EA Sports UFC is Electronic Arts' second step into the octagon for some mixed martial arts action. While the well-recieved EA MMA was developed down in the Florida sun, however, EA Sports UFC is the first offering from one of the company's Canadian teams. Don't worry, though. They come with a pedigree. It's the team behind the beloved Fight Night series.
You can see the expertise at play in how the game looks. Heavy blows look like they've broken something, skin ripples on impact and a knockout will really make you wince.
Each face button on the pad controls a limb, while each stick direction and shoulder button acts to modify your strike, creating countless different blows for you to rain down. Players won't be rewarded for just hammering away at the controller - the presence of an in-game stamina bar means each move has to be measured, and strategists will be rewarded. Likewise, players can move defensively with blocking, parrying and dodging options.
The action in the Octagon is complemented by some of the features veterans of EA Sports games have come to recognise. There's a career mode that sees players progressing through the Ultimate Fighter TV show, interacting with real-life pros. There's also, of course, an online multiplayer option that many players will gravitate towards. It mirrors FIFA's Seasons mode, with belt promotions and championship matches to be won along the way.
Basically, EA Sports UFC gives you the opportunity to experience everything about the sport short of being punched in the face.
After setting a phenomenal trend on PC and selling tremendously well on Xbox Live Arcade, MojangÆs incredibly addictive world-creation game Minecraft has made the jump to physical media!
The charm of Minecraft is in its crude, blocky graphics. As you wander about a seemingly empty map, you soon learn to use your trusty pickaxe to chisel away the environment around you. Doing so not only allows you to rebuild the entire map as you see fit, but can also throw up a number of interesting surprises.
Create buildings, caverns, landmarks... youÆre only limited by your imagination. If you like, you can invite a bunch of friends along to help you build a masterpiece worthy of showing the entire world. But be quick about it, because at night monsters come out to play, so you need to make sure that you have made preparations for you (and your friends) to stay safe until dawn.
The Xbox 360 DVD release of Minecraft includes all of the console-specific features and benefits that the Xbox Live Arcade edition had, including a tutorial mode and various tweaks to make your block-busting activities that much more efficient. If youÆve not had the chance to buy into the Minecraft experience yet, now is a great time to get involved. £19.99Buy NowMinecraft: Xbox 360 Edition
In Watch_Dogs, Ubisoft's open-world thriller that has been hyped to the moon and back, you play as Aiden Pierce, a hacker in Chicago on the hunt for his niece's killer. Yes, it's an open-world thriller. No, that doesn't mean that its defining feature will be driving over pedestrians as it has been in every Grand Theft Auto-alike since the dawn of... well, Grand Theft Auto. In Ubisoft's vision of Chicago, the much-vaunted 'Internet of Things' is already a reality. For those who don't spend their free time reading the tech blogs, that means that pretty much every machine that could have a microchip does have a microchip. All systems are run through a centralised operating system, CTOS, which provides city-wide wi-fi and keeps the traffic lights changing when they should, the trains running on time and... well, everything's automated, basically. The downside of this is the near-nonexistence of privacy as the all-seeing CTOS captures all your data and knows everything about you. It's all hackable, too, and as Aiden you'll make your way in the world by hacking all that personal data, not to mention all those lovely automated systems. When confronting an enemy, for example, you might use your smartphone to identify their location through a wall, hack a crane to drop a container on them or even send a fake text to distract them while you line them up in your crosshairs. It can all get a bit underhand if you want it to, and strategy is a definite must. The tables can be turned, however. If you play online, another player can slip into your game and hack your smartphone, then it becomes a race against time to identify who among the in-game characters is actually the interloper. Watch_Dogs is cyberpunk for the 21st century, and it may be your first taste of what's to come... £24.99Buy NowWatch_Dogs
Not another iteration of FIFA, eh? No less than the ninth on this generation of consoles. After all, what more can they possibly do with it on Xbox 360 and PS3, right? Apparently quite a bit as it turns out... The most apparent change is the improvement to player animation. Referred to by EA as 'locomotion reinvented', this system, two years in development, adheres more accurately then previous FIFAs to real world considerations such as weight and momentum to give a greater sense of physicality. From a gameplay perspective, expect players to have more apparent individuality than before as agility and athleticism plays more of a role in every on-field confrontation. In the heat of a match these are considerations that may not be immediately apparent, but which embellish the overall look and feel of the game for the better. For example, for the first time in the series you can properly - and gleefully - 'do' a defender, leaving him off balance and several yards in your player's wake. Fortunately for the wronged fullback, it is also now possible to burst into a sprint from standing to make up lost yards and earn the chance to heroically dispossess his humiliator. Things have improved on the offence, too. For all of the excellence of FIFAs 9 and up, it's true to say that not every goal felt right, or earned. 'Pure Shot', as it has been dubbed, seeks to address this shortcoming. Strikers now seek to adjust their angle and stride pattern, where possible, to hit the ball as cleanly as they can. In additions to enhancements to gameplay mechanics, EA Sports has brought a whole new dimension to Career Mode. New to the game is the Global Scouting Network, which gives players the chance to develop and refine a scouting network to bring them new talent from across the world the whole year round. There have, of course, been tweaks and changes to the online offering, too, including changes to Ultimate Team, a new online mode and new features for Football Club. And don't forget the 500 officially licensed clubs! £9.99
