Computer gamesReviewed by Rebecca Armstrong
PAINKILLER: HELL WARS
Format: Xbox Publisher: DreamCatcher Developer: In-house Price: pounds 39.99
This horror-filled FPS title pits one man " the recently deceased Daniel Garner " against hordes of monsters as he makes his way through a world which is neither heaven nor hell. Originally a PC title, this updated-for-Xbox version is out later in the year and it's as fast and frantic as before, with a veritable armoury of weapons and hundreds of zombies and demons. The game mixes extreme violence, impressive graphics, overwhelming numbers of foes and seemingly impossible battle situations to great effect " it's a compelling, if extremely bloody, take on the topic of purgatory. Not one for the faint-hearted or for the under- 18s, but a challenging title for grown-ups.
Format: PS2 Publisher: Digital Jesters Developer: In-house Price: pounds 29.99
Like a number of existing Japanese horror games, Kuon's action takes place in the confines of an extremely haunted house. Lurking in the dark corridors and mysterious cellars of Fujiwara manor are 'gaki' " human in form, but with an alarming penchant for warm flesh " foes, who have to be defeated in order to understand the enigma of the house. Gamers play as two different girls, Utsuki and Sakuya, who each have different objectives that have to be completed before the game can be finished. The game is very visual, with period detail and torrents of blood rendered with obvious care. What spoils the game, though, are the unresponsive controls that make combat with the Gaki more cumbersome than it need be. Genuinely creepy. HHH
NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS: OOGIE'S REVENGE
Format: PS2, Xbox Publisher: Buena Vista Developer: Capcom Price: pounds 29.99
A huge hit with children and goths when it was released, the Nightmare Before Christmas was a dark movie with a sweet " if twisted " centre. This console sequel stars the film's much-loved hero, Jack Skellington, who once again has to save the day " in this case, the day being Halloween. Armed only with a 'sole robber', a ghostly ribbon that can latch on to items and lash baddies, players have to do battle with myriad beautifully realised ghouls. Imaginative end-of-level games and impressive in-game movement make this a dark and quirky game. HHH
COLIN MCRAE RALLY 2005 PLUS
Format: PSP Publisher: Codemasters Developer: In-house Price: pounds 29.99
It's hard to believe that the Colin McRae series is in its seventh year. It's one of the most popular rally games available, and it still feels fresh after all this time; Sony obviously thinks so too, hence this updated version for the PSP. With a range of rally cars to play with, more than nine countries and a variety of game modes (Quick Rally and Career are the best), plus the multiplayer rallies with up to eight racers, there's a good amount of action for hand-held gamers. If you've owned the console title you'll feel at home with this version. HHH
Format: PSP Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Q Entertainment Price: pounds 29.99
Lumines may not be as visually stunning as the PSP's other big puzzle game, Mercury, but it's every bit as mesmerising. It's a Tetris- esque title where squares made up of four small blocks of two different colours fall from the sky. Players have to form rectangles of at least four blocks in order to make them vanish. Keep clearing the blocks to earn points and to allow room to manoeuvre. Play gets trickier as special blocks start to fall that can be used to clear whole rows of rectangles. It's a simple premise, but one that works. HHHH
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