Microsoft Game Studio's “Gears of War 2” is a beautiful and violent video game, and it's awfully popular, too. It sold more than 2 million copies, in this terrible economy, in just seven days.
The game picks up six months after the end of the original “Gears of War,” which was released in 2006 and detailed a battle between mankind and the Locust, two-legged man-monsters that remind me of the lead character from the “Predator” movies.
Since the original ended, the Locusts have become incredibly powerful and the humans are fighting a disease called rust lung. Rather “Matrix-like,” the humans have gathered in one of their last cities not destroyed by enemies so strong they can almost suck a city underground from below.
This game, which is rated M for blood, gore and heavy violence, is engrossing. The worlds are huge and incredibly detailed. This game pushes the Xbox 360 to some serious limits. “Gears 2” is full of weaponry and fights for survival, but it also has a big emotional element to it.
You can become attached to your digital family and friends (who can help heal you when you're injured; you can even have them duck and crawl low across battle lines).
This game was thoroughly entertaining, but is far too violent for anyone under 18, I'd say.
Rating:***1/2 (Microsoft, for Xbox 360.)
‘Quantum of Solace'
The new James Bond movie hits theaters this weekend. It's about a week behind the game, which allows you to play as the latest Bond, actor Daniel Craig.
The game was built using the award-winning engine from “Call of Duty 4,” but despite having a long-enough story mode and several multi-player options, this Bond is boring.
You don't have to think much. Bond is like Superman. His health regenerates far too fast and his tricks leave his enemies, oftentimes, baffled and running scared.
I wanted more “spy” in this game, more sneaking around. You do get to take guys out from behind but you're allowed to walk up behind anyone whose back is toward you and take them out. They never know you're there – sometimes even if you fire a weapon.
This Bond is pretty to look at, but I sure hope the movie's better.
Playing the game gets rather dull quick, Q.
Rating:*1/2 (Activision, for all game consoles.)
‘Call of Duty: World at War'
This title recreates World War II fights and is violent, well-drawn and addicting.
You fight in Hawaii, Russia and Germany – and the enemy AI has been ramped way up. The new Bond title is based on a similar game engine but feels night and day from this game.
You can play with up to four players online, which was fun, but I enjoyed the single-player story mode, grabbing a flamethrower and wiping out the bad guys. Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer on TV's “24”) lends his voice to the game and gets you started on a raid of a Japanese camp.
This game starts quickly and the missions come up one after the other. This one will get your palms sweating – in a good way.
Rating:***1/2 (Activision, for all console and handheld systems.)