Bumper-to-Bumper Autocide; Wrestling in High Heels
Playing BURNOUT REVENGE, the latest in the crash 'em up Burnout series, almost feels like autocide. You're wiping out so many cars by crashing into them and onto them, GM and Ford should recruit Jack Bauer to go CTU on your butt. While it's not the amazing surprise that Burnout 3: Takedown was, the game still provides the quick chills and thrills of bumper-to-bumper bust upswith an alternative rock 'n roll soundtrack that kicks like the better Lower East Side rock bands. Like each performer at Lach's Anti-hoot, one of the allures here is that each race is pretty short. Add special effects of lurid pyro and twisted metal that Hollywood can't touch, and you've got the second best Burnout to date. (Last year's was a smidgeon better since it felt so new.)
One of the things I've always disliked about wrestling games is that they didn't feel like the humorously melodramatic soap opera they are on TV. Without the interesting fighting or compelling, operatic tales, I certainly didn't feel like a wrestler. WWE DAY OF RECKONING 2 changes that somewhat with an extended story mode. You've climbed up through the ranks to become a top dog, but the doggone title is stolen. You try to retrieve it with the support of your galpal, who happens to be skinny looker Stacy "How Does She Wrestle in Heels?" Keibler. With some of the best graphics seen on the GameCube, some decent (though not perfect) A.I., and a fighting system that makes you care, this is an essential title for the wrestling fan, and for the curious (even if you're not really going to get Stacy Keiblernot even if you're that drooling dog Neil Strauss feigning in Style mode.)
187 Ride or Die
There's street cred and then there's street cred. 50 Cent arguably had more cred with Get Rich Or Die Tryin' than with The Massacresimply because he got rich and didn't have to die tryin'. But then there's the desperate try for cred. 187 RIDE OR DIE is an urban racing game with a lot of shooting of AK-47's. For bling, the makers added some story elements by Straight Outta Brooklyn director Matty Rich. The story? Regain turf captured by a rival gang. The game's mainly just racing and shooting, like the makers were on some sort of OCD kick and couldn't do anything else but race and shoot, race and shoot.
Beat Down: Fists of Vengeance
Then, there's BEAT DOWN: FISTS OF VENGEANCE with these too-pretty characters who've been framed by the local mob. They seek redemption via vengeance. Here, the story's intense and varied, but there's a problem with everything from camera angles to the repetitive fighting and the interrogations, which become banal and stupid. It should have been called "Beat Down: Fists of the Dense."
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment
Finally, there's GLIMMERATI for the N-Gage phone, a racing game full of beautiful, rich people. Remember the triple-digit millionaires I mentioned? You're one of them. In Glimmerati, there's no more money to be gained to increase your snivelling power over people and things. It's just racing in super-pimped vehicles for pride (its own kind of power). Because the game is almost old school, I like it. When the words "Your Engine Has Been Tampered With" appear on the screen, I'm pissed off and want to win races. It's kind of like Racing With the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. The Finnish-makers only mistake: Where's that Lizzie Grubman and her crazy SUV?
Developer: Sammy Studios
For: PS2, Xbox
Cowboys and vampires? Alright, it's been done before, as far back as 1959 in the movie Curse of the Undead. But it hasn't been done much in video games, and that's part of what makes DARKWATCH a hoot to play. The gamemakers actually create suspense really well, when they're not throwing so many monsters on the screen that the tension gets a little lost. As outlaw Jericho Cross (cheesy Biblical reference here for the Pat Robertson in you) you've got to stop the various vampires before they wreak havoc on Jericho's Western world. And Jericho thought he was going to retire from the world of crime and ride into the sunset? Well, ride he does. But you know what sunset means, don't you? It means vampires up the wazoo.
Dungeon Siege II
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Usually, the thought of clicking through an role-playing game holds about as much allure for me as drinking the floodwaters of the Katrina-ridden French Quarter. But DUNGEON SIEGE II is fairly different. Sure, it's full of magic, monsters, and fantasy, the usual suspects. However, the varied allies, including pets that become warrior-tough, are really engaging. And the graphics, especially during spell-casting, are so lurid and imaginative, you feel you're some old-ass psychedelics-ingesting hippie. What a trip. Did the ghost of Jerry Garcia work on this game?
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