Tech Games: Overdue Reviews
posted by March 25 at 12:33 PMon
Not sure what I’m more torn up by as of late—the lack of the Games column in recent print editions of the Stranger, or the lack of the neighboring Porns column. (“These are a few of my favorite things…”) Either way, we’re coming up on three months of uncovered games since the last piece printed, and I figure today’s as good a day as any to start catching up—PC gamers got a World of Warcraft update today, while 360 nuts get a free Halo 3 update of their own. Those games don’t need the pub, though, so here goes.
Burnout Paradise (360, PS3) - The latest in the “smash into other cars to drive faster” racing series came out back in January. This is much more my speed than an ultra-realistic Gran Turismo-style racer; you’re dropped into a single, mega-sized city and given the freedom to do as you wish (along with cars that heal themselves after every crash). It’s a Hot Wheels dream—find street races at stop lights that unlock new cars, look for hidden ramps to do unrealistic jumps through billboards, seek out the city’s hidden roads and stunt pits. There are plenty of races and objectives for completists, along with smooth online modes, both competitive and co-op. But I’m more impressed with the freedom to potz around if you’re not into the whole competition/goals thing—the game is so huge and plays so smoothly, you can lose hours just cruising, jumping and wrecking for the helluvit. Only problem is, the game’s city has a boring stretch of boonies on its west side, so if you take on a race that leads you that way, there’s no easy warping out; you have to drive every mile back to the bustling, busy, shortcut-filled downtown. Virtual boonies? Isn’t that what Big Buck Hunter’s for? Other than that, this game has had surprising legs—I’m loading it up two months later and still enjoying the aimless, high-speed wreckin’. Recommendation: Best arcade racer I’ve played in a while. Buy if you’re into that sorta thing. (Bonus - EA’s adding more to the city map in a few weeks with a free download.)
Professor Layton and the Curious Village (DS) - Brainteasers on the go, but unlike DS edu-games like Brain Age, the teasers are slipped into a cartoony adventure/mystery. The presentation comes off like an Anime take on The Triplets of Belleville, meaning there’s great art style depicting a little European village and its bizarre shopkeeps who, for whatever reason, cannot think for themselves. The puzzles range from cookie-cutter to hair-pulling, and a few have nonsensical solutions that must’ve been translated terribly from a Japanese version, but most of them average out to keep an adult challenged at a reasonable level (bonus—jot down brainstorming notes on the touch-screen while you’re thinking them over). Recommendation: Though the game’s not worth playing after you beat it, you’ll get a few good weeks of really nice on-the-bus play, which is probably worth the $30 for the typical adult DS owner. However, DO NOT PLAY if you hate math or trick questions.
Next time: Xbox 360 RPG Lost Odyssey, along with Army of Two if Jonah and I can get through some of its co-op gunplay. Poor Jonah’s Xbox 360 melted down nearly 30 days ago, and he still hasn’t gotten his warranty replacement. Last I heard, the thing was stuck in McAllen, TX, due to flooding in the area. That’s what I call Vista speed!