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Feeding the Addiction

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Category: Software Published on Wednesday, 06 July 2011

New Games for the PS3, Xbox, Wii and 3DS 

Gaming, whether on a PC, console, smartphone or tablet, requires three things:

  • Stamina to go without sleep for several days.
  • Perseverance, to try, try again when you get blown up, shot or otherwise maimed.
  • The absence of a wife or other family members, so you can maintain the perseverance and stamina to play the games.

Add to all of this the addiction (translated to Angry Birds) we all cope with and you have created the perfect environment for the ultimate gamer.

To feed that addiction, we have spent the last few grueling days chained to our game consoles in an effort to give you our view of one game for each console that hit the market earlier this year. Almost all of these games are available on several platforms, which may account for subtle differences in graphics and sound, etc.

PS3

MLB11: The Show ($59.99) from Sony Computer Entertainment America is, bar none, the most realistic baseball simulator on the market. All of the players are realistically reproduced (including their eccentricities at the plate) and all of the stadiums -- minor and major league -- are perfect, right down to the last blades of grass.

The only complaints we have are that Sony decided to only use the game console's Motion capabilities in Home Run Derby mode and the weak announcer audio track featuring Matt Vasgersian, Dave Campbell and Eric Karros. Also, the music soundtrack is limited to a loop of 11 tunes, which can be annoying after the first few hours of playing the game.

The Show, for those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, provides players with two options:

  • The Road to the Show, which allows you to work your way through the Minor Leagues, eventually making it to the Majors.
  • The ability to manage teams with their Major League rosters intact.

Sony has also added Home Run Derby, where you can actually swing for the fences using the PS3's Motion controllers.

A few key features of the game include:

  • More detailed control over pitching and hitting, although a few players have muttered that they make gameplay a bit more difficult than in previous versions.
  • Fielding is more realistic than in older versions. Defenders play their positions as they would in a real game, with highly rated position players making more spectacular plays than their less skilled counterparts.
  • A new and improved Franchise Mode allows you to trade or purchase players in a more realistic manner. Better players are going to cost you more in talent than inferior ones.

Xbox 360

If you enjoy games with cool weapons and innovative ways to blow things up, Red Faction: Armageddon ($59.99) from THQ may be the game for you.

Gameplay can be intense at times -- then come the lulls where you don't get to shoot anything, which, truthfully, can be annoying. But the intensity of the game helps us get past this.

Superb graphics (rivaling Mass Effect 2) really kept us in the game. Unfortunately a weak story line, which is relayed to us through frequent video clips (and bad acting), tends to distract us from our main goal of making things go boom and annihilating weird-looking creatures that dominate the planet.

Overall, this is a superb game and it's new AI allows you to use the environment -- rocks, wall, etc. -- as weapons. Also, there's very little repetitiveness in the environments of each level, as there are with many games of this type.

Nintendo Wii

The release of Cars 2 ($49.99) from Disney Interactive Studios was timed to coincide with the premier of the movie in June. But that's where the similarity ends.

You don't become Lightning McQueen, trotting around the globe, daring other cars to race you while trying to avert an evil conspiracy. Instead, you're a Command Headquarters for Recon Operations & Motorized Espionage (CHROME) trainee and have to complete various driving tasks, including racing.

Basically, this is a good, old-fashioned racing game -- with a few weapons thrown in to make it more interesting.

Controlling the vehicles -- and blowing things up -- using the Wii controllers can be a bit difficult at first, but a bit of perseverance can make you a skilled driver. There's also a multiplayer mode, so you can race against your friends. Unfortunately you can't hook up with other players online, which is a big drawback. Racing by yourself can be a bit tedious and, frankly, boring.

The graphics are superb, from the details of the cars to the action of the tracks. Also, the game features actors' voices from the movie, which makes it seem more "real."

Nintendo 3DS

Electronic Arts has jumped into the 3D platform with both feet with the release of Madden NFL Football - 3DS ($39.99). Unfortunately, while the concept of playing football in 3D is intriguing, they left out a few of the cool features that would make it a really great game -- most notably wireless online play and Street Pass.

When we first played the game, we were captivated by the 3D effects, especially when looking downfield or when completing a play. But that's it. Basically, aside from a few play calling enhancements, the game is pretty much a throwback to older versions. It was only when we heard the dulcet tones of Chris Collinsworth that we knew we were playing a new version of the game.

Don't get me wrong. There are a few enhancements that make the game worth playing, including:

  • A high-scoring, schoolyard 5-on-5 version, which is really a lot of fun to play.
  • Gameflow, which speeds up game play. In the past, you could always ask Madden what to do or what player to use. Gameflow makes those decisions for you, essentially speeding up the game.
  • You can design new routes for your receivers to run by using the preview screen, which is displayed in 2D on the bottom screen of the console. The DS3 is designed to show a 3D image in the top screen and a 2D image in the lower screen.

A word of warning: All 3D games are designed to be played by children older than 7. It's been found that 3D images can have a negative effect on the eyesight of younger children.

Because of this and other factors, Nintendo includes a slider on the side of the top screen, allowing users to switch between 2D and 3D.

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