Video Game Reviews – June 2010

Somebody needs a breath mint.

Alien Vs. Predator
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PC, PS3
Street: 02.16
For what it offers in gaming diversity, the revisitation of Alien Vs. Predator on consoles easily achieves the entertainment factor despite its large flaws. Going into this game as a fan of Aliens and/or Predator is almost a must, because if you’re looking for an engrossing storyline, forget it. You need to be a fan of the concept to enjoy the game. AVP features three unique single player campaigns: Marine, Predator and Alien. Unfortunately, I picked my favorite, the Alien, to start the game off and it was sadly the weakest of the three campaigns. It feels more like Alien vs. Human, rather than taking on lots of Predators. The Alien’s lack of various abilities can’t compare to the multitude of weapons the Marines have at their disposal and the combo of melee and shooting abilities the Predators have. Flaws aside, the single-player campaigns for all three species are a blast to play through and difficult enough to keep even the most discriminating gamers on their toes. The game is worthy of a rent or purchase for its extensive play in multiplayer land, offering up a diverse array of gaming tactics successfully melding stealth gaming with balls-out shooting and gore galore. Pick your favorite species and prepare to pwn or to be pwned. –Bryer Wharton

Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing (DLC)
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
Also on: PC
Street: 04.22
If you’ve grown weary of being called a fag by the legions of pubescent Modern Warfare and Borderlands players, this add-on provides an entertaining but brief new setting in which you can be berated. Set between the first and second campaigns of last year’s zombie-killin’ blockbuster, The Passing finds the four survivors stranded in front of a bridge that can only be lowered at the other side of the level. Convenient. Lucky for you, three of the survivors from the original Left 4 Dead are waiting for you atop the bridge and will assist you in the level’s finale, but the meeting between the two groups of survivors is lackluster. The new campaign is brief at only three maps and a lot of the environments feel like re-hashes from other levels. There is a pretty fun scene taking place at a zombie-infested wedding (complete with a Witch bride!) and a tense race through a crowded sewer, but the campaign is severely lacking in level design when compared to the others in L4D2. There’s also a new zombie type in the “Fallen Survivor” who drops useful items when killed, a new gun (the M60), a new melee weapon (golf club), and an interesting new mode called “Mutation,” where special rules in various game modes are set and changed each week (Realism Vs., etc.), so you get quite a bit for $6 (or free, if you own the PC version). Even so, The Passing is a bit disappointing given how brilliant the original game is and how Valve was able to crank out a quality sequel so quickly. –Ricky Vigil

Splinter Cell - Conviction
Ubisoft Montreal
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Also On: PC
Street: 04.13
I wish I had the vocal chords of Michael Ironside (aka Sam Fischer).  He’s right up there with TC Carson (Kratos), Nolan North, and Mass Effect’s female Shepherd in my just-now-compiled Favorite Voice Actors List.  Conviction marks a pretty serious departure from the Splinter Cell gameplay of yore.  However, unlike certain recent franchise reboots (I’m looking at you, FFXIII), Conviction improves upon the pre-existing gameplay concept in almost every way.  The pacing is just amazing: gone are the days when you’re stuck hanging from a pipe for a solid three minutes, waiting for that guard to come back around to where you need him.  You can still play slowly and cautiously (I do), but you don’t have to.  The whole experience has that level of polish you were hoping to see in a sequel that took so damn long to release – Ubisoft Montreal used their time wisely. So, we play videogames to feel things, right? Well, Conviction makes you feel like a badass: like a professional, frightening, “Oh fuck where did he go, he was right he– [choking noise]” – type of badass. Fischer’s story is more accessible this time around, though still full of silly Tom Clancy-isms (“Get the EMP to the SSC and we’ll download the ABC to your PDA”  . . . uh, sure).  They say the game’s too short and I agree – I think most games of this generation are too short – but it took me ten hours on realistic difficulty, plus another five to ten for the co-op campaign, so it was not bad, comparatively speaking.  Conviction is both a great new direction for an old franchise and a perfect jump-in point for newcomers or people who generally find stealth gameplay somewhat tedious.  –Jesse Hawlish

Somebody needs a breath mint. Only six? Sam muttered,  �It�s almost an insult.