By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday is milquetoast compared to BLITZ: THE LEAGUE, and so is Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer's brutal "Instant Replay." The thing that those two offerings have that BLITZ doesn't, sadly, is a compelling, decently-written story. While the game play in the satirical BLITZ is humorous, it's complex enough. In fact, with repetitive cutscenes during gameplay, it can be banal. Now, here's a game that thrives on the idea of titillation: Cheerleaders as whores and violence on the field as the golden rule. While the violence often works as good satire, the cheerleaders as ho's thing falls apart just like the story. When THE HELL are we going to get great writing AS A STANDARD in video games?
The girl's gonna have a ball: that's what's great about METROID PRIME PINBALL, the pinball game for the DS that stars sci-fi icon Samus Aran, who's morphed into a ball and into our hearts for decades. Here's a synapse-splitting game with lots of different playfields, the right ball physics and appearances by Samus (battling bosses galore between levels.) If you crave pinball in a world that just doesn't have enough pinball machines in bars anymore, then you'll love this one.
And yet, it's not as amazing as MILE-HIGH PINBALL for the Nokia N-Gage. With 83 playfields that play up and up and up into the heavens (hence, the title), it's perfect for a cell phone screen. It feels like Pachinko on steroids with its choose-a-ball system which has everything from pinballs that fly to pinballs that bomb. You can also create your own pinball playfield. It's a very surprising dark horse for the N-Gage, whose games keep getting better and better.
It's the kind of game that Steven Colbert would make. STUBBS is clearly the best game in the genre this year. The Mature-rated game mixes the mechanics of Halo with a twist that recalls bit of Destroy All Humans! another great game, released earlier in the year). Here you'll attack humans in the futuristic Stepford-like town of Punch Bowl using everything from your severed head to your own zombie gas. The whole game, from the way characters move to the soundtrack to the imaginative story, is full of top notch humor, camp and horror.
Inspired by Sam Raimi's zombie movies and employing the voice of B-movie icon Bruce Campbell, REGENERATION is full of the movie series' cheesy humor. Plus, lead character Ash wields one powerful chainsaw to rip through zombies. Yet it suffers from a flawed targeting mechanism and, sadly, truly innovative gameplay and story. However, if you're a fan of the Evil Dead franchise, you'll take your hobbling zombie ass to the store and buy this one.
The follow up to one of last year's creepier games is somewhat disappointing this time around. This time, insane criminal Torque leaves the penitentiary to find a spine-chilling city filled with monsters. While eeriness abounds, the violence and cussing seem cliché. And the graphics aren't that great, even on the Xbox. It's scary that TIES THAT BIND didn't get the time it deserves in development. It needed to be more like Oz meets Hannibal meets The History of Violence.
Fans of the first PlayStation loved this game whose graphics I always thought were inspired by Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas. While MEDIEVIL RESURRECTION doesn't feel that much different from the original, it's been fattened up. For instance, protagonist Sir Daniel Fortesque has 200 moves with which to whomp the various spirits and creeps that keep him from battling the evil sorcerer Zarok.
Even though it looks like an old school 2D game, this vampire hunting offering starring Soma Cruz, is so full of adventure, varied weapons, RPG elements and canny fiends, DAWN OF SORROW is one of the better additions to the Castlevania series. There's even a mode where you become all powerful, pretty darn ugly super demon. Plus, you can cast spells with the DS' touchscreen for a bewitchingly good time.
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