By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Chuck Wilson
Back in the 1600s, Mulla Sadra was da bomb. As one of the most important of the Persian philosophers with his existence-quiddity concepts, Mulla Sadra might have had something to say about PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE TWO THRONES. One of the Mulla's prime tenets was that reality and existence are identical. But this latest installment of the Prince series doesn't feel that real from the get-go, certainly not as real as year's challenging Warrior Within. There, you felt powerful gaming pseudo-reality from the moment you began when you moved through the bowels of a ghostly ship. Here, while the game showcases the Prince's power later on, the Prince begins in a broken down city, trying to jump around and scale some walls. Yeh, I know the maker of the game wants to show the Prince's futility, but I feel there has to be more adventure to keep my interest, to keep my existence real. And yeh, there's a stunning movie sequence to begin with a ship, a beautiful woman and a battle. But starting the gameplay with running and jumping and scaling walls within a fortress didn't make me want to go much furthereven though there were fairly rich gaming rewards when I did.
Follow the white rabbit. Wacky Matrix diehards who love conundrums and even loved Revolutions know that the rabbit means part of the answer to the enigma. In THE MATRIX: PATH OF NEO, you do get to wander through the trilogy as Neo, which didn't happen with the error-filled Enter The Matrix. In Neo, there are lots of great cut scenes from the movies, too. And the game does set the proper mood immediately: of green-toned sci-fi loneliness, quietude, and sweet, slow motion surreality when fights do occur. However, Shiny, the gamemakers, really had problems with programming the camera angles. And in a game, any game, there's nothing worse than that to make a geek stop playing. The answer IS out there: maybe in the next Matrix game, not this one, not even for geeks who worshipped Revolutions.
My favorite game of the week is a simple one. PINBALL HALL OF FAME: THE GOTTLIEB COLLECTION takes a handful of classic pinball tables and puts them on the PSP. Do they work on the small screen? Heck, yeh! Somehow, with seamless scrolling, you feel as through you're seeing the whole playing field as you play each game. In fact, you see them better than you would in real life because there's no glare from the pinball glass. And since you're playing with headphones, you get to hear all the sound effects you wouldn't, say, within the din of the Horseshoe Bar. There's even the history of each table for pinheads to read about. Plus, you get to explore an old school arcade and even get your fortune told by one of those old mechanical gypsies. It feels real and so does my existence: Mulla Sadra would approve.
It doesn't have Project Gotham physics, but it feels pretty close to real racing. MARIO KART DS lets you compete within the wacky worlds of Mario. Sure, the hermit in you can speed solo, but the most amazing feature about this game is the ability to play via Wi-Fi the world over. With the variety 30 colorful courses, and one particular racing mode which makes you blow into the DS microphone, you can't go wrong. Go ahead, put your lips together and blow.
Publisher: Dimps/Sonic Team
SONIC RUSH (DS), starring everyone's favorite hedgehog, makes very good use of the handheld's dual gaming screens. During 14 levels, Sonic meets up with new character Blaze The Cat. As they race through obstacles swiftly, you'll feel like you're part of a roller coaster ride through the cosmos, and, hey, you need a dream world like that while your stuck in strike traffic.
Bratz Rock Angelz
Publisher: Blitz Games
I can count the games released for girls this year on one hand. But there's hope. When the Bratz doll craze began about five years ago, the hip, ultra-stylin' toys were so scarce, folks had trouble buying them, even on Ebay. Finally, there's a Bratz game which lets you live the Bratz life, kind of like the Hilton sisters, but these cartoons are smarter. BRATZ ROCK ANGELZ lets start your own fashion magazine, have fun with other Bratz and travel the world with your own rock band. No, they don't make a sex video.
How about a game with just a few pixels? If you want to go old school, crank up the Cory Hart, dust off the Cabbage Patch doll and play the 80s-era Atari games with ATARI FLASHBACK 2. You get two Atari 2600 joysticks, the console and 40 games like Pong, Pitfall, and Centipede. Just plug it into your TV to go retro wild. And give that Cabbage Patch doll a good punch when you lose at Centipede.
Agatha Christie And Then There Were None
Developer: Adventure Company
"The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves they don't give a damn," said Agatha Christie. No one's bright and bushy-tailed in AGATHA CHRISTIE AND THEN THERE WERE NONE where 11 "sailor boys" on a mysterious island begin to drop like flies. The nicely written, graphically intense adventure game also includes a copy of Christie's best-selling book.
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