Tuesday, November 27, 2007
WWE Smackdown vs. RAW 2008 (360)
I hadn't watched wrestling in a long, long time, and I happened to come across it on TV a few months ago. What did I see? A leprechaun running around with dynamite trying to blow up Jonathan Coachman. Despite my hopes, SvR2008 does not feature a mode that allows you to play as a TNT-wielding leprechaun. What it does feature are several new fighting styles that actually influence the way you play the game. High flyers can perform "possum pins" to trick your opponents, dirty wrestlers can use the refs as shields, and brawlers can go into a bit of a berserker mode. It's a nice new addition to a series that suffers from a bit of Madden Syndrome (same game each year, just with roster updates). It also features a new submission system that gives the player more control via the right analog stick. All in all, it's still a solid wrestling title that's sure to satisfy fans of the genre.
Spiderman: Friend or Foe (360)
Many months ago, I saw a teaser for this game that made me think it would be a free-roamer like the other Spiderman games. This would have been great, but it unfortunately resembles a watered-down version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance (only with two players instead of four). It's nothing more than an exercise in button mashing as you travel through bland environments and pummel countless nearly-identical baddies. Everything from the level design to the controls to the half-assed boss fights reminds me of a sub-par PSX title rather than a next-gen effort. Could have been a great free-roamer if the time and effort was put into it, but it's not even worth a rental as-is.
Never in my long history of videogaming have I seen such a blatant case of developmental plagiarism as Conan. The team behind it took virtually every single aspect of God of War and copied-and-pasted it into the world previously occupied by Governor Schwarzenegger. That's not to say Conan is a "bad" game exactly, it's just wholly uninspired. Once you get past the fact that it's a ripoff, it's actually kind of fun to hack through countless enemies and save the occasional topless maiden. Some of the kill animations are particularly brutal, but the combat gets repetitive fairly quickly.
Time Crisis 4 (PS3)
Time Crisis 4 is exactly what you expect it to be. It features a terribly written and voice-acted story, old-school arcade shooter gameplay, and the same tired "pop out of cover, shoot, go back into cover" system. The new GunCon model is awkward and could have done without the odd half-controller apparatus sticking out of its side, as the FPS mode is extremely generic. This kind of game works alright in a bowling alley arcade, but it's certainly not worth the $90 suggested retail price.
Scene It! (360)
Scene It is a fantastic move by Microsoft. Considering the 360 is seen as primarily a "hardcore" console, it's great for them to introduce a game that casual or even non-gamers are sure to love. Most casual gamers probably won't have four controllers, so it was another smart move to bundle four Scene It-specific controllers into the package. The game itself features a ton of movie trivia that anyone can enjoy, and it takes about two seconds to explain each minigame to those who haven't played it. This game is a great purchase for anyone with non-gamer friends.
Medal of Honor Heroes 2 (Wii)
If there's one thing that could save me from my complete apathy towards World War II games, it's a good first-person shooter on the Wii. There may be way, way too many games in this genre, but the fantastic nunchuk-and-remote controls really do make this worth checking out. If MOH Heroes 2 were released on the Xbox 360 or PS3, it wouldn't be any different than the other entries in the crowded genre. It's predictable, the missions aren't anything special, and the multiplayer is fairly bare-boned, but the controls are excellent. If anything, it's a great sign that third-parties may finally be figuring out how to use the Wii controls well in an FPS. Whether you're using the Wii Zapper or the standard method, it's hard to not notice how much better this works than the dual-analog setup.