You can't find two games more psychologically different than a shooting game, where you blast holes into cops' faces, and a kiddie game, where a main purpose is to endearingly smash crates. So that's what we're doing this week. It's "The Godfather II" vs. "Monsters vs. Aliens." Let's go to the movies!
I'll start with "Monsters vs. Aliens," since it's based on a mega-popular, computer-animated 3-D film for families.
I'm not kidding when I say your goal is to smash crates. To be fair, you also smash space-type machines in a spaceship-type environment, and you Rollerblade across rails, and blah, blah blah. The plot is whatever, who cares.
I am being flippant, because I've seen this type of movie-based game before. You play along a pre-set path. You step into the shoes of a very tall woman who Rollerblades and stuff along a predestined path. You also play as a blob that glides like a mop, and as a Tasmanian Devil-ish guy who punches things.
All this seems to me like an updated, fancy version of the 1990s hit, "Crash Bandicoot."
So for an adult like me, the game "Monsters vs. Aliens" - which is not 3-D, as the film is - is a yawner. But I have to say it's definitely suitable and probably fun times for many kids, as long as you parents don't mind the flatulent jokes. What is childhood without flatulence, after all, apparently?
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, according to retailer Blockbuster. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Pokemon Platinum" (Nintendo) for DS; rated "E"
2. "Resident Evil 5" (Capcom) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, strong language)
3. "Professor Layton & The Curious Village" (Nintendo) for DS; rated "E" (mild violence)
4. "Guitar Hero: Metallica" (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii and PS 2; rated "T" (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)
5. "Resident Evil 5" for PS 3
6. "Wii Fit" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (comic mischief)
7. "Super Mario Galaxy" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (mild violence)
8. "Guitar Hero: Metallica" for PS 3
9. "Army of Two" (EA) or Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (strong language, blood, intense violence)
10. "Grand Theft Auto IV" (Rockstar) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, intense violence, partial nudity, strong language, strong sexual content, use of drugs, use of alcohol)
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
Adult gamers may be much more impressed by "Godfather II" (an April 7 release). This new "Godfather" game starts in Cuba in 1958. You do not play as Michael or any of those Corleones. You portray Dominic, a young new Don who must battle rival families in New York, Miama and Havana.
You hijack cars; drive to rivals' businesses with tough guys in tow (a safe cracker, a dynamiter, and so on); you beat people to death; you intimidate people; you sweet talk topless strippers; you hear glorious Dean Martin songs and old-school dialogue like, "what a drip" and "Eat lead!"
"Godfather II" is, as you gamers understand, similar in tone, texture and game play to the "sandbox" experience that worked so well in "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" and "Saints Row 2," just to name a couple of titles where you roam a huge city, but also carry out predetermined missions.
I would love to tell you how much I'm possibly enjoying playing "Godfather II," and how much I'm looking forward to playing its online multiplayer after it's been on sale for a few days. Alas, Electronic Arts sent me the game with the understanding I can't review it for another week. So. This is a preview.
I mean that in a "preview" way, not in a "review" way. No, if I were reviewing "Godfather II," I'd possibly say something like, hey-hey, this is a fun and fairly addicting game. Or maybe not. Who knows? Since I'm previewing it, I'll say "Godfather II" could be a lot of fun if someone ever gets to review it.
("The Godfather II" by EA retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 - Possibly plays addictive. Possibly looks very good. Possibly challenging. Rated "M" for blood, drug reference, intense violence, nudity, sexual themes, strong language. Star rating N/A.)
("Monsters vs. Aliens" by Activision retails for $50 for Wii; PS 3 and Xbox 360; $30 for PS 2 and DS; $20 for PC - Plays dull for an adult, maybe just fine for various kids. Looks good. Easy. Rated "E 10+" for cartoon violence, comic mischief. One and one-half stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.