THIS week, Fallout 4 ups the post-apocalyptic ante on PS4, Football Manager 2016 kicks off on PC and Rise Of The Tomb Raider lets Lara Croft loose once again on Xbox One. Elsewhere, The Room Three and Blossom Blast Saga deliver two very different kinds of puzzling to smartphone and tablet
GAME OF THE WEEK
PS4 | Action/RPG | £39.99 | 94%
As the sole survivor of Vault 111, you enter a world destroyed by nuclear war. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. Only you can rebuild and determine the fate of the Wasteland. Welcome home. And welcome to one of the most incredible open-world RPG adventures you’ll ever play. With a gaming stable that includes Skyrim, not to mention the previous Fallout titles, Bethesda Game Studios has hit the bullseye, or rather smashed through it, with a game experience that is as jaw-droppingly beautiful as it is morally challenging, as vast environmentally as it is detailed from a crafting perspective. It really is the new daddy of RPGs, boasting an excellent post-nuclear narrative that will entertain and move you in equal measures, particularly when it comes to picking your allegiances from the gaggle of factions looking to dominate the region you find yourself in. Main quests carry this story along well, but it’s the plethora of side quests that will take you off the beaten track and provide some of the best post-apocalyptic highlights during your story. And it will be a story unique to you, with what feels like an unprecedented level of customisation, in-game quest choice and ultimate freedom in this barren land that you’ll discover is in fact packed with some of the greatest gaming experiences to date.
Football Manager 2016
PC | Football Management | £28.99 | 90%
Still on a sporting upward curve... unlike Mourinho
Here we go again! Any aspiring Mourinhos who feel fit to rival The Special One’s achievements (OK, maybe not this season), know that in gaming terms the only place to turn is Football Manager. It’s annual release is often marked in the calendar ahead of your own favourite team’s real-life local derby, and with good reason. Each iteration manages to conjure up a bundle of cheeky new features that enhance the overall experience that sits in front of one of the most powerful databases in the sporting world. This season, would-be managers have Fantasy Draft and Create-A-Club options to choose from in addition to the regular modes, while a touchline manager, customised by you, can also bring some amusement to the visual proceedings as he barks out the orders and celebrates wildly with the team. Those 11 players have an extra 2,000 animations to wow you with, too, but that’s nothing numbers-wise compared with that unbelievable repository of football player data the real player scouts are now reported to be using to spot next season’s big thing. It’s a stunning stats-based soccer sensation.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Xbox One | Action | £39.99 | 91%
You could be forgiven for thinking that Lara Croft is almost a long-lost legend of gaming history. Less frequent forays onto today’s consoles have allowed other in-your-face heroes to take centre stage, but, make no mistake, she still packs an incredible punch. Here, you must step into Lara’s shoes to conquer a world strenuously protecting its secrets, endure dangerous conditions and unstable landscapes and face vicious wildlife that acts as guardians to ancient tombs - your favourite playground. The Siberian environment is incredible, and the mix of frantic (and brutal) combat alongside more considered puzzle solving and terrain navigation provides a strong reminder of the wonderfully cinematic gaming format that made Nathan Drake a male Tomb Raider of our time. With the ability to configure Lara’s gear, weapons, and ammunition to suit your play style, dummy up explosives on the fly to wreak havoc, and wield her signature combat bows and climbing axe, there’s little doubt she’s still a kick-ass icon inspiring developers to brilliant action gaming experiences.
The Room Three
iPhone/iPad | Puzzle | £3.99 | 92%
The Room’s previous two challenges have dazzled and delighted in equal measure, with its own unique style of hyper-polished 3D puzzling. Here, the third adventure delivers another dose of deliciously dark and atmospheric adventure within the realms of pointing, pressing, twisting and pulling all manner of madcap contraptions. Whether you’re in a creepy library or aboard a hurtling train, the challenges rarely let up with a series of stylish new features that build upon the franchise’s solid gameplay mechanics. There’s a bit of to-ing and fro-ing from one room to another to solve the bigger puzzles, which isn’t always as intuitive control-wise as the box manipulation itself, but overall it’s a stunning successor. New tools, such as the eye glass, which shrinks you inside a box to meddle with minute mechanisms, are a joy to behold, while the multi-touch challenges are also a welcome addition. As premium-priced puzzlers go, The Room is still very much at the top of the tree, and you owe it to yourself to unlock the app door and step inside this stunning world once again.
Blossom Blast Saga
iPhone/iPad | Puzzle | Free (with in-app purchases) | 80%
Sweet-popping and sheep-hopping has been swapped out for botanical booms in King’s latest match-three offering, as Candy Crush and Farm Heroes move over for Blossom Blast. Connecting corresponding plants together has never brought about such a devastating effect, as you effectively use your plant combos to charge up extreme explosions that help you clear objectives set in each level. These could range from smashing greenhouse glass or broken pots to open up levels for bigger point scoring, or simply feeding monster plants with the right colour flowers within a set number of moves. The overall format and presentation will feel extremely familiar, but the gameplay itself requires a different mindset to the aforementioned titles, as new tactics must be employed to unleash the all-conquering combos that have made King games such a draw. It’s not always clear how much charging each flower type requires, because the visuals are so big and beautiful and perhaps not as precise as its predecessors. But once those booming blooms start popping on screen, you’ll be hooked, with your fingers turning ever greener by the hour.