VIEWS: 8 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 12/7/2011
THE VIDEO GAME PAGE The latest trends, tips and reviews FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Call of Duty 3” TOP PC GAMES Top 10 PC games sold the week of Dec. 10-16, 2006. ‘DUTY’ calls again Title 1. “The Sims 2: Pets” (T) 2. “World of Warcraft” (T) 3. “Cars: Radiator Springs” (E) 4. “The Sims 2” (T) 5. “Deal or No Deal” (E) 6. “MS Flight Simulator Deluxe” (E) 7. “Medieval II: Total War” (T) Publisher Electronic Arts Vivendi THQ Electronic Arts Global Star Microsoft Sega 8. “Battlefield 2142” (T) Electronic Arts Activision 9. “The Sims 2: Holiday Stuff” (T) Electronic Arts 10. “MS Flight Simulator X” (E) Microsoft “Call of Duty 3” active re-telling of Although the game is gameplay mechanics that will (Activision; PlayStation 3, Xbox WWII combat that essentially identical on have you yarding or vigorously Provided by NPD Group/NPD Funworld 360; $59.99) oozes grief and con all platforms, it man- pumping on the Sixaxis con- Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide: Early childhood (EC); ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) veys a palpable ages to look rather troller in melee combat or out Everyone (E); Everyone 10 and older (E10+); Teen (T); Mature (M); Adults (blood, language, violence) sense of empathy lousy on PlayStation 3, right wrestling matches with Only (AO); Rating Pending (RP). Score: 4 out of 5 for ordinary men in worse than the alleged- some Wehrmacht scumbag (as extraordinary situa ly weaker Xbox 360 ver- opposed to just mashing but- By SHAUN CONLIN tions. sion, anyway and cer- , tons on the Xbox 360). THE 411 Cox News Service Second, it marks tainly not living up to Overall, the PS3 version of the “Call of Duty” debut on the superior expectations of “Call of Duty 3” controls a lit News and developments from the game industry f ever a game deserved a se- PlayStation 3 and Wii (the Sony’s Cell-processing Blu-ray tle more smoothly and more in I quel — or two, in this case .” — it’s “Call of Duty First, “Call of Duty 3” is as ferocious- sophomore showing on Xbox 360), so it won’t feel like a same-old sequel to many game machine. The Wii version, meanwhile, just fails on many levels (see tuitively It’s a shame it doesn’t . look better, too. All of it is top notch ’40s warfare, all told, but EA toots ‘Madden’ horn Understandably tooting its own horn, ly inspired as its predecessors, gamers (though it does for review below). The PlayStation none of it is particularly “next Electronic Arts is reminding the masses still with the harrowing, inter- Xbox 360 players). 3 version does add some novel gen.” that “Madden NFL 07” has sold more than 5 million copies to consumers on 10 game ‘Call of Duty 3’ falls short on the Wii QUICK PICK platforms. Further, based on its own inter nal data as well as corroborative external “Call of Duty 3” action, the thing just stinks when it “Full Metal Alchemist: Dual Sympathy” sources, EA believes that “Madden NFL (Activision; Wii; $49.99) comes to reticle aiming and shooting. (Destineer; Nintendo DS; $29.99) 07” will finish as North America’s most ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) (blood, lan- Yes, you can draw a bead on some ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) (blood, fantasy vio popular game of 2006 across all game plat guage, violence) partially hidden enemy’s head, but lence, mild language) forms. with your wrist extended exactly like The latest iteration of EA Sports’ best Score: 2.5 out of 5 Score: 2.5 out of 5 selling football franchise, “Madden NFL 07” has had a record it wouldn’t be if holding a real gun, “Call of Duty 3” for Nintendo Wii then invoking the seemingly minute Apparently the anime series “Full Metal , breaking season since it launched in August, boasting retail simply smacks of afterthought, as if motion of squeezing the trigger Alchemists” boasts a large and loyal cult fol- sales of more than 2 million copies in its first week at retail. Activision knew it had a recognized, which, thus, jigs said reticle off target lowing. As such, games based on it were in Already established as one of the top-selling titles on Xbox hit brand on its hands and it might as at the critical moment, well, that’s just evitable. There are a couple 360 — in the first week on that system, players recorded more well churn out a hopeless. of lame oldies on than 2 million hours of online game play on Xbox Live — brand new Wii ver- If you can bear it PlayStation 2, but new on “Madden NFL 07” then launched on the PlayStation 3 and sion in time to be the (good luck), “Call