By David Pflughoeft Special to Published Mar 27, 2007 at 5:19 AM

Lost Planet
Capcom for Xbox 360
Rated T (Teen)

"Lost Planet" is a third-person shooter set on a frozen, icy tundra of a planet.  The back story is that humans once came from Earth to inhabit this planet, but most were driven out by giant monstrosities, the Akrid, who emerged from under the surface.

Wayne, your character, is one of the people who are left on the planet fighting these fiends.  Using intel from a small group of friends, an array of weapons ranging from rockets to a sniper, and the firepower of the powerful VS machines, or Vital Suits, you must defeat the Akrid and gather thermal energy. VSs are similar to “Mech” machines used in the MechAssault game series.

Thermal energy is the reason that Wayne, his friends, and everyone left on the frigid planet fight the Akrid.  As you play through the many different levels, the thermal energy you gather from killing the Akrid and blowing up certain objects, replenishes your health.  The amount of thermal energy you have is constantly being depleted, which gives you incentive to engage the Akrid in battle.

The graphics in "Lost Planet" look beautiful, and the wide variety of Akrid are a feast for the eyes.  The controller figuration for the game has a different feel than most other games.  It is in the third-person, and while you use the left analog to move and the right to aim, it feels different because you can be running in one direction and be firing in the opposite.  It’s not a bad thing, but might take a little extra time to adjust to the controls.

One knock on the game is that even on normal difficulty, it’s very challenging to defeat the bosses and some of their underlings towards the end of the game. (I have even heard comments from friends who have only played the demo and said how hard it is.)  Another issue is that if you get completely surrounded by ten or more Akrid (yes, that happens often) it is hard to escape as you are being constantly knocked over.  A dash feature for Wayne would’ve been a nice addition -- instead of having him always running at the same pace.

The online play is good with the weapons, graphics, and controls all being the same.  Playing against people around the world always presents unique games.

Overall, I think "Lost Planet" is a good game with a slight issue with the controls but a good buy.

Call Of Duty 3   
Activision for Xbox 360
Rated T

"Call of Duty 3" is the latest WWII game and does a great job of capturing the feel of being in the middle of a war. For this bout of WWII battles, you fight through the “Normandy Breakout” campaign.

The premise of "Call of Duty 3," is basically the same as all war games, fight with your battalion through the enemies territory. However, I really like this particular war game for several different reasons.  One is the graphics and attention to detail.  The scenery is absolutely perfect, depicting the many European war-torn towns and fields. Even as you’re operating with your company, you constantly see other allies and tanks grind in, taking on the opposition.

While they are doing this, you can point your weapon at them and a name, rank and position will appear for each and every one.  That’s just a miniscule detail I enjoyed.

The sound effects put you right in the action, and with a surround sound setup, you can hear the gunfire, not in the distance, but all around you.  The cut-scenes are very well done and the voiceovers are unique to each soldier.  Each soldier has his own personality, which adds to each mission.  The weapons seem to represent the time period well.

Another thing I like about this game that differs from most war games, is the health system.  Instead of using health packs and canteens to replenish your health, it has a “recharging” system.  When you get shot, your screen turns a slight red, and arrows show the direction of the bullets.  As you continue to be hit by bullets, your screen flashes more and your controller continues to vibrate until you reach the point where a warning appears to “take cover before taking more damage.”  After you take cover, you’re back into fighting condition.  A little unrealistic, but I prefer it over traipsing all over the map to find scattered health packs.

Online is very fun with up to 24 players competing in a match.  It’s Axis vs. Allies, and you can choose your weapons and position on the team.

My only complaint with this game is the artificial intelligence (AI).  On normal difficulty, when you shoot one enemy, it’s likely another will move to that exact same position.  This doesn’t ruin the game, but smarter AI would be appreciated.

Overall, "Call of Duty 3" is a fantastic game, and the best war-type game I’ve ever played. 

David Pflughoeft Special to
David Pflughoeft is a 17-year-old junior at Menomonee Falls High School, where he plays football, baseball and basketball. He also is passionate about video games and writing. His stories have appeared in newspapers across the country.