Virtual Tennis returns with a robust career mode and plenty of big-name tennis stars like Rafael Nadal, Roger Fedrerer, Andy Murray and others. The centerpiece of VT4 is the World Tour career that takes you around the globe as you work your way up through the ATP rankings and into major tournaments. In this mode you'll play singles and doubles tournaments, mini-games and briefly handle other off-court activities. As you advance your created character's skill levels increase, but early on your player isn't that good and neither is the no-name competition. Virtua Tennis 4 is among the first games to offer Kinect, Move and Wii MotionPlus play support. The Kinect version alters the more traditional elevated perspective and puts you in the action with a net view. During play you see just the racket, which you control by swinging your arm in a normal motion. Lateral movement is handled for you, though you can control your movement to the net or away from it. The experience is more immersive, but it's undeniably easier to play longer and get more done with a standard controller. The graphics and audio are pretty solid across the board from the player creation mode to game play. Multiplayer matchmaking is handled smartly so you're able to find competition suited to your skill level. Score: 8 out of 10
2 of 10EA Sports
Madden 12: <br> Who let the Dawgs out?
EA decided to let fans vote for the cover athlete for the first time in the history of the Madden franchise. The starting bracket featured one player from every team in the league. Fans voted the final four down to Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson, Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis. Hillis beat out the rest, avoiding some potentially bad PR had Vick emerged victorious in the final round. We congratulate Mr. Hillis on his improbable victory and hope that he's able to avoid the famous Madden cover curse , or at least not end up on our fantasy football teams if he doesn't. Madden 12 is scheduled for an August 30 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2 and PSP.
3 of 10EA Sports
NCAA Football 12: <br> Making his Mark
Alabama running back Mark Ingram will grace the cover of NCAA Football 12. Like Peyton Hillis, Ingram was voted for by fans, beating out other college all-stars including Nick Fairley, Jake Locker, and DeMarco Murray. In April's NFL Draft, Ingram was selected 28th overall by the New Orleans Saints, where he will be teamed with last year's Madden 11 cover star, Drew Brees. NCAA Football 12 is scheduled for an July 12 release on the Xbox 360 and PS3.
4 of 10Valve
The original Portal game stands out as one of the great puzzle solving games on any platform. The sequel, Portal 2, ups the ante as a standalone game that's longer, deeper and better than its' predecessor. The game starts when the evil AI, GLaDos, is accidentally powered-up and immediately captures you and puts you back into the Aperture Science testing rooms armed with a portal gun. The gun allows you to shoot and place two portals: simply put you can walk through the first and out of the second. This simple mechanic is used brilliantly to challenge your brain with puzzles that you must solve to clear each testing room. The puzzles test your spatial reasoning as well as your timing. The game repeats original Portal elements like security bots that blast you with machine gun fire, lasers, moveable cubes and switches to activate doors. Portal 2 expands on these and offers several new tricks to the puzzle rooms including light bridges that you can walk across or use to shield you, gels that bounce you higher and make you move faster, jump pads that launch you, and tractor beams. The graphics in the game are muted to match the drab and somewhat sterile interiors, but the great details of the environments make up for it. The voice acting and sound effects are excellent and really add a lot of personality to the characters in the game. Multiplayer co-op is very fun and creates a great dynamic where you can't advance without working together and communicating. Co-op is available online and offline via a split screen. Score: 10 out of 10
5 of 10Warner Bros
With the explosive popularity of Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat fans have had to sit on the sidelines and wait for the bloodiest, most controversial fighter in history to make another play at the title. Fortunately, Mortal Kombat is back and it was worth every minute. With both of these storied franchises at the top of their game, it's like 1992 all over again (with worse music). The new release, simply titled Mortal Kombat, is everything that longtime fans love about the franchise with more content than practically any fighter to date. Eschewing the Dead or Alive-style 3D rotating camera that past games in the franchise have experimented with, MK's core gameplay is old school, with richly rendered 3D characters fighting on a 2D plane. Characters and stages are highly detailed and everyone looks just like they should. There's even an X-ray mode where you can see the impact of your blows on your opponent's bones and internal organs. It's juvenile as hell, but it's very cool. There is a staggering wealth of content here, with dozens of fighters and stages that hearken back to some of the greatest hits of classic MK. There's a surprisingly rich -- though absurd -- story mode, as well as ladder games, tag team games, minigames, online play and scads of unlockable content that can be purchased using Kredits earned in-game. It's hard to imagine that there will be DLC for the game due to the insane amount of content included, but it's a testament to the developers that the box is chock full of innovative and fun content. Combat is fast and feels true to the original games. It's twitchier and less combo-dependent than Capcom's fighters, but that's to its credit. There's always a sense that you can come back no matter how far you're down, though purists may argue that you can do awfully well just mashing buttons. Fatalities, where a defeated opponent can be summarily destroyed or humiliated through hilariously gruesome means, are back and more absurdly bloody than ev
6 of 10Sony
PlayStation Network Hacked
Sometime between April 17-19 the PlayStation Network was hacked. Sony's first response was to close down the network, and they have since stated they're in the process of rebuilding it with better security. Sony says user data was compromised during the hack exposing account holders' names, addresses, email addresses, date of birth, user names and passwords. The company says there's no evidence to suggest that encrypted credit cards numbers were obtained, but it has cautioned users to carefully monitor associated credit cards. Sony says it is aiming to have parts of the network back online the first week of May and plans to offer free access to the PlayStation Plus service in an effort to compensate users. We're hopeful this unfortunate incident serves as a strong warning to any and all gaming companies that store personal information. Protect your users!
