Play it cool: The latest games reviewed

Don't buy any new games until you've read Rebecca Armstrong's reviews...
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The Independent Online

Magnetica

Format: DS

Publisher: Nintendo

Price: £29.99

This puzzle game for the DS will prove popular with fans of the Xbox Live Arcade game Zuma and the classic Bust-a-Move. As a huge fan of these kinds of titles, I'm thrilled at the release of Magnetica. Colourful, appealing and smartly designed for the dual-screen capabilities of the portable DS, Magnetica is incredibly simple with a range of options, including the challenge, versus and quest modes, which add longevity to this straightforward title. The basic story is simple though: marbles roll down a twisted track, you fling new marbles towards them. When three like-coloured marbles line up, they vanish. The twist is that like-coloured marbles will seek each other out (hence 'magnet-ica'). And there are an astounding 99 levels, each getting progressively faster as time goes by. It's engrossing and addictive action from Nintendo.

Moto GP '06

Format: Xbox 360

Publisher: THQ

Price: £49.99

Visitors to the Xbox Live Marketplace have already had the chance to play Moto GP '06 since a demo of the game, featuring the Grand Prix track Mugello and the revamped Tokyo extreme-mode track, has been available to download since May. Moto GP '06 is now out on general release, developing from the strong foundations of its three Xbox predecessors. Visual effects surpass former versions of the game, with new tracks, new bike models and refined handling. Xbox 360 owners who fancy seeing blindingly fast bikes in HD glory will be thrilled by this smooth and seamless title. The bikes are realistically hard to control and novices to the Moto GP world may find their sensitivity tough to handle.

2006 Real Football 3D

Format: Mobile

Publisher: Gameloft

Price: £3

For any football fan, an easy way to get a blast of the beautiful game is to buy 2006 Real Football. Expect to see a lot of mobile-gamers staring into their Nokias shouting at cyber referees for the duration of the World Cup. 2006 Real Football lets you play along with 48 national teams, 16 club teams, or seven all-star teams and participate in 10 different competitions. You'll also find the world's best 1,000 players, including Djibril Cissé, Andrei Shevchenko and Oliver Kahn.

Every team is made up of 16 players, each with eight characteristics. The game's 3D graphics are stunningly realistic for the phone format too, taking in the angry fans and the atmosphere as well as the game itself.

Half-Life 2: Episode One

Format: PC

Publisher: EA

Price: £19.99

Half-Life was named Game of the Year by over 35 organisations worldwide and it's long-awaited sequel was a huge hit when it came out last year. But as anyone who completed it knows, the game ended on one hell of a cliffhanger. Half-Life 2: Episode One is an expansion game that continues the story started in Half-Life 2, so don't expect a vast game stuffed with levels as this title is purposely shorter than its predecessor. It focuses as much on the beautiful Alyx Vance and her robot bodyguard Dog as it does on the former star of the show, Gordon.

With more multiplayer options than before and the freedom to wander more freely within the game, this looks set to be a popular addition to the Half-Life series. The only real criticism levelled at the game has been the length, as gameplay lasts only about four hours. However, it's an entertaining four hours. Some might say worth every penny.

Which Course magazine is now available online at www.independentezines.co.uk/whichcourse/. Contact Joshua Gilbert - tel: 020 7005 2283; fax: 020 7005 2292.

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