This holiday season children and adults alike will be turned on to gaming, and veteran gamers will enjoy new sensations in games and new consoles. Microsoft has the new XBOX 360, released in mid- November.
This will be your must have and most difficult to find item for the holidays. The first shipment arrived on Nov. 22 and most stores sold out in one day. Though there have been some reports of technical problems with the XBOX 360, very few have been returned. Despite the problems, if you have the opportunity to get one, buy it.
This last year held some great titles, whether they are based on a popular movie like the much anticipated sequel, "Star Wars Battlefront II," the new spin on a cult classic, "The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge," a free for all ogre fest in "Shrek Super Slam," an interactive chocolate factory complete with Oompa Loompas, as in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and the video game adaptation of one of the year's best films, "Batman Begins." Even games from other years such as "The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee," have gained popularity from last August's "Dukes of Hazzards" film.
Then there are games that are just fun without a movie connection. Some of the better titles of these games are "Ultimate Spiderman," "X-Men Legends II," "Doom 3," and "The Movies."
Be warned, though: All games are not created equal. The two at the bottom of the list are "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and, regrettably, "The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge." "The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" game is a hard game topic in the first place. It is more of a young kid's game but even for new gamers it isn't that incredible. The game play is just confusing and fragile. Playing as Charlie Bucket, the player must fix all the Wonka inventions that have been destroyed by the other horrible children, while enlisting the help of specialized Oompa Loompas to fix certain things. The specialized candy powers are a cool feature, but other than that it is a lack-luster game that is easily frustrating and all around lame. Unfortunately, "The Nightmare Before Christmas: Oogie's Revenge" is nothing spectacular either. The levels are confusing with little help in guiding, Jack's Weapon, the soul robber is hard to control, and the camera angles don't let the player see everything. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, has set out to find new ideas for Halloween. Upon his return he finds that all the citizens of his town are afraid because Lock, Shock, and Barrel have sewn their leader and Halloween baddie, Oogie Boogie, back together. Jack, using different powers as Santa Jack, Normal Jack, or Pumpkin King Jack must stop Oogie from taking over Halloween and any other holidays. The story is a great one, but the game play isn't. One way to battle Oogie is a dancing contest. This has nothing to do with the game and isn't fun. Overall, the game just doesn't cut it. I give these games 1 and a half out of 5 stars.
There are some really great games out. "Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee" is based on the series, not the movie, and was released last year, but due to the popularity of the new film, the game gained its own popularity. Bo and Luke Duke are trying to save an orphanage from being torn down by Boss Hogg. And wouldn't you know it, they're using their famous Dodge Charger, the General Lee. Playing as Bo, Luke, Uncle Jesse, or Daisy Duke, the player must outrun the law, "fightin' the system like the two modern day Robin Hood." The game play in this is one of the best driving games this reporter has ever played. The controls are simple and you can jump to rubber burning speeds in an instant if ol' Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane gets on your tail.
"Doom 3" also falls in this great category. This is a good game about zombies in the future on Mars. It is scary. WARNING: Do not under any circumstances play this game alone in the dark. It scares teenage boys to the point that they admit they're scared. The controls are a little hard to get used to if you are a child of Halo and Star Wars Battlefront style games. But once you get the hang of it, it is second nature and is a fun game.
"Shrek Super Slam" is one of the better games in the group. It is like a street fighter game where it is a battle between fairy tale creatures and nothing really comes from it. The levels come to be a bit challenging even frustrating when it comes to fighting off three characters at once with someone like Donkey, who isn't the best character. But this is a fun game, especially if you are just starting out in gaming world. Kids will recognize may characters from the "Shrek" movies and it is easy game play. TIP: Don't let the other computer character do all the fighting if playing on a team. It doesn't help too much.
The long-awaited sequel to the best selling "Star Wars" game of all time is finally released: "Star Wars Battlefront II." With new game modes, redesigned game modes, and battle sites out of Episode III, this is a fun play. However it is not as much fun to play as the "Star Wars Battlefront." Players can play as "Heroes," characters like Jedi, Sith, or bounty hunters. This choice is better than the original, but overall game play is a little confusing. As a game in itself though it is very good. All these games deserve 3 and a half to 4 out of 5.
The best games in this group consist of mainly the super hero games and a computer game by Activision called "The Movies." It is like "Sin City," "The Sims" and "Roller Coaster Tycoon" rolled into one incredible game. Choose an era and start your own movie studio, create your stars, write, edit and release your films, and then rake in the profits. There is nothing better for the holiday than your child getting a seven picture deal.
As far as hero games, "X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse" is great. The X-Men and their sworn enemy, the Brotherhood, combine forces to defeat a common enemy worse than anything they have encountered before. Assemble your team of 4 out of 16 playable mutants and help them develop their powers to defeat Apocalypse. The powers are effective and the mutants have individual personalities that keep the game interesting. In addition to linking to next year's upcoming film, "X3," it is one of the best X-Men games ever made, if not the best. A must have for anyone who loved the comic book, movie, or other games.
Super Heroes seem to be popular among incredible games, because "Batman Begins" is another in this category. NOTE: Not for people who feel they must rush in, guns blazing and shoot everything that moves. This game emphasizes fear. Batman was trained by ninjas to use fear as his weapon. This means waiting until your enemy's back is turned and jumping to a hiding place on the ceiling until you can throw a bat-a-rang to scare them into submission. Using the environment to take down Gotham City's corrupted villains is the best idea for game play since the joystick. If you don't have patience to spare or you get frustrated sitting and observing your enemy without a sniper rifle, this may not be for you, but never fear there is a game for hyper-active player as well, "Ultimate Spider-Man."
Play as Spiderman, play as Venom, both are insanely fun. This is the best game of all the previously mentioned. Spiderman is very logical and players swing around New York City and Queens without boundaries. Battles are best executed by timed strikes and jumping in, attacking and getting out. Then, when levels for Venom roll around, impulsively leaping and hoping you hit your mark is the way to go. Battles are all for none, rough and tumble brawls that are better to smash everything and feed on any humans than the way Spiderman does. Just when a player gets tired of the strategy of Spiderman's game play, the level changes to Venom's chaos. When that gets annoying, Spiderman levels come around again. This is the perfect game. Outside of "Halo," which is the greatest thing since sliced bread, this is one of the best games ever made. All these games receive 5 out of 5 stars.
Gamers have a great selection to choose from this season. A note to parents all games are have a rating on it but it is good read up on the game and even play it before purchasing it for your child. By the way, finishing a level is a great excuse to get out of trying your Aunt Patty's fruitcake. Happy Holidays!