Inspired by Conrad’s ‘Heart Of Darkness’, Yager Entertainment’s Spec Ops: The Line takes a bold step and relocates the river rescue to a near-future version of sunny Dubai, as players look to overcome both rogue soldiers and the more elemental threat of fierce sandstorms that have left the once-opulent city virtually deserted. Your small squad must navigate this ghost town in order to rescue a former colleague, but as the truth about the decline of the city is discovered, Spec Ops has you making tough decisions regarding civilian life – perhaps crossing “The Line” that the title implies.
As you command your squad members through a campaign full of tense shootouts, the unpredictable, blinding nature of the city’s dusty gales help what is fundamentally a Gears of War-inspired cover shooter feel fresh. Sonics are excellent, rival battalions pumping out classic rock a la Apocalypse Now as they grind through the horrors of wartime, and there are lots of good visual touches – though the necessary proliferation of sandy browns limits the game’s visual palette.
Searching for Colonel Kurtz substitute John Konrad should be an enjoyable adventure for all military shooter fans – while not re-inventing the caterpillar track, it certainly keeps the tread turning.
As the recently released Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor would seem to confirm, creating a precise control scheme for Kinect is no easy task, no surprise then to find that Mini Ninjas Adventures adopts much more arbitrary movements as players step into the shoes of Hiro, a ninja out to defeat a whole army of evil samurai. Firing arrows, throwing shurikens and slashing with a blade are the order of the day as samurais and demons alike are quelled. It’s even quite hard work (in a good way) with much side-stepping and arm movement required. Kids will love it and so should adults looking for a game that doubles as a reasonable workout.
With new Wii games thin on the ground, Project Zero 2 is a welcome addition to the release schedule, Nintendo reviving Tecmo’s cult horror title from 2003, as teenage twins Mio and Mayu look to save a mysterious village under siege from ghosts using just their wits and antique “Camera Obscura” to snuff out spirit attacks. An enjoyable over-the-shoulder shooter with puzzle and exploration elements, this belated port certainly shows some extra spook – the new, two-player Haunted House mode, extra endings, upgraded graphics and more efficient Wiimote controls all make this version well worth a look (especially if you missed it the first time round) and promises much for the inevitable franchise revival under Nintendo’s guidance.
By Sam Gill
With retro platformers all the rage, Mutant Mudds is Renegade Kid’s dipped toe into the genre. It’s simple, in 2D, and it totally nails the spirit of vintage gaming. You’re a nerdy 8-bit child fighting alien mud with nothing more than a water gun and a hoverpack. Your mission? To reach the end of each level and grab a few gems as you go. Basic it may be, but easy it is not. Levels are short and sweet, but each requires careful planning and pinpoint timing, just like in the Marios of old.
By Tom Mendelsohn