Video Game Reviews

Grid 2
Codemasters Southam/Codemasters
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PC, PS3
Street: 05.28

Racing games are required to provide a bare minimum in graphics, cars and damage. Grid 2 takes these minimums and stretches them far beyond that need. Not only do you get to destroy cars while attempting to navigate a track, but you also get to find races from your garage via social media while modifying your cars. This modern take on “club racing,” along with a uniquely challenging racing system, will keep you car junkies coming back for more. Whether I suck at racing games or Grid is truthfully challenging, I had to spend time learning the tracks and how my car specifically would handle rough turns. Drifting wasn’t even on the table after hours of practice mode and some online matches. The amount of content available for someone purchasing this is ridiculous. Multiple sponsors give you different “goals” during races to achieve for more points, and the number of races and tracked mileage is insanely motivational. Watching my career stats grow while races load had me screaming for one more even if time was short. This racing game is for you. –Thomas Winkley

Lost Planet 3
Spark Unlimited/Capcom
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PS3, PC
Street: 08.27

With the success of the most recent game in the Devil May Cry series, Capcom seems to feel comfortable with their new strategy of outsourcing franchises to smaller, US-based developers. A developer called Spark Unlimited made Lost Planet 3 for Capcom, and while at times it feels chintzy and not quite like a AAA title, it doesn’t seem to have been a terrible choice. Lost Planet 3 drops you right back into the familiar frozen tundra in a clunky old mech. NEVEC (the company you work for) is having an energy shortage, and you’re tossed down on E.D.N. III to mine for gooey orange alien spider spunk that will supposedly solve the crisis. This game is a prequel to the first two and is being told from the viewpoint of a dying old man reminiscing about his adventurous youth. One of its selling points to fans of the series is that it reveals secrets or backstory for the first two games. The overall theme seems to be heavily influenced by games like Dead Space, as it has more of a horror feel than the previous two.  It has its ups and downs—fighting the alien spider Arkids can be a bit tedious, and the new first-person mech system feels way clunkier than previous games and seems like a lame way to squeeze in a QTE. The graphics are definitely better than in the previous games, and the storyline is decent enough. The weapons upgrade system is also pretty interesting, as it allows you to access new areas and thus progress through the story. All things considered, I would put it somewhere between mediocre and decent. –Cody Hudson

Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar
Available on: iOS
Street Date: 08.07

Free-to-play games continue to be a hotbed of debate in the mobile gaming world, often with big titles like Real Racing 3 and Plants vs. Zombies 2 at the heart of the discussion. It’s no coincidence: Electronic Arts (which owns both Firemint and PopCap, the respective developers of the aforementioned titles) has made it their trademark to hide great titles behind paywalls, cheap timer mechanics and laughably over-priced IAPs. I’d like to say that trend ends with Ultima Forever, their foray into mobile cross-platform freemium social MMORPGs (also known by its alternate title, Mobile Buzzwords Galore). Unfortunately, the frustrating paywalls—the best rewards for every loot chest found are only accessible through IAP purchases—and buggy multiplayer reveal it to be just another middling iOS game. The gold loot keys are definitely the most egregious: Spend real money to get great equipment, then spend more money to keep it from degrading and becoming useless a few weeks later! The “Forever” part of the game’s title is telling: Keep grinding away forever for mid-grade gear, or keep on paying in perpetuity to keep hope of ever progressing past the next dungeon alive. –Randy Dankievitch