(Capcom) for Xbox 360
Genre: Shooter; Rating: T
Grade: C
A barren, snow-covered planet. You, a lone soldier with vengeance on your side and some crazy weaponry at your disposal. Oh, and you can whip up on some enemy aliens with a mech suit as well. "Lost Planet" has close to a full plate of gaming, so don't be afraid to put on the snow boots and kick some alien tail.
There's a lot of the good and the bad here. Let's get the bad stuff out of the way early. Many gamers will be frustrated by having to spend top dollar for a game in which the single player mode is fewer than 10 hours and the story makes almost no sense.
If you can look past that -- and you should -- what remains is a visually stunning game because it nails its two main components: snow and blowing things up. Playing as Wayne (not exactly a futuristic name, but whatever), you traverse this colony of the future and do battle with the Akrid. They won't leave humanity alone and also possess thermal energy vital for your survival, so there's double satisfaction in laying waste to them.
"Lost Planet" strikes a healthy balance between battling on foot or via the mech suits, which add awesome firepower without getting boring. The snowy environment is fantastic, delivering a sense of isolation and hopelessness. Even though it's a brief campaign, there are solid multiplayer modes that will keep you coming back.
--Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard
(Konami) for PlayStation 2
Genre: Music; Rating: E
Grade: C-
While you may watch the show and mock the bad auditions, odds are that you've never had the chance to live the "American Idol" dream. Here is your chance -- you can start from the bottom and work your way up to stardom.
In addition to the rudimentary gameplay modes you're already used to, this title is all about the "American Idol" experience, from the opening auditions to the final sing-offs in Hollywood. Almost every aspect of the show is properly tailored into the gameplay, from the classic songlist to the dramatic vote tally to see whether you advance.
One area that cannot be overlooked is how poorly the judging is done here. First, there's no Paula Abdul to gush over your vocal stylings or offer to have you guest star in her comeback album. Sure Simon and Randy are there, but the whole show is based on the dynamic of the three main judges, and her absence is noticeable. Sadly, there can be no debates as to whether avatar Paula plays comes off more or less sober than real-life Paula.
Even if you decide not to test your chords in the limelight you will still find plenty of fun from this themed karaoke game that maintains "Revolution's" place as the top karaoke franchise.
--Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard

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