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Not only does The Clone Republic feature taut writing and a truly imaginative plot full of introspection and philosophizing (Kent even quotes Plato), you can tell Kent had video gaming on his mind when he took on the project. Muses Kent, "The Clone Republic can make a good game, if it falls into the hands of a good team. All the elements are there. It has combat epic sequences and smaller man-to-man skirmishes. It has a wide range of locations that will lend themselves varied gaming experience. The battles in the book have unique goals and characteristics—and most of them are not the clichéd battle types you find in so often. The text leaves room for a wide variety of mini-games. Also, like the 'Half-Life' series, The Clone Republic starts with the premise that a fleshed out storyline will lend itself to a richer gaming experience." Kent's book begins a new series for Ace: the followup, Rogue Clone, will be released in September. 


Daxter
Publisher: Sony
Developer: Ready At Dawn Studios

Kingdom Hearts II: High-fiving Disney style
photo: Courtesy of Square Enix/BVG
Kingdom Hearts II: High-fiving Disney style

Details

Kingdom Hearts II
Publisher: Square Enix/BVG
Developer: Square Enix
For: PS2

Blazing Angels
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Romania
For: Xbox 360

Far Cry Instincts Predator
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal/Crytek
For: Xbox 360
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    Games got music, too, and I don't mean the background soundtracks. They rock; they roll; they jazz. Don't take this lightly: I mean these three new PSP games would be welcomed, to paraphrase Wynton Marsalis, in the high houses of erudite scholarship and in the houses of ill repute as well. They are sometimes so creative, they can be like Wynton going out at Lincoln Center, doing Jelly Roll, singing "What Have I Done?," playing the washboard, and bringing out a trio of tap dancers as a surprise. This week, games for the PSP got the jazz on them. 

    I confess: I was never really a big fan of the Jak and Daxter franchise for the PS2. Certainly, I liked Jak's sidekick Daxter, the fictional, genetic anomaly of an otter mixed with a weasel. But I found Jak to be too one-dimensional. In fact, I sometimes wished the series would die. 

    Daxter gives the deserving, wisecracking ottsel his own platform in an intriguing, action-filled game that is one of the best this year for the PSP. With Daxter, you've got a highly detailed, Bugs Bunny-inspired creature whose every move is fun to watch and even more fun to play. Call it aggressive lunking and skulking full of lopes, scampers, and lunges. 

    In a way, playing is like hearing Curtis Stigers do scat. As Daxter moves through a sci-fi world rife with lurid colors and mammoth, Blade Runner-like flying objects, you're transported into futuristic but wacky environments where the ottsel must take the lowly job of pest exterminator in order to find his buddy, that boring Jak. From the beginning, the puff-chested Daxter has to use an electric flyswatter to kill bugs. Step lively; step lightly; do the Daxter dance with alacrity because there's more to come. Daxter gets his weapons upgrade quickly as the bugs become gigantic: everything from an electric fogger to a flamethrower. From the on-target camera angles to the sweet-yet-thoughtful writing, you just feel the assertive attention to detail every step of the way. If you think the game is a little slow at the beginning (you have to do a lot of crouching, walking, and running), don't sing the blues. Daxter gets a scooter to make navigating the delightfully massive world of Haven City much easier.


    Metal Gear Acid 2
    Publisher: Konami
    Developer: Kojima Productions

    Call this one electric jazz on acid. I'm always a sucker for a 3D gimmick, especially when it's part of a smart game. That's the case with Metal Gear Acid 2, one of those card-based tactical games. Don't let the 500 cards stop you from playing. The 3D mode lets you view game play and trailers for a wonderful spatial effect that will make you want to reach out and touch the virtual world of tough guy Solid Snake. You can even link the game to MGS3: Subsistence (but only after you acquire the camera option on the first disc).

    Here's how ACID 2 works. The cards you draw help you move along in the game. These cards are often like power-ups and they enhance the abilities of Solid along with his varied weapons. You'll need these powers to complete the missions in the game. But don't think of this game as something like poker or bridge because it has cards. It's full of action, very good graphics, and an easy-to-use interface. Add those very engaging 3D moments, and you've got a game that's much advanced when compared to its predecessor, last year's Metal Gear Acid.  

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