REVIEWS, TIPS AND TRENDS ON VIDEO GAMESMisha Davenport
Game of the Week
MAJESCO; XBOX; $49.99
Bloodrayne, the scantly clad heroine of the video game franchise of the same name, has certainly been all over the place. Some might say she was on the verge of being over-exposed a la the other video game character she is often compared to, Lara Croft. Rayne's been in music videos. A film based on the franchise is currently being lensed. She's even let it all hang out in the pages of Playboy. I think that's a first for a video game character (though I'm not a regular reader, so it's quite possible I missed the issue where Ms. Pac-Man took off her bow).
It's pretty evident that Majesco was more concerned with maximizing their brand-recognition than they were crafting a plot. The game's story is the only weak point to an otherwise exciting, mature adventure. The first game had the "dhampir" (half-human/half- vampire) Rayne taking on both occult-dabbling Nazis during World War II and the vampire who raped her mother thus siring the heroine.
Now that Daddy Dearest has been dispatched, the sword-wielding, Rayne has set her sights on doing a little pruning of the family tree. While beheading the remaining heads of the family, she uncovers a vampire plot to block out the sun and destroy the human race. If you're going to steal the plot from "Blade II" at least solve its plot problems (namely, who will vampires feed on after there are no more humans?) Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
It is, however, a "Bloodrayne" game, so the plot doesn't really matter. Much like the first game, this is purely a guilty pleasure. The action is violent, graphic and occasionally funny (Quentin Tarantino should really be directing the film). Rayne has picked up a few new skills (the ability to acrobatically leap from flag poles stands out) and new weapons (You may call her Ishmael -- she wields a harpoon better than Captain Ahab ever did.). The boss levels are even easy so as not to take too much time away from the action inherent to any "Bloodrayne" game.
Turn off the porch light, keep the Halloween candy for yourself and spend a few hours alone with Rayne. You'll be glad you did. (Also available for PC and PS2. Rated M for blood, gore, intense violence, sexual themes and strong language.)
Boktai 2: Solar Boy Django
(Konami; Game Boy Advance; $29.99) (STAR)(STAR)1/2
The sun has faded a bit on Konami's sequel to the game with the solar sensor built right into the cartridge. You still use sunlight stored into said sensor for the solar powered weapons you use in the game to defeat vampires and other sun-fearing ghouls. It picks up where the storyline of the original game left off with vampire hunter Django off to fight new creatures of the dark. It even gives you the chance to enter a code from the first game to upload all your weapons and experience points into the new game (a nice feature more sequels should take advantage of). So, what's the problem? Try the weather. Chicago's usual overcast, autumn days make playing the game nearly impossible. To make matters worse, producer and game designer Hideo Kojima has made the game harder. Unlike the first game, players can't adjust the difficulty level and gameplay is on par with the first game's most difficult setting. The end result is more trick and less treat. (Rated T for animated blood and violence) - -Misha Davenport
Mortal Kombat Deception
(Midway; Reviewed for PlayStation 2; $45.95) (STAR)(STAR)1/2
Since 1992, Mortal Kombat has been a mainstay in the arcade/ videogame genre. It was the game for a generation of players. And tennis player Pete Sampras even picked his wife out from the film version of Kombat. Which begs the question -- is there still any life left in the venerable genre? The fighting can be frustrating for diehards who want to kick some mortal booty. But its inclusion of Kombat Chess -- in which characters compete as chess board pieces -- is a clever addition to the franchise. Back in the day, Kombat was vilified for its overt use of violence. But in an era of Grand Theft Autos and Virtua Fighters, Mortal Kombat seems almost quaint by comparison. Also available on Xbox. (Rated T for teen). --Jae-Ha Kim
CHICAGO'S TOP TEN
1. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas PS2
2. PacMan Collection GBA
3. Namco Museum GBA
4. Polly!: Super Splash Island GBA
5. Shark Tale GBA
6. Ace Combat 5 GBA
7. Frogger Advance GBA
8. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door GC
9. Donkey Konga GC
10. Pikmin 2 GC
GAME PLATFORM RELEASE DATE
SpongeBob All platforms Oct. 29
The Incredibles All platforms Nov. 2
Lord of the Rings: All consoles Nov. 4
The Third Age
Cabela's Big Game All consoles Nov. 4
Godzilla: PS2 and Xbox Nov. 4
Save the Earth
Courtesy of Gamefly.com
Still think girl gamers are mythical beasts? You really need to stop playing "Halo," put down the Xbox controller and get out more.
In the very least, head to your local newsstand on Nov. 5 and pick up the December issue of Teen People ($3.49, or steal your little sister's copy). The December issue features a mini gaming 'zine giving props to the video game playing ladies. Of interest to both male and female hard core gamers:
*Exclusive cheat codes for "Scaler," "Mortal Kombat: Deception" and "The Incredibles"
*Trendspotter Video Game Awards -- the same 14,000 people deciding what's hot in fashion and music shift their focus to video games
*Celebrity interviews -- Teen People's version of Game Zone's "What's Your Game".
Teen People video game reporter Evan Narcisse says girl gamers are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
"Teenage girls are becoming both a market force and content needs to be developed -- not to specifically target them, but acknowledge them," Narcisse says.
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