of Nintendo DS is “Full Metal Nintendo Wii in November. Through the holidays, it ranked lone WWII-shooter Duty 3” otherwise Alchemist: Dual Sympathy .” in the top 10 on six platforms. It’s the top-selling game on the game available for contains most of the Sadly for all its sci-fi, , old-generation PlayStation 2 and Xbox and up there amongst the system and empathetically har- paranormal, cybernetic the top-selling games for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. maybe incorporate rowing grandness for mythos, none of it trans Considered a cultural phenomenon by some and a deriva some novel interfac which the series is fa- lates to interactive, touch tive market bully by others, “Madden NFL 07” has become the ing because it’s there. mous — though, too, screen gameplay very well. must-have game for many cyber athletes and real ones, in The thing is, “Call the standard-defini- There’s plenty of perplexing reading and cluding many NFL players, in part because it’s the only NFL of Duty 3” should be tion graphics are cryptic deciphering in this one, along with endorsed game available, thanks to an exclusive licensing the last first-person Activision woefully under- deal. some hopelessly derivative, side-scrolling ac shooter (FPS) for Wii, because all the whelming when compared to the high- tion, novel only in the fact that much of the in game manages to prove is that the sys- def sparkle and shine of the PS3 and teraction has you scrawling runes with the tem doesn’t do shooters very well. At least not well if confined to the Wii’s Xbox 360 versions — and it is, after all, the only WWII-flavored Wii game out DS’s stylus on the lower screen to invoke spe TIPS OF THE WEEK cial attacks and defenses in the game playing otherwise remarkable, three-dimen- there at the moment. But while the out on the upper screen. That’s when you’re Playing secrets to help you master your favorite games sional motion-sensing wireless con- Wii-mote is a natural for driving not simply mashing a button. troller. , games, flying, swordplay sports, puz- It’s probably pretty cool for those aforemen- To unlock all chapters and bonus content in “Call of Duty For all the Wii-mote’s mojo of trans- zle-solving and other dexterity-centric tioned cultists who dig the whole industrial 3” for Xbox 360, go to the chapter-selection screen, hold Back, lating thrust and draw, swings left, swipe-and-swish games, it just doesn’t grade magic of the series, but it’s alternately then, with the d-pad, press Right, Right, Left, Left, X, X. right, up, down, plus gyrations, pitch do shooters with any degree of compe- tedious and bewildering for everyone else. In the PS3 version, hold Select and then press Right, Right, and yaw, into controllable, onscreen . tency Too bad. Left, Left, Square, Square. For the Wii version of “Call of Duty 3,” press and hold + at the chapter-select screen, then press Right, Right, Left, Left, 2, The ratings: — Excellent — Very good — Good — Fair — Poor 2 to unlock all content. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate for Cox News Service. (800) 255-6734. *For release the week of January 1, 2007. THE PLAYER’S PAGE The latest trends, tips and reviews on video games FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” TOP PC GAMES Strictly Top 10 PC games sold the week of Dec. 17-23, 2006. superheroes Title Publisher 1. “The Sims 2: Pets” (T) Electronic Arts 2. “World of Warcraft” (T) Vivendi 3. “Deal or No Deal” (E) Global Star 4. “The Sims 2” (T) Electronic Arts 5. “Medieval II: Total War” (T) Sega 6. “MS Flight Simulator Deluxe” (E) Microsoft 7. “Battlefield 2142” (T) Electronic Arts 8. “Cars: Radiator Springs” (E) THQ 9. “The Sims 2: Business” (T) Electronic Arts 10. “The Sims 2: Glamour Life” (E) Electronic Arts “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” your way through it with inconsistent Activision; PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, accuracy ... repetitively. Provided by NPD Group/NPD Funworld Wii; Xbox; Xbox 360; $49.99-$59.99 The PS3 version, meanwhile, has you Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide: Early childhood (EC); ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) (mild language, shaking and wrenching the Sixaxis Everyone (E); Everyone 10 and older (E10+); Teen (T); Mature (M); Adults violence) controller on occasion, not unlike a spas- Only (AO); Rating Pending (RP). tic monkey running low on flingables, Score: 3.5 out of 5 which is just bizarre ... and repetitive. By SHAUN CONLIN The remaining versions are all about the THE 411 Cox News Service good-old repetitive