Video Game Reviews – March 2009

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The Incredible Hulk
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Available On: Xbox 360, PS 3, PS 2, Nintendo Wii, PC
Street: 06.05.08

January and February are always boring months for gamers. We spend more time drooling over preview articles on our favorite gaming sites and less time on actual games. Some of us even dress in deep hoods to hide our identities from the Blockbuster clerks and, in desperation, rent shameful titles like The Incredible Hulk. “Hello. My name is Jesse, and I am a game-a-holic.” Hi, Jesse.

Surprisingly, The Incredible Hulk doesn’t suck as much as some of its peers in the comic book, turned movie, turned video game genre. Isn’t it sad how many of these games there are? Who the fuck plays them, I mean, besides me? It’s my job, shut up. TIH is not a good game by any stretch of the imagination, but there is some fun to be had. Bounding through Manhattan is occasionally exhilarating, and you get a good sense of the Hulk’s weight and power. These days, a fully-explorable sandbox map doesn’t get the “Wow!” it used to. If we were still on the Gamecube, TIH’s open world would be impressive. We’re not, and Manhattan looks empty, repetitive and bland.

For the first hour or so, causing destruction with the Hulk is pretty fun. You can tear cars apart, bash everyone with anything you can find, and hurl enemies for miles from the tops of skyscrapers. Sadly, it’s a shallow game and the repetition will get to you at about hour three. There will be tons of missions and side quests left to do at this point, TIH is not short, but you probably won’t want to do them. My verdict: rent it. Only because it’s March and once you’ve seshed Skate 2, there’s nothing else to do. - Jesse Hawlish

Need For Speed: Undercover
Reviewed On: X-Box 306
Available on: PS3, PC, Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS, Mobile Phone.
Street: 11.08

As a big fan of NFS: Most Wanted, I was looking forward to Undercover, but I’ve got good news and bad news.

Good news: all the cars you’d expect are here - Lamborghinis, Corvettes, Porsches. The arcadestyle racing NFS fans have grown to love is alive and well. The music - both licensed and the original score - is amazing. Chris Vrenna (NIN) has stepped down since Most Wanted. Paul Haslinger (movie credits: “Underworld,” “Shoot ‘Em Up”) is now the man in charge, and his rocking score deserves a mention. The customization is greater than in any other NFS game, offering a full array of vinyls, paint-styles and so on. The downside is that non-stock body frames are still limited to four or five per car. Plus side? They look damn good. Graphics are top notch, controls handle well, and there’s more car response to environment than before (i.e. greater resistance to off-roading, more realistic response to wet patches). Given, it’s no Gran Turismo, but for an arcade-racer it’s an improvement.

Bad news: races are ridiculously simple for the first half of the game. You no longer have to drive to get to shops, and while this is a welcome update from Most Wanted, they’ve so oversimplified it with onscreen access to races, garages, etc. that world roam is completely defeated. Even moreso since you can’t achieve any bounty goals from roamtriggered police chases. That’s right. No more 20-minute, white-knuckled, high-speed chases - just five minutes, single objectives and no bounty cross-overs. Rumor has it that while the game runs well on 360, there are major glitches on both PC and PS3. A decent game, but definitely not worth the $60 price tag. Rent it or wait for the heat to go down and get it when it drops to $20. - Kat Kellermeyer

Skate 2
EA Black Box
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Also On: PS 3
Street: 1.23

Breaking precedence set by former industry leading skateboarding game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, Skate 2 dropped well over a year after the original game. There are few games I’ve ever anticipated like this one. Anything you’re anticipating that much can’t possibly live up to your expectations, but Skate 2 comes pretty close. The major problem that plagued the first game was that you couldn’t get off your skateboard and walk. This is kind of remedied in Skate 2. Perhaps, since walking requires both analog sticks, you’ll feel like you’re playing T Mek, but then you’ll remember that even when compared to a 15-year-old vehicle combat game, the walking in Skate 2 is still fucking terrible. You will probably find yourself using session markers just as much as you did in the first one. It seems that they lowered the height at which you can safely land from the first game. Every time you slam, it’s in slow motion, and that’s also frustrating. That’s just about every negative point in the game. There isn’t enough room to list all of the positives, because that list is probably 100 times longer. This one is faster than the first one. You can move objects around to make your own spots. Skate Reel is actually functional now and video editing is improved. A handful of old-school tricks are now at your disposal: no complies, cavemans, handplants, bonelesses? Yes, please. On top of that, the soundtrack, featuring D.R.I., Youth Brigade and Stiff Little Fingers, is ace. If you liked the first one, you’ll probably love this. - Aaron Day