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Mortal Kombat
WB Games
Xbox 360, Playstation 3

“Mortal Kombat” is a throwback to the early/mid- ’90s when people flooded into arcades to fight as their favorite characters. All of the established characters appear in this new version, and the player controls them similarly to their classic versions.

As a fighting game, “Kombat” is easy to learn, thanks to a simple combo system and the ability to string together whatever moves you want. With its hyper-violence and comically gory fatalities, this game feels like classic “Kombat” through and through.

The amount of content included is truly impressive.

The classic, arcade-style ladder is back, with a unique ending for each character, while the official story mode lets you play as several combatants over the course of about eight hours. Also included is the “challenge tower,” comprised of 300 truly difficult objectives.

Fighting games are really about player versus player, however, and “Kombat” doesn’t skimp. New to the series are tag-team fighting and the capability to have different people controlling each of the team’s four characters.

The online option is smooth and fun, and offers enough modes to keep you fighting to, well, the death.

L.A. Noire
Rockstar Games
Xbox 360, Playstation 3

“L.A. Noire” follows detective Cole Phelps as he rises through the
ranks of the LAPD in 1947 Los Angeles. The city and time period are
beautifully realized; the re-creation of post-war L.A. seems to be
nearly streetlevel accurate. Adding to the atmosphere is era-appropriate
music, clothing, cars and a pulpy, film-noir mood.

Be warned:
This is not “Grand Theft Auto: 1947.” “L.A. Noire” is much more of an
adventure game. Most of your time is spent inspecting crime scenes in
order to locate and examine clues or evidence.

Once satisfied
with what you’ve found, you move on to question suspects and witnesses.
This is the game’s greatest strength, as using evidence to prove and
disprove statements is involving and sometimes tense. It features a
superb facial animation system that makes observing suspects’ faces for
hints of lies or false statements feel natural.

The
mystery-solving aspect is the biggest draw of “L.A. Noire,” but you can
also take time off to explore 1947 Los Angeles and to search for
landmarks. This may not be the game you expect, but it will be the most
unique, engaging one you’ve played in a while.

Brink
Bethesda Softworks
(Xbox 360, PC, PlayStation 3)

“Brink” covers the struggle of two factions — resistance and security — that are trying to take control of a large floating city called The Ark. That’s all the story you’ll find, because “Brink” follows the old-school, first-person-shooter design popularized by games like “Quake III” and “Battlefield.”

As such, “Brink” is purely  a multiplayer game. There is a campaign mode, but it just puts you on a multiplayer map to fight against AI instead of players.

The game’s greatest assets are its colorful art style and level of customization. Your character and weapons can be outfitted with numerous accessories and parts. Sadly, the actual gameplay is not so great. There are scores of guns, but none of them feels that different from another. The team-based gameplay is decent, but no better than that in more established titles like “Team Fortress 2.” And the game ships with only about eight maps, so the amount of content is minimal.

For a $60 product, “Brink” is lacking. It would have been an impressive less-expensive (perhaps downloadable) title, but it doesn’t stand up to the better games that have come before it.

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