PS4, Xbox One, PC, Square Enix, cert: 18★★★★
Episodic gaming has long been dominated by narrative-driven puzzle adventures, making it hard to imagine the format being used for anything else. Enter Hitman, a pseudo-reboot of the series that simultaneously refines its stealth-focused gameplay while also delivering bite-sized portions of assassination action. A training mission prologue delves into the origins of Agent 47, the genetically enhanced titular hitman, before turning you loose in Paris to dispatch a fashion designer with designs on exposing undercover MI6 agents. Although missions have specific goals, the game excels by offering almost total freedom in how to execute them. Infiltrate a party in disguise and poison a target, or arrange unfortunate accidents to take them out. Successfully carrying out a hit without arising suspicion is a near-delirious thrill.
Although this first chapter is fairly short, the opportunity to repeat missions and explore different methods adds significant replay value, while the shadowy plot will have gamers eagerly awaiting future episodes. MK
Nintendo 3DS, Capcom, cert: 7
For anyone yet to explore the world that established Mega Man as a hero of the video game form, Capcom’s latest collection is almost certainly the best opportunity yet. It is also one not to be missed. The Mega Man games did plenty to define the action-platformer genre in the 1980s and 90s, and Capcom’s Legacy Collection offers direct, untainted ports of the series’ first six games. Considering here the downloadable 3DS version, rather than the console releases, Nintendo’s handheld reproduces Mega Man’s famously tight controls and gives something of a history lesson in why the robot protagonist stands as a reference point for refined game design.
There’s also a vast database of background information, and a selection of remixed stages to tackle, along with a smattering of carefully picked updates, such as save functionality. There’s obviously not a great deal new in the collection, but these remarkably authentic reissues of a defining series in its finest years still offers the chance to revel in some perfect platforming. WF
Nintendo 3DS, Rising Star, cert: 12
The setting for Sadame could not be more intriguing, launching the player into a version of feudal Japan infused with dark mysticism. Here, the warlords of the era have been twisted into demonic forms by their karma, leaving it up to one of four heroes – a samurai, a ninja, a monk and a rogue – to cut a path through the armies of Oda Nobunaga and face the dark lord himself.
All of which sounds great, but boils down to doing the same three-hit combo over and over again. Sadame’s action-RPG gameplay is very light, repetitive and spread very thin. While each boss slain gives you a new spell and there’s bucketfuls of loot to collect, it’s a real grind to get anywhere on the massive skill tree.
There are plus points, with Sadame’s main strength being found in its visuals, combining top-down retro level design with a rich art style, while another neat feature uses the 3DS’s StreetPass feature to let you borrow other heroes to assist in battle, but ultimately Sadame remains just a fairly pretty chore. PH
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