Monster Madness: Battle for Suburbia
South Peak Interactive, Xbox 360, PC, $59.99 to 49.99.
It's pretty slow next week for game releases, so go outside and do something.
If, however, you can't help but scratch that gaming itch, a mindless zombie romp always fits the bill. Doing it with three of your friends onscreen at the same time helps, too.
Unlike other recently popular games about the undead, such as Dead Rising or the highly slept-on Stubbs, the Zombie, Monster Madness is a throwback to the top-down arcade carnage classics like Smash TV and Gauntlet.
Simply put, shoot everything. Everywhere.
The plot reads like a B-movie, as four high school kids (leader Zach; skate punk Andy; Ms. Popular, Jennifer; and creepy goth girl Carrie) find their town overrun with flesh-eaters.
Each character has a weapon of choice (knife, ax, sword), but that is only the half of it. Scattered around the many battlefields (Zach's crib, the mall, and the streets of suburbia) are items you can pick up to assemble into longer-range weapons of mass destruction. The CD launcher does the trick quite nicely, especially when some of the tougher zombies (there are more than 50 kinds) laugh at your attempts at close- quarters combat. Vehicles like an ATV, hovercraft, and a UFO also are available if things get too hot to handle on foot.
If you take MM:BOS online, not only can you and three pals play co-op to try to save the town, but a 16-player, free-for-all arena mode is available. Sort of like Power Stone times four. Unfortunately for Playstation 3 owners, their version doesn't rise from the grave until the fall. For other undead fixes next week, Touch the Dead (DS) and Resident Evil 4 (PC), stalk the shelves.
Eidos Interactive, PC, $39.99.
For those looking for a more serious, yet certainly as hellishly fun time as the title above, peep this game where the battle between the angelic and the demonic plays out on city streets. A very Spawn/Constantine-ish plot done in a third-person shooter style.. You'll play as Ryan Lennox, a fallen angel just trying to chill out on earth - go clubbin', meet chicks, your average fallen angel.
Just as he begins to rest his wings, he finds himself caught up in the struggle between the entities of Etherlight (think Heaven Inc.) and the Abyss, a true definition of corporate evil. Lennox, who decides to ally himself with the Abyss, has use of the standard weapons we know and love (shotguns, pistols, etc.), but the draining of souls to keep his health up and committing sinful acts against the innocent (hey, man, it recharges your infernal powers) is where things go off the beaten path.
You may have to confess somewhere, as you'll have plenty of fun acting evil.
There is no multiplayer in this game, and that is probably a good thing as you'll already be guilt-ridden enough.
Freestyle Street Basketball
Sierra Online, PC, $19.99.
I've been scratching my head about this one for a minute. Forget the fantasy or combat-driven, massive multiplayer games like World of Warcraft or Planetside. Sometimes you just want to ... play some street basketball? A persistent world of ballers? Well, we'll see if they come, but Sierra has surely built it.
Now, this isn't an official NBA game, or even a true school-yard game for that matter, as 3v3 matches will be the largest type of game. The graphics are also toon-ish, which doesn't detract from the game a bit.
There are 45 levels of experience and thousands of ways to customize the look of your player, as Ecko Red and G-Unit Clothing are among the in-game gear providers. The many different skill sets (back dribble, fade- away three-pointer, one-handed power slam, etc.) to be mastered should guarantee a wide variety of players.
With some pretty basic controls, a bangin' soundtrack by artists such as Lloyd Banks, and a bunch of tournaments held by Sierra, the game has some momentum. Whether it makes a proper drive down the lane with gamers remains to be seen. The curious should check out www.sierra.com for a free download. You'll get to level-up your character to 15 before it costs something.