Games Reviews

Soul Calibur IV, Baroque, Pirates: the Key of Dreams, SBK-08 Superbike World Championship
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The Independent Tech

Soul Calibur IV (Rated 4/ 5 )

PS3, Xbox 360, Ubisoft, £49.99

The blade-based, 3-D fighting title has always specialised in outlandish characters doing battle in one-on-one sword fests. This time around, fans of the franchise will be heartened to hear that while there are plenty of familiar faces, each has been updated and there is also the option to create a custom character. The addition of Yoda and Darth Vader to the fold is neat, but if you look beyond the flashing light sabres, their special moves aren’t terribly interesting. Another clever feature is damage-absorbing armour, which can only be smashed with crafty attacks and diligence, while the online options have improved immeasurably. Pretty, polished and deadly.

Baroque (Rated 3/ 5 )

Wii, PS2, Rising Star Games, £19.99-£24.99

Big in Japan but relatively unknown in the UK, Baroque is a bit of a mixed bag. It combines RPG and FPS elements with a structure that, at first, seems to revel in randomness. Your patience will be severely tested when you begin this new take on a traditional dungeon-crawler as you are killed again and again by enemies, only to have to start fromscratch each time. If you make it through this Sysiphean task, the world of Baroque begins to reveal itself. Weirdly compelling.

Pirates: the Key of Dreams (Rated 2/ 5 )

Wii Virtual Console, Oxygen, 1000 Wii points/£7

Wooden legs, parrots and bottles of rum – what’s not to like about a game that features pirates, the scourge of the seven seas? Well, while there are buccaneers aplenty in this simple, top-down shipbased shooter, they fail to inject much excitement into a title that rapidly becomes a chore to play. You sail, you shoot and you dodge enemieswhile racing through labyrinthine levels collecting spoils, but since each stage is much the same as the last, The Key of Dreams is limited in its long-term appeal.

SBK-08 Superbike World Championship (Rated 3/ 5 )

PC, PS2, PSP, X360, PS3, Black Bean, £19.99-£39.99

Before splashing out on a copy of SBK-08, please bear in mind that Sunday drivers – well, bikers – need not apply. This is an unashamedly hardcore racer that rewards effort and tenacity but has little for the casual bike fan. It takes time to master the handling, before you even get around to trying to win a race. And since almost every aspect of the bikes on offer can be modified, the learning curve can seem endless. Looks-wise, SBK-08 leaves a lot to be desired, but enthusiasts will find plenty to like in this tough and testing title.

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