We have to admit that it took longer than usual to find five new games worth playing this weekend. With no big games being released in the shops for PlayStation, Xbox or Nintendo home consoles, it may look like the only game to really recommend is PS Vita’s God of War Collection but there are some great new indie games to download, including Sportsfriends and Botanicula while The Last of Us gets a new DLC bundle.
Sportsfriends (PS4, PS3, PC)
What is it? Sportsfriends sounds like a dreadful mini-game compilation that might have been released for Wii in 2007. In fact, it is a collection of four retro-style multiplayer mini-games that bear little resemblance to real sports. Super Pole Riders, as the name would suggest, has its roots in the pole vault but once you reach the top of your vault you have to flick a ball into a goal (if you like, you can stay on the ground and whack it with your pole). BaraBariBall is like Smash Bros with balls as players fight each other as they battle to get a ball into an underwater goal. Hokra mixes hockey with King of the Hill as four players split into two teams compete to keep the puck in their zone while Johann Sebastian Joust turns its back on the television altogether as players stand in a circle with their motion controllers, attempting not to make any sudden movements while trying to put off opponents. With its early 80s visuals, it’s not exactly what you bought your PS4 for but it is great fun for four players.
What the critics say: A superb mini-game compilation that’s as addictive and raucously entertaining as it is ugly, with Johann Sebastian Joust blurring the lines between video and parlour game. (Metro)
Sportsfriends is a celebration of the social side of games, their ability to bring a room together in one loud, raucous moment and how they're so much more fun when enjoyed with company. Alongside like-minded titles such as Towerfall and Nidhogg, this compilation is a pleasant reminder of that power - and, just like its companions, Sportsfriends represents video games at their very, very best. (Eurogamer)
God of War: Collection (Vita)
What is it: God of War Collection brings together the first two games in Sony’s classic ancient Greek action series which began on PS2 in 2005 and introduced the world to Kratos who enters battles against Ares after the Spartan General tricked his servant into killing his family. Leaping, climbing and swinging through levels set in ancient Athens, the Temple of Pandora and the Underworld, Kratos comes up against numerous enemies, using his Blades Of Chaos to destroy them with 100-hit combos in truly epic battles. God of War Collection has already been released on PS3 but this Vita version adds new touchscreen control enhancements which enable players to lift gates, open chests and pull levers.
What the critics say: As a whole, it is an outstanding way to experience an iconic series on the go. If you have never experienced the first two games of the God of War series, this is a must-have collection for your Vita. These two ports prove that HD re-releases still have the potential to feel like more than cheap money-grabs; the seamless God of War Collection seems like it was meant for a handheld all along. (hardcoregamer.com)
If you somehow missed God of War in all of its various incarnations, you won’t be any worse off picking up the PS Vita version of the God of War Collection to start your adventure with Kratos, even with its various issues. All in all, it’s a faithful translation of two of the best action games to ever be released on the PS2, joining Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta on Sony’s mobile platforms. If you want God of War on the go, you’ll be able to suffer through the poorly implemented touch pad support and standard definition cutscenes. (BGR.com)
What is it? Released for PC in 2012, this charming point and click adventure is now available on iPad. Mr Lantern, Mr Twig, Mr Poppy Head, Mr Feather and Mrs Mushroom are insects living in a tree but beastly spiders have infested their home, changing the colour of leaves and pulling heads off other insects. Our five insects are scared of the spiders but have to rally to transport a seed through the branches of the tree, tapping the screen to solve puzzles in this beautiful botanical adventure.
What the critics say: It might be a little on the short side, and some of the puzzles might require a bit too much prodding around at the scenery in hope, but Botanicula is such an enjoyable place to visit that it's unlikely you're going to mind. There's a living, breathing world to explore here, full of mysteries and secrets that are a joy to discover. (Pocket Gamer)
Botanicula is worth playing for the beauty more than for the adventure, I suppose. It’s a fantastic world come to life, and while it’s frustrating to navigate at times, the experience of the beauty is the better reason to play it. (148 Apps)
Titan Attacks (PS4, PS3, PS Vita)
What is it? Titan Attacks is like a new version of arcade classic Space Invaders. You’re in control of a tank which can move horizontally along the bottom of the screen, blasting legions of invaders from the Saturn moon of Titan above. Delivered in colourful 8-bit-style visuals, it has a retro appeal but what makes this different from the original is the fact that you can buy upgrades for your tank, enabling you to protect yourself with a shield or use smart bombs to take out the enemies. The key to success is using your money wisely to buy the right upgrades to take out the bosses.
What the critics say: Titan Attacks is a seriously addictive spin on a classic video game formula that’ll keep you playing beyond your first run through its one hundred stages. From the upgrade system – which at first glance appears to be a minor inclusion, but quickly reveals hidden depths – to the combo counter that encourages you to play intelligently, every mechanic is part of a greater gameplay jigsaw that makes this homage worth invading the PlayStation Store for. (Push Square)
Titan Attacks! won't surprise you (unless, again, you've somehow come to this review without ever having played Space Invaders or Galaga), but it is a good reminder that sometimes those old games knew exactly how to make a virtue of forced simplicity. It's basic, but it's also super-addictive, so if you don't mind a walk back in time, it might be worth checking out. (Gaming Age)
The Last of Us Grounded DLC (PS3)
What is it? Grounded is the third and final DLC pack for Naughty Dog’s stunning survival horror game, following on from the brilliant Left Behind. While Left Behind served as a prequel to The Last of Us starring Ellie and Riley, Grounded includes the Reclamied Territories map pack which includes four new multiplayer maps and there’s also a new selection of weapons and skills. Grounded is the name for the new ultra-hard difficulty mode in single-player. Discussing the new mode, Naughty Dog’s Eric Monacelli wrote on the PlayStation Blog: "Grounded Mode will be the hardest challenge you'll ever face as you try to complete the single-player campaign of The Last of Us. The AI is relentless, smart, and brutal, and survival will be near impossible. 'Completed Grounded Mode' might be one of the most difficult Trophies you'll ever earn."
The Grounded bundle is available for Last Of Us Season Pass holders but those who don’t have a Season Pass can purchase each component separately.
What the critics say: There are no reviews for the Grounded pack as yet.