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PLAYSTATION Steel Reign (scram £34.99


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PLAYSTATION Bushido Blade (3cm £34.99

The humble beat ’em up is much maligned. ‘Boring' they say. 'One- dimensional' they say. 'Let's play PaRappa The Rapper they say. But let’s face it, there's little more satisfying than getting blootered of an evening, stumbling back home and knocking seven shades of Shaolin out of some fancy-pyjamas type without being carted off to chokey.

But the knockers have a point. For all their bone-crunching satisfaction, fighting games are unrealistic. If you really were cornered in an alley by some tooled-up wiseguy, it wouldn't be your energy bar that hurt. That's where Bushido Blade comes in. Set around the Narukagami Shinto fighting school, this game’s so real you can taste the plentiful blood.

There’s no energy bar and no time limit, so you just hack away until someone lands a blow nasty enough

to kill. Cleaving the skull with a dirty great browdsword should do it. However, if you happen to get hit in the legs or have an arm lopped off you must continue the battle in that state. This means that unless you want to be dead very quickly, you'd better learn to fight tactically. No over-excited joypad pummelling here. As one character says,

'Swordfighting isn't about brute strength. It's about timing'.

This innovation, coupled with an array of entertaining modes, including first-person POV and Slash (100 ninjas want your head on a stick) make Bushido Blade far and away the greatest beat 'em up since Tekken 2. (PR)



(Psygnosis) £35

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