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VIDEO GAME REVIEWS


Published: Sun, March 5, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


'BLACK'
Platforms: PlayStation 2, Xbox. Genre: Shooter. Publisher: EA Games. Rating: M for Mature.
Grade: C+
Lampooning "Rambo" in movies like "Hot Shots! Part Deux" and "UHF" was always a source for a good laugh as the Rambo-esque character would fire seemingly endless amounts of ammo at his targets, going way beyond the realm of necessity.
"Black" is a game that takes this parody more seriously, pitting you as an ops soldier who must complete a series of missions. But the story is really secondary (or even further down the list) compared to the gunplay and explosions.
This game constantly asks the question: Why shoot a pistol when you can use a rifle? Why use a rifle when you can have an RPG and flatten entire buildings? The decisions you make in the game aren't about strategy but about firepower and how over-the-top to make it.
The interesting aspect to "Black" is how you kill your enemies. Sure, there's always the easy riddle-with-bullets method, but "Black" trains you to attack the environment primarily. Kill one enemy with bullets or 12 by destroying the catwalk they are on? It's all about blowing things up because of the cinematic quality of the visuals and how destructible everything is.
"Black" does suffer from a very short story mode, which can probably be completed in less than a weekend for more experienced gamers. This hurts its shelf life, as does its audio. The graphics are top-grade, among the best you'll see in a current console, but there's so much gunfire that you fear going deaf.
Even if you fear the glorification of the gun, there's still enough fun to be had here to make it worth your while.
-- Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard
'FULL AUTO'
Platform: Xbox 360.
Genre: Driving.
Publisher: Sega. Rating: T for Teen.
Grade: D
Driving or racing games normally either go all-out on straight racing or get into something along the lines of "Twisted Metal" where sheer destruction is the key.
Think of "Full Auto" as an adult version of Nintendo's "Mario Kart." In this game, you pick a car and a weapons pairing, and the main objective is naturally to finish the race in first place. There are always going to be some smaller minigoals to fulfill in each race, but winning is the ultimate ambition. Of course, as said before, you get to load your ride with weapons in order to better facilitate victory.
There are some other noble efforts in this game, like a time machine where you can alter past events in a race to possibly change the outlook.
"Full Auto" is not a terrible racing game, but it's far from the best out there. The catalog of games for Xbox 360 is growing but not fast enough, and if you want to add a fresh face then take a chance on this one.
-- Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard
'STATE OF EMERGENCY 2'
Platforms: PlayStation 2.
Genre: Shooter.
Publisher: DC Studios, SouthPeak. Rating: M for Mature.
Grade: F
If you can put all the problems with "State of Emergency 2" into one basic idea, it would have to be that this game should have been released before the original. "State 2" seems more like a step backward than a step forward, which is maddening considering the groundwork that was laid out to improve upon.
"State 2" suffers from what kills many Hollywood films: too many people involved in the project. In researching the history of this game, you find that "State 2" has had as many as five different companies working on it for more than four years. With that many hands and diverging opinions, no wonder the game comes off disjointed.
While "State of Emergency" was loose and all about creating panic and riots, "State 2" is almost entirely detached from that premise, with only some recurring characters giving you a sense of the original game.
The graphics are substandard by today's expectations, and, sadly, gameplay is so simple there's little challenge to keep you interested. What could have been a franchise with its own little niche is bogged down and rendered worthy of maybe just a weekend rental.
-- Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard


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