Thursday, March 02, 2006

Game On: Games that got missed

First off, have you seen GamePolitics lovely Video Game Legislation Tracker yet? Find out where in the U.S. The Man is planning to stomp on your First Amendment rights to kill hookers in Grand Theft Auto via this excellent resource.

For those of you who don't know, I have a column on games and gaming that runs in the paper at the end of every month. For February, I thought I'd take a look back at five games that came out at the end of '05 that, for one reason or another, I never got around to checking out. Here's the result:

Oh, how I hate the Christmas holidays.

It’s not the merrymaking, peace on Earth stuff that bothers me, it’s that it’s the time of year when video game publishers deluge the stores with their products. Between the end of October and early December, there is a veritable mountain of titles recklessly competing for consumers’ attention.

The result, of course, is that a lot of good games get buried under the big-name blitz. This month, I shall attempt to rectify that by looking at five solid games that for whatever reason passed me by last year.

If you know of a game you think got short shrift, drop me a line and I’ll add it to the list in a future column.

Activision, for PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, Xbox 360 and PC

rated M for Mature (blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, strong language, use of alcohol), $29.99.

There have been a number of Western-themed games in recent years, but few have actually managed to hit the bull’s-eye. Kudos to "Gun" then, for actually managing to entertain despite
some control issues.

The story will be familiar to anyone who’s seen a John Wayne film. In the game you play Colton White, a young gunslinger who, while trying to discover his true identity, finds himself up against a ruthless railroad baron, not to mention the usual assortment of bandits, renegades and other Wild West cutthroats.

While the main story is short, there are a number of side missions and minigames to try out, including poker games and hunting down wanted criminals. I found aiming and shooting my
six-shooter a bit awkward at times, but the missions themselves are challenging and varied enough that I didn’t mind too much. Those looking for a good interactive oater will get a lot out of "Gun," despite its brevity.

"Soul Calibur 3"
Namco, for PlayStation 2

rated T for Teen (suggestive themes, violence), $49.99.

The first "Soul Calibur" game was one of my favorite titles for the Dreamcast console, and possible one of my favorite games of all time, so it stands to reason that I would be eager to check out the latest sequel to this popular fighting franchise.

The highlight of this new iteration is the character creation section, where you can build an outrageous-looking fighter from the ground up. Sadly, you can’t use your character in the main story section, but he or she is available in other modes, including the new, not terribly interesting "Chronicles of the Sword" mode.

"Soul Calibur 3" maintains the same good looks and fluid game play of its predecessors. The game desperately needs an online competitive mode, and it would be nice if the basic storyline
made some sort of sense. Still, all the basic building blocks for a solid fighting game are in place here, and fans of the series should enjoy this iteration.

"Genji: Dawn of the Samurai"
Sony, for PlayStation 2

rated M for Mature (blood and gore, violence), $39.99.

The creator of the popular "Onimusha" samurai vs. monsters series returns with a new slam-bang action game from his new development company, Game Republic. It’s another samurai vs. monsters game, but it’s so polished and smart that it avoids unwelcome
comparisons rather nimbly.

You choose between two warriors, one a deft swordsman, the other a big bruiser. Most of the time you can deftly take on a group of enemies with a few quick button presses, but when things get really hairy, you can slow time down and take out an army of ugly foes with impressive ease.

Complaints have been lobbied about the game’s length, which is rather brief. But I’d rather
play something short and sweet than something that overstayed its welcome. "Genji" definitely doesn’t do that.

"Legend of Kay"
Capcom, for the PlayStation 2

rated E10+ for ages 10 and up (alcohol reference, cartoon violence), $29.99.

It’s rare that you find a cartoonish platform game that makes sly asides to WMDs and "terrorist training camps." That’s not to suggest that "Legend" is some dreary political satire — it’s not — but to show that the game’s developers had more in mind than just churning out

The game pits the surly cat warrior Kay against a horde of ignoble gorillas and rats that have invaded his country. The game blends its cutesy cartoon look with a martial arts philosophy and feel to create a surprisingly deep and captivating game.

"Legend of Kay" got somewhat sidelined last year by the "Jak"/ "Ratchet"/ "Sly" trifecta. It’s not as pretty or as polished as those games (the voice acting in particular is pretty bad), b
ut it’s a satisfying platformer all the same, and one that will easily please fans of the genre.

"Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble"
Capcom, for Nintendo DS

rated T for Teen (cartoon violence), $29.99.

Often when a lot of big console franchises get translated to the DS, they feel like paltry afterthoughts. Not so with this latest chapter in the "Viewtiful Joe" saga. It manages to capture the thrill of the original while adding enough flavor so that it doesn’t feel like a retread.

The game sees the movie-styled super-hero once again being called to action, this time with powers that make good use of the DS touchscreen.

You can, for example, "scratch" the screen to bring items down upon your foes’ heads. You can also split the screen in half to move obstacles or drag it up to zoom in on hard-to-reach puzzles.

"Double Trouble" does a really good job of incorporating the DS’ unique abilities into what is already a pretty solid action game. Whether you’re a fan of the series or just looking for a nice addition to your DS library, you should check this title out.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


At 3:39 PM, Blogger jason @ RIOT said...

so...finally reviewed GUN, huh?



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home