YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Resorting to bribery

June 16, 2005|Pete Metzger | Times Staff Writer

You have to wonder if the thinking went something like this: "Let's see, we've got this new game, Advent Rising, that we're hoping to make into a hit franchise that spawns sequels and a movie deal. Problem is, when people actually play this clunker, and see how technologically awful the gameplay is, no one will care if the Advent actually does rise. What to do? How about we offer some kind of contest with a million-dollar prize? That will move the units!"

So goes the remarkably disappointing Advent Rising. Each week, the first gamer to find an icon hidden somewhere in a level -- after connecting to Xbox live and downloading a special "Easter egg" -- enters the code and is that week's winner. (Whoever wins Week 6 -- the final week -- wins the million.) Problem is, only one person gets the money. What about the rest of us who slog through this mess? Where's our hazard pay?

Enemies and items appear and disappear at random times, sound effects are spotty and when there is too much going on at the same time the graphics get sluggish. A better title: Frustration Rising.

Details: Xbox platform; $49.99; rated Teen (blood, mild language and violence).


Boring? Not here

A pal and I spent a recent Saturday trying out all the wireless multiplayer games we could for our PSPs. Twisted Metal? It's OK. Need for Speed Underground? Cool, I guess. But FIFA Soccer kept us playing until the street lights came on. Though the graphics might not be anything special, the easy-to-master controls, choice of more than 350 real-world teams and game commentary individual to each unit more than make up for it. (The dueling descriptions, however, are a small problem if you sit too close to your opponent.) FIFA also has situational modes that let you relive famous games of yesteryear.

Details: PlayStation Portable platform; $49.99; rated Everyone.


Accelerated learning

Though Forza Motorsport is not as jaw-droppingly beautiful as the current lord of all driving games, Gran Turismo 4 -- and don't believe the TV ad that tries to tell you it's superior -- it's still an above-average race simulator. The graphics are solid, and there are myriad choices of cars. (The real-life modeled autos actually take gnarly damage too.)

Novice drivers will like Forza's suggested racing line option that shows little green triangles superimposed on the track to show the best way around. Go too fast and the triangles turn red, a nice touch for rookies (and a feature that can be disabled for the pros).

Details: Xbox platform; $49.99; rated Everyone.


Doomed to be also-ran

Area 51 has great graphics and gameplay, but it ultimately made us want to go back and get lost in the far superior -- and quite similar -- Doom 3. This first-person shooter leans closer to arcade-style action than the immersive adventure of Doom, probably because all the aliens seemed to attack the exact same way. And the lack of available save points caused a lot of repetition after the residents of the secret government base had their way with us. Still, the gameplay is better than most, and the cinematics are beautifully done, so a weekend rental would totally be worth it.

Details: PlayStation 2 and Xbox platforms; $39.99; rated Mature (blood, intense violence and strong language).


More animal antics

In the video game tie-in to the hit summer flick Madagascar, the hidden mini-games upstage the main levels. By exploring each colorful area in detail, players can find hidden contests (like the infectious tank battle-in-a-maze Armor Madness) that are independent of the main story. And playing these is a lot more fun than listening to a bad Chris Rock impersonation in the story mode.

Details: All platforms; $39.99; rated Everyone 10+ (cartoon violence and crude humor).

For more video game coverage, see

For previous columns, or to e-mail Pete Metzger, visit

Los Angeles Times Articles