“Fallout 3” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360, $50 on PC): Bethesda Softworks’ post-nuclear role-playing game/shooter hybrid got the third and last of its announced expansions this week. (Rumors of a fourth are already percolating, however.) “Broken Steel” adds several hours of gameplay in the form of new quests, but most importantly, it raises the level cap from 20 to 30 and reworks the game’s controversial ending to allow gamers to continue after completing the game’s core plotline. I don’t want to give away too many other details of “Broken Steel” because I don’t think people typically expect plot-related spoilers in these what-to-play roundups, and I don’t want to ruin any of “Fallout 3’s” core story for anyone who’s yet to finish the game. Expect a review of “Broken Steel” soon, as well as a mini-dissertation on the decision to rework the game’s ending and raise the level cap. (Note: Although “Fallout 3” is available on the PlayStation 3, its downloadable content is not.)
“Plants Vs. Zombies” ($20 on PC): The latest entry from casual game hitmaking factory Pop Cap (“Bejeweled,” “Peggle”) brings some much needed whimsy to the tower-defense genre. You’ll defend your lawn from waves of undead by planting legume-firing pea shooters, potato mines, cherry bombs and the like. With dozens of types of defenses and dozens of types of undead, including zombie dolphins and a zombie bobsled team, “Plants Vs. Zombies” looks to be taking the zombie meme to ridiculous new heights. You can download a free trial via the game’s official website. If you buy the game via Steam (which also seems to be selling it for half the official website’s price), it comes with 12 Steam Achievements.
“Patapon 2” (rated E, $20 on PlayStation Portable): The original “Patapon” was a revelation on the PSP, melding the side-scrolling action, rhythm and strategy genres to create something fresh and inventive. The game’s cute, distinctive art style sealed the deal. In “Patapon 2,” as in the first game, you’ll use the PSP’s face buttons to tap out commands to the beat of the music, telling your army to advance, retreat or fight. The more rhythmic commands you chain together, the more effective your fighting force. And at $20, it’s pretty much a can’t miss game if you own a PSP.
“New Play Control! Donkey Kong Jungle Beat” (rated E10+, $30 on Wii): Similar to “Patapon,” the original “Donkey Kong Jungle Beat” was a GameCube game that was played using a pair of bongos. Like other games in the budget-priced, “New Play Control!” series, the latest iteration of “Jungle Beat” reimagines the game for play on the Wii. There are a few new enemies this time out, as well as a new final boss to fight.
“Klonoa” (rated E10+, $30 on Wii): This platform-jumping game is a full-on Wiimake of “Klonoa: Door to Phantomile,” a classic PlayStation game. While it’s not beloved by as many people as some of the PlayStation’s biggest hit titles, the original got great reviews, and this remake looks promising. Folks waiting for another “Super Mario Galaxy” or “Sonic the Hedgehog”-style adventure would do well to give “Klonoa” a look.
“Crysis: Maximum Edition” (rated M, $40 on PC): If you haven’t played Crytek’s bleeding-edge-of-technology-from-two-years-ago shooter yet, now’s as good at time as any. This bundle includes the original “Crysis,” plus multiplayer game “Crysis Wars” and bonus mission “Crysis Warhead.”
“Space Invaders Extreme” and “Arkanoid Live!” (both rated E, $10, Xbox Live Arcade): It’s been a couple of years since “Pac-Man: Championship Edition” laid the groundwork for how to revitalize a decades-old classic with flashy graphics and a few new gameplay elements. Yet since then, other efforts at revitalizing franchises, such as “Galaga Legions,” haven’t really come close. Of these two, “Space Invaders Extreme” looks like the better bet, but if you went gaga for the original “Arkanoid,” there’s enough there to scratch an itch.
What I’ll be playing this weekend: I’ll be working my way through the downloadable content for “Fallout 3” and “Fable II,” and maybe spending a little more time with “Killzone 2.” One “Culdcept Saga” league match awaits me this evening.
Note: Apologies this post arrives somewhat late. I had the whole thing nearly finished, then lost everything when Firefox crashed. That’ll teach me not to save.