“Transformers: War for Cybertron” (rated T, $60 on Xbox 360 or PS3, $40 on PC, $30 on DS): For the first time in maybe forever, people are excited about a “Transformers” game. This one looks good because, like “Batman: Arkham Asylum” from last year, it’s a standalone game that isn’t tied into any of the recent movies. Instead, it’s a prequel to all of the previous “Transformers” entertainment, and the developers haven’t been rushed to get it done so that it’s in stores on the same day as a film. The reviews thus far have been solid, though it’s not getting “Arkham Asylum”-type Game of the Year accolades or anything. If you’re a fan of the cartoons, toys, comics and movies, “War for Cybertron” looks like a solid bet. Casual fans or those with a lot of other games on their plate may want to wait for a price drop. The Wii game, which has a different title “Transformers: Cybertron Adventures” seems to be a totally different game that’s not as good, so buyer beware. Exercise caution on the DS games, as well, as they’re bound to be substantially different from the 360/PS3/PC experience.
“Sin & Punishment: Star Successor” (rated T, $50 on Wii): This new game for the Wii is much more of a niche title than the stuff Nintendo usually opts to publish in North America, but its got fans of the under-represented shoot-’em-up, or shmup, genre excited. Basically, you’ll travel through the game’s levels at a set speed trying to stay alive, failing a lot and shooting everything that moves. It’s online-enabled, but only in the sense that it caters to the bygone era of obsessions with high scores. If you were the type of gamer who’d camp out at your local arcade all day, feeding quarters into a machine so you could type “ACE” into every slot of the leaderboard, “Sin & Punishment: Star Successor” is your game. It supports the traditional remote-and-nunchuk combination, plus the Classic Controller, Wii Zapper and GameCube controller. If you’re new to the genre, you might want to rent before buying, as Nintendo-published titles generally aren’t quick to see sales or price drops.
“Risk: Factions” (rated E10+, $10 download on Xbox Live Arcade): This streamlined take on the classic board game has you playing as cats, robots, zombies, yetis or (yawn) humans and rushing to complete specific objectives as opposed to conquering the world. But hey, if that’s not your thing and you just want to play a game of classic Risk, you can do that, too.
“Puzzle Quest 2” (rated E10+, $30 on DS): The sequel to the hybrid of gem-matching puzzle game and role-playing game isn’t hitting Xbox Live Arcade until next week, but if you’re antsy or want a handheld version, the DS retail cartridge is on sale now. I’ll be previewing this in the next few days.
“Farmville” (rated E, free on iPod Touch and iPhone): No, I’m not advocating that you sell your soul to the devil and start playing Farmville, relentlessly clicking to water crops and trying to rope in your friends like a desperate pusher. If, however, the game’s already sunk its talons into you, like it has with my mom, you’ll be pleased to know it’s now available on iPod Touch and iPhone, so you can water your crops in bed while your spouse sleeps, you degenerate.
“Battlefield: Bad Company 2” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3), “MAG” (rated M, $60 on PS3) and “Red Dead Redemption” (rated M, $60 for Xbox 360 and PS3): The new Onslaught mode went live for “Bad Company 2.” It’ll cost you $10, which is also the price for “MAG’s” Interdiction pack. “Red Dead Redemption’s” new co-op mission pack is totally free, however
“Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse” (rated E10+, on PS3): “Episode 3: They Stole Max’s Brain,” the latest chapter in San Rafael-based Telltale Games’ latest adventure, went live this week. To get it, you need to subscribe to the whole series. This episode’s rated E10+, though Episode 2 was rated T, if you care about that stuff.