calls again by wuzhenguang


									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.

      calls again
                                                                                                                                                   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)
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Electronic Arts
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Electronic Arts
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Global Star
                                                                                                                                                   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)
                                           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

                                                                                                                                                Top 10 PC games sold the week of Dec. 17-23, 2006.

                                                                                                                                                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
                                                                                        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”

                                                                                                                                                   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

       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
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

                                                                                                                                                  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)
                                                                                                                                                                                      Electronic Arts
                                                                                                                                                                                      Electronic Arts

                                                                                                                                              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 or
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
                                                                                                                                                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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