Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Skate 2 (PS3)
While many gamers hailed the original Skate as the second coming of videogame skateboarding, I never quite understood the appeal. Granted, most of those that hailed it were actual skaters, and I haven't done anything more than sit on a board and roll down a hill as a kid. It may feel more realistic than the overmilked Tony Hawk series, but I think there's a large section of gamers don't really want realism when it comes to skateboarding games. I'm in the group that wants to do grinds while holding an American flag, then pull a pizza out of my ass and take a bite in the middle of a 900. Sure, the Tony Hawk games bordered on cartoonish as the series progressed, but at least it was fun. Skate 2 features about as much realism as you can achieve with a PS3 controller, but does that really matter when you're bored and on your 15th attempt at a yawn-inducing grind?
Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise (360)
There will be a very specific, small group of gamers that will absolutely love this game. It features oddball pinata characters, completely bizarre farming mechanics, and Sims-like micromanagement, and it's certainly not for everyone. Trouble in Paradise is just like the original - short on action, big on quirkiness. If the idea of trapping pinatas, coercing them into mating, and then shooting them out of a cannon appeals to you, then this will probably suit your needs more than any other title. For everyone else, it just might be too odd for its own good.
Lord of the Rings: Conquest (PS3)
On first glance, LOTR: Conquest seems like a simple idea that should (in theory) work. It's basically huge battles from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, wrapped around a Dynasty Warriors-esque hack and slash gameplay engine. You can play as multiple unit types as well as the film's heroes, and each type has a decent variety of attacks. While it could be a winning formula, the repetitive action combined with the mindless AI and rampant glitches make this a pretty mediocre experience. I couldn't even get through the first training mission before I experienced my first game-breaking glitch. I was supposed to defeat a set group of enemies before I could progress, and one of them got caught up above in a rock formation that he couldn't get out of. I tried all of my attacks and ranged weapons, but the enemy wouldn't die and the training wouldn't progress. Problems like these aren't constant, but when they do rear their head, they're infuriating.
Mushroom Men (Wii)
Let's face it, at this point the Wii has earned a reputation for shovelware and wholly unoriginal minigame collections. Because of this, a certain degree of excitement is bound to pop up anytime a title is announced that has even a whiff of originality. Mushroom Men promised a unique visual style, a solid soundtrack, and a deep weapons creation system. However, it failed to deliver on any compelling gameplay. At times it can look and play like a Nintendo 64 platformer, and offers little that the genre hasn't seen yet.
A title like Moon is bound to garner some interest from DS owners. After all, we've all been waiting for a solid, mature first person shooter on Nintendo's portable, and that promise has been unfulfilled even years after the system launched. Moon is certainly impressive at first, as it features solid FPS control using the stylus, and some of the best graphics the DS has ever displayed. Unfortunately, the story never goes anywhere intriguing and the environments and repetitive enemy types negate any good first impressions you may have had.