Gaming Reviews: Madden 12, Bodycount, Tropico 4

Happy New Madden Year!
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Happy New Madden Year!
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Happy New Madden Year!



The red splats are from the three photographers he mowed down right before this one.

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Madden 12(Xbox, PS3, Wii, PSP, PS2)

Price: $59.99

What’s it about?

For Madden fans, 2011 is now officially a thing of the past. Pop the champagne and dust off the pigskin because the one and only NFL game is back and ready for the new season. Though this year’s offering feels much the same as last’s, EA Tiburon has gone out of its way to tinker under the hood and spit shine everything else.

How does it look?

Like a sunny day at Giants Stadium or a snowy one at Lambeau Field. Madden 12 recreates your favorite football stadium with dead-on-balls accuracy (it’s a technical term). Madden 12 also boasts new player animations and collisions that recreate the gridiron with more realism than ever before. Beyond physical characteristics, EA has also managed to capture player personalities. So, even though Tim Tebow might have great ratings, he’ll fall prey to inconsistencies as often as not. Luckily, he doesn’t preach about Jesus on the field because, if he throws one more pick, we might be scheduling an appointment for Tebow to meet JC.

Is it any good?

Lace up the cleats tight because this year’s Madden is as tough as it is good, so anyone going into this without a solid game plan is going to get rocked by the tweaked out AI (or some ten year-old punk, who will then likely talk about violating your orifices because he just learned what that word meant last week). Difficulty aside, EA continues to bring the goods with every iteration of the franchise, one-upping its predecessor in a noticeable way. In short: Madden 12 does not disappoint.

Out of ten?

8.5. It’s hard to improve on greatness, but EA manages to do it with Madden in a calculating sort of way, year after year.

If I like this, what else will I like?

EA Sport’s Season Ticket, FIFA, having NFL players invade your office



This is the only assault rifle to be seen with at a rave.



Bodycount(Xbox, PS3)

Price: $59.99

What’s it about?

Total carnage. Bodycount is a new FPS that forgoes the typical ho hum of so many other FPSers in favor of a simple formula: Gun World = Hours of Shoot Em Up Fun. Conspicuously absent is any sort of depth or back-story, because you’re essentially thrown into a series of international uprisings without any explanation of why you’re the one man army being sent in. Fortunately, no one will be picking up Bodycount for its plot, since the game shines as a mindless arcade shooter. Turn on, tune out, kill guerrillas.

How does it look?

Though the game is graphically underwhelming, enemies are easily spotted and level design is top notch. Bodycount’s biggest boast is that almost every shred of landscape is destructible, so your first pass through a level might accommodate your hide and peek shooting-style from behind a wall. When that wall gets shot up, however, you’ll either find yourself looking for new cover or whipping out your shotgun for a run and gun dash to the next checkpoint. Outside of gameplay, menus and cut scenes - that quickly glance over the explanation of why you’re fighting, who you’re fighting and where you’re fighting - are incredibly slick, taking a page out of Q-branch’s book for extra frills but consistently giving the bare minimum of info necessary to keep you chugging along, leaving nothing behind but a blood-foamy wake of death.

Is it any good?

By and large the game plays like an old school arcade shooter that would’ve eaten ten bucks worth of quarters in a single sitting. Luckily, this is a console game, so the price of admission is the only price you’ll pay and, if you’re like us, you’ll squeeze every dime out of Bodycount’s price tag. Some control choices found within might have you scratching your head - like when you’re forced to stay stationary when zooming in your scope or how you can only take cover while aiming your weapon - but that wonkiness is a forgivable offense as the months of Call Of Duty training fade away and your thumbs become accustomed to the new dynamic.

Out of ten?

8. Anyone practicing for COD’s upcoming Double XP weekend in LA will probably not want to taint their skills with Bodycount’s rearranged control scheme but, if you can get past the small differences, Bodycount is a healthy dose of machine gun mayhem that’s a welcome departure from a genre that’s focusing too much on story and gimmick lately.

If I like this, what else will I like?

COD, Bulletstorm, bulk discounts on toe tags



This was the last of Dad’s “self-portraits” before he was captured.



Tropico 4(PC, Xbox coming soon)

Price: $39.99

What’s it about?

Ruling your banana republic with an iron fist. Or not. Tropico 4, the follow up to 2009’s Tropico 3, is a strategy game that lets you choose whether you’ll be a ruthless dictator or a benevolent overlord. Simple tasks will keep your island-nation fully stocked with natural resources, which can then be used to appease natives or spurn them, depending on whether you’d prefer to be loved or feared.

How does it look?

A whole lot like it did back in 2009. Animations crop up to keep you aware of the day-to-day issues of your island: Do the townsfolk want a mall? Are the national coffers running low? These indications are given to you as they come up through a series of officials who council you through the 20 missions of the game. The biggest departure from Tropico 3 is a slew of new buildings that are nice to look at, but don’t offer much in the way of play, sort of like a visit to the strip club.

Is it any good?

Tropico 3 was a great game to play and extended the series into new dimensions. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about Tropico 4. If you were a fan of the series, then you’re going to get more of what you liked in the first place, so kudos. If you’re looking for innovation though, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The addition of new buildings and weather phenomena, things commonplace in the strategy game category for two decades, is not enough to justify calling this a new game in the series. The small additions that were made didn’t create a deeper experience, an unforgivable opportunity to have missed.

Out of ten?

6. The built-in Tropico audience will likely want to pick this up, but with so many other series pushing the boundaries of what a city-building game can be, gamers returning to Tropico might be better off spending the 40 bucks on drinks with little umbrellas instead.

If I like this, what else will I like? 

Civilization V, From Dust, long beards and Cuban cigars.