One movie, one keyboard, one controller and four games. That's the video game stuff we reviewed this weekend. And these are our bottom lines on all of that...
The Bottom Line: Tron: Evolution wants to be a sexy, high-gloss Prince of Persia, trading desert sands and Arabian castles for the shining neon of the Grid. Sadly that aspiration is never fully realized, leaving us with an experience that's dull despite its brilliant glow; a game that's most impressive accomplishment is making a four to five hour adventure seem long and drawn-out. Multiplayer offers a spark of hope, but that spark dies out too quickly. It's true that the game contains scenes and background information that could enhance your appreciation of both films, but those revelations will still be fresh when Tron: Evolution hits the bargain bin.
The Bottom Line: Tron: Legacy offers plenty of thrilling action, breathtaking people and places to gawk at, as well as a rock solid score from Daft Punk, but doesn't engage with a particularly meaty tale. Legacy delighted the eyes and ears, but its players were forgettable, disposable, shiny plastic things that you can't take your eyes off of.
The Bottom Line: Yes, the game is short, and sometimes I wanted the on-rails bit to stop for a second, not so I could catch my breath, but so I could look around and admire all the work that went into the game. With Rage HD's three levels, it's as though id Software put all its effort into making the most impressive iOS demo ever. Rage HD is deeply impressive, but leaves me wanting more.
The Bottom Line: Bejeweled 3 is a great sequel, one that takes its predecessor's core concept and reveals a wonderful batch of variations, all of them creative and many of them hard to abandon. In a fall rich with important video games Bejeweled 3 was still able to get its hooks in me. It's the game I wanted to show everyone, from my mom to my co-workers. Everyone who looked at it wanted to try it; everyone who tried it had a great time with it.
The Bottom Line: Can a gaming keyboard be too full-featured? With the easy-to-use customization options available on the core Steel Series Shift unit, it almost seems silly that the product has the keyset swapping function at all. I'd gladly pay $89 for a keyboard with the quality of construction and features the SteelSeries Shift has, but given a choice between it and a model that was more or less one piece, I'd go for the one that didn't split the space bar down the middle. If you see yourself regularly swapping out keyboard sets or you're looking for a keyboard that gives you the option to prove your love of World of Warcraft or Medal of Honor, then by all means partake.
The Bottom Line: Traditional controllers are very black and white: you go, you stop. That's it. But driving requires a mastery of the gray area, between fast and slow, between moving and stopping. Racing wheels offer that precision, but traditional controllers often feel as though they come up short. The HKS Racing Controller is a logical solution for those who don't have a racing wheel, but want a racing wheel experience in a control pad.
The Bottom Line: Epic Mickey is a heftier, more intellectually intriguing game than one might gather from any initial impression that mistakes it for Super Mickey Bros. Had Mickey's designers programmed a less frustrating camera and found a way to draw Mickey's world in a way that was appealing as how they drew Mickey himself, this slow burn of a game could have been great. It is, nonetheless, a smart curiosity. The game rewards dedicated players who plumb its secret pathways and travel along a heroic path that feels so unlike - and so much more interesting than - those in most of the video games we get to play.
Coming next week...more reviews, of course.