button-mash. Still, these are some (most?) of the News and developments from the game industry Y Rare brothers walk away ou might find yourself referring coolest superheroes out there, confronted to “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” as by equally cool supervillians (like Rhino, “That New Wolverine Game with Activision Mephisto and Galactus, with the dreaded By Rare accounts, a Bunch of Extra Superheroes in It” be- course) and three other tag-alongs (Cap- Dr. Doom as the master evil dude) in a 2007 is the year to “just cause, you know, Wolverine rules — and tain America, Spider-Man and Thor to mean-measured manner. The action is .” walk away Microsoft you can play as him from the get-go. start, 20 in all, eventually and always four , incessant, the gameplay competent, and recently confirmed that When confronted by the game’s open- at a time, which you also can control, one the wealth of upgrades, unlockables and Chris and Tim Stamper, ing cinematic, glorious, action-intensive, at a time) looking small and underwhelm- character-specific regalia are, uh, wealth- co-founders of the Unit- , wit-heavy introductory sequence — eas- ing as they hack-’n’-slash about like mice ful, while the visual consistency ranges ed Kingdom studio Rare ily matching the stunning stylishness of in a sexy maze. from good to great (best on Xbox 360 and, and the pair responsible any modern CG film (and it’s drop-dead While each character’s skills are , surprisingly not the PS3), so it’s not at all for innovative hit games jaw-dropping in high-def on Xbox 360 and upgraded as you progress, the timely bad. such as “Donkey Kong PS3) — you’ll be so psyched that there’s unlocking of new moves and special abili- Comic book buffs will eat it up, no ,” Country “Goldeneye nowhere to go but down. ties isn’t quite enough to distract from the doubt about it, sharing much of the 007,” “Banjo-Kazooie,” And down it goes as the actual game fact that it’s wholly derivative and mostly joyous bashing and slashing online with “Perfect Dark,” kicks in with its isometric top-down view, repetitive-action/RPG fare. like-minded buffs (when enabled). But if “Conker,” “Kameo: Elements of Power” and, most recently , typical of hack-’n’-slash games with some The Wii version features some novelty you’ve only a passing interest in any/all “Viva Piñata,” have quit the company after more than 20 pretty and elaborate environments pep- in its Wii-mote interface, in which you’re things Marvel, “Ultimate Alliance” is not years. pered by your character (Wolverine, of gesturing, shaking, stabbing and swiping particularly great. Originally an independent and then Nintendo’s exclusive “second-party” darling, Microsoft purchased the coveted QUICK PICK development house back in 2002 in an effort to diversify the Xbox game lineup. “WTF: Work Time Fun” thing simple It’s pretty in- Microsoft announced that the brothers Stamper handed in D3 Publisher; PlayStation to play on it. dicative of the their walking papers to “pursue other opportunities,” that 19- Portable; $29.99 But certainly whole “gray year Rare vet Mark Betteridge will now lead the company as ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) not the typical gamer” genre. studio director, while Rare “creative force” Gregg Mayles will (blood and gore, crude humor, PSP owner, Some are quite serve as creative director. mild language, suggestive who probably quirky and themes, violence) bought Sony’s charmingly Score: 2.5 out of 5 super-duper D3 addictive, TIPS OF THE WEEK pocket system but mostly It’s hard to say who D3 had expecting games that flout it’s just a sad knock-off of Playing secrets to help you master your favorite games in mind when it published the thing’s major muscle and Nintendo gaming found on Certain combinations of superheroes “WTF: Work Time Fun” for multimedia mojo. the Game Boy Advance and teamed up in “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” the PlayStation Portable. Per- “WTF” is just a Warioware Nintendo DS, which are also will net you custom teams with boosted haps middle-aged executives wannabe, a collection of less expensive systems and abilities. Create “The Bruisers” (+15 Strik- and similar “ungamers” who quickie puzzles and non-quick, software platforms and, in the ing) out of Thing, Captain America, Luke bought a PSP just to look cool. often monotonous minigames, latter case, more mechanically Cage and Ms. Marvel; “The New Avengers” Maybe the moms and dads of all pretending to have a linear conducive to such interactive (+5 percent all resistances) with Captain teens who confiscated the PSP purpose of