EA's flagship first-person shooter is back, and it's got more hype and expectation behind it than ever. Most gamers, of course, will be coming for the multiplayer. There have been some significant strides in the single-player mode too, though. Battlefield 4's campaign is somewhere between the straightforward, linear progression of Battlefield 3's single-player mode and the more freeform set-pieces of Bad Company 2, and it's a happy compromise. Indeed, some of the single-player set-pieces on offer are among the game's strongest moments. The campaign centres around around Admiral Chang, a member of the military attempting to incite civil war in China. He's convinced the military that the US is behind the killing of a peace-loving local politician and he's enlisted Russia to help in his coup. As you might expect, fighting erupts! Some of the campaign's thrills involve surviving a fall through a collapsing building, fighting enemy planes in a nasty dogfight and hitching an airborne ride using a skyhook. There's been a lot of fine tuning of the series' multiplayer offering since Battlefield 3. It launches with a major overhaul of the balancing in effect. Players will still have to invest a fair old chunk of time to get at weapon unlocks and upgrades, but DICE has avoided this meaning insta-death for newcomers by giving them a solid armoury. Similarly, vehicles are no longer quite the trump card they once were thanks to a cooldown-based ammo counter. There are 10 maps available at launch, but they'll tailor themselves to the mode you're playing. For example, Hainan Resort - a series of tropical islands - will only be partially opened for Squad Deathmatch, but all of it will be available when it comes to a match of the returning Conquest mode. DICE has also made much of its catchily-named 'Levolution', which will see the maps shifting under your feet as dynamic environmental events take place! £24.99
Infinity Ward, the creator of the Call of Duty series and the blockbuster Modern Warfare sequence of games is treating a new generation of consoles as a new opportunity. It doesn't matter what machine you're playing on, though, you're getting a brand new Call of Duty experience with Ghosts. Set in a new game universe, the events of Ghosts take place in a near future in which the US has been ravaged by a catastrophic attack and the West is on its knees. A new superpower has emerged south of the equator and is laying seige to the States. The once-mighty America now relies on an elite squad of soldiers, modeled on SEAL Team 6, to defend it. This new storyline effectively turns many of the Call of Duty series' tropes on their head. You're no longer top dog with an endless supply of state of the art weaponry behind you. You're the underdog, up against enemies with superior firepower, technology and numbers. You, however, do have a dog on your side... Multiplayer, of course, has been overhauled. The biggest addition set to shake up the more tradional multiplayer modes is the inclusion of dynamic events such as collapsing buildings. Some of these can be triggered by players, some will occur naturally. All of them will shake up the field and keep things interesting. Another notable inclusion is female soldiers, who will be playable for the first time in a Call of Duty game. Perhaps the most interesting addition to Ghosts' multiplayer offering is Squads. In it, players can design and customise their own squad and take them into combat against either other players or AI. The idea is to give you the thrills and gameplay style of multiplayer combat, but with the oversight and tactical vantagepoint of a squad commander. You don't even have to be online for your guys to get in on the action - players' squads can be challenged while they're not available. Even better, all the XP you earn can be brought back into the regular multiplayer experience with you. Infinty Ward is set to deliver yet another first-person blockbuster. £9.99
Wolfenstein: The New Order is being developed by Machine Games, a new team made up of ex-Starbreeze staff. As you may expect, coming from the people behind such stuff as the Riddick games, The New Order has a real focus on storytelling in this new addition to the franchise. Sure, there's still plenty of manz that need shootin', but why on earth can't you do that with a bit of entertainment and humour? The game's story is an alternate history, and things have moved on from WWII. It's the 1960s and the world is very different. Things didn't go quite to plan for the Allies, so Europe now has a rather distinct Nazi flavour to it. Fresh from waking up from a coma, B.J. Blazkowicz has missed out on this whole rise of the Third Reich and - naturally, being a freedom loving all-American type, goes on a one man crusade to kill all of the Nazis. Except you're not alone - working alongside various Resistance members, you're looking to fight smarter rather than harder. The whole thing has a very well put together cinematic style, but if you're looking for that Citizen Kane of gaming move on - think more along the lines of The Expendables with a dash of accelerated technology and you'll be far closer to what Wolfenstein can offer you. Plenty of guns. Lots of shooting. Much running about... The kind of stuff you'd expect from a very pretty-looking FPS. From a gameplay standpoint, everything works pretty much as you'd expect. There's plenty of opportunity for dual wielding whatever guns you find - double machine guns are a delight. The emphasis on fast-paced, tough shoot-'em-up gameplay delivered well. Unless you have a time machine and a really wicked sense of humour, you may never get a better opportunity to find out what would have happened if the Nazis had won... £24.99Buy NowWolfenstein: The New Order
