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The best yet for Batman.

Batman: Arkham Asylum. Platform: Xbox 360. Price: pounds 49.99 If the Dark Knight took the series of Batman films to a whole new level, Arkham Asylum does even more to elevate his video-game persona to god-like status. Put simply, this is one of the games of the year and likely to be in the mix for all the big awards. A superb standalone storyline sees the tables turn on Batman after he delivers The Joker to the nut-house, forcing you to play out an in-depth exploration of this freakish environment on the way to a showdown with your nemesis. Graphically it's great, but it's the control system and general gameplay that are truly jaw-dropping. The brilliant hand-to-hand combat and stealth attacks from the shadows do everything you could possibly ask for to truly 'feel' like the caped crusader. Regular story mode, challenges and hundreds of hidden extras present an almighty challenge for even seasoned gamers. Whatever you're doing in the game, it simply reeks of quality and development devotion.

Superstars V8 Racing. Platform: PS3. Price: pounds 39.99 Formula One dominates the motorsport airwaves, but that's not to say that there aren't dozens of other intensely-enjoyable racing events taking place elsewhere - we just don't hear about them. You could probably say the same about Superstars V8 Racing. In a gaming world dominated by Gran Turismo and Need For Speed to name but two, how can V8 find its voice? Well, as a game it does a lot of things right - realism is one of them, as it's based on the licence of the car racing Italian Championship, featuring the likes of BMW, Audi and Jaguar. And it looks fab, too. However, the handling of your cars can be a little on the loose side, and the distinct absence of any game modes beyond the core race offerings is a little bemusing. Those new to racers will find this an enjoyable opening experience, but to really stand out from the crowd, V8 Racing needed to give us more.

Puzzle Bobble Galaxy. Platform: Nintendo DS.

Price: pounds 19.99 Another cracking example of how great games come from the simplest of ideas, the Puzzle Bobble franchise is still bubbling as this latest Galaxy offering brings more colour-matching fun and frolics to the DS. Taking a lead from the classic arcade action, this version packs in more modes, wireless battles, mini-games and a host of other features that move the series on, yet still retain the charm of those cheeky little dinosaurs with their bubble machines. Multi-player modes via Wi-Fi are where the competition really cranks up, while new timechallenges and pressure mode - where you have one bubble to clear the stage - bring a refreshing range of new experiences to the game. It may be 20 years since Puzzle Bobble first appeared, but there's no doubt it's still going strong.

Go! Go! Cosmo Cops! Platform: Nintendo DS.

Price: pounds 24.99 Look out! Just landed from outer-space, the Babools are nabbing all of earth's natural resources to build their giant towers. What should you do? Take charge of Leo and Jenny from the Galaxy Police to touch, flip and get rowdy in a battle against these alien enemies to save the planet. It's a case of onwards and upwards for you in this new release, as you flip the DS 90 degrees to use the full-scale height of the screens, bearing in mind the direction you need to travel through 50 unique, themed levels. It's a nice touch, and an obvious departure from traditional side-scrolling platformers, as you hang, jump and throw wires to reach the summit and some pretty beefy boss battles along the way. A host of other modes, including time attacks and versus multi-player, keep things fresh. Overall, this is a pretty capable cartridge packed with platforming fun and games.

Gardening Guide: How To Get Green Fingers. Platform: Nintendo DS. Price: pounds 24.99 Gardening Guide is another prime example of how 'infotainment' is transcending the gaming world with relative ease, giving you a crash course in pretty much any subject you choose, creating instant 'experts' through interactivity. Unleash your green fingers on the dual-screen, selecting a full-size garden, balcony or maybe just a windowsill to tend to, and then go on the hunt for the best plants to match your needs. Where Gardening Guide really excels is through the tips and glossary section. An excellent hi-tech handbook for budding gardeners.

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CRUSADE - Arkham Asylum is likely to scoop some of this year's gaming awards
COPYRIGHT 2009 MGN Ltd.
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Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 28, 2009
Words:757
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