“The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, $50 on PC): “The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay” was a sleeper hit on the original Xbox and PC back in 2004. It has the distinction of being maybe the best movie tie-in game ever made (not counting “Star Wars” projects loosely related to the movies). “Assault on Dark Athena” includes that game, remade for the current generation of consoles, as well as a whole new scenario, “Assault on Dark Athena.” It also includes multiplayer game modes. Reviews have suggested the new scenario isn’t as good as “Escape from Butcher Bay,” so if you’ve already played that game, you might want to wait until the game hits $40. But it’s definitely worth a look. Vin Diesel’s true calling is video games, not movies.
“The Godfather II” (rated M, $60 on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, $50 on PC): Despite what the title would have you think, this game takes place on the periphery of some of the events depicted in the movie “The Godfather: Part II.” At the beginning of the game, your boss (the main character of the first “Godfather” game) is gunned down at the airport in Havana, Cuba, and your character, Dominic, is made the don of New York. You’ll work your way up through the ranks, crossing paths with characters from the movie. “The Godfather II” has a nice mix of “Grand Theft Auto”-style action gameplay as well as a strategy metagame called “The Don’s View,” which you’ll use to oversee your criminal empire.
“Halo 3” (rated M, $50 on Xbox 360): The new, Mythic map pack dropped this week for $10. It’s got three new maps for multiplayer matches and a handful of new Xbox 360 achievements. If you’ve got an Xbox Live Silver account, which normally doesn’t allow online multiplayer gameplay, you can play this game for free this weekend.
“Hammerin’ Hero” (rated E10+, $30 on PlayStation Portable): If you’re a fan of old-school, side-scrolling beat-’em-ups as well as weird Japanese stuff, you might like this PSP adventure. It features a carpenter named Gen who takes on a variety of odd jobs, including DJ and baseball player, on a quest to take down an evil, giant construction company. Hey, it’s no stranger than a plumber jumping on turtles in a bid to rescue a princess.
“Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, Episode One” (rated M, $10 download from Xbox Live Arcade through Monday):When the first game in a planned trilogy of titles based on the popular “Penny Arcade” webcomic debuted last May, gamers revolted over its $15 price, which was $5 more than most Xbox Live Arcade titles. Well, those of you who complained and said you’d buy the game at $10, now’s the time to put up or shut up. It’s on sale for 800 Microsoft Points (or $10) through the weekend. (For the record, I picked this up at week. I balked at $15 not because I refuse to pay that much for a downloadable game, but because I’m not much of a webcomic guy and might miss some of the patented “PA” humor.)
“Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic” (rated E10+, $10 download from PlayStation Network): This game is a “Super Smash Bros.” or “Small Arms”-style beat-’em up where you can take on up to three friends and pound the snot out of each other with plastic, kung-fu dolls. It’s from one of the co-founders of Media Molecule (“LittleBigPlanet”), so you know it’ll be cute. No online, play, though, so if you do most of your gaming alone, ye have been warned.
“Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts” (rated E10+, $30 on Xbox 360): This game was one of my favorite sleeper titles last year, and it’s just received its first downloadable content. Priced at a cool $5 (400 Microsoft Points), “L.O.G.’s Lost Challenges” features several new challenges, achievements, multiplayer modes, L.O.G.’s choice vehicles and added levels to the “Klungo Sssavesss teh World” arcade game.
“Braid” (rated E10+, $15 on Xbox 360 or PC): Jonathan Blow’s time-and-space-bending platform-jumping game remains the greatest title ever released on Xbox Live Arcade. Starting this week, though, you can now play it on PC, via Steam, Greenhouse or Gamersgate. There’s a free demo available, but if it’s anything like the one on Xbox Live Arcade, it’ll only hint at what lies in store for you in later levels.
What I’m playing this weekend: I’ll be pretty busy with work and family obligations, and we had some friends over for dinner Friday night (which is why this post is kinda late). But I’m hoping to sneak in some “Killzone 2” on the PS3 and maybe a little “The Godfather II” or “Star Ocean: The Last Hope” on the 360. I should probably finish “Fable II” one of these days, as well. Mrs. GameWit and I might sneak in some “Rock Band 2” on Sunday evening. I’m kind of itching to try out The Shins’ “New Slang,” Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and James Brown’s “Get Up (Sex Machine).” Since you made it this far, I’m rewarding (?) you with this video of the Flying Lizards covering the James Brown song. Well, it’s not so much a video as a still picture with a song.