GAMES: Premium pocket picking

Thief
Thief

This week, Thief pilfers the pocket of PS4 owners, Plants vs Zombies embarks on Garden Warfare on Xbox One, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 lowers the drawbridge on PS3. Elsewhere, Tengami and Bug Heroes provide two engrossing game experiences on iPhone and iPad

Thief | PS4 | Action/Adventure | £47.99

It’s been around a decade since the last release in the Thief genre, and fans of Garrett, the Master Thief, will be delighted to see him emerge from the shadows into the City on the next generation of console. In this brutal place, where the Baron’s Watch spreads a rising tide of fear and oppression, his skills are the only things he can count on, as even the most cautious citizens and their best-guarded possessions are not safe from his reach. And so begins an engrossing stealth adventure that may not have the blood and thunder of action shooters, but will hook you from the off as Garrett finds himself entangled in growing layers of conflict and an increasingly challenging environment. The game is peppered with ingenious puzzles and the items you pilfer as you progress will aid your character’s development, such as special abilities, upgrades and other items. Of course, it’s delivered in glorious HD graphics, the likes of which the last decade’s trio of titles never had the fortune to profit from. But in the here and now, you should grab Garrett by the bootstraps and revel in his light-fingered, fleet-footed antics.

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Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare | Xbox One | Action/Strategy | £24.99

Plants vs Zombies has a rich gaming history, flourishing in the strategy genre with its own highly addictive brand of 2D tactical battling and tower defence. Taking the franchise into the third person action arena is a bold move, as Garden Warfare challenges you to blast zombies, plants, and new characters with a wealth of inventive weapons across a mind-blowing PvZ world.

Powered by the advanced Frostbite 3 engine, the game explodes into life in a massive, three-dimensional world, blooming with colour and combat. What might at first appear to be a more casual shooter does offer excellent depth through the varied character class system with many different abilities, which will cater to almost every gamer’s individual playing style. And this new approach doesn’t mean any of the humour and personality had fallen by the wayside. On the contrary, it’s augmented in the way that the characters have been brought to life here, making Garden Warfare an extremely appealing title - especially in multiplayer for those of you with a band of buddies now hooked up on the Xbox One’s online platform.

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 | PS3 | Action | £34.99

In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the origin of Dracula and his legendary connection with the Belmonts was revealed. Here in the sequel, fans can expect a suite of thrilling new twists and challenges, as the fang-toothed foe returns once again. He is out to reacquire his old powers, with you, as the famed Belmont, and in turn seeks out his ultimate destruction. Some ropey stealth and first-person sequences tarnish what is otherwise a pretty spectacular action experience, reminiscent of the Devil May Cry and God of War series, with a brilliantly tight control system that allows you to execute combo after combo of devastating attacks. It’s such a visceral hack’n’slash, with your Void Sword and Chaos Claws ripping through enemies once you’re fully up to speed with the move set available to you. As such, you’ll soon forget about the uninspiring storyline and aforementioned faux pas. And when it comes down to doing battle with Dracula, Lord of Shadows 2 provides a satisfying stake to his heart.

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Tengami | iPhone/iPad | Action/Puzzle | £2.99

Tengami unfolds an incredible world of oriental origami for gamers to explore, drawing upon some of the finest graphical design you’ll find on a tablet, allied to an awesomely atmospheric score. Wandering through this paper thin world, the slightest swipes and touches will beautifully animate and alter the landscape around you, and unearth a series of perplexing puzzles to solve. And it’s at that point when you may find this paper trail a little troublesome. It’s not that the cerebral challenges are too tricky, more that they are sometimes overly laboured and difficult to find or interpret. And, with a fairly pedestrian pace, that frustration can feel further enhanced, and a no hint system may leave you scratching your head over what to do next. That said, Tengami is still well worth investing a few pounds in, just to immerse yourself in a glorious piece of gaming art.

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Bug Heroes | iPhone/iPad | Action/Strategy | £0.69

Bite-sized bugs make a big impression in here, in a carefully constructed fusion of twin-stick shooter action and tower defence strategy. In the thick of an almighty insect war, you have an ant, beetle and spider at your disposal on the offensive side, while you must also protect your precious food pile by building a defensive arsenal around it, which includes a number of ingenious weapons to ward off the swarms of baddie bugs slithering their way towards you. The combination of immediate action with tactical consideration works brilliantly, adding depth to the experience where it may have been lacking and an adrenalin boost on the front line when things may have got a bit boring. There’s little to criticise here, as Bug Heroes delivers a smartphone and tablet shot in the arm to both game genres in a great little insect-packed package.

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