Spider Man 3
Activision, releasing on almost everything, $39-$69.99.
The first blockbuster of the warm weather season (can we say summer yet?), Spider Man 3, hits movie theaters next Friday, and with it every gaming console and handheld except one, the Sony PSP, will get served a slice of Spidey next week.
Expect the storylines to be the same across all versions, but finding a strict adherence to the film is another story. While there will be movie characters such as the Sandman, the Green Goblin Jr., and that weird black goo that taps Parker's inner demons, there are a number of other plots in the game. All told, gamers will play through 10 unique stories.
The big difference between game systems is, of course, the controls.
The Wii finds gamers getting a physical workout once again with fighting and Web-slinging requiring quick and accurate flicks of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. The jury is still out on this particular scheme as the learning curve will be a little steeper than expected.
The Nintendo DS uses the touch screen for every action in the game except movement. Quick slashing motions on the screen will produce the desired beatdown, and the ability to link combos consists of taps all over the screen. I can't think of another game that puts the DS screens through more work. Let's hope they hold up.
The Playstation 3 version promises an extra playable level as the Green Goblin (with Sixaxis control) and some behind-the-scenes stuff with voice-overs done by Bruce Campbell.
Rumors of a vastly inferior product for the Xbox 360 - fears because Spidey is a film from competitor Sony - are unfounded as the PS3 and 360 version look pretty much the same and that Green Goblin level should be on Xbox Live in the near future.
ArmA: Combat Operations
Atari, PC, $39.99.
There was a time when this game's publishing was in doubt, but finally, after a six-year wait, legions of PC gamers can rejoice. Many consider this the real sequel of the 2001 title, Operation Flashpoint. The developer, Bohemia Interactive, had produced a first-person-shooter that crushed every other game in the genre. Its scale (battlefields were set across many kilometers), and a modding community that has produced hundreds of units for the game, made it one of the most flexible PC games ever. When BI and publisher Codemasters (who are coming out with OFP2 in 2008) parted ways, things looked grim. Thanks to Atari, we get a game that, well, is just crazy. Battlefields now measure around 400 kilometers with plenty of tanks, planes, copters, trucks, and a couple of other ways to get around. Like the first game, there are AI teammates to fight along these fronts with you (plus 100 or more real grunts if you so choose), and they are a little smarter this time.
One thing that must be said is this game, like OFP, isn't the best-looking on the market, but it looks better than most. That has never been its strong point, however. Accurate weapons, huge battlefields, and a community that will contribute as much as it can to the game are what it has been about.
Brain Buster Puzzle Pak
Agetec Inc., Nintendo DS, $29.99
This isn't like Brain Age or any of those other games advertising a quick mental workout. Brain Buster may just do as the title says. A furiously addictive series of puzzles is based around five types: Sudoku (which everyone should be familiar with by now), Light Up, Slitherlink, Kakuro, and Nurikabe.
The other four are variations on the Sudoku logic, but with certain twists that might have given Einstein a run. I haven't even mentioned the onscreen noise (asteroids, UFOs, etc.) floating across the screen in order to break your concentration.
It should be mentioned here that this game was coproduced by Nikoli, publisher of Japanese paper puzzlers. In fact, the company was the first to publish the Sudoko game in 1984.
Chances that you will run through this title are next to nil as there are over 500 puzzles in the game with each one being created by hand, not by some computer program. That gives the title a much more organic feel than some other computer puzzlers and results in complicated but not impossible games.
For those of you who get in over your head, don't fret, as there are tutorials and hints available.