New Releases: ‘Dead Or Alive 5+,’ ‘Lincoln’ & More [GAMES & DVD ROUNDUP]

By Edit Posted in Entertainment, Movies, TV, Video Games

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Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an author, blogger and Twitterer.

GAMES

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Dead or Alive 5+
(Vita, $40, Mature)

Tecmo Koei’s busty, barely-clothed fighters are up for another round on Sony’s handheld. Though the series no longer has the edge it did a decade ago when it was rocking last-generation consoles, this revamp helps it stick close to the current pack of Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter X Tekken and Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

Despite the T&A-fueled trappings, DOA tends to be one of the more technically sound fighters on the market, and 5 was no exception. Battles are every bit as flashy and frenetic on a Vita screen as it is on a console.

The wacky story mode is amusing enough to button-mash your way through, getting to know the various characters and their signature moves. I even appreciated the first-person touch fighting mode, which lets you do battle by tapping your moves on the front and rear touch screens. But online play is a sad afterthought. Menus are stodgy and it’s tough to find much competition.

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Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
(3DS, $40, Everyone)

Mario’s also-ran brother snags the spotlight in this long-distance follow-up to the early GameCube game, most oftened remembered as the demo you saw while shopping at Target before deciding not to buy a GameCube.

The sequel makes me giddy enough to want to circle back and give the original a shot. Entering longish missions, you snoop out haunted settings with a vacuum and flashlight, wrestling ghosts and racking up cash. Your time and booty haul contribute to your score, which will be so depressingly low you’ll feel the need to try it again and get things just right.

The lack of ability to save within missions is annoying, but the rich puzzle and level design makes it hard to put the portable game down, and online and offline multiplayer add an entirely new dimension. Chalk up another reason to let your 3DS jockey with your phone for pocketspace.

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Need for Speed Most Wanted U
(Wii U, $60, Everyone 10+)

Last year’s top racer takes a victory lap on the Wii U. Even though it scoots in late, the new version is arguably stronger than the one racers and stunt drivers have been playing for months.

Rather than a quick, sloppy port, some genuine thought went into shaping the game for the Wii U. The game is playable entirely on the TV or the GamePad, or in tandem. The touch screen also allows for quick car switching and menu navigation. The “U” version also comes with the $10 Ultimate Speed Pack DLC that was sold on other systems.

Impromptu street races, breakneck open-world courses and plenty of crashes keep things interesting. The hangup is that since hardly anyone has a Wii U, it’s tough to find much action online. Even though the multiplayer is just as robust as it is on the other systems, there’s little chance to test it out.

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Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14
(360, PS3, $60, Everyone)

Rather than jog on the treadmill like most other sports games and hope players stay satisfied with roster tweaks and gameplay refinements, the past couple editions of Tiger have livened things up with historical context.

Last year’s game let you recreate milestone’s in Tiger’s life, starting when he was a toddler, and this year’s Legends of the Masters lets you tee off throughout milestones in Masters history, starting back in 1875. Filters give the old-school tournaments the feel of archive broadcasts.

If the term “golf history” puts you to sleep, you can spend your time in 24-player online tournaments, or master your stroke offline. Due to a breakthrough in licensing hangups, this is the first version of the game to include all four majors.

A slew of gameplay adjustments are there to explore, but there’s nothing too innovative. If you’re happy with a previous version of the game and don’t care much for golf history or online play, you can sit this one out.

DVDS/BLU-RAYS

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The Borgias: Season 2
($35 Blu-ray, $25 DVD)

Anyone who misses the Renaissance-era dynamic of sex and violence amongst the royals of Showtime’s The Tudors should kneel and kiss the ring of the channel’s follow-up of sorts, which details the Catholic Church’s wretched excess of womanizing, double-crossing, wealth-mongering Pope Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons), who juggles mistresses, schemes against rival kings and treats Cardinals and political figures as his personal chess pieces to strengthen his wealth and family. Sumptuous visuals, top-shelf T&A and blistering dialogue make every episode enthralling. The slate of extras in the set is light, consisting mostly of episodes of other Showtime shows.

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Lincoln
($28 Blu-ray, $17 DVD)

Whenever other actors hear Daniel Day-Lewis is making a movie, they can pretty much give up any hopes that they’ll win an Oscar that year. Day-Lewis does his usual thing here, meaning he vanishes into his role like no one else can, delivering a freakishly convincing performance as Honest Abe. The movie director Steven Spielberg builds around the performance, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones along for the ride, doesn’t have to be spectacular to be incredibly watchable, and it isn’t. The by-the-numbers tale gives you the blow-by-blow of Lincoln’s efforts to abolish slavery and keep the nation from coming apart at the seams. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo describes the 12-year process that went into creating the movie, and throws in several other making-of featurettes that look at the locations, editing, sound design and performances.

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Parental Guidance
($23 Blu-ray, $17 DVD)

A crotchety Billy Crystal earns more shrugs than laughs in this badly overacted family comedy, featuring the former City Slicker as a baseball announcer who’s forced to watch his grandchildren while his daughter and son-in-law go on vacation. Recycling Daddy Day Care and Three Men and a Baby-style jokes, there’s almost nothing to redeem the film’s relentless dorkiness. Bette Midler checks in as his nagging wife, while Marisa Tomei and Tom Everett Scott sleepwalk their way through the throwaway roles as parents trying to recapture their marital magic. It felt sad to see a pair of actors who once had such promising careers waste their time in this mess. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy comes with deleted scenes, commentary with Crystal and director Andy Fickman, as well as a gag reel that’s somehow even less funny than the movie itself.

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The Sandlot 20th Anniversary Edition
($15 Blu-ray)

For kids of the 1990s, there is no greater baseball movie than this coming-of-age tale about a lonely fifth-grader who makes lifelong friends by playing neighborhood baseball games. The movie is a nostalgia-dripping blast, but there’s not much of a reason to pick up the new release. For a so-called anniversary edition, the slate of extras is depressing, with only a featurette and TV commercials there to keep you watching. A comprehensive retrospective, cast and filmmaker commentary and where-are-they-now cast roundup would have been much appreciated. You can find the 2011 Blu-ray of the movie for less than $10.

Screeners were provided by the publishers for review.

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