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Playing 'Alien Isolation' Won't Help You Sleep at Night DEVELOPER: Creative Assembly PUBLISHER: SEGA SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4 (Xbox One, PC) PRICE: $59.99 ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5) "In space, no one can hear you scream," but here on Earth, your neighbor's sure will! …Read more. Explore Victorian London in 'Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments' DEVELOPER: Frogwares PUBLISHER: Focus Home Interactive SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4 (PS3, PC, Xbox 360) PRICE: $59.99 ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5) Although the modern TV recreation of Sherlock Holmes is popular, I prefer his …Read more. 'Gauntlet' Throws Down the Gauntlet DEVELOPER: Arrowhead Game Studios PUBLISHER: WB Games SYSTEM: Windows PC PRICE: $19.99 Download ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5) I have fond memories of spending hours upon hours playing the original "Gauntlet" side-by-side …Read more. 'Anomaly 2' Introduces Online Multiplayer DEVELOPER: 11 bit Studios PUBLISHER: 11 bit Studios SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 4 (PC) PRICE: $14.99 Download ESRB RATING: Teen REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5) Now that the popularity of Tower Defense games is waning, companies have to offer …Read more.
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Open-World Game Play Dominates 'Crysis 3'

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DEVELOPER: Crytek

PUBLISHER: EA Games

SYSTEM: Windows 8/7/Vista (PS3, Xbox 360)

PRICE: $59.99

ESRB RATING: Mature

REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)

Core gamers know that the "Crysis" series sets a high benchmark thanks to exceptional visuals and enjoyable game play. So high, in fact, that many PC gamers will actually upgrade their computers for every sequel. "Crysis 3" definitely ups the ante in terms of gorgeous graphics, but the game play seems like it has regressed a bit.

When the most powerful force on Earth emerges as a mega-conglomerate known as CELL, only the nano-suit-wearing super-soldier called Prophet can help a band of rebels take it down. First he must be rescued from captivity, and then he becomes sidetracked by pesky aliens who want to destroy the world.

It's OK if players don't fully understand the convoluted plot because it's just an excuse to drop them into a destroyed version of New York. This open-world game lets players pick and choose not only where to go, but also how they want to play the game. Whether you want to go in with guns blazing or use stealth to quietly take out enemies, "Crysis 3" has it covered.

I prefer to use the latter option, which is why I love the new compound bow that can be used in stealth mode. It's also great that sprinting doesn't deplete energy, which means I can stay invisible for longer. However, the enemy AI is lacking. As a result, the game is too easy for patient gamers. Fortunately, cranking up the difficulty resolves this issue.

There's also in-depth online multiplayer that offers familiar modes and a great new one called Hunter. Two players spawn with nanosuits and bows, and they have to take out a group of players who spawn as CELL soldiers. When a CELL soldier is eliminated, they respawn as a hunter. The match ends when all CELL soldier or all hunters have been killed.

"Crysis 3" isn't revolutionary, but it's still fun to play and the visuals are drop-dead gorgeous!

'Pinball FX-2: Star Wars Pinball'

DEVELOPER: Zen Studios

PUBLISHER: Zen Studios

SYSTEM: Xbox Live and Sony PSN

PRICE: $9.99 Download

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5)

I chuckled to myself when a friend suggested that I try virtual pinball, but Zen Studios has blown me away with "Pinball FX-2!" The realistic physics of the balls literally make it seem like I'm playing an arcade pinball game, and the surrealistic visual effects add immensely to the enjoyment.

Now the developers have released a set of tables based on "Star Wars," and they're so cool that it makes me proud to be a geek!

Even though the "Empire Strikes Back" table looks bereft of options, players can easily activate one of five missions that get the action going. For example, one mission tasks aspiring snowspeeder pilots with taking down a giant AT-AT lumbering across the table. In addition, a cool new mini-game takes place on the Millennium Falcon where Luke Skywalker must use the force to reflect blaster fire.

"Star Wars" fans love Boba Fett, so it's not surprising to see a table based on the intergalactic bounty hunter. Although the missions are very similar in regards to their goals, some take place for the Galactic Empire while others are for the Hutts. It's cool to see Han Solo frozen in carbonite and I also appreciate the added touch of putting a Sarlacc pit on the table that must be avoided. This table is packed with action with one-on-one combat and lots of laser fire!

Similar to the cartoon series, "The Clone Wars" table is definitely not my favorite. Unlike the "Empire Strikes Back" table, this one is packed wall-to-wall with ramps and lanes stacked on top of each other. It's simply too easy to rack up points on this table, and it can actually become rather monotonous to watch fellow pinball wizards during multiplayer mode.

Whether you play "Pinball FX-2" on Xbox Live or "Zen Pinball 2" on PSN, the Star Wars table set is a great addition.

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM

5 stars = Must Have

4 stars = Very Good

3 stars = Above Average

2 stars = Bargain Bin

1 star = Don't Bother

RATINGS KEY

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

E: Everyone

E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)

T: Teen (13 and older)

M: Mature (17 and older)

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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