Winter Game Roundup
Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (LucasArts) meanwhile follows a squad of paid modern-day professionals across a free-roaming, highly interactive environment, seeking 51 lesser targets on their way to The Ace of Spades, General Choi Song, “the most dangerous man on Earth.” The politics ring true; with the ultimate goal of defusing a global nuclear situation, while having a lot of fun and earning a few bucks along the way; as do the many technical details of the game. “That guy from Fargo,” Peter Stormare, shows up as a major character voice, and Michael Giacchino provides another engaging score that actually adapts depending upon the course of the story, part of an impressive Dolby Digital (Xbox) or Dolby Pro-Logic II (PlayStation 2) mix engineered by Skywalker Sound.
Then of course there’s the old standby: Domestic violence. The deservedly M-rated Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood (Eidos) is rude, crude, and a hell of a lot of fun, enabling us to fight in a variety of interactive, destructible scenarios, (including that white-trash standby, the backyard) with clever/sadistic “weapons” to be found and used just about everywhere. We can also choose from an eclectic array of celebrity wrestlers, such as the lovely Tera Patrick, with an improved and expanded fighting system that is at once more brutal and more rewarding. No, we won’t find Michael Giacchino in the Backyard, rather a hard-rocking soundtrack featuring 57 songs by the Insane Clown Posse and many more. For PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
And I would be remiss if, after all these mentions of Michael Giacchino, I did not include here the comic book-inspired antics of The Incredibles (THQ) movie tie-in game, available for all three consoles, T-rated for their proliferation of cartoonish pummelings. Xbox once again offers the most sophisticated presentation, with progressive scan video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, as well as a new downloadable level. The action sprawls over a wide range of beautifully rendered levels, recreating and expanding upon what we saw in the film, allowing us to play with the superhuman powers of Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Violet, and Dash at different points. Many of the original Hollywood players returned to lend their voices, and of course Mr. Giacchino brings his musical stylings, with an assist from Chris Tilton.