Arjun Sukumaran takes a look at some recent downloadable titles that give you plenty of action for your money.

From Dust

Platforms: PC/PS3/Xbox 360

In From Dust, players assume the role of a god-like entity tasked with protecting and aiding a primitive tribe as they struggle to survive in a hostile world. How are you going to do that? Well, you start off with the basic ability to manipulate certain types of matter — soil, water and lava — and you acquire other powers along the way as your followers prosper. If they prosper, that is; you're going to need all the ingenuity at your disposal if you're going to shepherd them through the numerous perils they encounter.

It is a gorgeous game, and watching the interaction of the elements as you manipulate them is almost worth the price of admission by itself. Add in the catastrophic events that beset your hapless tribe — ranging from tsunamis to volcanic eruptions — and you've got a true visual spectacle on your hands.

There haven't been many ‘god-games' of late; with no major releases since the Black & White or Populous series. The game looks like it might just be able to breathe fresh life into the “god-game” genre, with its clever mechanics, jaw-dropping graphics and awesome sense of scale. How many reasons do you need to play God, anyway?

(Note: It's been widely reported that the PC port of From Dust suffers from a number of bugs and glitches; so you may want to keep that in mind when choosing a platform to play on.)

Rock of Ages

Platforms: PC/PS3/Xbox 360

Rock of Ages begins with Sisyphus — he who was cursed by the Greek gods to push a boulder up a hill for all eternity — breaking out of Hades and vowing to exact his revenge by going on a rampage through multiple historical eras and defeating their corresponding historical figures. By throwing his boulder at them. That's how it starts.

There's no easy way to describe Rock of Ages. It's part platformer — where you take control of a rock (with a face carved into it) and attempt to steer it past various obstacles to break down your opponent's castle doors; and part strategy game — where you build defences to try and prevent your opponent's boulder (yeah, they've got them too) from doing the same to you.

It makes no attempt to tone down the whimsy, but Rock of Ages looks to be a surprisingly solid game underneath all that. If you like games that don't take themselves too seriously, games that are different, or if you've just always wanted to flatten Napoleon with a gigantic boulder; well then, this is the game for you.

Renegade Ops

Platforms: PC/PS3/Xbox 360

Renegade Ops is a top-down vehicle-based shooter, made by the same developer responsible for the Just Cause series, and features the same over-the-top attitude that characterised those games. The premise is simple — a madman is out to destroy the world, the authorities aren't prepared to do what it takes to stop him; enter the Renegades, stage left.

As a single-player experience, it's well worth your time; the vehicular combat gameplay is enormously satisfying. However, it's when you get a friend to join you that Renegade Ops truly shines. While playing co-op does provide for more tactical depth (for example, combining different Renegades' special abilities), the main incentive is the extra helping of chaos it adds to an already-frenetic game. Four players means four times as many explosions. And what lovely explosions they are, too; Renegade Ops boasts some of the best graphics you will ever see in a downloadable game.

It has to be said that the plot isn't particularly noteworthy, although the delightfully corny voice-acting deserves a mention; then again, that's not what you'll be playing this game for. Rendered down to its essentials, Renegade Ops is nothing more than a game about blowing stuff up. Shallow? Maybe. Fun? Definitely!

Keywords: video gamesXbox 360