Sunday, February 15, 2009
Metal Slug 7 (DS)
In a way, Metal Slug is like the AC/DC of the gaming world. They're both loud, brash, and they've been putting out the same material over and over again. While you won't find much new with Metal Slug 7, there's still plenty to enjoy. It's as fast-paced and over the top as ever, and features some action-packed levels to blast through either on foot or in a vehicle. It's odd that it's on the DS, however, as you'll find virtually nothing in the way of touchscreen utilization. While that's not a huge loss by any means, it's certainly disappointing that it doesn't offer up any co-op gameplay (a staple of the series). It may not offer anything fresh, but fans of the series are sure to enjoy another title in a solid franchise.
Tom Clancy's EndWar has one fantastic feature amongst a sea of semi-generic RTS gameplay. That great feature is the voice controls, which allows you to perform a large variety of commands using only a headset. You can focus the camera on a specific group, order them across the map, initiate attacks, and much more by doing little more than saying a phrase. It works very well most of the time, only mistaking my words on rare occasions. Unfortunately, the actual action that you're ordering around can occasionally feel repetitive and unoriginal. If voice commands of this level of quality were brought to something like the Command & Conquer series, it could be a fantastic revolution for console RTS controls.
Rise of the Argonauts (PS3)
While the beginning of Rise of the Argonauts makes it appear to be a basic God of War clone, you'll soon find out it has a lot in common with dialogue-heavy games like Mass Effect. Problem is, both the dialogue and the narrative are yawn-inducing. You'll trudge through poorly-written scenes with uninteresting characters just as often as you actually get to battle enemies. When it does shift to battle, the combat is passable while still being wholly unoriginal. You'll gain favor from the gods by doing specific tasks or appeasing them through specific dialogue choices, which allows you to level up via a nice skill tree system. It's a nice touch, but not enough to save this title from mediocrity.
Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm (PS3)
It's pretty safe to file Naruto under the "if you're a fan of the show, you'll probably like this" category. It doesn't offer much for those unfamiliar with the anime, but it features a visually appealing presentation that's faithful to the feel of the show. Fights can get frantic and fast-paced, and the camera does a good job of keeping up with all of the onscreen action. It's unfortunate that it takes so long to unlock all of the characters, as the single player "story" mode is pretty bland. You'll spend a lot of time walking around the town and performing menial tasks, and a lot of gamers will want to get right to the fighting. There's a couple impressive boss fights against monstrous enemies, but the title isn't good enough overall to really recommend to non-fans.
The Wii is capable of visually-appealing, genuinely enjoyable platformers, as evidenced by games like Super Mario Galaxy and De Blob. It is also capable of platformers like Spray, which is bland, tedious, and full of glitches of every description. Imagine Super Mario Sunshine, except for instead of collecting Shines in beachfront environments, your most important task is getting through a stage without falling through the environment or having the game completely lock up on you. When it does work, it's not the worst game in the world, but there's far, far better available on the system.