Wednesday, October 29, 2008
de Blob (Wii)
This is the type of game that the Wii is good for. It doesn't have mindblowing graphics on a technical level, but the art style perfectly complements the gameplay. You play as an initially neutral-colored blob who travels around the colorless Chroma City in an effort to fill it with color. It's run by a faceless corporation called INKT, and you'll aim to take them down with the help of Color Underground, a guerilla group that wants to make the city vibrant and fun again. This is all told through some well-made cutscenes, and the gameplay itself can be a lot of fun. You simply attack enemies by locking onto them and swiping down with the Wii remote, earning you Paint Points. You can use these to rub against or jump on buildings and environmental objects, painting them whatever color you currently are. You can mix primary colors to get purple, green, orange, and more, so you have a lot of control over how the city looks when you're done with it. Minigames and bonus objectives are plentiful, so there's more to do than simply smear paint over buildings. It's rare to see a solid third-party Wii game, but de Blob is certainly one of them.
SOCOM: Confrontation (PS3)
The SOCOM series is known for highly tactical, realistic, intense multiplayer gameplay. This isn't Halo...you won't empty two clips into an enemy and then see him scurry away unharmed. You can be taken down in one or two shots, so death always comes quick. Because of this, it's imperative that the game runs smooth as silk online. Unfortunately, SOCOM features a host of online difficulties, including lag, animation glitches, and even getting into a room. Where Call of Duty 4 got everything right, SOCOM gets wrong. It's multiplayer-only, so even minor issues with the PSN connection suddenly become major. Even if you're doing everything right, a skirmish can end in your opponent's favor because of an untimely glitch. When it does work, SOCOM has the familiar gameplay that will satisfy fans of the series. Unfortunately, it's hard to recommend a game that only works part of the time. On the positive side, the included PS3 Bluetooth headset is solid, and worlds better than the Jabra headset included in Warhawk.
Baja: Edge of Control (360)
THQ jumps into the already obscenely overcrowded offroad racing genre with Baja: Edge of Control. Courses are incredibly long (as are some of the load times), and much of the terrain will really put your driving skills to the test. The aggressiveness of the enemy AI only ensures that you'll spend a good deal of your time trying to stay on the course. In a welcome addition, Baja supports up to four player split-screen. While it may not have the fun factor of Pure, it's worth a rental for fans of the genre.
NBA 09: The Inside (PS3)
NBA 09: The Inside is Sony's offering in the basketball sim genre, and its unique aspect is the inclusion of The Life story mode. This follows your character's career path from humble beginnings to pro glory. Unfortunately, it tracks it through a series of generally bad storylines that most sim basketball fans won't even bother to finish. What actually matters is the oncourt action, but this fails to deliver the goods as well. It's not awful, but the sometimes sluggish controls make for a disappointing experience. Sony should take some developers off peripheral story modes and get them working on a better game engine.