Saturday, November 10, 2007

Column For Sat. Nov. 10

‘Ratchet’ blows away video realm
Ever wonder what it would be like if outer space were populated by talking animals and robots?

Then you should see “Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction.”

This game certifies the Sony PlayStation 3’s status as a big, bad machine. It’s about as close as you can get to being inside a Pixar movie.

“Ratchet and Clank” is the latest adventure for Ratchet, an inter-galactic hero who looks like a cross between a fox and a cat, and Clank, his robotic sidekick. The villain, Emperor Tachyon, wants Ratchet dead.

As the name would suggest, the game is set in the future and features a variety of cool weapons. As Ratchet and Clank hop from planet to planet, they complete different missions and collect new gadgets.

“Ratchet” blows the competition away with its jaw-dropping three-dimensional worlds. Everywhere you tilt the camera, there’s something going on. No one ever said Nintendo has the market cornered on family fare. With deft characterization and oddball humor, “Ratchet” is a real charmer.

The familiar control scheme was easy to learn. I dove right into this and didn’t come up for air until the game was almost overdue at Hollywood Video. “Tools of Destruction” stands up and demands a rating of five buttons out of five. Good show.

Like ‘Guitar Hero’?
No. “Guitar Hero,” “Rock Band” and any similar game coming down the chute can bite me. Did you see the new episode of South Park on Wednesday? That pretty much sums up my attitude.

All the time people spend pretending they’re in a rock band could be better spent, oh, I don’t know –– learning to play an actual instrument.

Are games like these bad? No. They are simply an asinine substitute for hard work and creativity, things easily traded for a game with a few cool gadgets piping out half-remembered songs.

Rock on, “Guitar Hero” worshippers. The appeal is lost on me.

‘Duck Amuck’

“Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck” for Nintendo’s DS is a fairly-well executed concept. It’s a spin-off of the old Warner Brothers cartoon where Daffy Duck is poked and prodded by an omniscient animator. (In the cartoon’s case, it was Bugs Bunny.)

Stab Daffy with your stylus. Close the DS on him. Shut him up, push him around. The madder he gets, the better your score.

Most of this game consists of mini-games. I’m not wild about mini-games in general, but here it kind of works. “Amuck” creates a nice diversion.

The game’s developers could provide a little more direction. The game is stylus-driven but learning game play was mostly trial-and-error. Since the game doesn’t really add up to anything important, learning wasn’t as frustrating as it sounds.

“Amuck” is nothing but a simple story about one man, his stylus and one tormented duck. I think I saw a “Far Side” cartoon like that once. “Amuck” gets 3Z\x buttons out of five.

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