Video Game Roundup: Forza 4, NBA Jam, Kirby's Mass Attack
Forza Motorsport 4In the spirit of the best racers, let's cut to the chase: Forza Motorsport 4 is the best racing game we've played in this generation of consoles.
The Turn 10-developed series was established to provide Xbox with an answer to Sony's vaunted Gran Turismo games, but Forza 4 pushes Microsoft into the lead with a racer that is near perfect and, more importantly, a lot more fun.
Forza 4 has a great career mode with the same leveling up structure that made Forza 3 so addictive, but there are additions that make it a true improvement over last year's model. The online options are fantastic, and the Forza community is alive and well in Forza 4, allowing you to download (for free or with in-game credits) beautiful custom skins, cars or tuning kits. Another new feature is Rivals, a mode that has you battling the the most elite racers in the world as ghosts, always challenging you as the global community posts their best ever lap times.
If you're a Kinect owner, there are some cool little gameplay additions that take advantage of head tracking so that, as you move your head and body, the game will move its camera to give you a better view of the action. You can even use the Kinect for a steering-only mode (acceleration and braking is done automatically) to get some of the more casual gamers behind the wheel in a user-friendly way.
Finally, Autovista puts you in a garage with a number of the world's best cars, allowing you to pop the hood, check out the interior and the engine, and even start up the car to hear each vehicle's distinctive purr. The critically-acclaimed TV series Top Gear is beautifully integrated in the game, with each Autovista car featuring an informative and usually humorous summary by host Jeremy Clarkson.
Forza Motorsport 4 is the most fun we've had behind the wheel yet in this generation of consoles. Whereas Xbox has used the Forza series to catch up to Gran Turismo, Forza 4 hits the gas and blasts right past PlayStation's latest driver. Pick it up.
NBA Jam: On Fire EditionBoomshakalaka! (Again!) NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is a follow-up to last year's retail release of NBA Jam, the high-flying baller that has a place in many hearts thanks to its classic arcade origins. While the differences between last year's edition and this version may not be world-changing, On Fire Edition is a solid improvement in both gameplay and, at $15, price.
If you're unfamiliar with NBA Jam, the gameplay centers around a superhuman two-on-two basketball game where threes are plentiful and dunks defy the laws of physics. If you've ever wanted to see Blake Griffin pull off a 1080 helicopter dunk, NBA Jam is the only place you'll ever see that (he's good, but not that good).
The main differences between this game and last year's edition is that now there's a very innovative online component that really entices you to take part in online games with the rest of the NBA Jam community. The more you do that, the more Jam Points you earn and the higher you level up, thereby unlocking new players and teams, many of which weren't in the first NBA Jam.
The game also challenges you to reach "diamond" status within a given period of time, giving you extra incentive to check-in and play a few games in the hopes of unlocking more bonuses. NBA Jam: On Fire Edition keeps it interesting against your friends too, as you can play with other people on the same console cooperatively or competitively, and the new Jam keeps track of a variety of leaderboards so you and your friends are always competing for bragging rights.
If you're looking for a fun time and you have even the most basic understanding of basketball (ball goes through hoop, rinse, repeat), NBA Jam: On Fire Edition is well worth the $15 price tag and is available now on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.
Kirby Mass AttackKirby Mass Attack is Nintendo's swan song for the DS, not the final game for the dual screen system, but a wonderful title that will help cap one of the most impressive software libraries in history. This review was originally published on Modojo by Chris Buffa.
The entire experience revolves around finding ways to clear levels and complete puzzles with multiple Kirbys in tow. In fact, some objects are immovable without a certain number of characters hanging on it, while enemies take forever to beat with a single Kirby, but fall within seconds to ten, the max number of Kirbys you can have at one time; eating fruit adds another to the group.
The controls, meanwhile, are not what we expected, but work marvelously. Rather than use the d-pad to control the mob, you simply tap the screen and the Kirbys move to that location. Flicking the adorable heroes towards an enemy or object, on the other hand, instructs them to attack.
The result is both humorous and slightly horrifying, as ten Kirbys essentially gang up on their foes and take them down without mercy, sort of like Fire Ants devouring prey. There's definitely strength in numbers, and Nintendo carries this theme the entire way.
Nintendo also deserves kudos for packing the cart full of stuff. It'll take you in excess of ten hours to beat Kirby's latest adventure, largely because of the secret achievements and replaying levels to find all the gold coins. You'll even unlock addictive mini-games, two of which, Field Frenzy and Kirby Brawl Ball, are great takes on Whack-A-Mole and Pinball, respectively.
All of this makes Kirby Mass Attack a sublime adventure no fan should be without. The unique team-up mechanic, vibrant graphics and cheery soundtrack make this one of Nintendo's finest portable efforts. It's everything we love about Kirby, by the power of ten.