Monday, May 5, 2008
MLB 2K8 (PS3)
This year's baseball offering from 2K comes with a brand-new pitching control scheme that is definitely love it or hate it. Rather than the typical power meter for pitching, you'll perform various pitches via right analog stick movements. You have to do two motions with the stick, but you also have to time them just right to ensure accuracy. It definitely takes some getting used to, but it's perfectly usable after a while. I was disappointed to see that 2K didn't include the new Kauffman Stadium renovations, but it was nice to see tons of signature stances for various batters. The overall game just isn't as polished as it needs to be thanks to spotty fielding and framerate drops, and there are better options out there for fans of our national pastime.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3)
For hardcore fans of the acclaimed Gran Turismo series, GT5 Prologue might help with the long wait for the full GT5. It's an odd approach, releasing a "prologue" (aka extended demo) of a game as a $39.99 retail product, but it should serve to whet fans appetites and show off your fancy HDTV's capabilities until the full game comes out. There are a decent amount of cars to purchase, but event and track options are certainly limited. There are only six tracks available in Prologue, so you'll probably be wanting more not long after you get this game. Granted, the included tracks are great and are visually spectacular, but I'd rather just wait it out for Gran Turismo 5.
The World Ends With You (DS)
Holy shit...SquareEnix made an RPG set in the modern day. Yes, you'll finally be playing through an RPG that isn't set amongst swords and castles and moogles, and this DS offering is fantastic. The modern setting isn't the only deviation from the norm, either. The fighting system is anything but turn-based, as you'll be controlling your primary character at the bottom screen using stylus-specific commands while simultaneously controlling a partner on the top screen via d-pad inputs. It's a bit overwhelming at the outset, but it eventually becomes second nature. Combat is a blast thanks to the numerous "pins" you can collect and level up, giving you new attacks. The story is a bit out there, but the unique combat and deep customization and gameplay make this a must-have for DS owners or RPG fans.
Obscure: The Aftermath includes something that many more survival-horror games should: cooperative play. Sure, playing through the Resident Evil series was a blast thanks to the various scares along the way, but imagine how much better those games would have been if you could experience those same moments with a second player? Obscure has the right idea with the multiplayer element, but the overall package isn't quite as polished as Capcom's big-budget franchise. However, it does manage to make some aspects better than I would have expected. The music is rock solid the whole way through, and it does a good job of creating a genuinely spooky atmosphere at times. Genre fans should check it out, but make sure you've got a friend to play it with.
Teenage Zombies (DS)
I've always appreciated games that possess a unique personality and sense of humor, and Teenage Zombies certainly fits into that mold. It has some great comic book-style presentation elements, and there's plenty of goofy humor and zombie references as you progress through the game. You switch between your three protagonists whenever you'd like, and they each have their own specific abilities. Outside of the standard platforming/puzzle sections is a selection of fairly basic minigames. I still don't understand the obsession with minigames on the DS and Wii, but the ones put forward by Teenage Zombies certainly aren't anything special. There are certainly funny moments in Teenage Zombies, but the game can be beaten in a fairly short amount of time, but the gameplay sometimes doesn't quite live up to the presentation.
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