Even though you don't really need any new reasons to pick up the biggest sports title of every year, the folks at EA spit out a few more improvements for the latest build of their cash cow franchise. Three-on-Three online play will revolutionize the way you play sports video games, allowing you to team up with two buddies on either side of the ball and take on a separate trio of gamers online. You can also blaze through games in half an hour thanks to the new GameFlow play calling system, which calls the plays for you and is impressively realistic if you use a blue tooth to listen to the offensive coordinator bark out directions before each snap. Gus Johnson even joins the team to liven up the commentary track. Score: 9/10
2 of 9EA Sports
Madden NFL 10 Wii
With last year's Madden NFL 10, EA Sports' developers rebuilt the engine from the ground up. For the first time, a Madden game for the Wii felt like a Madden game made for the Wii, and not just a port of a game designed for a more powerful console. It fully embraced arcade-style gameplay rather than emulate its hyper realistic PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts. Madden NFL 11 could have been an improvement by moving forward in that committed new direction, but seems instead to regress into an identity crisis. It's neither realistic, nor NFL Blitz; merely stuck somewhere in between. A new GameFlow option -- where plays are called for you based on down and distance -- is a major bust, with seemingly no concept of real-life game situations. There's no shortage of game modes -- the 5-on-5 mode is fun with a friend and the Franchise mode is deep by any standard -- but how much fun can you expect when the core gameplay is such an uneven disappointment? Score: 6/10
3 of 92K Sports
The NHL 2K series took a one-year hiatus from PS3 and Xbox 360, but not from the Wii. The result is a game that seems tailor-made to the Nintendo console's strengths, with a wide range of game modes for players of all ages and experience levels -- from Road to the Cup (for casual gamers) to the standard Franchise play (for junkies). The Wii MotionPlus peripheral is the most obvious highlight, a feature that enables uncanny real-time pick handling, dekes and juggling. But it's far from a perfect product. Hiccups in the A.I. and inconsistent control mechanics leave NHL 2K11 at the mercy of its EA Sports counterpart. The fatal flaw: The game doesn't reliably pull the trigger when you motion to shoot. That's impossible to sugarcoat when you're talking about a game where one or two miscues can determine the outcome. Score: 7/10
4 of 9EA Sports
FIFA Soccer 11: Landon & Friends
This year's cover features a trio of soccer's superstars: (from left to right) Arsenal's Carlos Vela, Real Madrid's Kaka and LA Galaxy's Landon Donovan. The coolest new feature in the game is 11-on-11 multiplayer matches where every position, including goalie, can be controlled. That's just good clean soccer mayhem, and we can't wait for it. FIFA Soccer 11 is scheduled for a September 28 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP and DS.
5 of 92K Sports
He's baaaaack. Forget Michael Jordan in a suit running the Bobcats...or in a Wizards uniform missing the playoffs...or in a Hanes commercial bantering with Charlie Sheen. NBA 2K11 has the MJ we all know and love. A new challenge mode lets you recreate some of Jordan's most famous heroics, including 63 at the Garden, the Flu Game and The Shrug. Playing as MJ in his prime is like controlling some super-combo of Bo Jackson in Tecmo, Jeremy Roenick in NHL 93 and Mike Tyson in Punch-Out. Do you even care if they did anything else to the game? NBA 2K11 is scheduled for an October 5 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP and PC.
6 of 9David Greedy/Getty
New King of Kong
OK, we're a little obsessed with the scoring record for the arcade classic Donkey Kong. And yes, we still love 2007's The King of Kong, which detailed the struggle between Kong legends Billy Mitchell and Steve Weibe. We were delighted and disturbed when Hank Chien broke the record earlier this year. And now Billy Mitchell has upped the ante, posting a new scoring record of 1,062,800 points. We'd like to say it's on like Donkey Kong, but we'd rather say we're waiting for our man Steve to step it up.
7 of 9Nintendo
Metroid: Other M
The Metroid franchise is nearly synonymous with the phrase "old school gaming." The latest iteration of this iconic series mixes the best of the retro-gaming experience (huge boss battles!) with some welcome innovations in the controller scheme. Story-wise, Metroid: Other M picks up right after the events of Super Metroid (SNES). The timing is crucial because the game seeks to flesh out Samus' background; indeed, those just looking for action may grow tired of the exposition. The clever control setup and dynamic gameplay more than make up for any shortcomings there, however. The key to the game is the way you use the Wii-mote: When it's held sideways, the action is in third-person; when you hold the Wiimote vertically, you get a first-person view in which more and different missiles become available. And, of course, you can still roll into a ball and drop bombs everywhere just for fun. Score: 9/10
8 of 9Activision
Hands On: Activision Fall Lineup
We recently got to spend some time with some key fall releases from Activision: Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions (September 7), Tony Hawk Shred (October 26), and Call of Duty Black OPS (November 9). The Spider-Man game features the ability to play as four different versions of Marvel's web crawling super hero. Each has different strengths and abilities, but our favorite was the noir stealth version. Shred is the latest in the long line of Tony Hawk games and seems to be targeting kids with a more cartoon-y look and feel. The game works really well with the skateboard peripheral. Finally, Black Ops was the big standout with truly amazing graphics and sound design. You'll want to add it to your wish list right now, solider.
9 of 92K Games
In Mafia II, you control Vito Scalleta, an Italian American, just back from service in World War II in the 1940s. Controlling Vito from a third-person perspective you enter a rich story set in the fictitious Empire City. The game is broken into various missions that advance Vito's career from street thug to intimidating gangster and enforcer. The story is driven along through detailed cut scenes that seem cheesy and annoying at first, but eventually grow on you. The game is linear, and in completing many of the missions you spend a lot of time behind the wheel of various era cars. It's fine early on, but it grows repetitive as you progress. There's plenty of fisticuffs and gun play for action fans, but the aiming and cover mechanics are a little wonky. If you like the gangster game genre you'll enjoy this one. Score: 7.5/10
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