Starhawk; Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition; Velocity; Sniper Elite V2 – Review shorts

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A bite-size guide to the week's gaming releases.

There’s been much made of the addition of a single player campaign to Starhawk, spiritual successor to the exclusively multiplayer Warhawk, itself an early foray on to online servers for a fledgling PS3.

Turns out there really needn’t have been, so short-lived an experience is the campaign of Emmett Graves who struts his stuff through missions which are there solely to train the player for the online exploits to come. As such it’s a campaign worth persevering with, if simply because Starhawk has much to teach, just bear in mind that Graves’ blasting away at mindless “Outcasts” is something you’ll never really have to persevere with on the online side of things (wave-survival mode accepting) – and thank heaven for that.

In the game’s Western inspired worlds Rift energy is currency of choice (paying for buildings, weapons and vehicles) and its harnessing forms the essence of online skirmishes, as 32 players call down structures to defend or aid attack from orbiting dropships.

Walls, turrets and bunkers form the bulk of your bases, but it’s the vehicle posts which really make Starhawk shine, as bikes and Hawks – mechs which transform into flying fighters – are dispensed to create some incredible dogfights and high speed chases.

As you’d expect, experience unlocks further enhancements, but it’s the aerial manoeuvring which will keep you coming back, despite modes of play never straying far beyond the well-established capture-and-hold varieties.

Score 4/5

Format: PS3
Price: £49.99
Developer: LightBox Interactive
Publisher: Sony


Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition

After delivering a five million-selling phenomenon on the PC, Minecraft developer Mojang finally brings their cute blend of retro 3D and Lego-esque creation mechanics to the Xbox 360. It’s easy to settle into the humble rhythms of life in Minecraft’s sandbox, as by day you mine for materials and craft them, reconstructing entire worlds in your own vision.

Night-time brings hostile mobs, skeletons and spiders that prove surprisingly scary for a bunch of crudely rendered blocks, as you struggle to keep them at bay. Splitscreen 2 or 4 player (8 with Xbox live) action means Minecraft now has the potential to reach a whole new audience – time to dig out your 8-bit style pickaxe and get mining.

Score: 4/5

Format: Xbox 360
Price: £13.70 (1600 MS points)
Developer: 4J Studios, Majong
Publisher: Majong


Velocity

Another game which proves that gamers needn’t necessarily be wooed by shining visuals to become addicted, all it takes is a sound premise and a constantly shifting difficulty level which makes progression something you know is within your reach, even if it requires just “one more go”. Velocity’s principle is simple: from a bird’s-eye perspective guide your craft around a number of space-based stages in order to pick up numerous escape pods. Never are things so straightforward of course and by implementing a teleport system so that the craft can be moved instantaneously across solid walls, FuturLabs have established a mechanic which is just the right side of maddening and really has to be experienced to be truly understood. At this price what’s stopping you?

Score: 4/5

Format: PS Vita, PS3, PSP
Price: £2.49
Developer: FuturLabs
Publisher: FuturLabs


Sniper Elite V2

A classic World War II war-torn setting, a game about stealth and cunning, and the chance to topple foes from a country-mile away – what could possibly go wrong? Quite a bit unfortunately, in a release which insists on making your every move overly complicated and so that much more frustrating. Infiltrating towns, laying traps and eliminating your target sounds great, but a cumbersome interface means all but moving becomes a chore, while satisfyingly measured hits are few are far between, the game insisting to engage you in standard FPS fodder rather than play to its one true strength. A Hitman-meets-WWII title sounds great in principle but Sniper Elite V2 sadly isn’t quite it.

Score: 2/5

Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Price: £34.99-£39.99
Developer: Rebellion Developments
Publisher: 505 Games

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