DEVELOPER: Bizarre Creations
SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360, PC)
ESRB RATING: E10-plus
REVIEW RATING: 4 stars (out of 5)
I don’t know about you, but watching cars race around circular tracks isn’t my idea of high-octane fun. Now throw in some ear-deafening explosions with vehicles slamming each other off the road, and the result is what I call entertainment! Apparently, Bizarre Creations is on the same page because their latest racer, “Blur,” redefines the word car-nage.
Most racing games are content to offer 10 to 12 opponents, but some races in “Blur” are comprised of 20 cars. This significantly ramps up the action as every driver tries to blow others off the road, while they drift around turns and hit massive jumps. It’s also very rewarding to plow past 19 lead-footed opponents, since beating so many drivers that are pelting each other with power-ups can be incredibly difficult and very frustrating.
Using power-ups is the main focus of this title because it’s impossible to win without them. Six offensive and two defensive power-ups are available during each race. For example, Shunt fires a homing missile that makes its target flip in the air, while Barge uses an area of effect shockwave to blast opponents away. It’s also possible to drop mines and fire bolts of energy that slow opponents. What I really like is the ability to fire most weapons forward or backward, as it gives the driver much needed versatility in the heat of battle.
Playing “Blur” online is even more enjoyable than offline, mostly due to the team-oriented mode. It’s incredibly fun to team up against other drivers and not worry about every car blasting you off the track. In this mode, the self-repair power-up can be used to also heal teammates, which is really cool, and different drivers on the same team can combine offensive moves.
“Blur” won’t teach players any real-life driving skills, but it’s a really fun alternative to the average Sunday drive.
‘Green Day Rock Band’ Plays it Safe
PUBLISHER: MTV Games
SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)
ESRB RATING: Teen
REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
“Guitar Hero” proved that gamers were interested in rhythm games, but “Rock Band” one and two made music games mainstream — thanks to a lower difficulty and a huge list of downloadable songs. This series also introduced new abilities like saving band mates with Overdrive and the ability to play guitar, drums and sing vocals. So, why does “Green Day Rock Band” focus on a punk band without introducing anything new to the series?
Some people may not think that the Green Day music library fits the “Rock Band” experience, but the band has changed so much during their career that every album sounds very unique. Most of the songs are from the albums Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, but there are also a few from Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning. This variety helps to give fans both hard-hitting punk songs as well as more melodic offerings.
While every song is from Green Day, the entire setlist can be exported into Rock Band 2 so players don’t have to switch discs. I also like the ability to play through every song and album immediately via Quickplay because some songs take a long time to unlock in Career mode.
Speaking of which, the Career mode in “GDRB” is the weakest of the series. Some people may be content with unlocking photos or video clips of the band, but I’ll never watch them. There isn’t even a biography of the band and only three venues are available. Thank goodness the band members were recreated much more accurately than the masses of faceless fans.
Thanks to accurate motion capture and audience participation, seeing cyber-Green Day in concert is almost as exhilarating as the real thing. I almost feel like I’m in the audience when they start clapping, chanting or singing along to one of Green Day’s many hits. This is what the “Rock Band” experience is all about.
“Green Day Rock Band” will appeal to fans of the 3-man crew, but most gamers will find the experience to be a little too familiar.
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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