DEVELOPER: BlackRock Studios
PUBLISHER: Disney Interactive Studios
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: E10 (plus)
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
Racing games come and go, but if the genre doesn’t evolve, it will be left to rust in a junk heap. Simply driving fast around an oval track bores most gamers, but what if the environment was being destroyed during the race? That’s the high-octane premise behind “Split/Second,” and this winning formula produces some of the most exciting races I’ve ever had!
Why is the city crumbling around the racetrack? Well, a fictional reality series has captured the world’s attention, and just like the movie “Rollerball,” winning requires the destruction of opponents. Instead of giving each racer actual weapons, they can activate various destructive outcomes with the press of a button. These are called Power Plays.
Dangerous driving such as drifting, drafting, big jumps and near misses all build up a power bar that is broken into segments. Each segment is enough to trigger most Power Plays, ranging from a helicopter dropping a bomb to burning vehicles flipping across the racetrack. Careful timing of these events can destroy one or several opponents at once! Of course, they quickly re-spawn and re-enter the race, but a couple of seconds can make all the difference at these breakneck speeds.
Power Plays are cool because they usually result in debris flying all over the place, but Course Changers are the real stars of this show. It takes three segments to activate these explosive sequences, but it’s well worth the wait. Imagine driving at top speed only to see an elevated train track collapse while the train derails, or speeding by a cruise liner only to see it topple in your direction!
The downside to these abilities is that players are a sitting, or rather a speeding, duck while in first place because they cannot activate Power Plays or Course Changers. I also think that it’s too difficult to slam opponents off the road.
Minor complaints aside, “Split/Second” is an excellent game that is sure to appeal to action and racing fans alike.
‘Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 3’
PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai Games
SYSTEM: Sony PSP
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)
With children jumping from trend to trend and filling up every waking second with texting, I’m surprised that the Naruto anime is still popular after all these years. Most kids I know move on to something else after only a few months. Since many Naruto games have been released, I expected “Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 3” to offer something compelling. I was wrong.
Players get to relive the anime’s story line up to the Hidan and Kakuzu arc. Unfortunately, the early portion has been done before, many times in fact. That means fans get to relive the time they relived the anime’s early story line. How incredibly exciting!
This game alternates between side-scrolling adventuring and traditional fighting in 2-D. Sure you can jump in and out of the background, but simulated 3-D is not nearly as enjoyable as true 3-D. It doesn’t help that the characters are very small in the adventure, but at least they’re much larger in fight mode. It comes as no surprise that the game looks much better during standard matches.
What I can’t understand is why there is a time limit during the adventure portions. It hardly seems like an adventure if I have to rush through every level. Another complaint is the limited move set for each pugilist. Since the same button triggers most attacks, the variety that nearly all fighting games are known for is severely lacking.
Three additional players can join in the adventure mode or four players can duke it out, but multiplayer is limited to Ad-Hoc (local) with no online abilities.
Just like the anime, only die-hard fans will enjoy “Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja 3.”
REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM
5 stars = Must Have
4 stars = Very Good
3 stars = Above Average
2 stars = Bargain Bin
1 star = Don’t Bother
Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
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.
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