by Luke Baumgarten and George Green & r & The Inlander's promotions and circulation manager, George Green, is a huge video game fanatic (read: recluse, sociopath). I myself am a casual gamer (read: nerd, sponge who's too cheap to buy his own systems). As one of the few people able to pick up the new XBox 360 on the day it hit shelves, George thought it'd be cool to review a bunch of the titles that your (30-year-old, basement-dwelling) children are probably already begging you for. He brought me along, I think, out of pity. We played for six straight hours, rating the games on a five-star scale and taking a break only to make soft tacos. These are our stories.
Project Gotham Racing 3 [E for Everyone] & r & GEORGE: *** Great gameplay. Lots of tracks and cars are available right from the start. Just get in and drive! The online play was easy to use, and it seemed like players were warm to the idea of racing and learning instead of pounding you into the wall every turn. Race in the In-Car Cam Mode and be freaked out by the detail.
LUKE: **** Just arcadey enough to pick up and play, but tough and varied enough to make each car a very different driving experience, it's like Gran Turismo without the steep-ass learning curve. I wanted to explore the career mode, but George kept moaning about it being his turn.
Call of Duty 2 [T for Teen] & r & GEORGE: **** WW2 means WOW WOW, twice! This game is stunning. The features, graphic and overall gameplay stay solid whether you're playing alone or online. You'll be hard pressed to find a better-looking game on the market. The campaign will give plenty of realism as well as variety of scenarios to keep you busy. Several online modes add to customizability and replay value.
LUKE: **** It's annoying that half the multiplayer maps were just brought over from the first Call of Duty, but the visuals are pretty spectacular. The controls were taut and intuitive, and a few weapon additions (trench gun!) kept things interesting. By far the most useful addition, though, was the smoke grenade. No more getting gunned down from across the map by some SS sniper! Magic.
Gun [M for Mature] & r & GEORGE: *** This Western's world is huge, beautiful and it seems at times to be endless. I easily lost myself in the story. The blood, gore and language is what you'd expect from a bunch of gun-slinging country boys and girls. Activision left room for improvement. With no online multiplayer or co-op options, you're stuck with a single player shooter. Still, it'll be a nice escape from the online realm of cheaters and campers. Perhaps that was their intent?
LUKE: *** This is a fun little third-person shooter. The quick-draw feature makes it easy to draw a bead on waves of incoming enemies and dispatch them with Earpian precision, and was that a Kris Kristofferson voice cameo I detected? That's pretty outlaw.
Perfect Dark Zero [M for Mature] & r & GEORGE: **** The environment of Perfect Dark is great. You'll want to jump right into online mode, but let me caution you against that. The controls take a while to master. Hopefully, once I get better, the game will become more than an online kill tourney. Playing offline in co-op mode is fun and gives the game added playability.
LUKE: ** Shooters really have a hard time keeping my attention, especially when the multiplayer play is too frenetic. I suck at console shooters in general, but I especially suck at this one. I can't imagine this is my fault.
Quake 4 [M for Mature] & r & GEORGE: ** This was supposed to be the game that would make all the shooters look like kids with cap guns. It doesn't. The campaign mode's incredible graphics just don't translate into online play. The environment there deteriorated massively. It's choppy and the visual effects left me wondering what happened to my HDTV.
LUKE: * This sucks like that new Dyson vacuum. Never loses suction. The single-player is pretty, but each mission sees you running back and forth over the same turf like a half-dozen times. Crappy. It gets worse online, where the graphics suddenly go all Commodore 64. The programmers totally ganked the multiplayer maps from Unreal Tournament ... the first one.
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.