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GAME DAY

A ride so real you might get carsick

January 31, 2008|Pete Metzger | Special to The Times

In all honesty, the best parts of auto racing video games are the crashes. There is something sweetly poetic about slamming your car into the wall at an ungodly high rate of speed only to watch as the car is magically reborn, without a scratch on it or you, the driver.

Burnout Paradise celebrates all the beauty that is found in spectacular metal-twisting crashes and does it without peer.

More than 250 miles of open road await anyone willing to explore the town of Paradise City in one of the many realistic (yet fictional) rides that can be unlocked as game play goes on. With a ton of jumps to try, secrets to discover and shortcuts to find, the open-ended driving never gets old. More than 120 events can also be unlocked for those looking for more than just a Sunday drive.

In Paradise, the devil is also in the details. The graphics are top-notch and the load times are minuscule. During an especially powerful impact, the action slows, offering a breathtaking view of the ripple of the car's metal and the shards of the flying glass as the auto is totaled.

The wide-open playground is packed with so many different kinds of roads -- including crowded city streets, freeways and curvy mountain routes -- that variety comes standard.

In fact, Paradise is so intense that it even comes with real-life carsickness at no charge.

Grade: A (automotive mayhem!)

Details: Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms; $59.99; rated Everyone 10+ (violence, language).

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Challenge makes up for gloom

The plot of Advance Wars: Days of Ruin is one of the darker stories to make its way to the usually upbeat and kid-friendly Nintendo Dual Screen system.

The gist of the game, as titled at the start of play: "Restore hope to a dying world as you lead your ragtag army through a post apocalyptic wasteland." Cheery this isn't.

But doom and gloom aside, Advance Wars' good control scheme, logic-requiring play and great turn-based game mechanics make it the perfect companion to the DS.

(A giant meteor shower wipes out most inhabitants of Earth and leaves a depressing gray cloud in the sky and angry, warmongering survivors. Even the pretty flowers attack and kill the young.)

Morbid? Yes. Challenging and worth the angst? A big yes.

Grade: B+ (better pack some antidepressants).

Details: Nintendo DS platform; $34.99; rated Everyone 10+ (language, mild violence).

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