Video Game Roundup: Professor Layton, Halo Reach, Spider-Man

While we spend most of our time working the land in FarmVille and shooting up foes in Mafia Wars, we also have a soft spot for games that you can't play on Facebook -- good, old-fashioned video games. This week, get a sneak peek at three games that have everybody talking.

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
MSRP $29.99 for Nintendo DS

Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is the third game in the popular franchise that combines logic puzzles with an engaging sense of mystery. If you're familiar with popular casual games like Mystery Case Files, Professor Layton may be up your alley.

The stylish professor must use his wits to help solve a mystery that takes place 10 years in the future and has connections to an event that happens in the present, and also 10 years in the past. Confused yet? Don't worry because the story is easy to follow thanks to some comely cutscenes that play in between puzzles.
But a game like Professor Layton and the Unwound Future isn't about the story as much as it is about the puzzles. Nintendo has a few demo games that you can try now by going to and clicking on gameplay and demos, and you'll see what kind of logic puzzles are included in the game. While many of them are challenging at first blush, a hint system makes sure you don't throw your DS out the window in frustration.

With over 160 puzzles and the opportunity to download more through Nintendo's WiFi connection, Professor Layton and the Unwound Future is perfect for the smartypants in your household. Score: Four (out of five top hats)

Halo: Reach
MSRP $59.99 for Xbox 360

It's the year 2552, and humans and aliens are battling out for a planet named Reach. You are placed in the marine boots of Noble 6, an enhanced soldier who works with other Nobles to bring the fight to the dreaded Covenant. (Sorry, kids, there's no Master Chief this go-round.)

Halo: Reach is largely similar to the rest of the hugely popular Halo series, but this first-person shooter keeps things fresh by adding new weapons and vehicles as you plow through the game. Lush scenery greets you at every turn of Reach, and some scenes bear an uncanny resemblance to Pandora in James Cameron's Avatar.

Halo vets know that the single-player game is just the appetizer to the main course -- multiplayer matchmaking. Time flies as you and up to 15 other players select from a variety of maps and game modes that will keep Halo: Reach the one game you'll be reaching for more than the others in your collection. And if you're worried about playing with people you don't know (or like), there are a variety of chat options for you and your friends to keep things entertaining. Rating
: Five (out of five aliens)

Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions
MSRP $59.99 for Xbox 360 (also available on multiple platforms)

Spider-Man is one of the most popular superheroes of all time, so, naturally, the Web Slinger deserves a great game. Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions is just that, and while it may be a little monotonous at times, you're playing as Spider-Man! And not only that, you're playing as Past Spider-Man. And Future Spider-Man! And Alternate Spider-Man!

Have I gone spider crazy? No (whew), it's just that Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions allows you to play as one of four Spider-Man characters from four different comic book series.

For example, there's Spider-Man Noir, a suave, stealthy hero from the 1930s, lurks in the shadows of older buildings and warehouses, all in black and white. Meanwhile, Spider-Man 2099 is the future Spider-Man from the year... surprise, 2099. The story is narrated by the familiar voice of Marvel founder Stan Lee, and it moves along at a nice clip with a mix of action and humor fans of the comics will appreciate.

The game mixes hand-to-hand combat with web-slinging leaps to give you the powers of Spider-Man. It's a lot of fun to swing from building to building, battling with enemies in a variety of locations. The game also mixes up the action, especially during the Spider-Man Noir levels. Instead of running fist-first into every situation, Noir makes you to lurk in the shadows so you can get the jump on your enemies. If you played Batman: Arkham Asylum, this whole sneaky scenario should feel pretty familiar, and these levels are a welcome change when things start to drag a little on the normal levels.

If you or someone you know is a Spider-Man fan, be sure to swing by your local retailer and pick up a copy. Score
: Four (our of five cobwebs)
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