earning money so brain-teasing, puzzles and America, Luke Cage, Wolverine and Spider- and thought they might give it you can unlock and access still minigames. Man; “The Think Tanks” (+15 percent Max whirl, if only there were some- more puzzles and minigames. Give Johnny his PSP back. Health) with Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, Spider-Man and Iron Man or “The Femme Fatale” (+5 percent Damage) with Ms. The ratings: — Excellent — Very good — Good — Fair — Poor Marvel, Storm, Invisible Woman and Elektra. THE PLAYER’S PAGE The latest trends, tips and reviews on video games FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “2142 Battlefield” BATTLE TOP GAMES 2006 The top-selling video games in 2006. Title Console 1. “Madden NFL 07” (E) PS2 2. “New Super Mario Bros.” (E) NDS 3. “Gears of War” (M) Xbox 360 Warning! 4. “Kingdom Hearts II” (E 10+) PS2 of the future 5. “Guitar Hero 2” (T) PS2 If you’re new to EA’s 6. “Final Fantasy XII” (T) PS2 “Battlefield” experience, you’ll 7. “Brain Age: Train Your Brain” (E) NDS have your tenderfoot handed to 8. “Madden NFL 07” (E) Xbox 360 you persistently and consistently 9. “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter” (M) Xbox 360 until you get a handle on 10. “NCAA Football 07” (E) PS2 the wealth of all the keys “2142 Battlefield” and commands and various Provided by NPD Group/NPD Funworld Electronic Arts; PC; $39.99 selectable soldiers’ selectable Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide: Early childhood (EC); ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) (violence) specialties and intricacies. Everyone (E); Everyone 10 and older (E10+); Teen (T); Mature (M); Adults Score: 4 out of 5 Run-and-gun or spray-and- Only (AO); Rating Pending (RP). pray shooting this is not. You’ll By SHAUN CONLIN also likely be overwhelmed by Cox News Service the fact that many soldiers will THE 411 be armed with sophisticated News and developments from the game industry L ike all the previous “Battlefield” games weaponry that you simply don’t in EA’s lauded shooter franchise, “2142 Battlefield” is all about large-scale have because you haven’t Emmy Awards of ‘Doom’ earned the cool upgrades , Though you didn’t see it on TV id Software was just be- multiplayer warfare. Up to a couple dozen (called “unlocks”) nor the rank combatants team up against opposing dozens stowed the honor of winning two Technology Emmy Awards Electronic Arts that qualifies you as proficient from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in various mother-of-all-turf war scenarios, enough to carry them ... yet. capturing, over-running and otherwise hold- New for “2142,” as you might surmise from at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 8. The Make due (and succeed) with awards were given as part of the Science, Technology and ing select waypoints set the title, is its futuristic vision of said same what you have, and there’ll be a on small, medium or huge warfare, where weapons carry a much bigger , Engineering Emmy Awards ceremony separate from the TV promotion and a new toy coming and movie awards show. maps. wallop while body- and vehicle armor are your way. As always, there’s a much more resistant to walloping. The Pioneering Development Work in 3D Game Engines Fortunately, you can play the award was won by John Carmack, co-founder and technical wealth of things to do (take , Ultimately it’s the same sort of scamper, game offline as a single-player out their radar or repair flank, pin, assault and counter assault war director of id Software, for his cutting-edge contributions to game, where the computer rendering technology as the lead programmer on the mighty your own, cover the guy game you’ve come to know and love in the controls all your comrades and doing it or hunt the guy “Battlefield” series. Except now, there are “Doom.” A second Emmy was awarded to id Software for its the enemies in a fairly intelligent technological leadership in rendering breakthroughs with the , covering the guy etc.). Not force fields and electromagnetic pulses and realistic fashion. You’ll have to mention there is a large variety of soldiers (EMPs), hover tanks and giant walking ones , Quake technology also exceedingly mighty . ample opportunity to hone your The company is the first independent game developer to be to play as and equipment to lug around until (and all those cool sci-fi sound effects along skills there, but “2142” is really your back aches. Basically if it fires, you can , with it). awarded an Emmy since the Academy began honoring tech- at its best online with dozens of nology