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Ride into the danger zone

December 13, 2007|Pete Metzger | Special to The Times

If you're old enough to drive, chances are you remember the Tom Cruise classic "Top Gun." Maverick, Goose, Iceman, Kelly McGillis and that great Kenny Loggins theme song. Flying big shiny jets never looked so sexy.

Until Ace Combat 6 Fires of Liberation came along, that is.

The best flight simulator for the consoles, in look and feel, AC6 comes bundled with an optional flight stick that gets pretty close to matching the controls of an actual fighter jet, uh, we'd imagine. (Although the price may be a bit steep at $150, flight enthusiasts will appreciate the realism offered by the Ace Edge sticks.)

Like three games in one, AC6 shows a well-written (yet poorly translated) movie about an invasion of a mild-mannered country by its disadvantaged neighbors, then lets gamers take to the skies in an effort to defend said country in white-knuckle aerial combat. After individual missions are complete, free flight mode is unlocked, offering controller jockeys the ability to soar across richly detailed countryside or weave in and out of the buildings and bridges of the city.

The only thing missing is a thumping "Danger Zone" soundtrack.

Grade: A (awesome with the flight stick).

Details: Xbox 360 platform; $59.99 ($149.99 with control stick bundle); rated Teen (mild language, violence).

Good luck untangling Effect

Mass Effect is not the kind of game you pick up and play for a little while, then go on to something else. Instead, it's more like a really, really long sci-fi mystery novel that's light on the action and heavy on the exploration.

Complicated and intense, Mass is perfect for anyone with a lot of time to invest in trying to solve countless mysteries of confusingly named species in the galaxies of the future. Role-playing games don't get much more immersive and hard to follow than this one. It's chock full of choices and plots. Create your very own version of Cmdr. Shepard and live his or her life as leader of a squad of inter-species soldiers out to save humanity.

If you like these types of games, you will have a hard time finding a better experience than this. (For everyone else, however, we'll just go back to playing with our Wiis.)

Grade: B (bountiful choices for RPG fans; boring for the rest of us).

Details: Xbox 360 platform; $59.99; rated Mature (blood, language, partial nudity, sexual themes, violence).

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