The Week In Games

I think I've found my new favourite lifestyle photography shot. There is just so much that is so bad and yet so good in the above pic.

There's the obvious disconnect between the grind the kid is performing and the one in the screenshot Activision has cunningly photoshopped onto the television.

There's the paralysed expressions of faux excitement on the faces of the kid's family.

And of course there is the complete absence of a console anywhere on or in the entertainment unit.

So yes, the much-maligned Tony Hawk: Ride is now responsible for my favourite ever piece of games lifestyle photography. Thank you Activision, now please don't make another one, OK?

Also out this week: Final Fantasy XIII and Yakuza 3, two very different and yet very Japanese games. One is a dumb beat 'em up set in an endlessly fascinating world. The other a game of smart tactical combat set in an excruciatingly dull world. Oh, and one of them is my pick for the week.

What are you picking up this week?

New releases for the w/c March 8:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (PS3) What Is It? The same over-the-top military shooter PC and 360 owners were playing last week. Should You Care? Again, if you're sick of Modern Warfare 2.

Chronicles of Mystery: Curse of the Ancient Temple (DS) What Is It? Simple point-and-click adventure in the vein of Layton but nowhere near as clever. Should You Care? Probably best suited to your mum or your kid sister.

Dawn Of War II: Chaos Rising (PC) What Is It? This expansions adds a Blood Ravens campaign to Relic's well-received tactical RTS. Should You Care? Also found in a Gold Edition with the original game.

Fat Princess (PSP) What Is It? It's been nine months since this was released on PS3, what's another week of delay for PSP owners... Should You Care? Unless that extra week suddenly means you've got lots of online PSP friends!

Final Fantasy XIII (360, PS3) What Is It? Less an RPG, more a CG movie where you engage in tactical combat to watch the next scene. Should You Care? Thing is, though, it's really not that different to previous FFs. Bioware/Bethesda fans should, of course, steer well clear.

Last Rebellion (PS3) What Is It? Pretty terrible, low budget JRPG that has an intriguing combat system but little else to recommend it. Should You Care? Hmm, that sounds rather familiar...

Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition (PC360, PS3 What Is It? Repackaging of Capcom's ill-judged shooter includes all its - mostly excellent, to be honest - downloadable content. Should You Care? A smart choice if you've not played it yet.

Sonic Classic Collection (DS) What Is It? Quite literally a collection of Sonic 1, 2, 3 and, er... Knuckles. Should You Care? Forget the 3D Sonic games ever happened.

Tony Hawk: Ride (360, PS3, Wii) What Is It? I'm picturing kids lined up at the fair to pay 50 cents for a piggyback from an ageing skater. Should You Care? Which would be more fun than this.

Welcome To Violence Pack (Wii) What Is It? MadWorld, The Conduit and The House of the Dead: Overkill, all in one box. Should You Care? The latter alone is worth the price admission, so you're getting two OK-ish games for free-ish.

Yakuza 3 (PS3) What Is It? Do you remember The Bouncer, a deeply underwhelming brawler from Square Enix in the early days of the PS2? Should You Care? Yakuza 3 is what you thought The Bouncer was going to be.


    David, you forgot to mention the absence of any power points or even cords for the television.

    Will be picking up Bad Company 2 this week.

    On a side note, I'm actually glad Red Dead Revolver got delayed as it will hopefully give me to get through some of my every growing pile of unfinished games.

      I've been playing the PS3 version of Bad Company 2 for the past 3 days and it is REALLY annoying the shit out of me - the AI is incredibly stupid to the point where they may as well not be there - and people complained about Sheva from RE5? Atleast she shot people - these morons do nothing.

        AI?'re doing it wrong.

        Yeah, I've heard the solo campaign is quite ordinary. My main reason for picking this up is the multi-player.

        I only played the first few levels in Bad Company's campaign but spend a lot of time with the multi-player and plan to be doing the same with this one.

    Is it just me or is the huge backyard being shunned for some fake skateboarding that also makes this photo so "classic"?

      Yeah and it seems that kid is doing a 5-0 and the game is doing a nose grind.
      Hmmm, responsive controls there...

    So, judging by that screenshot you have to move the board the opposite way to what you want the on screen character to do.
    No wonder his parents have a look of shock and awe!

      Perhaps the kid is standing on the board backwards?

    I think his skateboard is still in the shrink wrap?

    Um, I'm a Bioware/Bethesda fan but I'll definitely be grabbing Final Fantasy XIII tomorrow morning. I love all flavours of RPG.
    Also, played the demo of Yakuza 3 on the weekend...just about killed myself laughing at the Karaoke. "Oi Oi Oi!"
    Will pick up Yakuza as soon as I'm done with FFXIII.

    I'd like to throw one more into the list of things wrong with the photo... the actual peripherial still looks to be in shrink wrap. ;)

    Ahhhh... Yakuza 3 & Battlefield : Bad Company 2...

    and still probably won't play them as God Of War III is out next week!

    David, did you enjoy Yakuza 3?

    Look at how intently they stare at that kid. They'd rather watch him than watch the game. It must be awesome. As awesome as that kid's slippers.

