Friday, February 10, 2006

VG REVIEW: Quick Bytes

While I obviously can't review every game that comes down the pike, I do try to at least take a look at everything that comes my way. Not every game warrents a full review, however, for a number of reasons, namely my own lack of time. For that reason, I started the "Quick Bytes" section awhile back. It's just brief reviews of new games that run every few weeks or whenever I feel like doing it. And with that introduction, here are a few samples taken from the past couple of months. Enjoy.

"The Sims 2"
Electronic Arts
for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube and Nintendo DS,
console version rated T for Teen (crude humor, sexual themes, violence)
DS version rated E 10+
$39.99(console) or $24.99 (DS).

These console adaptations of the popular PC game are nowhere near as full-featured as the title that inspired them (your Sims won't, for example, age or have offspring) but it manages to be a relatively entertaining game despite its deficiencies. The story-based version requires players to complete a number of odd missions like finding a job or buying more stuff for your home. Occasionally these missions feel like busywork, but usually they prove to be a pleasant enough time-waster that harkens to the original "Sims" game. Whatever you do, though, definitely avoid the DS version of the game, which is at best tiresome and at worst horrid.

"Battalion Wars"
Nintendo, for the GameCube
rated T for Teen (violence), $49.99.

This army strategy game started out as a big-screen version of the popular "Advance Wars" series, but got morphed into something a bit more complex. Here you can command soldiers, tanks, artillery, planes and more in an attempt to take the ground and win the day. The cutesy art style keeps things from getting too gruesome or gory (soldiers just fall down and fade away after being hit).

Unfortunately, the commands are complex and at times confusing. A good deal of preparation and cunning is needed to succeed, which pretty much put me out of the running early. Still, those who love strategy games shouldn't be put off by the game's cartoonish look; there's a lot of meat on the bone here.

"The Bible Game"
Crave Entertainment, for PlayStation 2 and Xbox
rated E for Everyone, $19.99.

This is about what you'd expect, assuming you expect a dull, anemic trivia game that does little to engage or teach.

"The Bible Game" takes a "Mario Party" approach, with up to four players competing on a simulated game show. Problems abound. For one thing, the trivia questions are dumbed down to ridiculous levels.

Conversely, it's too easy to fall behind, thanks to a random "Act of God," with no chance of getting back on top. Add to the punch horrible minigames and the lack of a decent single-player version, and you've got a poor excuse for a game, even for a budget title. There are many good ways to offer religious instruction through interactive entertainment, but none of them is on display here.

"MediEvil Resurrection"
Sony, for PlayStation Portable
rated T for Teen (animated blood, fantasy violence, mild language, suggestive themes)

This remake of the popular PlayStation game would be much more enjoyable if not for two annoying factors: a sluggish camera and poor collision detection. The lead character, undead hero Sir Daniel Fortesque, isn't necessarily the fastest thing on his two bony feet, yet the game's camera has the darndest time keeping up with him and frequently gets caught in corners and other unwelcome places.

Add to that the fact that your attacks will only connect half the time and you have a platform game that should've been a lot better. It's a shame, because it gets so many other things (level design, weapon upgrading, sense of humor) right.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2005


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