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Judgment Day

‘Terminator,’ ‘Fuel’ Try To Make Best Of War And Global Warming

June 1, 2009
By Doug Elfman, The Game Dork

Our pending apocalypse is all the rage. The question is: Which is your own personal favorite apocalypse? Because every groupthink favors its own final countdown.

Terrorists will kill us (say conservatives). Global warming will kill us (say liberals). North Korea will kill us (say South Koreans). Fluoride will kill us (says my lady love, an ex-Green Peace-er).

Wait, we can't even brush our teeth en masse without perishing? Yuck.

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In video games, the apocalypse has served as the storyline framework for probably several hundred games in the past 20 years, from "Doom" to "Resident Evil" and on and on.

Now here we are with the latest end-of-the-world of "Terminator: Salvation," based on the movie. The film's lead actor, Christian Bale, refused to lend this game his likeness and voice, due to money or pride. What a nice life he must have, with his high class problems.

"Terminator: Salvation" finds hero John Conner living in a post-apocalyptic Earth, battling robot armies that launched nuclear weapons against humans, as they flex steely determination to root out remaining homo sapiens. Now THAT'S a high class problem.

Fact Box

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. "Mario Super Sluggers" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (comic mischief)

2. "Battlefield: Bad Company" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "T" (alcohol reference, strong language, violence)

3. "Grand Theft Auto IV" (Rockstar) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "M" (intense violence, blood, strong language, strong sexual content, partial nudity, use of drugs and alcohol)

4. "Grand Theft Auto IV" for PS 3

5. "Haze" (Ubisoft) for PS 3; rated "M" (blood, intense violence, strong language, use of drugs)

6. "Wii Play" with remote (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (mild cartoon violence)

7. "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock (Activision) for PS 2; also available for Wii, Xbox 360, PS 3; rated "T" (lyrics, mild suggestive themes)

8. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" (Activision) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PSP, PC, PS 2 and DS; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, language)

9. "Ninja Gaiden 2" (Microsoft) for Xbox 360; rated "M" (blood, gore, intense violence, partial nudity, suggestive themes)

10. "Burnout Paradise" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3; rated "E 10+" for language, violence.

(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")

Bale was lucky to have baled on "Salvation." Sure, it looks OK (not great), you can move your character around fairly intuitively (but not great), and you can blast robots with shotguns and rocket launchers (reliable weaponry).

But the game is a pretty simple and redundant arcade-style shooter. You jog past rusty cars, discarded mannequins and house rubble, and it is your charge to cream robots by, for instance, shooting them in the face to stun them, then running behind them to shoot their vulnerable backsides.

Ugh: "Salvation's" killing routines become routine quickly. There is little replay value and no online multiplayer.

So let's move onto another apocalypse, shall we? Let's play the racing game "Fuel," in which global warming has left only you and a few other survivors alive, with a fleet of 70 superior motorcycles, cars, trucks and ATVs.

The gist: You race each other over 100,000 miles of wooded and sandy roads across 5,000 square miles, because when the apocalypse comes, you will want to drive your butt off.

"Fuel" (a June 2 release) looks terrific in our doom. Global warming scorched the landscape. You race past dead and burned trees. Weather patterns run amok. Sometimes, tornados spin nearby and toss debris in your path. When the sky is yellow, it is jaundiced.

"Fuel" is, in short, mostly what you want from a racing game - to speed across splendid and varied terrains fraught with peril. Online, you can race against 15 human gamers. You can also choose not to compete, but to drive leisurely around hills and lakes, getting big air under jumps. Downsides: No turbo boosting, and the game starts too easy.

So in the battle of apocalypses this week, global warming is the fun winner. I'm not sure what Robert Frost would think. Pondering the eventual apocalypse, the poet guessed fire would come from desire, though ice would suffice. Robert Frost never mentioned fluoride, or driving in singed forests on ATVs. Obviously, he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

("Fuel" by WB Games, a June 2 release, retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3 - Plays fun. Looks great. Challenging. Rated "E" for comic mischief. Three and one-half stars out of four.)

("Terminator: Salvation" by WB Games retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 - Plays redundant and uninspired. Looks passable, almost poor. Rated "T" for violence. One star.)

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.

 
 

 

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