Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Pet Pals Animal Doctor (DS)
I'm going to go ahead and file this under the ever-increasing category of "Games I Am Not the Target Demographic For, But I'll Review Regardless." I've guided Shamu through his Deep Sea Adventures, groomed a virtual horse in My Horse & Me, and now I get to sit at my DS and figure out what's wrong with Mr. Johnson's parrot. This title is exactly what you'd imagine it would be: a veterinarian simulator. You start out by choosing the pet owner from the lobby, then proceed to question them about their pet's behavior prior to the injury/sickness/etc. From there, you draw blood via the touchscreen, tap circles to use the stethoscope, and perform other stylus motions to simulate various procedures. Think of it as Trauma Center Lite, for a younger crowd. There are many DS titles that aren't really "video games" per se, but more a sort of generalized portable entertainment, if that makes any sense. From Brain Age to Sudoku to Nintendogs, the DS has built a library of "kind-of games," and this is certainly one of them. Treating virtual pets is not for me, but I'm certainly not saying that it won't fascinate young animal lovers and aspiring vets. It's not a bad "game" (outside of the under-animated animals), it will just appeal to a very limited audience.
Like Tomb Raider, here's another series I thought was dead and gone after several recent installments ended up falling flat. The later N64 Turoks and the PS2 attempt ended up being mediocre, so I figured this was its last attempt at being a viable franchise. Thankfully, it can actually be a lot of fun. Granted, it does nothing new at all for the FPS genre. This is, quite simply, a dumb, mindless "popcorn" game, but it does it pretty well. Bow kills are a lot of fun, but the best aspect of this title by far are the special knife kills. With your knife equipped, you can press R2 when near an enemy to initiate an excellent animated kill, ranging from stabbing dinosaurs straight through the top of their heads, slitting their throats, or even performing WWE-style backbreakers to smaller creatures. I think I spent more time with the knife than any other weapon just because of how much pure fun these kills are. Unfortunately, the human enemies are nowhere near as entertaining as their dino counterparts. While Turok offers virtually nothing new to the genre, it's still a carnage-filled shooter that's fun to sit down and play if you're burned out on COD4 and Halo 3.
FIFA Street 3 (360)
EA can keep trying to throw different sports under the "Street" header, but I highly doubt any one of them is going to work on the level as the basketball-based original. It was based on style, which is much easier to express in street basketball than it was in NFL Street and now FIFA Street. Sure, you can use the right analog stick to perform fancy juggles and other moves, but it's never nearly as exciting as bouncing a basketball off your opponent's face, rolling on the ground while dribbling, then performing a through-the-legs slam dunk. Despite soccer's translation difficulties to the EA Big franchise, this is not a bad title, just an underwhelming one. It animates well and features some exciting moments (often tied to the Gamebreaker function), but doesn't make you want to stand up and cheer when you score a goal like an arcade soccer game should.
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