Game zoneLucio Guerrero
Here's a little tip when playing Darkwatch -- leave the lights on.
This western/horror title does plenty to spook and shock you if it's late at night and you're home alone. You'll find yourself looking over your shoulder plenty.
It's an unusual combo -- cowboys and vampires -- but it works. It's like Clint Eastwood (spaghetti western days) starring in a George Romero film.
Players take on the role of Jericho Cross, a seasoned outlaw who's out to make a few bucks by robbing a train. Turns out, however, that he blasts open a vault containing a supernatural demon that rules over the undead. The rest of the game you try to win back your soul while fighting a host of monsters, zombies and skeletons. Along the way, gamers can also make decisions based on good or evil. (Kill the innocent woman by sucking her blood or save her?)
But what makes this game special and worth the money is that it really excels as a single-player, first-person shooter. So many of today's shooting games rely on extensive online play and help from other people to make it a challenge. Darkwatch's best asset is that its really geared to single players. And if you must have someone play with you, it has a split-screen function to let you play side- by-side.
The game is also helped my the originality that went into character development and scenery. It helps that it keeps it cartoonish like quality to make the most of the backgrounds. The developers didn't want to make a movie with this title, they wanted to make a good game. Music is also used well, with traditional Western movie themes playing in the background. You'd think that Ennio Morricone did the music.
The one nit-picky criticism would come in the controls and views. There are times when Jericho gets stuck trying to jump over something or in the corner. There are also times when you can't tell when there is a enemy next to you hacking away. But those glitches are too few and too far between to bring this title down, partner.
Also available on Xbox.(Rated M for blood and gore, intense violence, language and sexual themes.)
-- Lucio Guerrero
(Nintendo; GC; $49.99)
This first-person action adventure is saved from being totally bland thanks to its one twist: you play as a ghost. As John Raimi (an homage if ever there was one to "Evil Dead" director Sam Raimi), you're a disembodied life form with the ability to possess other living beings ("Evil Dead") and inorganic things (a fire extinguisher, for instance) as you try to disrupt the evil Volks Corporation. The graphics, sound and relatively short single-player game won't impress you. Controls seem a bit sluggish, particularly when possessing soldiers and having to shoot anything. It's worth renting thanks to the premise, but as a purchase, "Geist" probably doesn't have a ghost of a chance. (Rated M for blood, gore, partial nudity and violence)
Gumby Vs. the astrobots
(Namco; GBA; $19.99)
This side-scrolling adventure is too easy to attract nostalgic older gamers, and as a brand, I'm wondering if the younger set even knows who Gumby is. But it's clearly for the younger set and it should succeed in holding their attention for a while. Is it fun? Not for an adult, but a 6-year-old might jones for it. (Rated E for cartoon violence).
CHICAGO'S TOP TEN
1. Nintendogs -- Dachshund NDS
2. Madden 2006 PS2
3. Phantom Brave PS2
4. Harry Potter: Goblet of Fire PS2
(Advance orders; available Nov.)
5. Nintendogs -- Chihuahua NDS
6. Jade Empire Xbox
7. Mario Baseball GC
8. Pokemon Emerald GBA
9. Lego Star Wars GBA
10. Dance Dance Revolution 2 PS2
American Pie (PSP movie), Aug. 30
Mario Superstar Baseball (GC), Aug. 31
WWE Day of Reckoning 2 (GC), Aug. 31
Namco 50th Anniversary (PS2, Xbox), Sept. 1
NASCAR 2006 (PS2, Xbox), Sept. 1
Moto GP: Ultimate Racing 3 (Xbox), Sept. 1
Nintendo looks to take bite out of competition
The Nintendo Co. is getting more aggressive in the portable video- game market with a $20 price for its newest handheld system.
The Nintendo DS was reduced to $130 from $150 in time for the release of the anticipated title "Nintendogs," an interactive puppy simulator that lets owners train and play with a virtual pet. The dogs respond to owners through the built-in microphone and react to praise via the handheld's touch screen.
The dual-screen handheld device made its way to retail stores in November and has sold more than 2.5 million units in North America and 5 million worldwide. But Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Portable, which retails for $250, stole the limelight in March with its all- in-one entertainment system. Sony has sold almost 2 million units in North America and shipped more than 5 million worldwide.
This fall, Nintendo plans to let DS players challenge each other via Wi-Fi -- a feature already on the PlayStation Portable.
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