Gaming Round-up for April 2011

Welcome to the April edition of the BN1 games section. We’ve had a bombastic end to March, with the iPad2, Nintendo 3DS and Crysis 2 all hitting the shelves on the same day! We’ve had the chance to play lots of other games too, so read on to find out what we thought of them.

Nintendo 3DS: Three dimensions, without glasses– Nintendo’s novel new portable games console isn’t actually very different from that old DS you’ve got in your pocket right now – apart from one key difference – this one allows you to view the games in 3D. Even more amazingly, the technology doesn’t require special glasses, and despite rumours to the contrary, didn’t give us any trouble after extended periods of play. Much appreciated is the depth slider, which allows each player to adjust the graphics to a level of 3D that suits them personally. The only thing missing from this fantastic device is a good game to play on it; we enjoyed Pilot Wings, Street Fighter IV and Nintendogs + Cats, but there is nothing out yet that really blew us away. With other games on the horizon, it remains to be seen whether the 3DS will become an essential purchase, but you would probably do well to hold on to your cash just now, even though the console itself is really impressive. 8/10

Dragon Age II: Mass Effect in Middle Earth – This sequel to 2009’s Origins was developed by Bioware, and is a non-linear, epic adventure through the fictional kingdom of Thedas. The makers of the amazing Mass Effect series return with this fantastical offering, which improves upon its predecessor in almost every way. Combat has been streamlined for the better, the protagonist, Hawke, has also found a voice this time round. The story is engrossing, though shows an odd lack of ambition at times, and some of the other characters are incredibly engaging, whilst others are hugely annoying. The game manages to really make you care about the fate of your party members, and it’s a testament to the quality of acting that we were genuinely sad a number of times during the narrative. Still, the game is a bit muddy in its presentation and also loses some of its drive as it drags on, just two of many small issues the game suffers from. It’s a steady improvement, and a step in the right direction, but still lurks in the shadow of its incredible galaxy-sprawling sibling. 8/10

Top Spin 4: We’ve come a long way since Pong– In juxtaposition to the endless annual titles of EA Sports games, the long-awaited sequel to Top Spin 3 took three years to develop, and it shows. This tennis simulator is not only much more accessible than ever before, but features a versatile input system that depends on the player’s sense of timing to determine whether they smash an ace or slice it into the net. It’s great that you can create a custom character to use as you embark upon the rather good career mode, although the hideous freak you may have made does look a bit weird when sharing the court with the legendary champions or the modern superstars of tennis. Or Andy Murray. All in all, it’s tough to see how the formula of tennis can be improved from here. 7/10

BN1 Most anticipated
– This month will see the amazing Portal 2 come out, which we are really excited to get our grubby mitts on. Roll on the Summer too, as we simply can’t wait until August, when Deus Ex: Human Revolution hits the shelves. After that we’ve got the likes of The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3 and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim to look forward to, which are all scheduled for release before Christmas.

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