7 of 10Sony
Motorstorn Apocalypse is set in a San Francisco-like city that's been devastated by earthquakes. The single player campaign ties together all the races via a nonsensical story, but thankfully you can skip through most of it pretty easily and get to the good stuff: the racing. During races the apocalyptic environments are often harder to get by than the AI racers. The game constantly throws bridge collapses, quakes and tons of rumble at you. Unlike most other arcade racers you have to accept a certain amount of crashes in Motorstorm. It can be a little frustrating, but the AI racers will go down just as much as you. Races do suffer from rubber-banding early on, but it improves as the game progresses. In all races you have to decide when to use turbo and when to let it cool down or your vehicle will explode. Tactically you also have to decide when it's a good time to bump other vehicles off the road. The game features 12 vehicle classes, each with different physics, so there's good diversity ranging from dirt bikes to Mack trucks. The graphics and audio in the game are immersive and compelling. Online multiplayer with up to 16 people is solid, but the local split screen with four people is also surprisingly fun and great for people that still interact with other gamers in person. Score: 8 out of 10
8 of 10Sony
SOCOM 4: U.S. Navy Seals
SOCOM 4 puts you in charge of NATO Commander Cullen Gray and his team sent in to clean out the bad guys in an array of special OPS missions using a third-person view. While most missions are search and destroy, there's a few stealth missions put in for good measure. The single-player campaign mode is fairly standard, though overall it's pretty easy to beat because it's short and because your teammates mow down plenty of the bad guys. The game uses standard cover mechanics and features the ability to easily issue commands to your squad members to cover your position and help take out enemies. Unfortunately, the enemy AI is pretty uninspired beyond occasionally rushing your position. SOCOM 4 allows you to play with Sony's Move Sharp Shooter peripheral (or with the standalone Move controller), but the control scheme has a learning curve that you might not want to deal with when the standard controller is such a familiar way to go. The graphics in the game are decent though the audio via gunfire and explosions is more impactful. Visually the game doesn't offer enough environments in the missions to really stand apart from other shooters. The multiplayer options are strong, featuring great 32-player action and a nice co-op mission mode. Score: 7 out of 10
9 of 10Ubisoft
Michael Jackson: <br> The Experience
Michael Jackson: The Experience is about one-half of a seriously fun music game. The game puts you in MJ's shoes (and, if you buy one of the first copies, his glove as well) and, using the Xbox 360 Kinect camera, tracks your movements as you attempt to dance and sing your way through some of the King of Pop's greatest hits. Unfortunately, there's a surprisingly meager list of options and songs. The song list only includes 26 songs, and hardcore Michael Jackson fans are going to find many of their favorite songs missing. Yes, "Beat It" is there, as is "Black or White" and "Billie Jean," but where's my "P.Y.T."? I know we can't have everything, but if you're going to build an entire title around a single artist, the list should feel comprehensive and the track list here just feels a little thin. There are only three modes: MJ School is basically a series of videos of three professional dancers showing you the moves for some of Jackson's songs. The videos are well-produced and are actually interesting to see how difficult some of the dance moves are in Jacko's videos, but they're completely non-interactive. Solo mode is where you'll spend the majority of your time. You choose the song you want to play and decide whether you want to dance, sing AND dance or attempt a "master performance," which is basically a more complicated dance routine. The dancing mechanism isn't as polished as that of Dance Central, though it is cool -- and occasionally horrifying -- to see a projection of yourself onstage along with the backup dancers. The cards signifying upcoming moves don't effectively convey what you actually have to do, so for a while it will all be trial and error, though you will definitely work up a sweat. The singing gameplay is even less polished, no real sense of appropriate pitch or what you're doing wrong, but it's a fun enough option to have. There's also a party mode where you can play co-op with another play or battle them for dancing supremacy. If all of this sounds good to you, you'll probably enjoy the
10 of 10Activision
Preview: <br> Transformers: Dark of the Moon
We got a chance to see the latest Transformers game and so far it seems promising. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is being developed by the same team at Activision that produced last year's successful and entertaining War for Cybertron. The events of the game take place before the story arc of Michael Bay's upcoming summer release of the same name. Each chapter of the game is played as a specific Transformer or Decepticon. The weapons for each character recharge, so you won't be dealing with the same ammo management as War for Cybertron, but that's probably not a bad thing. The graphics appeared a little cleaner and brighter, and more in line with the models used in the feature films. The game audio also sounded sharp, which is a key component with all the great signature Transformer sounds. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is scheduled for a June 14 release on the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, 3DS and DS.
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