innovation in 1948. shoot it; if it’s mounted, you can man it; if it It’s like “Extreme Makeover: Warfare Edi- likeminded warmongers playing flies, you can pilot it; if it rolls, stomps or hov- tion,” except the makeover isn’t particularly Other recipients included Microsoft, Adobe Systems Inc., the same old “BF” in brand new, RealNetworks and Apple, sharing the Emmy Award for ers, you can drive it. extreme, just thorough and very pretty . next-century makeup. Streaming Media Architectures and Components; DirecTV QUICK PICK Interactive Sports for Outstanding Achievement in Advanced Media Technology for the Synchronous Enhancement of “Elebits” Played from the first-person you’ve mastered the mechanics Original Television Content (they can fit all that on one Konami; Wii; $49.99 perspective, you’re armed with of each find/open/capture task trophy?); Slingbox Media’s Slingbox for Outstanding Achieve- ESRB Rating: Everyone (6+) (cartoon this trippy plasma gun/grapple/ (just figuring out the doorknob ment in Advanced Media Technology for the Creation of Non- violence) lasso thing, which is controlled is a eureka moment). Traditional Programs or Platforms; and Nintendo and Sony via the Wii-mote, which is also By that same token, it’s a Computer Entertainment America, both of which picked up Score: 3.5 out of 5 used to look around the various little too cute and relaxed to be honors for Peripheral Development and Technological Impact There’s no doubt that “whacked out and rooms in your cozy little house considered enthralling, but in a of Video Game Controllers. weird” is the new “nor- while the nunchuk attachment foreshadowing of Wii games to mal” for Nintendo Wii, controls your movement. You come (presumably), “Elebits” is and Konami’s “Elebits” certainly fits that mold. open doors, explore, lift objects and capture the Elebits — the at least unique (though the gun seems a clean steal of the Grav- TIPS OF THE WEEK It’s basically a game of cuddly little protonic bunnies ity Gun in “Half-Life”), visually Playing secrets to help you master your favorite games housecleaning a home — which, in turn, charge your stylish (but rather low-rent), To skip the opening movie sequence of “2142 Battlefield” infested with little electro- thingy with more power to fun, harmless and good for a go (which will play each time you start the game, which is cool dustbunnies. Actually , further explore and lift heavier Konami at any old stolen moment. twice, annoying every time thereafter), delete (or move) all housewrecking might be objects (eventually the house itself) to If you’re a real tinkerer, however, “Ele- the files in the Program Files\Electronic Arts\Battlefield a better term, but you rid reveal better-hidden Ele-bunnies. bits” also includes a level editor in which 2142\mods\bf2142\Movies folder. your home of e-dusties It’s awkward as all heck at first, but you can create you own rooms/scenarios, just the same. And crash goes the fridge. gameplay is fairly low-pressure, relaxing and even share them online. It’s pretty In order to unlock the level editor mode in “Elebits,” you Wheee! even, ramping up in difficulty only after cool if you’re so inclined; not, if not. must rank a C or higher. Ranking B or higher will net you all (as opposed to some) items corresponding to each level you so The ratings: — Excellent — Very good — Good — Fair — Poor ranked. THE PLAYER’S PAGE The latest trends, tips and reviews on video games FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “WarioWare: Smooth Moves” and “Lost Planet: Extreme Condition” TOP PC GAMES 2006 Furious The top-selling PC video games in 2006. Title Publisher 1. “World of Warcraft” (T) Vivendi 2. “The Sims 2” (T) Electronic Arts WHIMSY ... 3. “The Sims 2: Business” (T) Electronic Arts 4. “Star Wars: Empire at War” (T) LucasArts 5. “The Sims 2: Pets” (T) Electronic Arts 6. “Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” (M) Take 2 7. “Age of Empires III” (T) Microsoft 8. “The Sims 2: Family Fun Stuff” (T) Electronic Arts Nintendo 9. “Civilization IV” (E 10+) Take 2 “WarioWare: Smooth it, you invoke Anyway true to the “Wari- , in thematic clusters, lasts but 10. “The Sims 2: Nightlife” (T) Electronic Arts Moves” in-game activi- oWare” theme, none of the a couple of seconds, and that Provided by NPD Group/NPD Funworld Nintendo; Wii; $49.99 ties like sawing capsulated, really-really-mini doesn’t exactly add up to hours ESRB Rating: Everyone (10+) logs, thumb (or “micro,” of you will) games of fresh gameplay (repetitive Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide: Early childhood (EC); Everyone (E); Everyone 