Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

REVIEW: VIDEO GAMES; It's like Being in the Middle of Cold War

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

REVIEW: VIDEO GAMES; It's like Being in the Middle of Cold War

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert McGinty, The Times-Union

CALL OF DUTY

Rating: * * * 1/2

Price: $40.

Systems: PC.

Call of Duty is the latest in a crowded shelf of World War II games, but it stands out as one of the best. While the concept is not original, some of the action sequences are unforgettable. And you get to play as an American, British and Russian soldier.

Early in the game, you take part in a car chase through France full of wrong turns, enemy soldiers and stalking tanks. When your car is destroyed, you have to look through a village for another to borrow, er, steal. Your driver ducks shots beside you while you lean out the window blasting away. It's intense, and you might need to step away from your PC for a minute after.

In another scene that seems straight out of Enemy at the Gates, you get in a line with other Russian soldiers after crossing the Volga to Stalingrad. Some are handed guns, some bullets. If you have the bullets, you follow the guy with the gun. When he's shot, it's yours.

Every scene involves much more than just the player; there are battles raging all around. Call of Duty does a tremendous job of making you feel like you're part of an epic.

The controls work perfectly, pretty much like every other first-person shooter. The graphics are great, although bleak . . . well, Stalingrad back then did kind of look like Buffalo.

After the game wraps up with your charge to the roof of the Reichstag, there are the usual online options, although nothing too original. Even though the single-player game is not too lengthy -- 7-8 hours -- it's still worth picking up just for the short bursts of action that rank as some of the best ever for this genre.

THIS GAME IS BETTER PLAYED WITH TWO PEOPLE

MARIO KART: DOUBLE DASH

Rating: * * 1/2

Price: $40.

Systems: GameCube.

Mario Kart is now on its third system, and the game remains the same: It's Nintendo characters on go-karts. You should know what to expect when you pick this up, and from there it's a matter of preference.

Driving skills are a plus, but not required. The courses are generally shorter than those found in more serious racing simulations and are loaded with Nintendo symbols and characters.

The kick for this game is that two characters race together on a single kart. One drives while the other picks up weapons -- evil things such as banana peels or koopa shells -- and you can switch positions with ease.

There is no real plot, you just try to win as many different cups as you can in three racing divisions. You'll have the hang of it in about 10 minutes, and the single-player game can keep you busy for a day or two.

The best reason to buy this would be for the multiplayer. The fun of racing against the computer wears off soon, but this can be a lot of fun when you can taunt the guy next to you who just skidded out on your banana peel. …

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