Sleeping Dogs; Sound Shapes; Pitfall! – Review shorts
Michael Plant is chief editor and writer of gaming ezine and blog GamesCatalyst.com, as well as editor of 'The Independent'’s games review printed in the Saturday supplement 'Information'. Established in February 2011, Games Catalyst endeavours to bring its unique brand of fact and satire to the videogaming community and, in tandem with 'The Independent', hopefully turn a few non-believers on to gaming while we’re at it.
Tuesday 21 August 2012
The modern day Hong Kong crime caper gets the open-city sandbox treatment in Sleeping Dogs; with players assuming the guise of undercover cop Wei Shen as he works through the city’s murky underbelly in a bid to infiltrate the Triads.
Expect the usual Grand Theft Auto-style missions – fights with rival gangs, pick-ups and drop-offs, street races – but also an assortment of surveillance and arrest duties as Shen juggles his cop responsibilities with maintaining his cover. Honk Kong makes for a splendid setting and simply cruising its streets on Shen’s motorbike is entertaining enough, particularly as forgiving steering and impact restrictions act to generally keep him on two-wheels.
Combat is rendered interesting too as guns take a backseat in the main and fists are brought to the fore as combos and counters fall only just short of those of Arkham City; while those in it for the story are well served too as twists and turns keep things interesting. With around 20 hours of play time, and with no multiplayer to speak of, Sleeping Dogs is perhaps a little on the short side, but there’s enough packed in to still provide plenty of bang for your buck.
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developer: United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
One week Beck is releasing an album solely on sheet music, the next he’s contributing an EP of songs to Sound Shapes, a game whose music forms its gameplay rather than merely compliments it. Part platformer, part synthesiser, Sound Shapes’ levels comprise of cel-shaded worlds where obstacles quiver and enemies dance to the beats of Deadmau5, Jim Guthrie, I am Robot and Proud and the aforementioned Beck. The chilled out gameplay is derived of guiding an orb about stylistically-themed environments, either by sticking to walls or leaping over obstacles – though to be successful it pays to be more attuned to what you hear than what you see. A comprehensive level editor completes the package and so ensures the potential for plenty more content beyond the initial handful of tracks.
Format: PS Vita via PSN
Developer: Queasy Games
Back when Atari was king and gamers were wowed by characters comprising of a countable number of pixels Pitfall! stood tall as a prime example of the platforming genre. Rivers of hungry crocodiles were traversed by swinging on vines, man-sized tarantulas roamed underground caves and one man, Pitfall Harry, bestrode the land with a cocky walk. Rather than return to such routes this new spin on the franchise has its feet firmly in the endless-runner genre with Harry charging through jungle, mine and cave atop various vehicles in a game equal to the best of the genre but one which adds nothing new.
Format: iPad, iPhone
Developer: Activision Leeds
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