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Games Reviews WoW: Cataclysm, Donkey Kong Country Returns, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Dance Paradise, Pictionary

Murphy Simmonds casts his eyes over the latest releases

Games Reviews: WoW: Cataclysm, Donkey Kong Country Returns, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, Dance Paradise, Pictionary

The unfathomably successful World of Warcraft has, with its third expansion, laid waste to the lands that players have known since 2004. WoW: Cataclysm (5 stars, PC/Mac, £20-60, Blizzard) sees the online multiplayer title’s most familiar geography – and there’s a lot of it – reconstructed in the wake of an attack by a very large dragon. It has allowed Blizzard’s design staff to re-do the parts of the game which are now more than six years old, and made the lengthy but incredibly compulsive act of levelling your character freshly appealing.

Old school platforming is enjoying a triumphant revival at the hands of Nintendo. Mario and Wario have both recently been dimensionally reduced from three back to their original two, and now Donkey Kong’s celebrated SNES outings are being re-imagined for the modern Wii audience in Donkey Kong Country Returns (4 stars, Wii, £35-45, Nintendo). No big gimmicks here, just superb level design, great pace and a ton of character. The odd control quirk and a bit of repetition are the only issues of note.

As DK does his bit for 2D platforming, BlazBlue: Continuum Shift (4 stars, PS3/X360, £30-50, PQube) is doing the same – on a substantially more niche level – with 2D fighters. Hugely popular in Japan, this follow-up to last year’s BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger is more a refinement than a sequel. New characters are slim (although more will be downloadable, for a fee) but game modes are heavily increased and the fighters are much better balanced. An extensive tutorial and witty English language localisation will help newcomers intimidated by the game’s depth.

After last issue’s assurance that any fitness game using the motion-sensitive Xbox Kinect is worth a go, we find ourselves in a similar position with dance games. Dance Paradise (3 stars, X360, £27-40, Mindscape) offers plenty to like, including a good track list and solid gesture recognition. Letting it down, however, is the characters you must mimic, whose single, flat-colour design makes some moves hard to deduce. Less user friendly that fellow Kinect title Dance Central, less gleeful than the Wii’s Just Dance 2, it remains an experience to recommend.

How do you make a board game 20 times more expensive? Play it on DS! Pictionary (3 stars, DS, £18-25, THQ) is best enjoyed by four players with a DS each. It you find yourself in such tooled-up company, you’ll find the game – which four consoles can play from just one cartridge – has been converted to digital with some aplomb. For those without an abundance of machinery, there’s still much multiplayer to enjoy here, although the solo game is best avoided.

Posted on Wednesday 22nd December 2010

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