Games And DVD Roundup: ‘Guacamlee,’ ‘Defiance,’ ‘Hyde Park,’ And More

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Reviews by Phil Villarreal. Phil is an authorblogger and Twitterer.

GAMES

Defiance

(360, PS3, $60, Mature)

“Defiance” works not only as the title of the massively multiplayer online game, a tie-in to the upcoming SyFy series about humanity contending with occupying aliens, but the attitude the game cops when you try to play it. More than 30 minutes of installs, updates and patches kept me from digging in to the action. Once I was finally playing, flaky servers made it difficult to keep any momentum going.

The lack of a World of Warcraft-like monthly fee and the potential for cool crossovers with the TV series make it too early to call the game a non-starter, but its sluggish introduction has given me little to get excited about. The writing seems a little stiff, and not much stands out in the combat or look. Whether or not the game lives or dies depends on the servers stabilizing and the game’s community to make the game into more than the sum of its parts.

Guacamelee!

(PS3, Vita, $15, Teen)

A funny, Mexican wrestling-themed side-scroller takes the feel of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link and turns it into a beat-em-up filled with townsfolk asking for favors, branching towns to traverse and ugly enemies begging for beatdowns.

You play as a masked superhero/lucha libre grappler who is killed but gets the chance to traverse the lands of the living and dead alike to rescue the woman he loves.

Winding exploration, swift, brutal combat and witty dialogue keeps things lively, and multiplayer lifts the game to a higher level. The purchase price nets you downloadable copies for both the PS3 and Vita, letting you swap save files and team up while playing either version.

Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge

(360, PS3, $40, Mature)

Originally released late last year on the Wii U, Razor’s Edge made amends for the lackluster original version of Ninja Gaiden 3, which felt too bloated and nerfed to maintain the series’ reputation of a sadistic, speedy hack-and-slashery.

The updated game, now available on consoles people actually own, guts unnecessary quick-time event button press sequences, bloodies up the combat, adds more characters and costumes, buffs up the online aspect and generally improves the game in every conceivable way.

If you held off on plunging in to the original Ninja Gaiden 3, this is a version more worthy of your stabbing and shuriken-tossing.

MOVIES

The Bible: The Epic Miniseries

($35 Blu-ray, $30 DVD)

Add this to yet another case of the book being way better than the movie. Taking a no-name cast and clunky script, the History Channel manages to transform the foundation of Western religion into something with the feel of a cheap, trashy-looking reality show that may as well have been called Loin Cloth Men. Overwrought, oddly British-accented acting, silly narration and a goofball, Obama-clone Satan make for some decent unintended comedy, though. Featurettes look at the series’ cast, special effects and music.

Hyde Park on Hudson

($23 Blu-ray, $18 DVD)

Bill Murray may not be going for laughs as World War II-era President Franklin D. Roosevelt, but he sure gets them in this slice of historical fiction. He not only teaches the King of England to eat a hot dog, but in a subplot that’s straight out of Saved by the Bell, he juggles two dates — his wife (Olivia Williams) and mistress (Laura Linney) — who show up at the same place. As the lighthearted drama the movie was intended as, it may seem sort of dull. But if you squint hard, you can sort of see the Meatballs-era Murray making fun of the whole shenanigan. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes filmmaker commentary and a couple of dull featurettes.

Screeners were provided by the publishers for review.

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