Video Game Reviews – May 2008

Psi-Ops: The Mindgate

If you're low on the funds but hankering for new adventure, head down to your favorite video game store and pick up a used copy of Psi-Ops for about $10 and prepare to not only have a great time, but to think to yourself, "Why haven't I heard of this game before? Thanks, SLUG game guy!" Psi-Ops will have you unleashing some serious pwnage in no time as you not only have a chance to shoot legions of bad guys, but to use an arsenal of mind powers as well to ensure your total domination. Trigger finger tired? Go ahead and use telekinesis to crush the enemy with a handy crate or just pick him up and fling him into a wall a few times. Or sneak up and use "Mind Drain" to recharge your own powers while at the same time popping his head like an evil zit. Either way, good times are sure to ensue. You may notice the graphics in Psi-Ops are a tad subpar by today's standards, but face it, a lot has happened since 2004 in the gaming world. That being said, a few less polygons should never keep us from enjoying a good game. The story here is another typical super-soldier with amazing mental powers who, with the help of an overly attractive female scientist, is taking down the forces that enslaved his covert unit, turning them into the zombie soldiers whom he must battle through to get to the evil genius behind this diabolical plot. So in short, this is yet another game based on my teenage years.
In a day when new games cost upwards of $60 and are usually recycled games of yore with better graphics, I think it's important for us gamers to keep an eye out for cheaper thrills from the past. Psi-Ops is one of a plethora of matured titles that can deliver oodles of yummy good times for a fraction of the cost of a new game. Also, if any devoted readers out there have a candidate for a worthy game from the past, drop me a line and I'll pick up a copy.
4 out of 5 enemies that secretly want to be friends.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
Ubisoft Montreal
Xbox 360/PS3

Some readers may be excited to see what I've got to say about the newest release from Ubisoft, but notice the title here; I'm reviewing the original Rainbow Six Vegas (RSV), not the just released follow up. Hey, I'm not made of money over here! Since Rainbow Six Vegas was the first true "next gen" shooter for the 360, I thought it might be nice to see how it stacks up a year and a half later against the landslide of great games that have piled up since RSV flash banged its way onto the scene. Although RSV still holds it's own against many of the middle-of-the-road military action games we've seen in the last year, its flaws are only magnified by a few of the more stellar releases we've had in the last few months.
Rest assured that RSV still looks good by anyone's standards. Enemies are well animated and not horrible at taking cover and flanking, although if you're like me and have been playing COD4 online for the last few months, you'll immediately notice how lacking even decent computer AI like we find in RSV is compared to a really angry socially outcast teenager playing online in his step-dad's basement from some hick-town in Oregon. That completely hypothetical example transitions beautifully to my next topic, which is the online multiplayer in RSV. I had heard so many good things about it that I was really curious to find out for myself how this aspect stacked up against the latest games. Although there are good times to be had online, a little more patience is required by the user as I found many a lagging server while playing online.
I'm not here to try to take anything away from Tom Clancy's masterpiece, a game which is still hefted onto the shoulders of many experienced gamers as the best tactical shooter and deepest online multiplayer ever I was just surprised to see where the last few years have taken us in the multiplayer arena. There's still fun to be had here with a prime cut of single-player goodness and plenty of thrills online for the patient and persistent.
4 out of 5 socially degenerate teenagers

Super Stardust HD

If you do all of your game shopping at a video game store (or isle), then you'll never have heard of Super Stardust HD. But if you're like me and have discovered the fertile gaming grounds of the PlayStation Network where games are cheap, abundant and downloadable, then maybe you've already had the pleasure of ripping through rock, ice and gold with this mega-fun title from Housemarque. Super Stardust HD takes the simple scrolling shooter style to a new level, not just with incredibly tasty graphics, but an original and addictive combination of time-tested gaming staples and inventive new twists on gaming classics.
The playing field here is a small planet which our ship orbits around. However, in classic scrolling arcade style, the ship is always in the center of the screen and the environment is the one doing all of the moving. Of course, since we're on a sphere, the planet rotates in any of the possible directions you can convey through the joysticks. Similar to the classic Asteroids game, the basic premise is to shoot big rocks into smaller rocks and smaller rocks into oblivion until you've cleared the screen. However, the rocks represent mere packages, and upon blowing them up, you can unearth everything from extra ships to weapons upgrades, it's all of the other stuff on the screen that you've really got to worry about! To explain all of the perils in Super Stardust HD here would be impossible, but I'll just say that for $10 on the PlayStation Network, you cannot go wrong with this game. Not only will it challenge your thumbs to their tiny little wit's ends, Super Stardust provides a nice palette-cleansing experience you can jump into and enjoy at a moments notice whenever you have a few moments to cruise through the stars.
4.5 out of 5 hypnotic explosions