Looking to buy a video game as a Christmas present? Here are six big-name games to avoid...
Golden Axe Beast Rider (Xbox 360, PS3)
With a name like 'Golden Axe Beast Rider', you know you're not heading for high-brow entertainment. And that's fine. Even in its heyday (the late 80s) 'Golden Axe' swung purely for spectacle while knuckle-heads thwacked buttons to hack-'n'-slash through pseudo-medieval magical beasts. And, yes, got to ride a few as part of the act. Our favourite was the mutant chicken leg. Anyway, this long-time-coming sequel aims to recapture some of the old glory. But that's the whole problem - the gameplay is just plain old. And sticking a girl in a bikini won't even lure Neanderthals to the feast.
Consider these instead: Gears of War 2 (Xbox 360), Tomb Raider Underworld (360, PlayStation 3, PC), Uncharted Drake's Fortune (PS3)
Facebreaker (Xbox 360, P3)
Don't you just hate it when people think they know all about you? 'Facebreaker' is one of the most cynical efforts from EA (the people who brought you 'FIFA', 'Need for Speed' and Dead Space'). We imagine it must've looked terrific on the drawing board, and tested well in focus groups. 'Hilarious' caricatures knocking seven bells out of each other, the worst of stereotypes from the usual national suspects, and with gameplay to match this short-sighted and very unhelpful view of the world. That is overly-simplistic, infinitely unrewarding, and deliberately dumbed-down for mass market consumption. Ugly.
Consider these instead: Fight Night Round 3, Virtua Fighter 5, Soul Calibur IV (all 360 and PS3)
More Game Party (Wii)
Three simple words that, when used individually within a sentence that makes grammatical sense, can be evocative of good times. Which 'More Game Party' most certainly does not provide. Unless you rush home of an evening to play Lawn Darts, but damn that British weather; Puck Bowling, Hoop Shoot and Swing Ball but if only there were more space in the living room... we thought not. However via the magic of Nintendo Wii we'll hold hope for anything mundane to be rendered 'innovative' and 'unique'. Sadly swinging your arm endlessly to and fro in each of the events here is just pure tedium. You can't even use your Mii character, it's that basic.
Consider these instead: Rayman Raving Rabbids, Warioware Smooth Moves, Wii Sports (all Wii)
America's Next Top Model (DS)
All the glamour and the excitement of the real thing... not found in this Nintendo DS game - sorry!. And is it really any wonder? Nintendo DS can just about draw cute dogs and your basic videogame nasties to put to the sword. The choice of console might earn Tyra Banks' approval, but fashion-conscious kids will quickly grow tired of such basic interactions as applying cosmetics and directing photo shoots of the 10 wooden contestants completely robbed of charisma. Come to think of it, 'America's Next Top Model' on Nintendo DS is rather authentic...
Consider these instead: My Secret World, MySims Kingdom, Nintendogs (all DS)
Alone in the Dark (Xbox, PS3)
Alarm bells ring when we encounter a game that facilitates 'fast forward' through all the tricky parts. 'Alone in the Dark' presumes that the quality of its motion-captured heroes voiced by no-name actors are compelling within a non-interactive drama. Instead you want to skip through the cut-scenes too, making it one of the shortest-lived games in history. Watch TV instead.
Consider these instead: Dead Space, Fallout 3, BioShock (all 360 and PS3)
Lost: Via Domus (Xbox 360, PC, PS3)
Or you could fly direct... but you're still wasting time if you expect 'Lost' the game to be in the same league as the TV show. Fans of the series and / or pure gamers will only view this cash-in as a 'Thing That Should Not Be'. The plot jars with the original show, making more of a muddle of loose ends. The gameplay meanwhile is really quite hopeless - your character is a journalist supposedly aboard Oceanic flight 815 who takes photos during flashbacks but mostly trots from A to B solving dismal puzzles. Everything happens for a reason, this time it's to exploit the audience. Don't let this be an insult to your intelligence.
Consider these instead: Fable II (360), Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (Wii), Mass Effect (360, PC)
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