By Matthew Scott Hunter
Twist and shout
New ‘Beatles’ game appeals to next generation of fans
‘The Beatles: Rock Band’ (T)
MTV Games/Electronic Arts
Xbox 360, Wii
“Rock Band” games are all about realizing your dreams of being a rock star without necessarily having to worry about pesky details like possessing musical talent. And whether you can strum effortlessly on Expert difficulty or you need to look at your fingers on Easy, you can now live vicariously through the lives and music of the most celebrated band of all time: The Beatles. Developer Harmonix knows what a big deal it is to have nabbed the Fab Four, and they’ve put together a slick and gorgeous package to honor the iconic group even more than other recent single-band games like “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” and “Guitar Hero: Metallica.”
If for some peculiar reason, you don’t have any affinity for the work of John, Paul, George and Ringo, then you’d best find another band simulator because there’s no separate opening act for these concerts. Nothing but Beatles. And it’s a little disappointing that more of their catalogue isn’t included. (More will trickle in as downloadable content in the future, but compared to other “Rock Band” games, the current track list is extremely light). Nevertheless, fans are certain to find more than a few of their favorites, and since the game carries the added innovation of Vocal Harmonies for three singers, up to six people can enjoy the game simultaneously. So now all your friends can come together and play, and that’s something to twist and shout about.
‘DiRT 2’ (T)
As semi-realistic racing games go, they don’t get much more forgiving than “DiRT 2.” From race to race, you can tweak the difficulty level and even adjust whether or not damage is merely cosmetic or affects your vehicle’s performance. If you total your ride, you can even pause, travel fifteen seconds back in time and avoid the accident. It’s all optional, so if you’re easily frustrated, you can utilize these features, and if you prefer more of a grueling challenge, the game offers plenty of gnarly off-road action with stunning graphics.
‘Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny’ (T)
“Soulcalibur IV” becomes the series’ first portable port, trading in guest fighters Darth Vader and Yoda for “God of War’s” Kratos, and giving us “Broken Destiny.” The fighting mechanics have successfully survived the transition to the smaller platform, but alas, online play didn’t make it. And since “Soulcalibur” always works best as a multiplayer experience, the quality of the game depends on how many “Soulcalibur”-playing friends with PSPs you have. If you’re playing alone, be warned that the “Gauntlet” story mode is so laughably bad that it comes with its own disclaimer, warning that it may very well be apocryphal.
‘Harvest Moon: Frantic Farming’ (E)
I never thought I’d see the word “frantic” used to describe farming, and certainly not to describe the “Harvest Moon” franchise, but this isn’t a typical entry in the achingly dull, rural series. In fact, it’s a puzzle game. Different crops are represented by multi-colored blocks, which have to be carefully manipulated in order to be harvested. It’s a moderately entertaining brainteaser and far more fun than either farming or “Harvest Moon.”