Timed pleasingly to coincide with the renewal of the sport’s greatest rivalry in Australia, with Ashes Cricket fans of the game’s virtual incarnation have a marvellous accompaniment to the series. Although released less than a year after developer Big Ant Studio’s previous foray into the market with Don Bradman Cricket 17, this is more than a cynical Ashes tie-in, and with plenty of new features is a step forward for the genre. Focused on the Ashes series now under way, all the stadiums and squads are accurately represented, and while Bradmanlacked official licences, they are present here. Including all the male and female players is another pleasing addition. Unfortunately, this means that the unlicensed players, of which there are over 4,000 from a huge array of teams, do look a bit disappointing by comparison. However, there is a very detailed editor built into the game and almost anything can be changed or created, to the extent that new stadiums can be designed from scratch with enough time and dedication. All of it can be shared cross-platform online as well so players can upload their work for others to enjoy. The Big Ant Development Director, Mike Merren, described it as: “a cricket sandbox, you can make the game whatever you want”. In gameplay terms, the title has developed further. Ashes Cricket has an easier to grasp, button-based control system as well as the traditional stick-centred method from Bradman. AI has been improved too – it will quickly tweak the field if there is a barrage of boundaries. There are a few bugs, but they prove only mildly irritating rather than fundamental and are certainly not game-breaking. The wicketkeepers, for example, can be clunky (think early career Matt Prior) and are not helped by the slips bunching up close as if for an impromptu team huddle. The commentary, too, is also more hit and miss than England’s batting lineup, but these are minor gripes with what is an otherwise excellent title and a welcome addition to the genre. RF
On the march again: Call of Duty WW2.
PS4, Xbox One, PC, Activision, cert: 18
The gaming juggernaut that is Call of Duty revisits its second world war roots with a typically fast and frenetic depiction of the war’s western front. While the setting may not be contemporary, everything else about the game is thoroughly up to date. As with the previous entries, the visuals are quite dazzling, and create a visceral, almost uncomfortably realistic experience. Mowing down Nazis (and zombies) has apparently lost none of its appeal. The campaign mode is short but finely crafted, with just six hours of choreographed drama through key moments such as the Normandy landings. However, veterans will find solace in the breathless multiplayer battles, let down only by the limited selection of free maps, which can become repetitive. The gameplay is unsurprisingly familiar but challenging, while the lack of firepower and advanced capabilities that have defined recent CoDs is immediately apparent. Instead, relying on a simpler head-up display and squad dynamics demands awareness and coordination of soldiers, each with distinct abilities. This proves to be a useful skill, as teamwork is also key to surviving the intensely creepy Nazi zombies mode, a show-stealing addition that presents engaging quests to complete in four-player co-op. FA
Rogue Trooper Redux: back from the dead.
Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Rebellion Developments, cert: 16
Originally released in 2006, this third-person shooter presents 2000AD’s genetic infantryman battling in the toxic climes of Nu-Earth. Taking players from the Quartz Zone Massacre – an infamous event from the comic’s pages, where Rogue’s fellow blue-skinned clone warriors are wiped out – through a weaving military conspiracy, it offers plenty of high points for fans of the source material, without proving alienating to newcomers. This new version also shows how far ahead of its time the game was. Rogue can set traps, hack computers and craft new weapons and ammo – common features now but less so in 2006, making this feel less dated than it otherwise might. The remastering quality is uneven, with the game clearly showing its PS2-era roots, but solid voice acting, competent action and a captivating story still make this worth a look. MK