“Grand Theft Auto IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony” (rated M, $20 download for Xbox 360) or “Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City” (rated M, $40 on Xbox 360): It’s pretty sweet that Rockstar’s latest chapter in the “Grand Theft Auto IV” story features a gay character in a prominent role without playing the character’s sexuality for cheap laughs. In “Gay Tony,” you play as Luis Lopez, a Dominican ex-con trying to keep the nightclub empire of his drug-addled boss (the aforementioned Tony) afloat as Tony’s debts and drug use catch up to him. Game Informer’s review sold me on this expansion. Too bad I won’t have time to play it any time soon. When I do get around to it, I’ll be picking up the “Episodes from Liberty City” disc, which features “Gay Tony” as well as “The Lost and Damned,” “GTA IV’s” other downloadable episode.
“DJ Hero” (rated T, $119 on Wii, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3): At four guitars, four microphones, one drum kit, a dance mat, a camera, a Dreamcast light gun and countless controllers, I’m pretty much at the tipping point for video game peripherals that can fit in my tiny San Francisco apartment. But I’m still a bit curious about Activision’s new DJ game, which promises to shed as much light on how electronic music is put together as “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” did for rock ‘n’ roll. The participation of Grandmaster Flash, who voices the game’s tutorials, and Daft Punk has me particularly intrigued. Maybe it’s time for one of those guitars to go…
“Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time” (rated E10+, $60 on PS3): Ever since Mario started talking, I’ve gradually become more interested in other, non-Nintendo platform-jumping franchises. The Ratchet & Clank series for the PS3 is one of the longest-running, and is consistently well-reviewed. The duo’s latest adventure finds them trying to reunite after being separated in the last “Ratchet & Clank” game. Along the way, developer Insomniac packs in some new information on the duo’s origins. Expect lots of platforming goodness and ridiculously huge weapons.
“Forza Motorsport 3” (rated X, $60 on Xbox 360): If reviews are any indication, Microsoft’s flagship racing franchise has installed itself as this generation’s greatest car-driving sim, with a combination of the series’ trademark appeal to the hardcore gearhead and a robust set of driver-assisting tools to make things easier for those of us who spend a lot of time crashing into walls. A rewind feature lets you go back and try a missed corner anew without having to restart the race. Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?
“Tekken 6” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $150 for bundle including arcade-style joystick): It took three years to get a new installment in what was arguably the PS2’s signature fighting franchise to appear on the PS3. And it’s on the Xbox 360 to boot. Fighting game fans will quickly find their favorites, but “Tekken 6” enters an already crowded field featuring well reviewed titles such as “BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger” and “Street Fighter IV.”
“Zombies Ate My Neighbors” (rated E10+, $8 Virtual Console download for Wii): This Lucasarts run-and-gun game was a cult classic back in the days of the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. It’s good to see it get its overdue day in the sun on the Wii’s Virtual Console.
“Tales of Monkey Island” (rated X, $10 for Chapter 3 via WiiWare): The third episode
“Borderlands” (rated M, $50 for PC): I previewed this game in What to Play a couple of weeks ago, when it hit the Xbox 360 and PS3. Now it’s out for PC.
What I played last weekend: I tried my hand playing as the Drowning Doom in “Brütal Legend’s” AI stage battles, plus got started on “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves.” My buddies and I sampled a bit of “Left 4 Dead’s” “Crash Course” add-on and played a little of “Halo 3: ODST’s” Firefight mode.