10 and older (E10+); Teen (T); Mature (M); Adults , (crude humor mild cartoon wrestling, are particularly difficult in , gameplay sure; wholly novel Only (AO); Rating Pending (RP). violence) picking noses and of themselves; the trick and innovative, yes; and fit- Score: 4 out of 5 (seriously), is to figure out what, exactly , , fully additive, indisputably but pumping iron, is required to complete them. never as fresh as the first fix). THE 411 By SHAUN CONLIN shaving, crank- Each is thrown at you random- , Similarly “Smooth Moves” Cox News Service ing, etc. ly with no instruction other sports only a token two-player News and developments from the game industry Proof positive that Nin- It’s a testament to the Wii-mote’s wide-ranging mo- than how to grip your ’mote (like an umbrella, handlebar, mode (played from a single Wii-mote plus the nunchuk Alienware launches super system tendo has a lock on heavy-duty tion-sensitive sensibilities, TV remote, etc.) before the attachment for the second Alienware, purveyors of pre- , whimsy “WarioWare: Smooth if nothing else — also a fine frantic little task timer (a lit player, or by passing the mium PC and laptops, just launched Moves” for Wii pretty much example of its minute-motion fuse) commences. It keeps you Wii-mote around like a hot yet another super system with the exemplifies what Wii is all precision, with most activi- on your toes, keeps the gray potato), which is short-lived, Area-51 m5790 Special Edition note- about. Like “WarioWare” titles ties easily actuated within a matter stimulated with rapid- anticlimactic, offline only and book, the latest high-performance before it, “Smooth Moves” is forearm’s radius of your start- fire flightiness and pretty feels completely like an ad hoc notebook to join the Alienware’s a collection of “microgames,” ing position. If you ever snap much dares you not to break afterthought, though the game rather extensive mobile lineup. some 200 of them, actually , your wriststrap and send the out laughing at the ridiculous- clearly begs for more “Wii On top of signature stylishness Alienware each utilizing the system’s Wii-mote flying off to shat- ness of each situation because Sports”- or “Mario Party”-like and eye-catching design, the m5790 crafty Wii-mote in totally ex- ter the chandelier, that pretty that most likely would make interactivity with at least two sports some new technologies, such The Area -51 clusive ways: tilting, swinging, much makes you a clumsy oaf you fail. players, ideally more, right out as overclocked Intel Core 2 Duo pro- m5790 Special stabbing, swatting, balancing, and has nothing to do with Still, in spite of the game’s of the box. cessors, ATI Mobility Radeon X1900 Edition. mashing and manhandling the hardware. You probably obvious content abundance, Alas, it’s mostly just you graphics and Blu-ray optical drives the thing like no other control- shouldn’t be handling power on the whole, it’s too short picking that nose all by your along with other boffo components like dual hard drives with ler ought to be handled. With tools or small children, either. because each game, delivered lonesome. up to 400GB of storage capacity and a 17-inch widescreen 1080p LCD display . ... and mechanized xenocide The horsepower and graphics capability of the Area-51 m5790 Special Edition is also innately suited to the much- ballyhooed/overly hyped release of Microsoft Windows Vista Premium and Ultimate Editions, and all Alienware systems ordered through Jan. 30 are eligible for free upgrades to Mi- “Lost Planet: Extreme Condition” Cliché that it is, “Lost Planet” is worth crosoft Windows Vista. Capcom; Xbox 360; $59.99 a gander, first for its freakishly excel- “The Alienware Area-51 m5790 Special Edition offers knock- ESRB Rating: Teen (13+) (animated blood, lent visuals on/in/over/around a wholly out multimedia performance for users who routinely perform mild language, violence) original, breathlessly expansive ice world a multitude of power-hungry applications like gaming and — though you’d expect such visual excel- digital content management,” said Mark Vena, vice president Score: 4 out of 5 , lence on a modern-day new-generation of marketing for Alienware. , Evidently the world console — but also for its slant on the needs another giant alien otherwise redundant destroy-all-aliens bug-killing game. Aside mandate. As it happens, there’s a game- from the obvious steal play parameter that has you on a perpet- TIPS OF THE WEEK from similar sci-fi shooters ual deathwatch, even if you’re just sitting Playing secrets to help you master your favorite games (like “Resistance: Fall of there, admiring the view. Capcom Man” on PS3 and “Gears You require energy to live on the You need to complete the single of War” on Xbox 360, hell-hath-frozen-over world and to oper- player game of “WarioWare: Smooth lar of energy they cough up and you pick themselves stealing from ate your equipment — including some Moves” before you can access all the up as sustenance. such xenocidal games and superlatively sweet giant robots and mech- multiplayer stuff, though just com- So there’s nothing new here but a cool, movies like “Starship Troopers” and, to anized man-craft. Unfortunately said en- , pleting the Tiny Wario stages will crisp take on alien-bug-shooter conven- some extent, “ Aliens”), Capcom’s “Lost ergy is always on the dwindle; there’s not unlock a scant few multiplayer games. tions, replete with cookie-cutter storyline, Planet: Extreme Condition” is as much a much time to think nor duck-and-cover, all hopelessly hokey dialogue, big guns, big- tribute to the stalwart genre as it is just a the time running and gunning and killing If you’re a glutton for punishment, ger explosions and unapologetically trite, likable take on it. enemies for the tasty little orange globu- completing “Lost Planet: Extreme till-we-meet-again big-bug-boss battles. , Condition” on the Easy Normal or The ratings: — Excellent — Very good — Good — Fair — Poor Hard difficulty setting will unlock Extreme Difficulty . Nintendo THE VIDEO GAME PAGE The latest trends, tips and reviews FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Strawberry Shortcake: DDR” TOP PS3 GAMES The top-selling PlayStation 3 games in December 2006. ‘Shortcake’ Title 1. “Resistance: Fall of Man” (M) 2. “Madden NFL 07” (E) 3. “Need for Speed: Carbon” (E 10+) 4. “Call of Duty 3” (T) Publisher Sony Electronic Arts Electronic Arts Activision SHORTCHANGE 5. “Fight Night: Round 3” (T) Electronic Arts 6. “Marvel Ultimate Alliance” (T) Activision 7. “NBA 07” (E) Sony Konami 8. “Tony Hawk’s Project 8” (T) Activision 9. “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07” (E) Electronic Arts “Strawberry Shortcake: Dance Dance directly into your TV set with the entire it calls you a 10. “NBA 2K7” (E) Take 2 Revolution” game residing on a microchip within, so loser (figuratively , Provided by NPD Group/NPD Funworld Konami; TV Plug ’N’ Play; $29.99 no console is required. It’s also inexpen- anyway) or a ESRB Rating: Not Rated sive, which in this case, also means “freeplay” mode Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) guide: Early childhood (EC); Everyone (E); Everyone 10 and older (E10+); Teen (T); Mature (M); Adults “cheap” in the worst sense of the word. that just rattles on Score: 1 out of 5 Only (AO); Rating Pending (RP). Graphically it couldn’t look worse on , without scoring misses, but oth By SHAUN CONLIN an 8-bit game console circa 1988. The ren- erwise lacks any indicators of progress or Cox News Service ditions of Strawberry and friends, danc adaptive reward system that at least hints THE 411 ing along like virtual buddies with as at a sense of fun within the ignoble frus tration of it all. News and developments from the game industry t’s a sad state of affairs when the best much animated conviction as a slide show I thing to be said about a product is "nice packaging," but that's exactly the case with “Strawberry Shortcake: Dance at half speed, are splotchy and blocky (and way too pink). The audio, mean while, is similarly painful; grating, “Strawberry Shortcake: DDR” was test ed using seven 7-year-olds at a birthday . party It was the low point of the after The Force can travel with you THQ Wireless has made a mobile version of the super suc Dance Revolution.” squawky electronica that wouldn’t noon; no one seemed keen on practicing cessful “Lego Star Wars” game available exclusively through Theoretically this is a kids , have cut muster on a digital egg . to see if it might get fun eventually There Sprint. Unlike its console counterparts, which cover each tril gamebased on Konami’s preemi timer 20 years ago. The dance beats were better things to do, after all, like ogy in two different titles (i.e. “Lego Star Wars I” and “II”), nently popular “DDR” games, in are as convincing as a dropped bag playing musical chairs to tunes cranking mobile “Lego” is based on just a single chapter in the saga, which you actuate in-game dance of groceries. out of the iPod speaker dock, playing real “Star Wars Episode III; Revenge of the Sith.” steps (as prompted by on-screen Worse than all that, gameplay it videogames on the Nintendo Wii or Therein, players take on the role of