This week, LEGO Dimensions launches on PS4 and Uncharted’s Nathan Drake Collection serves up another early Christmas present for PS4 fans, too. Elsewhere, Hocus and Shooty Skies provide mind-bending puzzle and arcade shooter fun on smartphone and tablet.
LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack
LEGO Dimensions delivers a refreshing new take on the toys-to-life genre, in an arena where Skylanders and Disney Infinity have dominated to date. Perhaps the biggest thing in its favour is the fact it’s LEGO. Building accessories and vehicles in real life when prompted in-game, never ceases to raise a smile and shows what power this enduring, incredibly creative toy still holds. Of course, the multiple licensed properties of The Simpsons, Lord Of The Rings, Batman (and many more) ensure that any gamer with a passing interest in popular culture will find a host of sharp, witty reference points to raise numerous chuckles during the gameplay itself, which is unmistakably LEGO in its action/puzzle solving approach. The master gateway for porting real-world figures and other paraphernalia is an impressive piece of kit, but only a pre-cursor to the wallet-emptying array of add-on kits that beg to be bought. Dimensions will be an expensive collection/hobby, but it’s LEGO so that kind of makes it OK! 85%
Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection
Nathan Drake redefined the world of adventure storytelling in video game, offering a level of in-game immersion and cut-scene enjoyment that we so rarely see combined to such great effect. He also probably shifted a few people onto Sony platforms, such is the exclusive nature of the Uncharted series. Here, ahead of 2016’s all-new A Thief’s End, you can revisit the first three adventures in the franchise, all gloriously remastered for your PS4 to enjoy. A smattering of next-gen new features also make a welcome appearance, including refined controls, a rotating camera photo feature plus a couple of extra single-player game modes. The absence of multiplayer is a disappointment, but when it comes to the story itself, you’ve got the lot here to prep you for the big release next year, including a sneak peek of the Uncharted 4 beta version. There really should be nothing stopping you from snapping this up immediately – three top quality titles for the price of one, and a wonderful reminder of how and why Drake will be dominating the game charts once again the other side of Christmas. 90%
There is something magically serene, yet stressful about Hocus. Drawing inspiration from Escher’s mind-bending impossible reality pictures, Hocus delivers 50 brain-busting minimalistic levels that challenge you to move a red cube to a particular place in a perspective illusion. Graphically, the monochromatic palette with sharp shots of red is super-stylish, set against a clean gradient-grey backdrop. Controls are responsive and require minimal fiddling on-screen while you’re trying to process the puzzle before you. Each individual level is a perfectly packaged way to kill a few minutes or so, with the later offerings almost hypnotic in how they challenge you to shift your powers of perception at speed to react to your red cube’s progress around the maze. With a promise of more levels to come, Hocus could be just the addictive puzzler you’re looking for, but don’t expect to be able to see straight after a session with it! 82%
iPhone Free (with in-app purchases)
From the creators of Crossy Road, Shooty Skies is a barnstorming arcade shooter, dripping with iconically chunky and colourful retro design. The objective is to secure the highest score possible, by holding your finger on the screen to move your spacecraft around and dodge enemy fire, while letting off your own ammunition store when you’re on the move. Release your digit and you’ll be a sitting duck, but you’ll also begin charging a whopping rocket-based power-up that can obliterate pretty much everything on screen. It’s an interesting gamble to take, as you literally can’t move when charging, but one that tactically hooks you in beyond the basic blasting mechanic. It’s fantastic fun – and free – with additional characters available for purchase for 79p a pop. None of this will detract from the overall experience, though, which really cranks up a notch during the boss battles, and catapults Shooty Skies above and beyond the dizzy heights that Crossy Road hit. 88%