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'Ragnarok Odyssey ACE' Lacks Substance DEVELOPER: Game Arts PUBLISHER: XSEED Games SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (PS Vita) PRICE: $39.99 ESRB RATING: Teen REVIEW RATING: 3.0 stars (out of 5) "Ragnarok Odyssey ACE" is a fast-paced action RPG that's actually an upgraded version of 2012's …Read more. 'Dark Souls II' Will Make You Curse Out Loud! DEVELOPER: From Software PUBLISHER: Namco Bandai SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3) PRICE: $59.99 ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 4.5 stars (out of 5) In these days of instant gratification where defeating games presents little challenge, "Dark …Read more. 'Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes' Showcases Great Things to Come DEVELOPER: Kojima Productions PUBLISHER: Konami SYSTEM: Sony PlayStation 3 (Xbox 360) PRICE: $29.99 ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5) I started losing interest in the Metal Gear Solid franchise when it became obvious that more …Read more. 'South Park: The Stick of Truth' is Kick-Ass DEVELOPER: Obsidian Entertainment PUBLISHER: UbiSoft SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, PC) PRICE: $59.99 ESRB RATING: Mature REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5) I was lucky enough to catch the debut of "South Park" over 15 years ago, and I've been a …Read more.
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SSX Is More Extreme than Mountain Dew

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DEVELOPER: EA Canada

PUBLISHER: Electronic Arts

SYSTEM: Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3)

PRICE: $59.99

ESRB RATING: Teen

REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)

Extreme sports games used to be all the rage. Oddly enough, the genre has lost popularity in the virtual realm while gaining ground in real life. Fans know the "SSX" series proves that nothing is too extreme, and the latest reboot is no different. Despite a stronger focus on realism, the new "SSX" game still lets players perform more flips and twists than Shaun "Spin Cycle" White.

Right out of the gate, it's easy to tell that the focus of the new "SSX" has changed from over-the-top surreal snowboarding to life-threatening, blazing-fast downhill racing. Sure, there are plenty of places to catch air, as well as various trick competitions, but players can't advance until they conquer each of several Deadly Descents.

These downhill competitions are so treacherous that characters literally have to wear body armor just to enter. Players have to keep on their toes in order to survive these races, much less win. Deadly Descents are beyond extreme; they're extremely frustrating, and I wish they were optional.

Thank goodness there are lots of other fun activities to distract me away from Deadly Descents. For example, I loved watching my character outrun an avalanche during the Helicopter Descent, and using the wing suit to fly over huge gaps on certain courses gets my adrenaline racing! It's also pretty fun to jam an ice pick into the ground to make sharp turns.

Just like past games, "SSX" features a surreal trick system that goes far beyond the realm of possibility. Players can flip and spin to their heart's content, all while pulling off insane grabs and tweaks. Performing tricks is even easier than before, and I really appreciate the ability to pre-load jumps so I can spin and/or flip faster. It also seems easier to perform tricks while sliding on rails.

"SSX" may be too extreme for older gamers, but young snowboarding fans will surely flip for it.

Make a Virtual Mess with 'The Splatters'

DEVELOPER: SpikySnail Game Studios

PUBLISHER: Microsoft

SYSTEM: Xbox Live Download

PRICE: $10

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 4.0 stars (out of 5)

Disarming bombs is a serious affair in real life, but it can be quite fun in the gaming realm.

Believe me, this dangerous task becomes non-threatening when it's performed by misshapen blobs of liquid goo in the whimsical physics-based puzzle game "The Splatters."

"Easy to learn yet difficult to master" has become the mantra for all modern casual games, but it's actually true in this instance. Players are tasked with shooting blobs of liquid (called Splatters) around each small level in an effort to make them rupture. Clusters of bombs are broken up and disarmed when covered with liquid from ruptured Splatters, and accurate physics ensures that the results are unpredictable.

For example, shooting a Splatter at spikes on the ceiling will make its liquid rain down, but the effect varies. Sometimes the liquid will cover and disarm all bombs, while other times it may split them apart and only disarm a few. Fortunately, there are handy tools to deal with these random reactions.

Soon after the game starts, players will learn how to adjust the trajectory of the Splatter by using a simple button tap. This move is invaluable for disarming pesky bombs using the fewest amount of Splatters. Another cool move is a high-speed ground slam that scatters the Splatter in a concentrated area.

It's also possible to dive-bomb areas of each level with certain Splatters, but my favorite move is called "Flip." Activating Flip reverses the momentum of everything onscreen, and it can be used over and over again. This move can be used in a wide variety of ways, such as gaining momentum by sliding back and forth on curved surfaces or reversing an airborne cluster of bombs over and over again so they land in a puddle of Splatter goo.

Eventually, the simplistic game play starts to wear thin, but that doesn't stop "The Splatters" from being more fun than a barrel of pink slime.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM



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