GAMES: X marks the spot for awesome gaming

Pokemon X
Pokemon X
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This week, Pokemon X hits the Nintendo 3DS, Air Conflicts: Vietnam flies onto Xbox 360 and the Borderlands 2 Game of the Year Edition struts its award-winning stuff on PS3. F1 Challenge and Type: Rider complete this week’s line-up with platforming action on iOS

Pokemon X | Nintendo 3DS | Action | £32.99

It’s over fifteen fabulous years since we were first told you’ve “gotta catch ‘em all”, a moment which sparked our sensational affiliation with these cute but challenging action/RPG representations of the popular card trading game. And it feels like Pokemon X could be the best outing yet, and a dazzling debut on the 3DS. The ramped up graphical capabilities mark a major step forward for the series, while gameplay evolutions also enrich the experience. The game features a mix of Pokemon old and new, as well as a trio of new starter Pokemon - a watery toad Froakie, a fiery deer Fennekin, and a grass monster Chespin. Gameplay continues to focus on battling and trading and there are small improvements here, but the Mega Evolutions feature, which can dramatically change Pokemon types and battles as a result, is a real game-changer. Take it all online and you have an awesome combo, and one that should ensure our appetite to keep catching and training these little fellas doesn’t diminish in the years to come.

90%

Air Conflicts: Vietnam | Xbox 360 | Action | £27.99

Air Conflicts: Vietnam offers up that popular combination of flight simulation and arcade gameplay, dropping you into the cockpit of over 20 accurately simulated fighter jets and helicopters from the Vietnam War era. In certain missions, you can leave your pilot’s seat temporarily to operate the guns and defend against attacks and, if several fighter jets take part in a particular mission, you equip and upgrade them individually, as well as controlling the entire squadron’s battle tactics. In practice, this all plays out perfectly well, with a wide variety of missions and story scenarios to re-enact. But, despite some pretty delicious high-altitude visuals, the overall experience feels like we’re re-treading a well-worn path, offering little in the way of innovation to the arcade aerial simulation genre. In short, the Air Conflicts series needs to find a few ways to fly a little higher.

72%

Borderlands 2: Game of the Year Edition | PS3 | Shooter | £34.99

This brash but beautiful action RPG quickly found its way into the hearts of gamers who like nothing more than staring down the sight of a gun, finding the most amusing way of despatching every enemy in sight and then picking up all their wonderful loot. The return to Pandora also offered some welcome improvements on the original title, including the skills and weapon customisation areas, which were just the areas where most fans were hoping the development time had been spent. This Game of the Year Edition is a bundle filled to bursting point, where players can experience every epic boss battle, increase the level for each of the six playable Vault Hunters and play all of the additional campaign content. The presentation remains nigh-on perfect and it’s about time we had a reason to return to this brilliantly conceived world. Don’t miss the opportunity to dive back in - you’ll laugh out loud, loot to your heart’s content and realise that, when it’s all over, you’d be happy to go back and do it all again.

90%

Type: Rider | iPhone/iPad | Adventure | £1.99

The thought of being ‘educated’ while playing a game is enough to send some gamers heading for the hills. But don’t dash off just yet. Type: Rider displays some subtle skills in expanding your knowledge of the printed word, through a stylish and enjoyable side scrolling platformer. You’re in control of a pair of connected black dots, which you must safely transport across a series of levels, each representing a different period in the history of print. Collecting asterisks along the way tell you more about each era, and there’s an entire alphabet to scavenge too, all by simply shifting your finger from left to right side of the touchscreen to move or jump in that direction. There are mini-puzzles to solve and obstacles to avoid, but overall this game is all about embracing the developers’ passion for the subject matter and enjoying a unique platformer that’s much more exclamation mark than semi-colon.

79%

F1 Challenge | iPhone/iPad | Racing | £1.99

If you boot up F1 Challenge on your phone expecting to dive into a simulated world of intricate engineering detail and complexity, you’ll be a little disappointed. Such is the success that Codemasters has enjoyed in delivering that awesome experience to the big consoles, their stripped down portable offering may surprise in its markedly different approach, but it is perfect for on-the-go gaming. Forget accelerating and braking, just keep the car on the track and racing line as you work your way through a myriad of F1 team challenges, based on data from last year’s championship. Viewed from a top-down perspective, the game has a nice retro feel with some 21st Century polish and while many of the challenges feel a bit repetitive, if you tackle the on-track challenges in bite-size chunks when you have a spare 15 minutes here and there, you might find enough stamina to see you through to a podium finish.

77%