Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist
PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
A long time has passed since Splinter Cell first stalked on to the Xbox, its perennial protagonist, Sam Fisher, dazzling in signature night-vision goggles. Since then, the franchise has gone through multiple transformations: first assuming the stealthy tones of Metal Gear, and later adopting the speed of the Jason Bourne movies, it now takes its cues from Jack Bauer (Fisher even allied with a faux CTU team). So begins Blacklist's unabashedly 24-inspired story, involving terrorists, the spilling of blood on American soil and every other cliché in the book.
Still, as long as gripping gun-fights and tense set-pieces kept us firmly on the edge of our seat, we didn't criticise 24 unduly – and for the very same reasoning, Blacklist also gets a pass. The secret here is in the combination of Fisher's stock sneaking with a new ability to go dynamic – this time, he can shift from ghost to predator in one exhilarating heartbeat. Add to that aggressive foes, masses of upgradable equipment, a cleverly implemented co-op aspect and multiple ways to negotiate each stage, and you're left with a hugely entertaining and full-blooded action game.
£6.80 (800 MS points)
Punk rock and ninjas make a potent combination in Ska Studios' brawler Charlie Murder, where you can scrap with human hamburgers, battle through dingy rock clubs and level-up via your mobile phone. A moonlit joy-riding section is particularly excellent, showing remarkable inventiveness for such a well-trodden genre, and there's even a home-brewing sub-game thrown in. Neat RPG elements, a mean difficulty level and big, brash visuals make this one fighter you'll want in your corner.
iOS (see App Store for details)
It's no secret that the first-person shooter dominates gaming, nor that the genre is notoriously tough to duplicate on touchscreen tablets. The Drowning represents Mobage Inc.'s attempt to remedy that by introducing an intuitive interface that enables you to move with a tap, and fire by hitting the screen with two fingers (the bullet whizzes between them). That's where elegant design ends, however, as poorly designed arenas, a non-existent story and pay-to-win tendencies firmly negate any grand ambitions.