Anakin Skywalker as he visual cues and an audible beat) self is totally unforgiving, totally . watching paint dry That this “Strawberry battles to rescue Sen. Palpatine from the evil General through a large, button-laden mat oblivious to the fact that rhythmic Shortcake: DDR” can pretend to be a self Grievous. Searching for Obi-Wan, players must solve a series that spreads out on the floor in placement of a foot or two on contained package of healthful musical of puzzles and move through 18 levels of action using their . front of the TV However, in reality it’s , vaguely specific splotches on the floor — aerobics is just an insult to most young lightsaber against battle droids, droid commanders and just a shameless, hopeless, maddening without looking, mind you, because you girls’ basic ideas of what music is sup droidekas. As masters of the Force, players can also move cash grab using two popular brand need to keep your eyes on the screen to posed to sound like and what modern in Lego objects around to build new pathways to explore the names. figure out where your feet should end up teractive entertainment actually looks ship. The game’s two redemptive qualities on any particular beat — is not something like. “Lego Star Wars” is available as a one-time purchase/ also represent its greatest flaws. First, the average 7-year-old girl is going to have It’s just a cheap toy in a colorful box. It download for $6.99 or for $3.49 per month. More info at “Strawberry Shortcake: DDR” is a stand- down pat. There’s no training mode and looks endearing, but it will invariably end www.thqwireless.com or www.sprint.com. alone, battery-operated, plug-’n’-play no “easy” button. There’s just an arcade up in the $1-takes-all box at your next videogame system; a dance mat that jacks mode that lets you miss a few steps before garage sale. TIPS OF THE WEEK Playing secrets to help you master your favorite games QUICK PICK When playing “Rainbow Six: Vegas” (Xbox 360), shoot the “Brain Boost: Beta Wave” / “Brain and taskmaster — in this case, lumped together in one vol- bottle of Axe sitting on a ledge on the Fremont Street level. Boost: Gamma Wave” Makoto Shichida of Shichida ume. Sure, both versions are Doing so will unlock movie-like outtakes and “Rainbow” Majesco; Nintendo DS; $19.99 each Method fame (while Nintendo’s “value priced” at just $19.99, spoofs which play out on the roof. ESRB Rating: E (Everyone) resident brainiac is the now fa but two-as-one for $30 would mous Ryuta Kawashima). have been a better deal. If you’re playing “Resistance: Fall of Score: 2.5 out of 5 But from the get-go, “Brain , Secondly “Brain Boost” is not Man” online and noticing several guys with Tapping in to Nintendo’s deftly fash- Boost” flies contrary to form by particularly sophisticated, at really slick outfits (skins) that you don’t ioned and phenomenally successful assuming consumers are stupid. least not when compared to seem to have access to, that’s because you “Brain” game market “Boost” waxes at “franchise” similar DS games. need to complete the campaign (single-play (with “Brain Age” and status with the availability of The quizzes and drills are er) mode on Superhuman difficulty to un “Big Brain two titles released simultane thrown at you multiple-choice lock the Black Ops skin for use in online Academy”), Majesco’s ously under one banner, i.e., style, so even if you guess at . play Finish the campaign mode with all Skill “Brain Boost” games “Brain Boost: Gamma Wave” Majesco answers, there’s still a chance Points (on Superhuman difficulty) and you’ll offer a frightfully simi and “Brain Boost: Beta Wave.” you’ll come off as smart. unlock the Black Ops skin w/Skeleton Head. Oooooh. lar, strung-together The former tends toward concentration It’s not all bad. “Brain Boost” is worth collection of IQ tests and cognitive functions while the latter is sinking your teeth into whenever you and cognitive-skill more of a memory-challenge game. need to whittle away some spare time, drills, complete with Unfortunately neither is bursting with , stimulating your gray matter, if not actu ASK THE EXPERT certified neuro-guru as your host, mentor content, both could/should have been ally enhancing it. Having troubles with your game? Post questions on Shaun Conlin’s message board at www.ageofplay .com/forum. The ratings: — Excellent — Very good — Good — Fair — Poor Responses may also appear here in the coming weeks. Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate for Cox News Service. (800) 255-6734. *For release the week of January 29, 2007.
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