This week, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is unleashed on Xbox One, Yakuza 0 locks and loads on PS4 and Earthlock - Festival Of Magic stomps onto the same system.
Elsewhere, Golf Clash and WarFriends crank up the online gaming competition on smartphone and tablet.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Title: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Platform: Xbox One
A first-class first-person horror experience
While Resident Evil 7 may draw from the series’ roots of atmospheric survival horror, make no mistake, it delivers a whole new level of terror. The games of yesteryear braced players for first-person fear via creepy door-opening scenes, and the seventh iteration ramps up that tension with an immersive first-person view and frighteningly realistic graphical style. What’s more, the full gameplay experience is available in the PlayStation VR Mode, from beginning to end. So the thrills and chills are guaranteed, but how does the game actually play? The always on-edge experience of solitary exploration through the dilapidated mansion that holds all the secrets and a family of foes for you to discover during your playthrough is incredible, cranked up further by some of the finest audio immersion you’ll be able to remember. Progress through the numerous environmental puzzles is both a glorious blessing and a creepy curse - you’re happy to be past the latest obstacle, but dreading the next scare waiting around the corner. And that is the mark of an outstanding horror title...
Title: Yakuza 0
A Japanese action joy to behold
The Yakuza series has nurtured a loyal following, fuelled by its gritty JRPG-style storytelling from the Japanese criminal underworld. Yakuza 0 is no different, this time offering a prequel narrative centred around junior yakuza member Kazuma Kiryu, who finds himself in a heap of trouble when a simple debt collection goes upside down and his mark ends up murdered. Meanwhile, Goro Majima is living a “normal” life as the proprietor of a cabaret club, but is doing whatever it takes to rejoin the yakuza. Played out in a sprawling open world, packed with a truly incredible collection of side-quests and mini-game distractions (including SEGA’s original coin-operated arcade classics including Out Run), the action, immersive cut-scenes and brutal combat deliver a gaming slap across the chops for anyone still in a fug wondering what to play next after the Christmas binge-gaming. It’s not as tight as GTA V from a controls or presentation perspective, but it’s a darn good effort, and the opportunity to drop into 1980s Japan with all its neon and delightfully nuts non-playable characters is one that shouldn’t be missed.
Title: Earthlock - Festival Of Magic
Genre: Action / RPG
An illuminating adventure that entertains day or night
Japanese RPGs seem to be all the rage right now, epitomised by Earthlock, which is packed with cracking characters and engaging storyline, as well as healthy doses of enjoyable combat and crafting. In Festival Of Magic, Desert scavenger Amon soon finds himself on an epic quest when he crosses paths with a most peculiar creature back home. And so begins a journey across the fantasy world of Umbra - a mysterious, beautiful, but harsh planet that stopped spinning thousands of cycles ago. With such a unique set of customisable characters, all with their own personalities and journeys of self-discovery, you’ll find yourself scavenging, exploring and fighting your way from the everlasting day-side and into the darkness of perpetual night, all the while attempting to unlock its secrets, expose the shadows, and defeat a growing evil. While this game may not boast the pristine polish of double-the-price triple-A titles, it has an undeniable charm that should convince you to stick with it for the duration. Some of the puzzles are a little sketchy, so prepare for some frustration, but overall it’s a fantasy adventure you should definitely consider dropping yourself into.
Title: Golf Clash
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Swing into the online competition
Golf is one of the most challenging individual sports, asking competitors to consistently control mental resilience as well as technical ability for hours at a time. “Socialising” the sport has been expertly realised in Golf Clash, where single-hole online vs battles add an arcade quality to the experience, while still keeping the pressure to perform high on your smartphone screen. With simple “drag your finger back and time your release to perfection” mechanics, it’s super accessible, while a myriad bonuses to unlock, including club upgrades and special balls, ensure your spoils from victory - coins and gems - will be very well spent. Different tours with scaled entry fees and associated rewards crank the challenge up quickly and it’s made all the more addictive knowing that real-life players are vying with you for top position on each tour. It’s brilliantly presented, too, making this a must-own app for golf fans - especially because it’s free. And if your swing’s any good, you won’t be dipping into your wallet anytime soon...
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)
Friendly fire - and cover - oozes quality on the small screen
It’s time to take your tactical, cover-based battling onto your smartphone screen as you assume charge of a squad of tough nuts with the sole aim of taking down your real-life opponents in bouts of brilliant online gaming. Backed up by WarCards to help you fight your enemies, the strategic elements of your scraps shouldn’t be underestimated, whether that’s deploying drones to do your dirty work or launching jetpack gunners into the air. The game mechanics make great use of a cover-based shooter system, while the energy you amass from killing opponents can be spent on those extra units to aid your cause. It looks gorgeous - wonderfully sharp, colourful and detailed, with that all-important competitive gaming edge to keep you hooked. WarFriends is guaranteed to raise a smile, even when you snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, and there’ll always be someone else to exact your revenge upon in the online gaming world.
WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT?
The Call Of Duty series has claimed the accolade of being the top gaming franchise globally in 2016, as well as the number one selling game in the USA in the past 12 months, too. It’s the seventh time in the last eight years Call Of Duty has been at the top of the annual global charts, despite 2016’s Infinite Warfare sales down nearly 50% at launch compared to 2015’s Black Ops III.
Meanwhile, in the charts this week, Grand Theft Auto V kept top spot for another seven days, pushed all the way by FIFA 17, which climbed one place from three to two. Overwatch was the week’s biggest climber, up eight places from 18 to 10.
GAME CHART ALL FORMATS FULL PRICE
1. Grand Theft Auto V
2. FIFA 17
3. Call Of Duty: Infinite Warfare
4. Battlefield 1
5. Watch Dogs 2
6. Rocket League
8. Forza Horizon 3
9. Mafia III
Leisure software charts compiled by Chart Track, (c) 2017 UKIE Ltd