'MARK ECKO'S GETTING UP'
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation 2 and PC
Rep is the key in street culture, and that may be no more evident than in graffiti art, where plastering your likeness or motto or whatever is the way to fame or the easy street to shame.
"Mark Ecko's Getting Up" is a near-perfect send up to graffiti culture, where you play as Trane, an up-and-coming artist who looks to make a big name for himself in a futuristic city where cleanliness is the way of the world and surfaces are just begging to be tagged.
Trane will spend the game scouring the city of New Radius tagging surfaces. Along the way he will rise in prominence and fend off rival gangs and also avoid the cops.
The game sounds easy, but there's some challenge to it and the details are evidence of how meticulous Atari went through to churn out a top-notch game. The story mixes genres, with platformer elements melded with action/adventure themes as well as fighting game styles as well.
You can tell Atari went full tilt on this game from the get-go, as it got voice acting and licensed soundtrack music from today's biggest hip-hop stars, from Talib Kweli to Kanye West and even Diddy. The graphics are superb and capture graffiti art street culture without making it look glossy and fake. A must-own game.
'FIGHT NIGHT ROUND 3'
Platforms: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2
Publisher: EA Sports
Eureka, it looks like it finally happened. Three editions in, the folks at EA Sports have connected with a boxing game that features punches that make contact with the face. Not that they didn't in past games, but in "Fight Night Round 3" there is hardly ever a wasted moment to show pugilism at its finest.
The fights are brutal and steady. They really capture the methodical pace of a boxing match, with stellar graphics and all the big-name fighters you could ever possibly choose from.
The biggest letdown in "Round 3" has to be the career mode. There's no ranking system in place, and upgrading new gear in the store is tedious. It doesn't seem far-fetched to include managers, full-time trainers and so forth into the career mode. Since the in-the-ring action is as good as it can get, hopefully more improvements will be made in the career mode.
Though it feels nit-picky to bring up the negatives, one only has to play "Round 3" to understand how brilliant a sports game it is and realize that with further tweaking the details, this franchise continually progresses toward perfection.
'SUPER PRINCESS PEACH'
Platform: Nintendo DS
Not longer sequestered in a tower awaiting her hero, Princess Peach is now the heroine, and she's out to save Mario, Luigi and others from arch-nemesis Bowser in this new DS game.
After stealing a powerful scepter and wielding it for obviously no good, Bowser needs to be stopped, and surprisingly it's Peach who must come to their aid.
Over the course of the game's levels and boss fights, Peach will use her emotions to either drum up tears, turn into fire or float through the air. Most of it comes across visually as standard Mario-esque fare.
One could go into sociological dissection here and question why Nintendo has Peach's powers vested on her emotions.
For older gamers it smacks of demeaning, sexist stereotypes that seem regrettable in this case. With few Lara Crofts in the gaming world and more damsels in distress, one would have liked to see a Peach possessed with strength and skill, but younger gamers most likely will not see too deep into the subtext.
"Super Princess Peach" could be better if it weren't so darn easy. But it's great, nevertheless, to see Peach finally whipping some tail instead of waiting for Mario to do it for her.
Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard