Games: 'Quest for Booty,' 'Bionic Commando'
RATCHET & CLANK: QUEST FOR BOOTY
(SCEA, PS3, Everyone/10+)
Sony's space-faring duo of animal engineer (or, more precisely, a lombax engineer) and his robot sidekick have been called on to do some more heavy lifting for the company's hardware. Their most recent outing, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, buoyed the spirits of PS3 owners at the end of last year, even if it did end with Clank's mysterious abduction. Quest follows Ratchet's search for his mechanical buddy, featuring less of the franchise's legendary firefights and more exploration and puzzle-solving. With its lush visuals and dynamic sound effects (complementing the always great writing), the game also demonstrates the robustness of downloadable content for the PS3. Parts of Q4B do make it feel like a placeholder, though: The inventive weapons that are a series hallmark are mostly retreads from Tools of Destruction and gameplay staples like vehicular sequences and arena battles are conspicuously MIA. All in all, Quest for Booty makes for a decent amuse-bouche, but may leave you hankering for a full entrée. B
BIONIC COMMANDO REARMED
(Capcom; Xbox 360, PS3; Mature) In this age of remakes and reboots, nostalgia can be a double-edged sword. The same warm feelings that have you begging publishers to update a favorite game can also act as a reality-distortion field that cloaks the original in a state of unattainable perfection. That said, Bionic Commando: Rearmed manages to dodge the blade of fickle affection by re-creating and deepening the grapple/swing/shoot gameplay of Capcom's original arcade and NES classic. Made over in 2.5 dimensions, Captain Nathan "R.A.D." Spencer's mission to rescue fellow soldier Super Joe from the evil Imperial empire benefits from a punchy yet retro art style and smooth animations. Spencer uses a cybernetic grapple arm to move through the levels, mowing down the enemy with gunfire and grenades in top-down and side-scrolling views, just like in the old-school version.
Rearmed won't allow you to get too wistful, though. It's as hard as the original versions (which is to say, very), with punishing swings that need to be perfectly timed and a scant number of lives that advanced enemy AI will quickly whittle down. The all-new Challenge Rooms — simulation stages that test traversal techniques — will give any platformer fanatic a run for his money. Modern upgrades like two-player co-op and multiplayer melees add muscle to the downloadable title too. Rearmed will supposedly sync up with Capcom's full-fledged Bionic Commando reboot due later this year, so it's the perfect way to way to go back to the future, even if you don't get to kill Hitler this go-round. B+