ENEMY TERRITORY: QUAKE WARS
(Activision; Xbox 360 and PS3; Teen)
In most sci-fi shooters, you play the part of a human soldier, waging war against extraterrestrial foes. But in Enemy Territory — a Quake offshoot originally released on PC last October — you have the option of being one of the alien horde. In either of these roles you may fight solo, though this first-person-shooter is best played with other online warriors in massive multiplayer battles.
These skirmishes play out more like an evolved version of Star Wars Battlefront than a round of Team Slayer mode of Halo, in that the missions have objectives: There are bases to be defended, force fields to be deactivated, and downed ships to be destroyed. All of which is made easier by a full complement of appropriately futuristic weapons and vehicles, various classes (including soldier, technician, and medic) and, if you can find them, teammates who work together. Who cares if the game played better on PC, this console port still offers a compelling and deep alien-combat experience…no matter which side you’re on. B+ — Paul Semel
NINJA GAIDEN II
(Xbox 360; Mature)
To be the ultimate badass Ninja warrior, you need nimble reflexes, a cool black outfit, and lots of sharp, pointy weapons. Some might argue that stealth is a pre-requisite for the job, but Ryu Hayabusa, the gung-ho do-gooder protagonist of Ninja Gaiden II, would probably disagree. Leaping right into a scrum and proceeding to hack and slash his way to victory is more his style. The control scheme is pretty simple: mashing on two buttons is enough to send Ryu into a flurry of graceful but lethal swipes of his swords or batons or staffs. The result is a high body count punctuated by blood-spewing decapitations and dismemberments. The squeamish need not avert their eyes: things happen so quickly that there’s rarely enough time to notice all the gore.
Don’t let the simplicity of the controls fool you. There’s also a block button that becomes indispensable, especially against the relentless boss characters. The original Ninja Gaiden was notorious for its high degree of difficulty. This sequel is easier, at least during the first few levels, but the later acts quickly build up to crescendos of hair-raising (and hair-pulling) skirmishes, made even more frustrating by awkward camera angles that too often obscure your view. Ninjas undoubtedly had it tough; gamers have it tougher in Ninja Gaiden II. B — Gary Eng Walk