Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel
(360, PS3, $60, Mature)
The series that’s even too bro-intensive for the bro-tastic Halo crowd cranks out its third entry, featuring a new pair of goofy mercenaries who head south to get tangled up in strife political strife surrounding a remarkably well-armed Mexican crime cartel.
Just as with the past games, your forced co-op partner is an idiot who does everything he can to help get you killed when you go solo. The game is far more fun when a human’s riding shotgun – either online or on your couch – letting you laugh both at and with the game as it tosses ridiculous set pieces and intentionally (I think) stupid dialogue and plot devices at you.
If there’s one reason the game is worth a try, it’s the over-the-top-and-back-again Overkill mode, which activates when you and your brotha from anotha motha fill up a meter by working together, rendering you invincible and with unlimited ammo for a short spurt, until it peters out and depressing reality sets in once again.
(360, PS3, $60, Mature)
Buy it, play it and beat it or else face the fate of having to listen to all your gamer friends belittling you for missing out on the early frontrunner for winning game of the year on that Spike awards show nobody watches.
The team behind the staggering 2007 original – not the impressive but redundant Bioshock 2 (2010) – is back to mess with your head again with a crazy alternate-history thinkpiece with equal parts philosophy and shooting bad guys (and perhaps, inadvertently, some not-so-bad-guys) in the face.
The setting is Columbia, an airborne false utopia controlled by a cult-like, puritanical society. You search for answers with Elizabeth, an AI-controlled, comely young prisoner who helps you out with her special powers.
Even if the story were stupid, the game would be well worth playing for its superb combat, addictive upgrade system and smokin’ visuals. But the game has a lot to say, so much so that it won’t shut up. The trick is that it makes you fall in lust with it so hard you may barely notice.
(360, PS3, $15, Teen)
You can’t take a step in a field of downloadable games without tripping over a Minecraft clone, and this 2D craft-and-build sandbox game is the latest to mine the fertile ore.
If you’ve played your share of mining simulators, you know what to expect: Lots of tree-chopping, digging and weapon-shaping. Oh, and black lung.
With its charming looks and helpful tutorials, Terraria may be on the higher end of the spectrum of wannabes, but its overcomplicated menu system makes building and keeping track of your gear so cumbersome you may find it something like dating your best friend’s younger sister – more trouble than it’s worth.
Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out
Normally I would ignore something like this, but because it’s such a light week in home video releases, and because I was so amazed how short this thing was – 22 minutes! – I feel the need to toss this on here, if only to warn you away.
The takeoff on Lego Star Wars games is set after Episode IV. It’s filled with mostly-dumb/occasionally clever sight gags and self-referential mockeries of plot points in the movies. As 22-minute episodes go, it’s fine, but the fact that there’s nothing else on this disc was enough to send me into a rancor-like rampage.
If this is any indication of the way Disney plans on treating its shiny new Death Star, fans of the Force have plenty reason to worry.
Veep: Season 1
($20 Blu-ray, $15 DVD)
Lots of people won’t shut up about how great and funny HBO’s dry, White House-set comedy is, and I’m wondering what show it was they’re watching. To my eyes and ears, the show was as wildly erratic as the equally overpraised later seasons of Extras – weirdly emotional and overserious while making halfhearted attempts at humor. At least Julia Louis-Dreyfus is solid as a power hungry, punchless Vice President, who in her buffoonery is more Kramer than Elaine. The show does have its high points – it is nice to see My Girl’s Anna Chlumsky resurface – but I’m bitter that HBO killed off Enlightened while allowing this one to keep going. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes a making-of featurette, the Veep’s silly public service messages and cast/crew commentaries for all 12 episodes.
Screeners were provided by the publishers for review.