Video Games – February 2008

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Call of Duty 4

Infinity Ward/Activision

PS3/PC/Xbox360

11.05.07

First Person Shooter
The last few months have represented the greatest era in video-gaming history. To name some of the best we have received since October, there is BioShock, Guitar Hero III, Halo 3, The Orange Box, Assassin’s Creed, Mass Effect, Rock Band and now Call of Duty 4(COD4). Now I know that there was a ton of hype about this game before COD4 ever hit the shelves, but I want you to know that I’ve done my best to be unbiased in this review. Just as BioShock challenged what is possible in a shooter game, COD4 challenges just how realistic an action game can be.

The intensity in the single player mode is akin to a frantic ballet of destruction. There are times during the game I found myself ducking behind my couch to avoid the hail of bullets that seem to fly from the screen. Indeed, Infinity Ward has gone to great lengths making this game feel almost too real at times. Every trigger squeeze, every bullet impact and indeed, every moment of this game, rings true with a satisfying wow factor that is completely unparalleled in gaming to date. COD4 relies on this perfection almost entirely, since it offers nothing new to the genre but instead raises the bar in almost every category for shoot-’em-up gaming. The graphics here are more than adequate and the levels are very challenging, but what really impresses is the amount of action going on at any one time. Enemies flank, allies cover and you have a first-hand view of it all as your scramble to outgun and out-advance your position. The icing on the cake for COD4 is an online miracle that is even more entertaining than the single-player campaign! Far from a tacked-on multi-player mini-game, COD4 offers tons of different games and un-lockable content for literally dozens of hours of exploding goodness. The incredibly gritty realism of the campaign is captured online perfectly, making this a must-have for any action gaming fan. –Jesse Kennedy

5 out of 5 noobs use the uzi

Rock Band

MTV/Harmonix Music

PS2/PS3/Xbox360

11.20.07

Rhythm

Someone must have told Harmonix, creators of the Guitar Hero series, to go big or go home. Well, they chose big and have unleashed upon us mere mortals the ultimate “I’m not a dork after all” simulator, Rock Band. If you’re not down for the learning curve of a real band, hop aboard and prepare to rule the stage as a drummer, guitarist/bassist or a singer. Either way, you’re in for one long, strange trip as you pilot your group to the pinnacle of rock debauchery and domination. Rock Band stands tall and proud and delivers a new twist on rhythm gaming.

First things first, setup is a breeze, from assembling the drum kit to making your new band look bad-ass enough to represent your inner rock-n’-roll demons. My game was lucky enough to be inaugurated at a party of people who had yet to see Rock Band in action, although we did have a few Guitar Hero addicts in attendance. After a few quick turns, almost everyone had a grasp on how each instrument worked and lines began to form behind the drums and guitar. Although the microphone worked flawlessly and was very forgiving to even the most musically challenged, there’s not much (except booze) to be done for the singing-shy.

The “rock video” look of the game, as opposed to the more straightforward look of the Guitar Hero games, was a big hit for me. The only complaint I heard about the game was the repetitiveness of parts of the game. As you move your band from each “gig” to another, songs will reappear for you to play again. This actually worked well, I thought, in my situation, where the band was changing personnel almost every song, but over time, as the crowd thinned out and people stayed in each position longer, the problem became more pronounced. This is, however, a small gripe against Rock Band, a game that has just broken ground on what will no doubt be a new era in video-gaming culture. –Jesse Kennedy

5 out of 5 drummers think they have the hardest job

 

Warhawk

Incognito/SCEA

PS3

08.28.07

Online Shooter/Action

Warhawk is a success because of two very important factors: First of all, there’s the game situation with the Playstation 3 (PS3). I guess, to be more accurate, I should say “lack of” a game situation. There’s a huge void for PS3 players when it comes to exclusive titles, and Warhawk has been growing in stride with the PS3 sales over the last few months and now delivers gigantic-scaled battles like nothing else on the system. The second and more important factor is that while Warhawk does do a lot, it sticks to what it’s good at and continues to improve over time. There is no single player campaign here; this game is purely online. However, once logged in, you can participate in everything from your typical “kill everything” multiplayer ground-based game to massive team vs. team matches that will have you strategizing and using machinery almost like a real-time strategy game. Tanks, jets, drop ships, jeeps (to name a few) are available to quench your thirst for destruction and an assortment of weapons to counter each are peppered throughout the maps to keep each side in the battle for as long as possible. A huge variety of medals and ribbons are available for you to earn to help you work your way up through the ranks.

Warhawk doesn’t try to waste its time with ultra-fancy graphics or uber-realistic game play; in fact, much of the movements are almost cartoonish-looking when compared to some other very realistic-looking games (cough, COD4 … ) but this does allow an easier game for those of us looking for something with more emphasis on fun rather than function. The game does offer a very in-depth statistical resource so you can track your progress literally bullet by bullet, if you feel the need. So run, shoot, jump and slay your way to victory all you want because the Playstation Network is free if you’ve got a PS3 and you can download the game for a measly $40 (or buy it for $60 and get a wireless earpiece!) and spend days on end conquering the wonderful world of Warhawk. –Jesse Kennedy

4.5 out of 5 drop-ship pilots are drunk