Since I have to play a fuckton of games on a daily basis and the Mercury has a limited amount of review space, a lot of games fall through the cracks. Consider this my attempt at covering as many of these titles as possible. I'll mostly be choosing stuff that I've been enjoying recently, but if there is anything you want me to specifically review, let me know and I'll try to make it happen.
God of War III — $60 — PlayStation 3
Blood, gore, ultraviolence and even some pretty awesome boobies; If the Ancient Greeks could have told their tales via videogame God of War III is exactly what they would have created. As with its predecessors the game tells the story of Kratos, the titular deity of fightin', who has a mighty beef with
Laurence Olivier Liam Neeson Zeus. Being a total badass, instead of talking the whole thing over with the king of the gods, Kratos must fight his way through a near-endless legion of mythological creatures, ripping off heads and tearing off limbs, all on his way to assassinating His High Holy Lightningness himself.
Since his last outing however, Kratos has jumped from the PS2 to Sony's latest console and it really shows. GoWIII is just stunning and the huge set piece boss fights that the series has become known for are more epic and brutal than ever before. Where you once simply fought gigantic beasties, you now find yourself running up the backs of Titans, tearing the crab legs off of Poseidon's water horse avatar and chatting up a squatting Hephaestus within his forge. Everything is bigger and shinier than it ever has been and it serves as a gorgeous showcase for the power of the system.
Oh, and if you somehow missed the first two God of War games, Sony also re-released the original two on a single Blu-Ray disc for the bargain price of $30. Both sport upgraded — though not quite GoWIII level — visuals and sound, so the package is a steal at that price. Highly recommended.
Pokémon HeartGold/SoulSilver — $40 — Nintendo DS
With billions of dollars earned from the Pokémon franchise to date and billions more waiting in the wallets of parents around the world, can you really blame Nintendo for rehashing Pokémon Gold and Silver for a new generation? You could, but it would be silly when the remakes mark the finest games in the series to date.
From the improved graphics to the verging-on-ridiculous number of 'mon you can now collect, the game is bigger and better in every way. Hell, the developers even threw in the entire area of the original Pokémon games, effectively doubling the size of the game's quest.
If you've ever enjoyed a Pokémon game, or wondered why so many millions of people, young and old alike, find this series absolutely addicting, HeartGold and SoulSilver are the best reason to hand Nintendo $40. Just be sure you have a spare 200 hours to devote to your latest obsession.
Heavy Rain — $60 — PlayStation 3
If you were looking for a single game to really showcase all the processing power and whiz-bang graphics of Sony's console the idea of a slow-paced, methodical, thriller that owes more to David Lynch than Shigeru Miyamoto might not be your first choice, and yet Heavy Rain is one of the most visually and aurally stunning titles ever released. Of course, all the gorgeous graphics and pretty sounds in the world don't mean much if there isn't quality gameplay to back them up, and in this case, the game also succeeds as one of the most gripping, intense adventure titles in history.
Aside from the story line — which can best be described as "a Hollywood-caliber mind fuck" — developer Quantic Dream took a very low key approach to everything in this game. Instead of manipulating the environment with your standard set of buttons, almost all actions are controlled with precise gestures. One scene asks you to start your car by sliding the right stick up to place your GPS unit, making a quarter circle to turn the key in the ignition, and pulling down and then back up to release the brake and put the car into drive. The entire scheme seems like it would get old pretty fast, but by forcing players to work out every single action their character performs, the game world becomes intensely engrossing — a fact that, by the end of the tale, leaves you with jangled nerves, hating the bastard that's been killing kids all across the fictional East Coast city the game is set in.
If it has one flaw it's that the game's European development left many of the characters with accents that seem a bit off. I've been told that this is only apparent to Americans, and it isn't a huge negative anyway, so if you can look past that, I highly recommend spending a few hours in a game that is a far cry from the standard run-n-gun of the more publicized blockbuster shooters.