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The Christmas Loot

Another banner year personally when it came to Christmas swag.

An XBox 360 was under the tree, where it didn't remain long. With it were some games to give a feel for the new system's capabilities.

Madden NFL 2007 is, of course, a perennial favorite. The modification to the Xbox controllers involved in going to XBox 360 has led to some confusion due to muscle memory, but the game itself looks fantastic, plays fast, and is as immersive as ever. The player models are very realistic, and the climate effects on the field really make you feel as if you'll get mud on your pants when you get dropped in the backfield. Thanks to an apparently improved pass rush AI, that seems to happen a lot.

College Hoops NCAA 2K7 is another great-looking, great-playing sports game. What really impressed me about it was how deep it went---beyond the regular March Madness play you'd expect, this puppy offers a wide variety of drills (even 21, the schoolyard standby) and a student lounge equipped with fully-functional air hockey and dartboard minigames. I'm not a huge hoops fan, but I love this game nonetheless.

Call of Duty 3 is like being an extra in "Saving Private Ryan". It is a grueling and realistic depiction of WWII, but very difficult to master. There is no better simulation of warfare from the first person perspective that I've seen, but then it also makes the gaming experience less pleasant as a result. War is hell, and taking the same tank ride over and over while snipers plink away at you is hell of a different stripe.

Dead Rising is a zombie game. I like zombie games, and I particularly like ones where virtually any object in the environment can be used as a weapon against the undead. This is another time toilet game, though---I'll never finish it unless somebody unlocks the cheat codes for me. Very difficult, even on early missions.

Fight Night Round 3 takes the best boxing game and makes it even better. As good as the graphics in Round 2 were, hitting a dude and seeing spit fly into the ringside VIP seats is somehow even more satisfying. Moreover, the gameplay now emphasizes actual boxing styles, which makes it both more challenging and more rewarding.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance rocks so hard Ronnie James Dio would sell his soul to it over eBay. It's like being in a comic book. The sheer variety of heroes you get to play is unlike any superhero game I've seen, and the game designers clearly are Marvel zombies, since no novice reader would include such villains as The Wrecking Crew, Blackheart, or Fin Fang Foom in the product. In addition to meeting lots and lots of Marvel characters, the game takes you to exotic locales like Stark International Headquarters, the SHIELD Helicarrier, Asgard, Mephisto's realm, Atlantis, and Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. Add in a playable Luke Cage complete with chain link belt and tiara and you've got a sweet Christmas indeed.

Of course, Santa also got me some terrific books, an Amazon gift card, and the awe-inspiring awfulness that is William Shatner's album "The Transformed Man." Maybe you find the prospect of TV's Captain Kirk breathlessly reciting the lyrics to "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" while Shaft's backing bad goes cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, but I think it's Shat-astic.

Good times, good times.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband may be interested in challenging you to a couple of games on the XBOX, especially since he has a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting one. (For more info, see my comment to Wordgirl).
The Wife of Your Sponsor

6:02 PM  

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