Our pending apocalypse is all the rage. The question is: Which is your own personal favorite apocalypse? Because every groupthink favors its own final countdown.
Terrorists will kill us (say conservatives). Global warming will kill us (say liberals). North Korea will kill us (say South Koreans). Fluoride will kill us (says my lady love, an ex-Green Peace-er).
Wait, we can’t even brush our teeth en masse without perishing? Yuck.
In video games, the apocalypse has served as the story line framework for probably several hundred games in the past 20 years, from “Doom” to “Resident Evil” and on and on.
Now here we are with the latest end-of-the-world of “Terminator: Salvation,” based on the movie. The film’s lead actor, Christian Bale, refused to lend this game his likeness and voice, due to money or pride. What a nice life he must have, with his high-class problems.
“Terminator: Salvation” finds hero John Conner living in a post-apocalyptic Earth, battling robot armies that launched nuclear weapons against humans, as they flex steely determination to root out remaining homo sapiens. Now that’s a high-class problem.
Bale was lucky to have bailed on “Salvation.” Sure, it looks OK (not great), you can move your character around fairly intuitively (but not great), and you can blast robots with shotguns and rocket launchers (reliable weaponry).
But the game is a pretty simple and redundant arcade-style shooter. You jog past rusty cars, discarded mannequins and house rubble, and it is your charge to cream robots by, for instance, shooting them in the face to stun them, then running behind them to shoot their vulnerable backsides.
Ugh: “Salvation’s” killing routines become routine quickly. There is little replay value and no online multiplayer.
So let’s move on to another apocalypse, shall we? Let’s play the racing game “Fuel,” in which global warming has left only you and a few other survivors alive, with a fleet of 70 superior motorcycles, cars, trucks and ATVs.
The gist: You race each other over 100,000 miles of wooded and sandy roads across 5,000 square miles, because when the apocalypse comes, you will want to drive your butt off.
“Fuel” looks terrific in our doom. Global warming scorched the landscape. You race past dead and burned trees. Weather patterns run amok. Sometimes, tornados spin nearby and toss debris in your path. When the sky is yellow, it is jaundiced.
“Fuel” is, in short, mostly what you want from a racing game — to speed across splendid and varied terrains fraught with peril. Online, you can race against 15 human gamers. You also can choose not to compete, but to drive leisurely around hills and lakes, getting big air under jumps. Downsides: No turbo boosting, and the game starts too easy.
So in the battle of apocalypses this week, global warming is the fun winner. I’m not sure what Robert Frost would think. Pondering the eventual apocalypse, the poet guessed fire would come from desire, though ice would suffice. Robert Frost never mentioned fluoride, or driving in singed forests on ATVs. Obviously, he didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.
(“Fuel” by WB Games retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3 — Plays fun. Looks great. Challenging. Rated “E” for comic mischief. Three and one-half stars out of four.)
(“Terminator: Salvation” by WB Games retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 — Plays redundant and uninspired. Looks passable, almost poor. Rated “T” for violence. One star.)
What do you think? Tell me at email@example.com, or post your reviews and rants at reviewjournal.com/elfman.NEW IN STORES
“Prototype” is a sci-fi game whose promise seems super cool. You portray a vengeful man who wakes up in a morgue, with amnesia, but has the abilities to shape-shift, leap and climb buildings faster than even Spider-Man, and destroy tanks merely by jumping onto them.
The plot, set in New York City with a “sandbox” open world, sends you, an anti-hero, along a journey into a city infected by horrible, mutating viruses.
The action: You can either ramble in and kill people in big fights at military bases and other hot zones, or you can stealthily sneak in, kill a guard and morph into his identity, then join that person’s military operations briefly.
To see it is to “whoa” it: You foot-run as fast as 100 mph, including up the sides of buildings, and when you leap off buildings, you can soar like a bird with your arms outstretched. This looks like supernatural parkouring. But there’s no online multiplayer.
The Tuesday release retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for PC. It’s rated “M” for violence, language.
“Virtua Tennis 2009” (Sega) shows how far the visuals of video tennis have come. If you were to look up and see “Virtua Tennis 2009” from slightly afar, on a gym or pub TV, you could think you were seeing a real tennis match.
This year’s “Virtua” lets you play on grass and clay, etc., in cities around the world, and lets you play multiplayer and online.
The game retails for $50 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $40 for Wii. It’s rated “E.”
“Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2010” (EA) is this year’s version of the most consistently excellent sports series in gaming.
“Tour 2010” finally brings to the series the U.S. Open and the USGA Championship. Plus, the Weather Channel will give gamers who are online a real-world weather pattern option. The clubs don’t hit as supernaturally far as they used to.
The Monday release (not Tuesday as would be customary) retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for PS 2. It’s rated “E.”
— By DOUG ELFMAN