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My name is Wayne Chamberlain and I'm a geek daddy who is into Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, books, movies, video games and talking to creative people about their work in these mediums. And that's what you'll find here, along with news, previews and reviews. I'm a journalist, an editor and co-host of the Star Wars Book Report podcast. So come on in and feel free to geek out in a fun, friendly environment.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Movie tie-in games back for summer season

The summer season is upon us, which means gamers once again have a choice of titles based on big screen flicks showing at the local multiplex.
As most seasoned gamers know, movie-based video games have a tendency to fall well short of expectations, typically because they’re under tight time restrictions in order to come out at or around the same time as the film’s release date.
One notable exception this year is an Avengers game. The film has done astounding business at the box office, but developer Ubisoft is planning to release a game – Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth – either later this year or in 2013. Ubisoft has said it is not based on the movie, but rather the comic series ‘Secret Invasion’ and will feature more than a dozen Marvel characters.
That said, there are titles currently available based on flicks you can see either at the first- or second-run theatres in your city. Here are a few that I’ve taken for a spin:
* The Amazing Spider-Man (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, 3DS, DS; Activision): I played the 360 version and two things immediately jumped out at me. First, this game is surprisingly fun. Second, it’s clearly been influenced by the Batman Arkham games.
The game is set after the events of the film, allowing you to battle more of Spidey’s rogue’s gallery of villains. You also are free to swing through Manhattan and tackle main missions and side quests at your pleasure. The elements of stealth attacks, bullet time action and increased, specialized attacks are familiar and executed well. Cynics may decry the influence of other popular titles, but the fact is they work and they make this game entertaining.
And in the end, that’s what you’re looking for when you plunk down your money.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5. Rated T.
* Brave (360, PS3, Wii, DS; Disney): I played the 360 version of this game, which is based on but also expands on the Pixar movie. You play as Merida, the red-headed heroine of the film, as well as other characters, doing battle with swords and bow and arrows (Kinect support for Xbox lets you shoot and slash with arm movements).
The game offers a decent mix of solving puzzles and battling various creatures. It lacks the heart of the movie and as a game, it suffers from the usual tie-in issues of being rather thin. This is a game that won’t take long to finish and has limited replayability.
But youngsters who adore the movie will enjoy it before tiring of it.
Rating: 3 stars. Rated E10+
* Madagascar 3 (360, PS3, Wii, 3DS, DS; D3 Publisher): I went all Nintendo for this review, playing the Wii, 3DS and DS versions and basically my reaction to them was all the same … indifference.
I have enjoyed the films, but as most film franchises peter out by the third movie, this game suffers from a real lack of inspiration. Basically, you undertake a series of missions and play a bunch of repetitive mini-games as you try to help the characters get back home.
Kids may enjoy the mini-games, but I think the repetition and the occasional control issues will turn them off rather quickly.
Rating: 2 stars. Rated E.
*Men In Black: Alien Crisis (360, PS3, Wii; Activision): Back to the 360 on this one, which is not based on the rather lackluster Men In Black III film. You play as a trainee, assigned to help protect the Earth from all manner of alien threats.
The game offers some occasionally interesting gunplay thanks to some unique weapons, as well as multiplayer split-screen action. But overall, it lacks inspiration. Given the fact you play as a guy named Delacoeur, it’s disappointing to find the only heart in this game is in the character’s name.
Rating: 2 stars. Rated T.
*Coming soon in future columns, watch for reviews of Dragon’s Dogma, Xenoblade Chronicles, Dirt Showdown, London 2012, NCAA Football 13, Lego Batman 2 and more.

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