Games of the week
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The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Reawaken a most magical adventure
The cult GameBoy adventure Link's Awakening has been reborn with aplomb on Switch. It doesn't offer the breathtaking scope of recent Zelda games, but instead is faithful to the original's top-down perspective, modernising the shot-for-shot reproduction through a tilt-shift effect that transforms Link's world into an almost tangible moving toy – a work of design genius, given the cherished adolescent memories that many fans will want to revisit. Frame rate issues occasionally ruin the dream (surely these will be eliminated with a patch) but the wonderfully melancholic atmosphere and quirky inventiveness are perfectly reproduced. Even in monochrome Link's Awakening was truly special, and this enhanced version simply does everything necessary to allow us to enjoy the game's nimble glee in 2019.
Skip to the end: A beautiful remake of a timeless Zelda classic.
eFootball PES 2020
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
It's in the name
This year, Pro Evolution Soccer has a daft name but few real changes. The eFootball moniker is designed to position PES in the eSports world, which feels deserved given its vigorous, flowing digital football – PES is still the most dynamic simulation around, even if it lacks many official team licences as always. But a line-up of new problems and old flaws – from dreadful refereeing to lobotomised AI players, sluggish selection and unattractive interfaces – ensures the old rivalry with FIFA continues to be undecided.
Skip to the end: Exciting and frustrating in equal measures.
Platform: PC, Xbox One
Explosive set-pieces. Intimidating enemies. Brutal weaponry. Gears 5 is easily one of the best instalments of the series, far outperforming the previous outing and ramming home one loud, exhilarating spectacle after another. So to be left with an overall feeling of 'meh' is confusing. Until, that is, you realise the problem lies in the game's trademark chunky cover-diving combat that's barely evolved since the first Gears of War, and that crouching behind objects and clicking on enemies until their lifebar expires is getting very old. Gears 5 is still an exhilarating and fabulous-looking meatgrinder, but after nearly 15 years, the series has lost its edge.
Skip to the end: Brilliantly executed but the series is going stale.
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Nothing to fear
Set shortly after the original film, Blair Witch's lead character Ellis Lynch joins a search team tracking a lost child in the Black Hills Forest. Fortunately, given the epic creepy vibes, you're joined by his pet dog Bullet, who can be used to hunt for clues or sniff out dangers. But something is wrong when the most compelling element is the impressively-rendered 1990s Nokia phone that Ellis carries. Blair Witch's forest environment is a fake open world confined by immersion-breaking invisible walls, while the disappointing enemy design is more alien than supernatural, and Ellis's history of PTSD and war service forms the hyper-clichéd engine to an unsatisfying plot. Blair Witch conjures none of the film's atmosphere of desperate terror.
Skip to the end: An unattractive and half-baked horror episode.
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