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Image taken from: http://avatarawards.ninjasfate.com
Overview
An interesting title, if you’ve ever seen Takeshi’s Castle or Total Wipeout then you’ll know what you are letting yourself in for. You use your own Avatar to run through a racetrack, dodging obstacles, jumping, sliding and wall running to win the race! Also this is another FREE game!

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Image taken from: http://download.gamezone.com
The World
There are four different world layouts, Jungle, Ice, Egyptian and Pirate. Each one has its own character, such as in the background of the Egyptian one is Anubis playing a guitar. They are filled with hazards like massive hammers, electrified floors, trap doors and fall away floors.

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Image taken from: http://download.xbox.com
Gameplay
There are five different courses for each world and as they progress they get significantly harder to finish first, requiring several playthrough’s. Once you get used to the different moves it does become easier, however they have got the difficulty curve quite levelled with the time played, so as you get better the levels get harder.

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Image taken from: http://download.xbox.com
Stars & Bonus Objectives
Each level has 16 stars contained within that you need to find, again quite easy to collect at the beginning but get harder to collect as the game progresses, needing you to master techniques like slide jumping, wall running and wall jumping as well as having very good timing. You can also unlock split paths, which allow for different routes to be used, sometimes helping you to bypass difficult sections but also allowing you to reach stars you couldn’t reach normally.

The levels also have three bonus objectives each, which also award stars upon completed, and these vary from coming first without dying to doing a certain amount of Slide Jumps or even keeping the Silver running on your screen for the entire race, often needing you to slow down so you don’t outpace him!

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Image taken from: http://download.xbox.com
Conclusion
Games that feature your avatar always have a certain appeal, and like with Catan it’s often nice to play something less serious and full of slaughter. The levels are pretty good to compete in and collecting the Stars does provide a feeling of a platform game like Crash Bandicoot or Spyro. As I said, the game itself is free and you use the stars you’ve gathered to unlock the next level or to open the split routes, but you can spend real money to unlock them so be wary of that. Definitely one to pick up for free!

 
 
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Image taken from: http://xbox360media.ign.com
Overview
This is based on the board game with the same name, a pleasant little of game of developing your settlements and cities.

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Image taken from: www.outcast.it
The World
You can choose two different display modes, a flat map and a 3D one. The 3D looks amazing and the robber does a little dance however you cannot tell the values of the territories without holding down a button and it’s harder to see settlements and roads. The flat map is far more functional, as it doesn’t look as impressive but you can clearly see the value of everything and where all the game pieces are.

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Image taken from: http://foodandcircuses.files.wordpress.com
Objectives
To win at Catan you need ten victory points which you collect in a variety of ways. The main way the game works is collecting resources by dice roll, shown clearly while playing. Although it works fine, I personally always prefer rolling the dice myself against a random number generator contained within the game, but that might just be paranoia.

You collect points by building settlements, cities and having the longest continuous road as well as through using development cards either simply as victory point cards or through having the largest army (by using Knight development cards). All this is displayed clearly in both display modes.

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Image taken from: http://media.teamxbox.com
Enemies
You choose the AI opponents you face, and the difficulty level definitely does reflect the competency of the AI. The multiplayer games are always against real opponents and obviously their skills can vary hugely. A lot of Catan games face the luck of the dice, but the probability of certain numbers coming up is shown clearly. Another interesting thing in Catan multiplayer is that you mostly communicate through a large selection of emotes to display your hatred or love of other players, the dice or your luck in the game. Finally you are also able to trade cards with the opponents and so sometimes it’s worth not attacking them with the robber or trading with them to have them trade back in future.

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Image taken from: http://farm3.static.flickr.com (sorry I couldn't find a better pic)
Statistics
There are a huge amount of stats you can bring up by holding various combinations of LB, RB, LT and RT. You can see the points each player has, the length of their longest road, how many soldiers they have, how many times each number has rolled and the percentage of each number coming up. Also you can see how many of each resource is currently in play amongst all players, this last one is interesting as it’s something you wouldn’t normally know unless you’ve been counting every resource that each player collects.