Need For Speed: Rivals is a racing game set in an open world environment with similarities to the previous Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. While similar to Hot Pursuit in this environmental aspect - and in granting players the option to play as a racer or as one of the cops aiming to take them down - this new title from developers Ghost Games and Criterion Games features a new social driving system called AllDrive. This AllDrive system enables drop-in and drop-out gaming that means that a player can be involved in an offline, single-player campaign one moment and in a full-on online game the next. Players, as cops and racers alike, can transition into each other's games without the need of a lobby or loading screen. They might choose to engage in a multiplayer challenge or carry on doing their own thing. Gamers play cops or Racers as they compete for kudos across the landscape of fictional Redview County. There is a single-player campaign but the heart of the competition is in the returning AutoLog system, where times and challenges are set that pitch players' performance against that of their friends, meaning that whether you've got other players in your event or not, you're always competing. With the use of DICE's Frostbite 3 engine, which you might have seen in action in the Battlefield games, the visuals have made a real leap from Hot Pursuit. All the pulse-pounding action is rendered in a level of detail you've not seen in Need for Speed before! £24.99Buy NowNeed For Speed: Rivals
Demon's Souls really established FromSoftware's reputation as a developer that wants to take your sense of hope and gnaw on it using the jaws of zombified rats. Dark Souls, the game's spiritual successor, took that and ran with it. Now the developer is back once again with a sequel in both name and spirit. The game features a new world, new storyline and an unfamiliar world steeped in death and despair. Expect the same uncompromising difficulty, the same epic boss battles and the same incredible sense of empowerment that comes with triumphing against the odds as the first game. Don't, however, expect something quite so straightforward as a re-skinned version of Dark Souls. The game's online has been made a little more approachable this time out. Voice chat is now supported and by aligning yourself with certain in-game gods you'll be able to summon friends to help you lay waste to whatever particular beast is challenging your will to live. You can also now travel between bonfires right from the outset of the game and the health system is a little more forgiving, with life gems complementing the flasks of the last game. Don't despair that FromSoftware has gone soft, however, as you'll lose a little more of your life bar every time you die. The world is perhaps not quite so bleak as those of past games, but it does offer up its own sights to bear witness to. An eerie village sits at the sea shore, with desperate locals trying to pedal their wares, while a tangled, ruined castle lurks at the heart of the forest. So, Dark Souls II is not quite the same beast as the first game. Did anyone want that, though? It's still a fiendishly difficult game set in a rich, brutal fantasy world. And there's still plenty of dying to be done. £12.99Buy NowDark Souls II
TitanFall is, first and foremost, a multiplayer first-person shooter. It's similar to the countless other FPSs out there in some aspects, but it has a very important stand-out element - it lets the player get into giant mechs and deal some Grade-A destruction. The selling point lies within the idea that both mechs and human players interact with each other on the same map, and do so in a very interesting manner. Given that TitanFall is online multiplayer only, the modes on offer are pretty important. Attrition is your run of the mill kill everything that's not your team mode. You start off on foot and the more you kill, the quicker you can request your Titan to be deployed to you. Hardpoint is the second game mode. You have to have a presence around certain points in the map and make sure that the other team doesn't get to them. This becomes a "Guard the Base" type of an event and you get points as to how successful you guard a point or capture it. The third one is a very interesting LTS or Last Titan Standing mode, where the game begins with you being inside a Titan, doesn't allow respawns if you die while on foot, and win by wiping off Titans on the other team. You might be wondering how human players can stand up against giant mech suits. The game spares no sympathy for puny humans and adheres to realism that lets you get crushed by a Titan's feet. Simply walk over enemy pilots and other AI units while piloting a Titan and that's the end of them. To balance things out, elements of parkour, and cloaking mechanisms are introduced to the pilots on foot, which in turn allow some impressive takedowns of Titans in a non-head on manner. Specialist weapons are also available for human players to combat Titans which deals a bit more damage than the average pistol/rifle/shotgun. These however, when used on other human players, simply vaporise them into a mist of blood. The Titans can be manned or left unmanned to auto engage the enemy or guard a particular spot. This gives a rather interesting freedom to the player, allowing him/her to select the sort of gameplay one wants to engage in. Pilot a Titan and rain down hell on minions, or let the Titan do its own thing while you dash about the map, getting some stealthy and quick kills! £9.99Buy NowTitanFall