    I've been looking forward to Yakuza 3 just because I have absolutely no idea what its about.

    I’ve been reading the reviews for FF13 and the amount of automation is a little concerning. I never thought the gambit system in FF12 was good because it took control away from me, all I could do was give general suggestions rather than orders. From what I’m hearing in 13 you can actually have the computer do all your fights for you and just switch from healer to tank mid fight (or to whatever other role). Is this the case?, is that the way the comp actually wants you to play the game?, because that’s horrible.

      Yes, that's the way it works, and it works really well. The strategy comes from setting up your paradigm shift combinations before each battle and then knowing when to switch between them during the fight. If you're not managing your paradigm shifts you will die frequently - well, at least once you're 20 hours in and the challenge steps up. Combat is so quick that, even though you can still select specific orders for your main character, most of the time you'll want to stick with the auto option.

      Overall, the combat is the best part of the game.

        How do these shifts play out in gameplay?, is it just pressing a few buttons at the right time and watching the fight play out?. Or can I have a say in what they do when they shift to a different role?

        I remember Dragon age had a tactics system that was like “if health is below 50% use .......”. Is that stuff possible?.

          There are six roles that the characters learn throughout the game: Commando (physical attacks), Ravager (magical attacks), Synergist (buffs), Saboteur (debuffs), Sentinel (tank) or Medic (healing). You also have six Paradigm Shift slots where you prepare combinations of these roles, depending on who is currently in your party. It's not about pressing buttons at the right time, but rather recognising situations that would advantage the different roles and shifting appropriately.

          You only control one character directly, and you can dive in and queue up their specific actions each turn or let the "auto" option choose for you. Most of the time the auto option is pretty good. Likewise, the AI guiding your companions does an excellent job provided you're managing their roles. It doesn't get as granular as "if health is below 50% use..." type tactics because, once you've scanned an enemy, the AI knows what type of physical and magical attacks will hurt said enemy, knows which buffs and debuffs will be most effective, etc. Also, there is no mana to worry about the AI wasting, as magic works on a cooldown basis just like physical attacks.

          What the combat system does extremely well is make you feel like you're controlling the ebb and flow of battle, with your paradigm shifts capable of turning the tide. And it does it all without the tedium of repeating the same actions for every character every turn, a change I believe every veteran FF player should appreciate.

    I've never played a Final Fantasy, and as an RPG fan and a gamer... I really feel I should have played at least one.

    As I've only got a 360; is 13 the one I should start with... or should I wait for another one?

      That's the best part of the Final Fantasy series.
      apart from a few reoccurring themes (such as Chocobos and a guy named Cid, amongst others.) they have absolutely NOTHING to do with each other.
      having said that I would definitely start with the latest one as that dude with the 'fro and the baby chocobo in his hair looks like an awesome character.

      It's a good starting point, I think, because it almost feels like "My First Final Fantasy" in its design philosophy. It holds your hand very tightly for the first 20 or so hours and ensures there's no danger at all of you not understanding anything. As a result, it's a lot simpler and less daunting than other recent entries in the series. But at the same time it can feel extremely repetitive and the sheer linearity will frustrate anyone used to exploring a world in an RPG.

    Why does Daddy look so angry in that image? Is he annoyed that he forked out $200 for this game? Is he envious that Billy gets to play it and not him? Is he concerned that word will get around of this promotional shot and, as a result, he'll be laughed out of any future advertising gigs, effectively ruining his lifelong dream of being a pro skater/video game spokesperson/old person?

    Find out next week in the thrilling conclusion to 'Tony Hawk X: The Re-Skatening'

    I'll definitely pick up FFXIII and Bad Company 2. As for Yakuza 3, probably will pick it up at a later date


      Wondering if i should quit my job and drop out of uni to game, this week is going to leave me with very little free time, I can't wait!

    I like how the "Dad" Looks like hes gonna jump off the chair and tackle the kid!

    Ahaha! Funny!
    I dont think I will be buying any of those, waiting for God Of War 3 and Pokemon Gold.

    I know I play bad, but you can learn from me as a person who is not into a do, let's join the clan did not just want to make progress together DOTA do, are filled with love for the game of DOTA, right? I would like to, and we called him a good friend

    They are all actually watching the timer on the side stand behind the kid playing, and are excited that his turn on the TV is almost over so they can do something that's actually fun.

    You know what? Your description of FFXIII has actually sold me on it. Don't get me wrong, exploring rich worlds is one of my favourite things about RPGs, but sometimes it's nice to just run in a straight line too. It's even an Olympic sport!

    How much is the Welcome To Violence bundle?

    Is it my imagination or is noone looking at the TV? Even the kid allegedly playing the game on the magic invisible console

    In the next shot, the kid has fallen backwards, with the "board" having followed Newton's 3rd law and sailed forward into the prototype wireless TV. Their insurance company subsequently denies their claim due to "negligence resulting from encouraging participation in an outdoor activity within the home". Activision sues for replacement cost of prototype TV, the parents declare bankruptcy and are now living on the street.

    Do young kids really dress like Kurt Cobain still?

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