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Image taken from: http://xbox360media.ign.com
Conclusion
Catan is a very fun and simple game, both the board game and the computer game. The different display modes give the option of choosing graphics or functionality and the mass of stats you can see and always useful. It’s not something I play constantly, but when looking for a break from all the gunfights, monsters, aliens and zombies, it’s nice to kick back, relax and play a game of Catan.

 
 
Overview
This arcade title is a remake of one of the best, if not most well known point and click adventure games ever. You play Guybrush Threepwood, a man who wishes to become a pirate, but along the way he will fall in love, face the Swordmaster of Melee Island and discover the ancient mystery of Monkey Island!

The World
There are several acts to this game, varying from the various locations on Melee Island, the bowels of your ship and then the mysterious Monkey Island! A stroke of genius in this game is that you can play it in the modern remastered graphics or if you wish you can play the whole thing in the original 8-bit appearance, swapping between the two at the touch of a button!

Combat
Being a point and click game there isn’t much combat, these games mostly puzzle based, however Escape From Monkey Island began the tradition of Insult fighting that continues to the rest of the series, with its Insult Sword Fighting! After being trained to fight the actual combat is done automatically, but you win fights by saying an insult and the opponent not having the correct comeback as well as using the correct comeback to their insults. This is best typified with the now famous “You fight like a dairy farmer” being replied to with “How appropriate, you fight like a cow!”

Enemies & Comedy
With this game is introduced the mighty Ghost Pirate LeChuck, the vilest villain in the Caribbean! Along with the menacing Fester Shinetop and the Vegetarian Cannibals, the important thing about the enemies is that they are obstacles in your quest.

This game, like a lot of adventure games, uses excessive humour to keep you interested, and it does its job well. Funny dialog and humorous consequences await your actions, and there are a wealth of characters who you never need to talk to but who have great lines of dialog and several of these characters were apparently so good that they appear in other games in the series.

Conclusion
I love this game, but must admit a certain amount of nostalgia for it, as I’ve been playing it and its sequels for a decade. It’s funny, entertaining and a great revamp of a classic game, and the different puzzles vary from being simple to dastardly complex to keep you playing, but if you don’t mind missing an achievement and wimping out you can get various hints to the puzzles. Buy it, play it, love it.

 
 
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Image taken from: http://twscritic.files.wordpress.com
Overview
This is a co-op racing game with a difference. One of you drives your vehicle, racing round the track, the other operates gun turrets to blow up the competition! Importantly the game is also FREE!

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Image taken from: http://download.xbox.com
The World
There are a variety of different tracks, giving you plenty of ground to cover, but the focus is usually on outpacing the enemy if you are driving, or gunning them down if you are shooting.

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Image taken from: http://static.giantbomb.com
Combat
While driving it is possible to ram other drivers, but the majority of the combat is unsurprisingly done by the turret. You switch between the turrets available throughout the map, shooting at the other cars. You can also shoot out their tires to slow them down and a windscreen shot blows up the car immediately. In multiplayer you cannot of course use a turret while an enemy gunner is using it, however you can shoot their turret, killing them, and then take it over!

Power-Ups
There aren’t many power ups but they are all useful and can only be collected by the drivers. There is Nitro which you can use for a boost, armour which ricochets enemy turret fire to kill the turret and also turret upgrades and downgrades. When you hit the upgrade you add an extra weapon to your gunner. They start with a sniper rifle, then machine gun, then mines and finally a lock on rocket launcher. The turret downgrade removes the upgrade from enemy turrets and this can only be done in multiplayer.



Conclusion
The game is a fun arcade title to play for a while, the racing is what you would expect from a racing game (I’ve never been much of a fan of the genre) but adding in the co-op gunner and it makes both driving and shooting a whole lot more fun, suddenly becoming first when the leader takes a rocket to the windshield is exhilarating, while skidding round a corner avoiding sniper shots makes the race a whole lot more interesting. And I think I mentioned, this game is completely FREE!