Xbox 360 screen cap
PS2 Screen Cap
OK, full disclosure, I'm a huge golf nut. But EA Sports new Tiger Woods PGA Tour videogame is the most amazing console golf game ever made on PS2, Xbox but especially XBox 360, where your virtual Tiger, if played on an HDTV, is about as close the genuine article as you'll ever get.
This year's Tiger game gets 21 new courses, including Hilton Head's nasty Kiawah Island track, and 50 golfers, like John Daly, Vijay Singh and Tiger's real life close friend, Annika Sorenstam. There's a new Team Tour mode where you can create a team and establish college-style rivalries.
The whole game just looks better this year. Graphics are improved on the old generation game and the next gen 360 has about the biggest wow factor I've seen in anything except a war game or basketball game. The character creation tool now has logos and sponsors to pick from, plus better ways to make a more realistic you. There's ESPN intergration to give you even more of the TV feel this game is famous for.
David Feherty and Gary McCord are back to call the action, too, which adds to the fun. But at the end of the day, a game has to be fun to play, no matter how many bells and whistles it has. This is awful fun to play. It looks good and control is good. EA has altered the swing control a little bit allowing games to use the Shape Stick or the left analog stick. This one will be in my "favorites" stack for a long time (Grade: A for all systems).
Instant Music Converter: If you have a stack of old LPs or cassettes laying around your house, you may appreciate this little device from ADS Tech that allows you to transfer your music onto your computer to move over to your iPod or MP3 player.
It's really easy. You just plug the Instant Music into a USB port on your computer and connect to your audio equipment and move files. This might have a limited audience, but it's a useful tool for those old enough to remember the 8-track (Grade: B).
Power Stone Collection: Capcom's PSP title includes enhanced versions of two games I'd never played before, Power Stone and Power Stone 2, which were originally released for Sega's defunct Dreamcast unit.
I wasn't able to play in the 2-person or 4-person mode, but playing the computer, this is just an old-school fighting game where you essentially are trying to be the last man standing. Controls are quite simple as you fight to attain power stones which help you win your fights. Get three and you become a super warrior for a time. There are also weapons to pick up and the "worlds' you play in are totally interactive.
A nice change-of-pace title (Grade: B-minus)
Nintendogs. Limited Edition: So what if this a virtual Seinfeld, a video game about nothing. It's actually rather addicting to raise your digi-pet on your DS. You train and care for your dog using your video touchscreen and I can tell you 2-year-old, already a fairly accomplished gamer, just loves this. When Daddy needs 20 minutes to veg, this is the perfect play toy.
You can even use your voice to tell your dog to "sit," and with some training, he'll obey. You can play in English, Spanish or French. That's how I got my wife to let my 6-year-old play. I told him it was helping with his foreign language, true story (Grade: B).
Bose Companion Multimedia Speaker System: If you have a laptop like I do, chances are its tiny speakers can't do much for your music or gameplay. That's where this new Bose unit comes in. Using a simple USB plug and play interface, it will "talk" to your Windows-based computer and give you some deep bass and clear highs.
The unit comes with two speakers and a huge subwoofer, which you sit on the floor. The system produces 5.1 channel-type effects and sounds terrific. It's not quite as good as a five-speaker setup, but for your computer room, bedroom or office, these will do the job quite well. And if you like your bass, trust me, you won' t be disappointed in these. I just wish I could connect it directly to my console video games. I tried, and it wouldn't work (Grade: B-plus).
Steelpad 5L: It's a professional gaming mouse pad and it's huge. I mean like 2 by 2 huge. But it allows you to move your mouse all over your computer screen without moving your hand back down to the bottom or opposite side of your pad, key in quick trigger videogame action. A combination of hard and soft materials makes for a smooth rolling experience (did I just write "Smooth Rolling Experience?").
It's a nice little add on for anyone who does heavy duty computer gaming.
Steel Security: Finally, a dedicated online security suite dedicated to gamers. It comes with anti-virus, firewall, online backup and a spam filter. Best of all, it automatically switches into game mode when you launch a supported online game, using minimal resources and maximizing security. Often, computer gamers have to turn off security features to get games to launch or run properly.
In my tests, this software solved the problem. I'm not a big computer gamer, but if I was, I'd run this program on my computer full-time (Grade: B).
Mortal Kombat Armageddon: The PS2 version looked muddy and the Xbox looked better but I longed to play this one on an next-gen system. You know what MK is about and in this one, you get 50 fighters from the entire MK universe, including some new ones. The new Kreate-A-Fighter and Kreate-A-Fatality modes were cool, but what makes MK is the fast-button-mashing combo fighting that you remember.
Online gaming has been improved. The sluggish load and sluggish gameplay times have been improved, especially on Xbox. Old fans will love new. New ones will embrace it (Grade: B-plus).
God Hand: You're a nomad who loses an arm while trying to help a woman in distress. Only when you come to, that arm has grown back and you suddenly given supernatural abilities in this dark title from Capcom. After you get your powers, you'll battle demons and thugs in a tiny town who all of a sudden are popping up with super strength.
Not to give away too much of a pretty solid storyline, your hero has kind of been reincarnated. Years ago a man with divine powers defeated the Demon King Angra.
The game occurs on what could be considered a Judgement Day of sorts, but the twist is this game doesn't take itself seriously. There are bad jokes and canned laughter tracks like old 70s sitcoms. The PS2 struggles to render all the graphics well and I did notice some slowdowns, but this was a nice change of pace title that's for men 17-24 (Grade: B-plus).
Grand Theft Auto, Vice City Stories: What can you say? You know it's misogynistic, violent, stereotypical and all those other things, but GTA is always well conceived, well-drawn and plays well. So it is for this PSP version which happens in Vice City in 1984. You play as Vic, a displaced soilder who now is put on some very violent streets and must choose a life of good or bad. Not for anyone under 16. (Grade: A).
Need For Speed, Carbon: On Xbox 360, the cars look more realistic, the environments are spot on, and the feeling of going fast is enhanced. You can customize your car and build your crew, but ultiimately this is about driving in a very dangerous Carbon Canyon. You will find yourself jumping and leaning and twisting as you play. It's that realistic. It's that good (Grade: B-plus).
Fifa 07: One word about how this looks -- wow. Now on Xbox 360, the players look shaper, bigger and more realistic thanks to a new game engine that's moved away from traditional player animations and now uses raw physics and data. What it all means is that your players move like the real thing. The computer opponents are tougher and now the control reacts to the slightest touch -- something that can be good and bad.
Every team, every stat and every detail is in here plus an absolutely awesome online interface. You can play four-on-four online, which I tried. You'll be doing that forever, but remember to start your league play. Bottom line? The best soccer game on the market just got about 40 percent better (Grade: A).