Game Picks: PES 2016, Fifa 16, Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows and more

With the haze at unhealthy levels, it might be a good idea to stay in this weekend. Here are some new video games to keep you entertained if you do:

Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 v Fifa 16


A publisher shot for Pro Evolution Soccer 2016. PHOTO: KONAMI

Let the debate begin: Which football game is better, Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 or Fifa 16?

The number of hours I've put into PES 2015 over the past year is probably beyond the healthy levels.But the game has arguably made an impressive comeback after being lost for years in the wilderness. Once the undisputed king of digital football, the series had ceded serious ground as rival Fifa became the darling of both the critics and fans.

This year's PES edition seems to be making good ground too and performs slightly better on the pitch. Shooting the ball feels better, and tackling is more robust.

Off the field, however, things seem a little off. The series' usual quirks in the players' kits are even more pronounced this time - "Arsenal" play in an orange kit, for heaven's sake - and the bizarre decision to delay the full roster update to Oct 29 means that you'll be playing with last season's line-ups more than three months after the English Premier League season kicked off.

Fifa 16, on the other hand, debuts the women's national teams and has added to its mega-popular Ultimate Team mode with FUT Draft. In it, you build a team from randomly-drawn cards to take on other patchwork teams.

My choice: Pick the ones your friends are playing, and have a blast.

Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC

Soma


Soma is set in an underwater facility. PHOTO: FRICTIONAL GAMES

Some people play video games to unwind after a long day's work. Others do so for the thrill of competition. There are some, though, who play games to scare themselves utterly silly.

Frictional Games had crafted what is perhaps the definitive horror game in 2010's Amnesia: The Dark Descent (One Steam user review warns: "Wear a diaper."). It is back this week with Soma. The game is set in an underwater facility where "the radio is dead, food is running out, and the machines have started to think they are people".

Curiously, Soma doesn't seem to be just about the scares. Frictional says the game touches on philosophical themes like identity, consciousness and what it means to be human, while reviews have said there is now an increased focus on the narrative.

PlayStation 4, PC

Super Mario Maker

It could very well be that after 30 years, Nintendo is just plain sick of creating Mario levels. That would explain its decision to outsource the process to its fans in Super Mario Maker.

The game is both a Mario stage creator and a celebration of the iconic character's long history. Every element you can think of, from 1-Up Mushrooms to the coins he collects by the dozen, is present and accounted for, ready to be laid out in a manner you deem fit.

Even the look of the game is customisable. The 8-bit stylings of the original Super Mario Bros. and Mario's most recent guise in 2012's New Super Mario Bros. U are both available, along with two other retro styles.

Once done, stages are uploaded online where thousands already wait to be played. There's a lot of junk, sure, but there are already levels worthy of being in an official Mario title.

Wii U

Shovel Knight: Plague of Shadows


You play as Plague Knight in the free Shovel Knight expansion, Plague Of Shadows. PHOTO: YACHT CLUB GAMES

Last year's Shovel Knight was a delight. Created to capture both the looks and the soul of an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game from the 80s, it didn't bank solely on nostalgia and proved to be an exciting adventure on its own merits.

As the titular knight, players set off on a quest to defeat an evil Enchantress and the Order of No Quarter, a group of knights sent to impede him.

You take control of one of those knights in Plague of Shadows, a new expansion for Shovel Knight. It features the same stages, but each has been retooled to match the abilities of Plague Knight, who controls and attacks completely differently.

The most remarkable part about this expansion: It's completely free for everyone who already owns Shovel Knight. Now that's value.

Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, 3DS, PC


The writer is a digital sub-editor at The Straits Times and an avid gamer on all platforms. He won an ST newsroom PES 2015 tournament in what was the undisputed highlight of his (gaming) career so far.