of developing tourism, that brings a new dimension to the latter part of your quest for dominance. The game is pitched well for newcomers and seasoned series followers to dive straight in, but the additional bonus options and abilities will require a hefty extra dose of grey matter to ensure success, such is the shift up through gears from the original Civilization V. It still boasts an intuitive and incredibly helpful interface, as well as dazzlingly detailed graphics to complete the polished package, and overall Brave New World feels like you’re getting much more than merely an add-on to the full game. This genuinely feels like undiscovered territory for Civilization.
The Serious Sam Collection | Xbox 360 | Shooter | £25.99
Fancy some shooter action with a wonderfully retro feel? Then say hello to Serious Sam and his little friends, as he returns in the ultimate bundle of shooting mayhem! Every legendary encounter - Serious Sam HD: The First and Second Encounters, Serious Sam 3 BFE and XBLA’s Serious Sam Double D XXL, manages to squeeze into this comprehensive collection of frantic non-stop FPS bedlam! And it’s all re-mastered in high definition, as you follow the notorious hero, Sam ‘Serious’ Stone, in his quest to destroy the alien overlord, Mental, and hordes of monstrous minions. The games’ objectives are so single-minded that, in fact, it soon seems there’s only one - kill everything around you. As such, it’s probably only a purchase for hardcore shooter fans looking for a fond recollection of good games gone by. The First and Second Encounters probably eclipse the latter two titles but, for a shade over £25, there’s so much trigger-happy content here, it’s a wonder it doesn’t self-combust when you open the box.
Ride To Hell: Retribution | Xbox 360 | Action | £19.99
Set in the latter years of the roaring 1960s, a time of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, Ride to Hell: Retribution seeks to seize upon the spirit of the biker movement, rock music, and hippie counterculture in what purports to be an action-loaded combo of racing and beat ‘em up action. What actually unfolds is one of the most woeful titles you’re ever likely to have the misfortune to slip into your Xbox 360. The story may play out in a hard drinking, bare-knuckle environment, but the impact that Retribution will have on your positive gaming memory bank is, at best, powder puff. If you have the misfortune to muddle through the dull driving sequences, the button-mashing fighting shambles and the numerous other poorly executed ‘lowlights’ of this game, you’ll realise how rare it seems these days to encounter a game with next-to-no redeeming features. Think of this as less as a review, and more of a videogaming health warning; steer clear.
Motion Tennis | iOS (requires Apple TV) | Tennis | £5.49
OK, let’s not go overboard on this - after all the Wii has been smashing out motion-sensing titles for quite some time now. However, Motion Tennis does represent the first of hopefully many interactive games that successfully combine the power of Apple TV and iPhone handsets. Picking up a racquet after such a momentous weekend for British tennis shouldn’t be a chore, and this living room-based opportunity to hone your tennis skills is just the way to continue a glorious summer of sport. It is a little simplistic and you won’t necessarily feel that you have total control over the direction of the ball, but the connectivity is excellent, with hardly any delay from phone to TV screen. Young kids will seize upon the chance to swing their parents’ precious iPhone 5’s or iPod Touches around, so be sure to strap them in before you hit your first serve. After that, it’s sporting fun all the way. This represents an innovative step forward for Apple as it continues to muscle in on the big guns’ gaming market share.