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Become an Action Hero in ‘Just Cause 2’

DEVELOPER: Avalanche Studios
PUBLISHER: Square Enix
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, PC)
PRICE: $59.99
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

I remember the early days of gaming when a few pixels on the screen was all it took to entertain gamers (Pong). However, our current generation is more focused on realistic visuals than ever before, and sometimes the fun factor gets lost in the high-tech process. Not so with “Just Cause 2,” as this surreal open-sandbox game provides the tools necessary for hours and hours of pure, unadulterated fun.
Players assume the role of agent Rico Rodriguez as he travels to the remote island of Panau to find his missing mentor, Tom Sheldon. After he arrives, Rico must play the local rebels against the island’s cruel dictator in order to find Tom and “cleanse” the island. Unfortunately, the only thing worse than the lame story line is the horrendous voice acting.
These lackluster aspects are easily ignored, however, as the rest of the game plays like a nonstop action movie! Rico can hijack any of the 100-plus vehicles — be it a car, boat, helicopter or airplane — and base jump off of anything more than 30 feet high. Of course, he’s also highly proficient with many different weapons and explosives.
Combine these abilities with his versatile grappling hook and retractable parachute, and the results are sublime! As a result, it’s easy to ignore the missions and spend hours simply experimenting. Some of the awesome tricks I have performed include: using the grappling hook to yank enemies out of moving cars, grappling from a burning boat to the enemy’s boat before it blows up, base jumping out of an exploding building, hanging from a helicopter and grappling to a passing airplane, and performing spins and flips in cars!
I keep finding new tricks and stunts every time I fire up the game, and with 400 square miles of terrain to destroy …. err … enjoy, “Just Cause 2” will surely cause many sleepless nights.

‘Metro 2033’ isn’t Your Average Shooter

DEVELOPER: 4A Studios
PUBLISHER: THQ
SYSTEM: Windows Vista/7 (Xbox 360)
PRICE: $49.99
ESRB RATING: Mature
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

Russia isn’t known for creating video games, so I was a bit skeptical about playing the survival horror FPS, “Metro 2033.” On the other hand, games created in foreign lands can be refreshing since they aren’t bogged down with the need for instant success or bigger than life characters. As a result, this shooter plays very differently than most, which is both good and bad.
Based on the popular Russian book of the same name, “Metro 2033” tells the tale of life in a Moscow subway after the devastating apocalypse of 2013. Since most of the planet’s surface is now a poisonous wasteland, what’s left of humanity huddles underground in a low-tech existence, scavenging for goods while fighting bandits and mutants. As a survivor who has never ventured above ground, players take on the role of Artyom, a lone man who will determine the fate of mankind. Believe me, this is one story line that is intriguing to the end!
“Metro 2033” has a fantastic, gritty atmosphere that seems very realistic. Masses of people create makeshift underground towns complete with vending areas, while the military attempts to keep order. Most people are too scared to venture out on their own, and ammunition is more valuable than money. In fact, Military Grade ammo is actually used as currency due to its rarity, which forces the player to decide whether to spend ammo or shoot money out of their guns.
This actually became a problem for me because all ammunition seems to be in short supply, and I frequently ran out in the middle of firefights. Players also have to regularly change the filter in their gas mask when outside, which means they have to constantly fetch more. Sure, the gas mask visual effect and heavy breathing are cool at first, but they get quite irritating after 10 minutes.
Nevertheless, “Metro 2033” is an enjoyable shooter with a unique style. Don’t forget, in Soviet Russia, the game plays you.

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother

RATINGS KEY
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
E: (Everyone)
E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)
T: Teen (13 and older)
M: Mature (17 and older)

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM.

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