Games

The Sims 2 Seasons

A good old-fashioned snowball fight might be all you need to improve your mood in winter.  Spring showers, summer heat, autumn winds, and winter snowstorms become a part of your Sims’ lives in Seasons, an expansion pack for The Sims 2. The challenge—to adapt to the changing climates—may not sound all that exciting, but Seasons is full of fun seasonal activities. Various weather effects accompany each season—in autumn, leaves fall from the trees, so you need to rake them. In winter, you have to bundle up in outerwear to deal with blustery winds and heavy snowstorms. But along with the required chores and adaptation, there’s fun to be had. For example, in the winter, you can build snowmen and have snowball fights, which also helps your social relationships. At the community center, you can ice skate on the outdoor rink or go fishing at the pond (and even cook and eat, or mount, your fish).Each season lasts for five days and affects your Sims’ moods differently. You can choose which season to play—skip summer and have two winters if you want.

Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

With this many troops firing on the enemy, we’ll soon have all the sweet Tiberium we can harvest.  Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars hits the sweet spot in real-time strategy games, somehow making it fun to micromanage your resources, buildings, and troops. As in other RTS titles, players need to keep harvesting the land—in this case, gathering mysterious Tiberium crystals—to fund the production of buildings. Those buildings then create vehicles, fighters, and other units you can use to attack your opponent on the battlefield. Additional twists, such as maintaining enough power plants to give your growing encampments electricity, keep the game interesting. Command & Conquer 3 does nearly everything right, including providing extensive single-player options to play as the good or bad side, and online multiplayer match-ups. Even the things it gets wrong—goofy video sequences—are somehow so bad they’re good.

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Pole Position Remix

 Pole Position initially seems like a good fit for an iPod remake; this racer adapts the arcade steering wheel to the click wheel. But think back to the difficulty of the original. Unless you were that one savant who could keep racing, you probably dropped quarters into the classic, only to crash into enemy cars, run out of time, and burn through all of your snack money. While not a literal copy of the original, the iPod version captures this frustration perfectly.

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Block Breaker Deluxe

 Welcome to the neon-and-sharkskin world of underground, professional block breaking. Yes, we’d never heard of this high-stakes, live-fast, die-young society until booting up an iPod game of Block Breaker Deluxe. And this mediocre slobs-versus-snobs setup -- guess which one you play -- is about as engaging as the actual Breakout-style game. 

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Halo 3 Stats on iPhone

 Combine the power of iPhone with your love of Halo 3 and you have iHaloStats. Created by developer, Kato, the iPhone webapp allows users to check a players Halo 3 stats using information culled from Bungie.net.

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Pirates of the Caribbean Online Tips

Lilly-livered landlubbers! Keep away from me booty! Yaargh!  With a plot that takes place after that of the three movies, Pirates of the Caribbean Online (free, disney.go.com/pirates/online) has you jumping into the massively multiplayer high seas with occasional cameos by Elizabeth Swann and William Turner—you can even help Jack Sparrow battle against Jolly Roger. Become the most infamous pirate in the Caribbean with a little help from your cutthroat guildmates and your pistol loaded with these tips.

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Need for Speed Carbon

 Need for Speed Carbon dumps drivers into a city full of tuner cars and racing crews that owe as much to West Side Story as to The Fast and the Furious. (Oh, how we wish rival crews would dance and snap their way through the plot.) If you can stomach the quirky premise, the game has a deep range of races and fun driving sequences—we never get tired of high-speed police getaways. Just be sure to ditch your keyboard and mouse, because accurate driving controls practically require a gamepad or racing wheel.

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iPod Game Goodness

  The iPod game catalog has evolved from an eye-rolling list of classic videogame clones to a wide array of options. I played the latest batch over a sailing vacation, testing them on my iPod Video during lazy tacks. While nostalgic cash-in games make appearances—Sonic and Bomberman—I found a new favorite iPod game.

The moving staircase and hidden passages behind paintings are the central corridors of the game.  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix earns high grades with creative spellcasting and exploration, but most of the time you feel like you’re like an errand-running intern in the world of wizards - the game is mostly about performing chores tangential to the story line. This magical hoop-jumping prevents the game from being as entertaining as the book and movie.

Cake Mania

The cakes, they are a flyin'! Like every other business-sim game, Cake Mania is all about making money and satisfying your customers. But this game adds some sugar. You play Jill, who’s taking on the big Mega-Mart with her own business and hopes to reopen her grandparents’ bakery. Each level starts with Jill’s goals for the month and an opportunity for her to purchase items for her kitchen. Ovens, decoration units, even her shoes can be upgraded. Customers drop by to buy cakes, and the orders stack up quickly. Jill must bake, frost, and decorate the cakes to receive payment and points. A less-than-five-star performance results in Jill not making her budget and losing a “life.” And of course, once Jill’s five lives are gone, the game is over.