The fuck you looking at?
God of War III
SCE Studios Santa Monica
Reviewed On: Playstation 3 (exclusive)
After the opening sequence of Kratos’ final quest for vengeance, I had to stop, wipe tears of joy from my eyes, change my pants and massage away the shit-eating grin that was starting to make my face hurt. If you haven’t played GOW I or II, don’t start with this title: Kratos’ storyline is second only to the series’ genre-defining gameplay and must be experienced from the beginning. The fact that the plot (in this iteration especially) is a wee bit convoluted and tends to take a steaming crap on the entirety of Greek mythology becomes much easier to swallow once you’ve grown to love/pity Kratos more fully. If, however, you’ve been following the Ghost of Sparta since he cast himself from the highest mountain in Greece, well, this game is without a doubt everything you’ve been waiting for and more. Kratos will have his vengeance––and oh, how the gods will fall. Objectively, GOWIII is not the best storytelling in the series (if you love Kratos you probably won’t notice or care), but every other aspect is fucking ambrosial. At times, it’s easily the best-looking game on the market. The sheer scale of the levels, gods and Titans will leave you breathless. And the gameplay . . . holy crap, the gameplay. Although my lady and I replayed One and Two in preparation for Three’s release, I was instantly better at this game than I had ever been at the others. Kratos’ new moves (long distance grab!), greatly improved secondary weapons, and newly-mapped magic attacks thoroughly improve upon an existing premise that made the series’ gameplay among the most emulated in the entire industry. If you’ve ever loved a single-player game that emphasizes story, the Playstation 3 is now––begrudgingly or not––a piece of machinery you must buy.or borrow . . . or steal . . . just get your hands on one. –Jesse Hawlish
South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play!
Reviewed on: Xbox 360 (exclusive)
I hesitate to call myself a “console gamer” because that implies that I’m good at video games or that I take pride in my gaming habits, and neither of those things are true. Because I own a video game console and I don’t understand or play video games on a computer, I guess I’m a console gamer. However, all it takes to get me to buy a tower defense (a genre that is best experienced on a PC) is to slap some recognizable cartoon characters on top of it and make it downloadable on my console of choice and I’m all over that shit. South Park Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! (there’s really no good way to shorten that title) is surprisingly good––not because it’s based on a licensed property, but because it works so well on a console. Disappointingly, the South Park-ness of the game doesn’t extend beyond the visuals––there’s no story of any kind. Various malevolent forces, including but not limited to ginger kids, old people, Christmas critters and goddamn Mongolians are laying siege to South Park and it’s your job to build walls, snowball pitchers, lasers, cherry bomb throwers and more to stop them. It’s in the tower defense-ness that this game excels: The learning curve is pretty forgiving, and offering varying degrees of difficulty is helpful to people like me who have no fucking clue how to play a tower defense game. Playing alone makes things tougher and isn’t quite as fun, but the game is still manageable and features enough unlockable challenge stages and extra characters that you’ll want to play through it a few times. As long as you don’t want an engaging story, SPLGTDP! is very playable and highly addictive. –Ricky Vigil
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat
GSC Game World
Reviewed on: PC (exclusive)
Release Date: 02.02
It’s raining hard and the sun is setting. It’s been too long since you last ate or slept. As you approach one of several abandoned power plant substations, distant machine gun fire rattles off. Is danger close? Maybe two rival factions battling over territory or supplies? Perhaps it’s a lone Stalker fighting off a pack of rabid pseudo-dogs (zombified canines, one of many local threats). Hard to say in this unscripted, open-world experience. One thing is for sure, when scavenging and surviving in and around the abandoned cities of Chernobyl and Pripyat, you are always in a considerable amount of danger. Call of Pripyat is the third game in this single-player series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Everything from the past games has been greatly tweaked in order to deliver another harrowing experience. Artifact hunting is a more prominent focal point as these sales stimulate a tiny economy populated by mercenaries, treasure hunters, bandits and others you may meet in your travels. Due to Eastern European game design, this is still a diamond in the rough, and is not for the easily frustrated. It will not hold your hand, or regenerate your health if you hide in a corner. Your very survival counts on your wits and resourcefulness. Pripyat is a perfect example of why I still enjoy video games. –Conor Dow