We reviewed six games this past week, mixing positive language with, well, some harsh words. Read our reviews of the week, linked here.
The Bottom Line: For the past five years, Polyphony Digital strove to create the perfect racing sim. It's that, to quote a car ad, relentless pursuit of perfect that drives the Gran Turismo series. GT5 is not perfect. It is a flawed game - utterly brilliant and compelling, but flawed.
The Bottom Line: Don't bother. Mafia II: Joe's Adventures is a transparent cash grab stuffed with missions that a skilled and interested modder could put to shame. While deeper and, comparatively, better than "Jimmy's Vendetta," it again forsakes the main game's strengths while serving up 24 more chores and again making you drive all over the map to complete them. Mafia II was a forgivably ambitious disappointment; its DLC, culminated by Joe's Adventures, makes it into an irredeemable flop.
The Bottom Line: If Golden Sun: Dark Dawn had arrived a year after the last game in the series I would have been sorely disappointed with its lack of innovation. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, however, and seven years is plenty of time to develop a serious longing for more of the puzzle-solving, ass-kicking, and Djinn-collecting that charmed me back when Nintendo's handhelds only had one screen. After more than half a decade creating mascot-driven sports titles Camelot plays it safe, proving it can still deliver a role-playing experience capable of satiating fan cravings while giving newcomers a chance to get hooked as well.
The Bottom Line: Splatterhouse is a massive disappointment, a game that's moderately stylish, proudly not for the squeamish, but bogged down by all sorts of technical flaws. From beginning to end, Splatterhouse does a decent job retelling an interesting tale of horror, dragging the player through some thoroughly disgusting locations. Splatterhouse expertly slakes one's virtual bloodlust, but doesn't satisfy with enjoyable gameplay. Ultimately, repetitive brawling, dull boss battles and a host of glitches make Splatterhouse a horrific experience for all the wrong reasons.
The Bottom Line: The Fable series has always had lofty goals, which is one reason why I enjoy them. The games might never live up to those expectations, and the failures might be spectacular, but they are trying to achieve something different with each incarnation, whether that be changing the way games are played or what games mean. The Understone Quest Pack doesn't feel like a similar effort. It's one decent enough quest with two disappointing mini-games tacked on, likely leaving players thinking, "That's it?" Yep, that's it.
The Bottom Line: There are times when Auditorium HD's roots as a free Flash game show; when you quickly see most of what the game's going to show you, when you realise you'll be doing the same single thing over and over for hours and when you realise the game's intro sequence has been ported over unimproved, looking decidedly "un-HD" in the process. But then, Auditorium prospered as a Flash game for a reason: its mechanics and premise may have been simple, but they were beautiful, and they were fun. Auditorium HD simply takes those positives and gives you a lot more of them, making it not just the definitive version of the game, but one of the better titles of this ilk on the PlayStation 3.
Coming next week...more reviews, of course. One of them will be epic.