This month's top computer games to get stuck into. The perfect sun escape
1/5 PC, PS3, Xbox 360 Explosions... robots... post-apocalyptic gun battles... one of the most iconic villains in movie history. Good grief – we’ve not the foggiest idea how the Terminator Salvation movie turned out so bad, given what it had to work with. Sadly the dubious quality of the video game comes as no surprise at all. The thing about the spin-off video game, you see, is that unless they’re using something that’s been around for ages – like the inexplicable adaptations of The Godfather and Scarface – the developer’s biggest priority is getting it out of the door as fast as possible to cash in.
And while you might be fooled by the flash intro sequence into thinking that this is a surprisingly high-quality product, the reality of the game is considerably less impressive. As human resistance fighter John Connor (not played by Christian Bale. That’s no great loss; the poorly-animated in-game model has about the same amount of charisma as him anyway), players are tasked with blowing up the robot menace using a Gears Of War-aping system for hiding behind cover.
Sensibly, the game holds back on the actual terminators at the start, instead throwing in big spidery things and miniature planes to destroy. But these enemies are severely limited in variety and intelligence – and coupled with the ludicrously tiny levels, this leads to very little opportunity for complex tactics and varied gameplay. Which means that repetition kicks in within the first hour, and doesn’t let up until the game is complete, a few scant hours later. Brevity is almost a virtue, then, but only because it limits the tedium – and yet the game still manages to outstay its welcome.
The one big selling point for the Terminator Salvation game is that it is a prequel to the film of the same name, explaining the events that lead up to the film. Which is great, except that everything that occurs in the game – beyond introducing a couple of the characters in the flick – is so utterly inconsequential that it adds nothing to the movie. Worse, the link between movie and game only accentuates the embarrassingly leaden cut-scenes, none of which ever live up to the promise of the intro. It’s hard to believe that Gears Of War offered better gameplay, more immersive graphics and infinitely more cinematic cut-scenes back in 2006. Play it once, if you must, but you won’t be back. James Wilkinson
Style: First-person shooter
Format: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Release date: July 28
Before Quake, before Doom, there was Wolfenstein? The granddaddy of all first-person shoot-’em-ups, back in 1992, Nazi-spanking, Polish American soldier William J Blazkowski was still stumbling around blockish 3D walls, desperate to escape Castle Wolfenstein while blowing away lumpy German soldiers. It kicked up a fuss with its use of swastikas (one version was banned in Germany), but controversy aside, the gameplay remains the same: fist-pumping, Nazi-shooting action. The screen shots from the new version look sumptuous.
Anticipation factor: 5/5
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Format: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii
Release date: August 25
With voice over work from Mark ‘give me a job’ Hamill as the joker, this stealth-action thriller is the latest addition in a seemingly endless series of tie-ins. This one at least claims originality, taking its narrative from the comic books rather than the films or TV shows, so comic fans should at least be kept happy (or made angrier, depending on the result). Similar in gameplay to Dead Space, it promises CSI-style puzzles amidst multi-player combat. Moody, mean and dark, we’ve been burned by tie-ins before, but we still can’t wait.
Anticipation factor: 4/5
Guitar Hero Five
Style: Music simulator
Format: PS3, Wii, Xbox 360, PS2
Release date: September 1
What more is there to add to the seemingly inconquerable Guitar Hero series? Similar to World Tour, this version will allow up to four players, with plenty of multi-player games, while the Party Play mode allows you to jump in and out of a song and switch difficulty levels mid-thrash. Much is the same really, but the Music Studio feature, which allows players to create their own songs, has allegedly been improved. The only reason to update, though, is for the new tracks, which include Muse, White Strips and even Jonny Cash.
Anticipation factor: 3/5
Need For Speed: Shift
Style: Racing Format: PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, PC
Release date: September 21
Need for Speed returns with a new tune-up. Car customisation has always affected the appearance and performance of the cars, but this time, it is promised to be more realistic – presumably, that means your car will break down at inopportune moments and you’ll have to take it to a mechanic, who will stand, stare, make a tutting sound, and then mutter, ‘It’ll cost ya.’ As well as this, the drifting option returns and you can now play real-life tracks (such as Brands Hatch) on top of the fictional ones. We definitely need the speed. Anticipation factor: 4/5