Weekly video game releases: 'Demon's Souls,' 'Transformers: War for Cybertron'

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The Independent Tech

Originally intended for Asia only, consumer demand has led to a North American and now European version of Demon's Souls, while Transformers: War for Cybertron and LEGO Harry Potter both appear to be that rarest of things - decent movie tie-ins.

Transformers: War for Cybertron (360 DS PC PS3 Wii)
Release: North America, June 22. Europe, June 25.
Age rating: Teen / 12+ (360 PS3), 7+ (DS Wii)

Featuring many recognizable names from the Transformers toys, cartoons, and films, War for Cybertron takes place well before the shape-shifting robots make contact with earth. There's no link with the recent Hollywood blockbusters, but Optimus Prime is voiced by the same actor, Peter Cullen. Though fans have had their fingers burnt by many of the Transformers video games in recent years, the developers are making the right noises: "The goal was to make a great game that was a Transformers game," and the downloadable Xbox 360 demo is in good shape.
Price: $/€59.99 (360 PS3), $/€49.99 (Wii), $/€39.99 (PC), $/€29.99 (DS)

Demon's Souls (PS3)
Release: Europe, June 25. North America, released October 2009.
Age Rating: 16+ / Mature
Make no mistake, this action-oriented tale of brave warriors slaying monstrous foes is incredibly tough and the smallest of errors are punished harshly. Still, everything about Demon's Souls is done so consistently well that despite its obstructive nature, critics can't stop singing its praises: "Stockholm Syndrome on a disc" (1UP, A), "Stunningly beautiful, difficult, undeniably fun" (Thunderbolt, 9/10), "Impossible to put down" (Kombo, 85%), "Dares you to overcome it" (Eurogamer, 9/10), "Should not be missed" (IGN, 94%). The European 'Black Phantom' edition includes a soundtrack CD, artbook, and strategy guide.
Price: €59.99

Lego Harry Potter (360 DS PC PS2 PS3 PSP Wii)
Release: Europe, June 25. North America, June 29.
Age Rating: 7+ / Everyone 10+

Another installment in the well-loved Lego video games (see also the Lego Star Wars, Lego Indiana Jones, and Lego Batman franchises). Players in Lego Harry Potter follow the capers of Harry & friends through the first four books, using spells and special powers to build and break Lego bricks along the way. There's also an ingenious co-op mode that allows both players to roam free and re-unite thanks to a clever graphical trick. There is a demo already available for Xbox 360 users, and a PS3 one is expected closer to the release date.
Price: €/$49.99 (360 PS3 Wii), €39.99 / $29.99 (DS), €/$29.99 (PC PSP)

Singularity (360 PC PS3)
Release: North America, June 25. Europe, June 29
Age Rating: Mature / 18+ (TBC)

There's a bit of a buzz around Singularity. Russian science gone wrong has become a reliable backstory in recent years - the STALKER series and Metro 2033 were both very well received. Singularity isn't so much post-nuclear fallout as time travel gone wrong, as an entire island is subjected to a strange experiment. It's up to the player to investigate these timeshifts that span from 1950 to 2010, using a Time Manipulation Device to avoid the worst of the test's effects while fending off security forces from the last 60 years.
Price: €69.99 / $59.99 (360 PS3), €59.99 / $49.99 (PC)

Naughty Bear (360 PS3)
Release: Europe, June 25. North America, June 29.
Age Rating: Europe, 12+. North America, Teen.

This maladjusted plushie wasn't invited to the one birthday party he'd been looking forward to the most - even after making a special present for the event. Spurned, he goes on a vicious rampage to exact his revenge upon the vulnerable feather-stuffed inhabitants of the Island of Perfection, setting up traps and distractions before he pounces.
Price: €/$49.99

Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies (Wii)
Release: North America, June 27. Europe, already out (May 7).
Age Rating: Teen / 12+

A shoot 'em up with an illustrious history: Its developer, Treasure, is a small Japanese studio that stands behind many of the most influential video games of the last two decades. Sin & Punishment 2 has been out in Europe for a month already, and the reviews have been top-notch with regard to both frantic action and great graphics. Reviewers have been effusive in their praise: "game-making at its absolute best" (Eurogamer, 9/10), "something like a true Nirvana" (Multiplayer.it, 9/10), "a brilliant risk and reward scoring system" (Edge, 8/10), "so many standout moments" (GamesTM, 9/10).
Price: $/€49.99