Game Dork for Feb. 24


By DOUG ELFMAN

The glut of video game sequels is starting to make game companies seem as if they're clinging to old ideas.

I'm about to review "Twisted Metal," "Rayman Origins" and "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom."

If I'm not mistaken, this is roughly the 14th "Rayman" game, the 12th "Twisted Metal" and the ninth iteration of "Marvel vs. Capcom."

Do you know how common these games may feel to players? (As much as I love the "God of War" series, I was tiring of it by the fourth sequel.)

Objectively speaking, this week's games are beautifully rendered and offer smooth game play. Subjectively speaking, been there, done that.

If you're new to these series, give them a shot. If they're old hat to you, I feel your pain.

"Twisted Metal" is a combat-car game without traditional racing. You choose a vehicle — car, truck, motorcycle, ice cream truck — then drive around towns, firing rockets at rival vehicles.

The whole point is to blow things up. It feels more like a shooter than a car game.

Solo missions are fast, fun and difficult, but fairly redundant after a while, as I'm very familiar with the series' modus operandi.

The online multiplayer of "Twisted Metal" is more exciting. However, the multiplayer rarely lets me join a game because of server troubles. Or, I wait 15 minutes for a game to start while the server waits for enough players to sign in. Ugh.

Now let's look at Vita's "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom." It was made for you, if you dig old-school fighting games.

You fight as any of 50 playable characters, jumping, punching, kicking and making combination moves that spit fire and bullets and stuff. Very familiar territory.

And "Rayman Orgins" is a stunning-looking platform-style game. You portray Rayman, the bird-like guy with hands, running and jumping left, right, up and down, across forests, lakes and other beautiful environments.

I can't think of much to say about "Rayman" that I haven't said about hundreds of other platform games, though. Its high points are, it's exquisitely drawn and super cute.

At least "Rayman Origins" breaks a mold in the series' recent shooting-gallery formats. But it's a platformer, the second-oldest style of gaming. (The oldest is the endless-level game, such as "Pong" and "Asteroids").

People in the game industry fret that casual iPhone games impose on hardcore gaming. I don't know. I think sequels are dulling down the industry.

Sony's amazing new handheld PlayStation Vita just launched with a dozen greatly constructed games, but the bulk are sequels that break little ground.

At February's Interactive Achievement Awards in Vegas, among dozens of categories, only two nominated console games were not sequels. The 14th "Elder Scrolls" won Best Game.

Imagine if only two movies at the Oscars were not sequels. Imagine "Titanic 14" winning Best Picture.

The game industry needs to innovate more, and soon, or some of us may view it as creatively bankrupt. I don't want that. I want something very rational: New passion.

"Twisted Metal" by Sony retails for $60 for PS 3 — Plays fun but somewhat redundant. Looks very good. Challenging. Rated "M" for blood, gore, intense violence, strong language. Three out of four stars.

"Rayman Origins" by Ubisoft retails for $40 for Vita — Plays fun if you like platforming. Looks great. Challenging. Rated "E 10+" for comic mischief, mild cartoon violence, suggestive themes. Three stars.

"Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom" by Capcom retails for $40 for Vita — Plays fun if you like fighters. Looks good. Easy to challenging, depending on settings you choose. Rated "T" for mild language, partial nudity, suggestive themes, violence. Two and one-half stars.

Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at http://www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html. Twitter at VegasAnonymous.