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Friday, October 2, 2009

Player's Club: A fistful of reviews

Not every game is a big-budget AAA masterpiece. Full, in-depth reviews just aren't feasible or even justified for every game, especially during the ridiculously busy fall games season. These capsule review columns won't be too common, but will pop up every once in a while. Don't worry, variety's good for you.

pinballhof
Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection

Rated E10+ for Everyone Ten and Up

Released Sept. 22

Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Published by Crave Entertainment

Pinball’s basically dead as a going concern, and video pinball has never been all that popular to begin with, so this is definitely a niche product. That’s a shame, because Pinball Hall of Fame is a great collection. Unless you’re the dad from Silver Spoons, how else are you going to get thirteen classic pinball tables, including Black Knight, Space Shuttle, and Arabian Nights, in your house? It’s fascinating to see how thoroughly pinball changed from the ’70s through the late ’90s, from the rudimentary human speech of 1979’s Gorgar (the industry’s first) through the over-the-top multimedia onslaught of 1997’s Medieval Madness. Madness also features a bit of voice-over work from a pre-SNL Tina Fey.

section 8
Section 8

Rated T for Teen

Released Sept. 4

Xbox 360, PC

Published by SouthPeak

No ma’am, Section 8 isn’t a low-income housing sim, unfortunately. A few minor tweaks keep this from being the most generic first-person shooter ever. Instead of respawning on the map, your orbital drop trooper (shocking, I know) plummets down from above. You pick the landing spot, and if you land on any opponents they’ll take a bit of damage. You can also earn and spend cash in-game, setting up defensive turrets and other improvements. Section 8 also supports clans (semi-organized teams of dedicated players) better than most console shooters. Everything else is standard issue, from the stereotypical aliens and space marines to the squad-based online match-ups and capture-the-flag contests. Don’t even bother if you don’t play online; Section 8’s single-player campaign is even more perfunctory than Halo 3 ODST’s.

raven squad
Raven Squad

Rated T for Teen

Released Aug. 21

Xbox 360, PC

Published by SouthPeak

Raven Squad’s hook is that it’s two genres in one. It’s both a first-person shooter and an overhead real-time strategy game, like if you crossed Halo with Risk, and then beat it long and hard with a ball-peen hammer. A button press switches between the two styles as you play, which you probably won’t do, as Raven Squad’s one of the worst games of the year. I can’t decide if it’s more boring as a shooter or an RTS. At least the gameplay isn’t as thoroughly incompetent as the dialogue and voice-acting. Then again, if it was, then the game would be hilariously awful to play as it is to watch. Raven Squad is basically Ed Wood’s The A-Team: The Game.

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