Dragon Quest IX is a warm, snuggly blanket of a game. It may have been developed by RPG masters Level-5 - of Dark Cloud and Rogue Galaxy fame - but it feels like it was knitted by your grandmother. Kane & Lynch 2, on the other hand...
... is ugly. Hideously, violently, disgracefully ugly. It's foul-mouthed and bad-tempered, sordid and sleazy. It's the gaming equivalent of choking on your own vomit.
Dog Days is all style, but to my mind, there's no substance there. Except perhaps, substance abuse.
In the transition from PS2 - where the previous instalment in the series was found - to DS, Dragon Quest may have lost some of its style, but it makes up for it in substance. Rare is the JRPG that lets you create your own character; rarer still is the one that demands you create an entire party. Dragon Quest IX is crammed with such customisation.
So what are you opting for this week: style or substance?
New releases for the w/c August 16:
Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies (DS) What Is It? Mostly traditional Japanese role-playing game with turn-based combat, cutesy characters and a huge world to explore. Should You Care? A wonderful retro excursion to the golden age of JRPGs but with several nods to modernity along the way.
Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days (360, PS3, PC) What Is It? Gangster-themed third-person shooter that swears and sweats its way through a stylish tour of the seedy underbelly of Shanghai. Should You Care? The quirky team-based multiplayer is worth investigating, but the story mode is completely forgettable.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light (XBLA) What Is It? A faster, more action-oriented take on Tomb Raider, viewed from a novel top-down perspective but still packed with puzzles and exploration. Should You Care? It's a shame the promised co-op play won't be ready at launch. Stay tuned for the patch.