Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Violent thrill wears off fast

Viking: Battle for Asgard
Sega, for Xbox 360, $59.99 (also available for PlayStation 3)
Rating: 2.5/4

You play as a Viking warrior named Skarin, who has been charged with protecting Asgard from an army of demons that has been released by an evil goddess.

The game is incredibly deep. The amount of area you can explore is massive, and you can interact with almost anyone or anything.

The violence is fast and furious. (Think "300" on steroids.) You will fight dragons and have dragons come to your aid, literally torching the competition. You'll hack and slash hordes of demons.

Unfortunately, saving is a big chore, the storyline is fairly weak, and after a few hours of play, the game quickly starts to feel repetitive.

Once the thrill of slashing and hacking has worn off, there isn't much incentive to finish the game.

Condemned 2: Bloodshot
Sega, for PlayStation 3, $59.99 (also available for Xbox 360)
Rating: 3/4 stars

You play as a special agent named Ethan Thomas, who was so torn up after chasing crazed supernatural serial killers in the original version of this game (which I didn't play) that he's become an alcoholic.

Now a friend is missing, and to find him, he'll need to return to battling those crazy killers as he makes his way down a pretty scary and intense road to more supernatural adventures. Along the way, you'll face some moral choices -- like whether to kill a really, really bad person after beating him to a pulp (and if so, which weapon to do it with).

The plot is major-motion-picture good, and the graphics are great, too. I like the emphasis on hand-to-hand combat, which requires you to really master combinations. And almost anything can used as a weapon; you can even pick up a bowling ball.

As games designed for adults go, this is near-brilliant. But let's be clear: This game is only for adults.

News and notes

• Interesting interview by GameDaily with EA Sports head Peter Moore last week. Moore said the company will not make Madden '09 available for the PC.

"We've built sports games to take advantage of the plasma televisions, and the new high-def experiences that people are having in their homes," Moore told the Web site. "We've also built them to be very social. So whether it's playing online -- or equally likely, two or four of you in the room together -- the PC business has just ... waned."

• Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told several media outlets last week that his company isn't concerned that Microsoft may be considering a motion-sensing, Wiimote-type device for the Xbox 360. Iwata said the technology is hard to develop, and that Nintendo is focused on making great games, not what the competition is doing.

• Check out my four-star review of "Grand Theft Auto IV" -- which industry analysts predict will become the highest-grossing video game ever -- at http://langstonwertz.blogspot.com.

Langston Wertz Jr.: 704-358-5133; lwertz@charlotteobserver.com

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