Games: The Bioshock Collection and Pro Evolution Soccer 2017
The Bioshock Collection (Multi)
AT A time when the same generic shooters were dusted off with dreary regularity to massive sales, 2007's Bioshock was a blast of fresh air. Like reading hard sci-fi in the middle of a firing range, the original went beyond blasting clichés as players journeyed through an undersea art-deco dystopia, fighting off genetically altered mutants in old-timey scuba gear.
Players spent much of their time like an undersea vagrant, rooting around corpses and bins for goodies in an emotional rollercoaster of powerhouse storytelling that stuck its diving boot into the right-wing wittering of Ayn Rand. You don't get that with Call of Duty.
Its 2010 sequel went back beyond the sea for more of the same while 2013's Bioshock Infinite left Davy Jones' locker for a no-less-ripping yarn set in the fantastical flying city of Columbia. And now this golden shower of classics gets revamped for current hardware, benefitting from improved texture work and 1080p resolution.
It's not entirely successful, with some stuttering on PS4 and downgraded audio, though looming patches should add the extra spit and polish. In its day, Bioshock blew the competition out of the water, letting players flex their brains as well as their trigger fingers and with an ending that took a bathysphere to your heart.
It's still an essential purchase – a threesome of the last generation's best, scrubbed, deloused and slapped on to one disc for some highbrow hi-jinx. And even if the briny, brainy sci-fi occasionally strays into pretention, uncultured swines can just enjoy the fireworks.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2017 (Multi)
TRADE in that copy of 16, kids – it's that time of year when publishers change the number in their sports franchises and stick us for 50 new ones.
This time, however, it's well worth it. The yearly throwdown between FIFA and PES continues unabated, and if last year saw Konami's venerable kickaround reclaim the crown from its brash, license-heavy rival, 2017 sees PES pull even further away. As Leicester has shown, heart and ability can make up for any financial shortcomings, and despite lacking FIFA's bulging wallet, PES offers the best way to slot one home with the flick of a finger since Subbuteo.
Merely refining everything that made last year's breakthrough so good, with silky passing, more accurate shooting and precision dribbling, the videogame Old Firm rivalry has a clear-cut winner this year. AI has been ramped up for more lifelike opponents, who even make mistakes. They think they're people!
Referees are still useless, though perhaps that's also down to realism. While it can't quite compete with FIFA in the technical stakes, PES is visually solid and boasts the excitable Peter Drury on commentary.
Of course, the biggest drawback is a lack of licenses. Although it has Liverpool, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Borussia Dortmund (along with Champions League, Super Cup, Europa League and a rake of South American outfits), players will have to make do with vague approximations boasting names like London FC, West Midlands Stripes and Man Red.
All can be easily edited, however, for the real deal. If you value proper names and official kits then you'll get your kicks with FIFA. But if want the most accurate and, more importantly, fun simulation of the beautiful game, Pro Evo 2017 is peerless on the pitch. Back of the net.