Posted by John on December 7, 2011

Game reviews: Top titles exclusive to Xbox, PS3, Wii and 3DS

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception goes for broke with more stunts, more brawling, more shooting and more effortless wisecracks.Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception goes for broke with more stunts, more brawling, more shooting and more effortless wisecracks.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception goes for broke with more stunts, more brawling, more shooting and more effortless wisecracks.

Along with hardware specs and accessories, game systems are defined by the games made exclusively for them. For example, you’ll only find Halo on a Microsoft Xbox, or Super Mario Galaxy on Nintendo’s Wii.

This year’s crop of game exclusives are no less definitive, each a good reason to own one system or another. For the fickle, buy more than one. For the one-system household, here are your choices.

Exclusive to PlayStation3

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception ($60): The third go-round for modern-day fortune hunter Nathan Drake, Drakes Deception does little to improve upon the series’ formula.

Instead, it goes for broke in delivering more cliffhanger stunts, more brawling, more shooting, more effortless wisecracks and more scavenging of rare antiques. Then, just when it all starts to feel tedious and hopelessly contrived, Bam!, another cliffhanger. The falling-out-of-an-exploding-cargo-plane-without-a-parachute shtick is particularly spectacular — well worth the price of admission, in fact. Good thing, too, because the actual climax is, uh, not. Rated Teen (13+)

Tekken Hybrid ($40): Tekken fighting games have long been a staple of the PlayStation platform — dating back to 1995 and the PS1, in fact. Although its popularity diminished over the years and umpteen iterations, Tekken Hybrid revisits one of the peak titles, Tekken Tag Tournament for the PS2. Buffed up to the high-definition standards of today, this 2-on-2 brawler is the same great mash-n-bash, but prettier.

The Hybrid compilation also includes the additively bizarre Tekken Bowl (as in tag-team bowling, believe it or not) and a long-playing demo of the forthcoming Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for PS3. To top it off, there is a high-def, Blu-ray, 3D CGI movie, Tekken: Blood Vengeance, an entirely stupid film with awesome fight scenes. Rated Teen (13+)

Exclusive to Xbox 360

Gears of War 3 ($60): The “final” chapter in the alien aggression vs. meathead machismo trilogy, Gears of War 3 delivers more overblown explosiveness than you’ll know what to do with. This, of course, is exactly what’s expected of a series that has repeatedly set or raised the bar for interactive sci-fi xenocide. Beyond concluding the single-player story (term used loosely), players can expect an indeterminately longer lifespan in the game’s online multiplayer components, clearly designed to appease every player of previous Gears games with a diverse assortment of modes, objectives, levels and weapons and no lack of highly skilled opponents ready to make the most of it all. Rated Mature (17+)

Sesame Street Once upon a Monster ($40): Move over, Wii, there’s a new way to waggle and wave your way through silly family games. Kinect for Xbox 360 might not boast the same precision as the frightfully exacting PlayStation Move, but its “your body is the controller” routine is certainly starting to deliver. Case in point: Once upon a Monster, a lovingly and skillfully crafted motion-controlled game that allows a preschooler to grab an elder (parent, sibling, babysitter) and act out with positively reinforcing Muppets. Charming and brilliantly effective “edutainment” through and through. Rated Everyone (6+)

Exclusive to Wii

Fortune Street ($50): Unlike previous board-style Wii games that eschew tact and prudence in favor of dumb luck and puerility, Fortune Street is a genuine party game for all ages. It’s essentially a variation of Monopoly, dressed up with Mario characters and settings and replacing houses and hotels with shops to earn residual income. Deeper still, Fortune Street also incorporates a stock-market of sorts, allowing each player to invest in neighborhoods in the hopes of earning dividends — sometimes from opposing players. With variable difficulty settings to engage both neophyte capitalists and entrepreneurial tycoons, Fortune Street also lets players set an earnings cap for the win rather than wait until all but one player is broke, which makes for reasonably short but not shallow game sessions. Rated Everyone (6+)

Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword ($50): Wii hasn’t been bursting with high-quality games, which is part of the reason Skyward Sword is such a standout. It looks artistic yet dated, plays like a comfortable cliché and, because nobody speaks actual words, reads like a bad romance novel that doesn’t know when to shut up.

But Skyward Sword is also a new chapter in a long-running, best-selling Nintendo franchise. Built specifically for the second-generation MotionPlus controller (sold separately or in a gold-colored bundle), androgynous boy comes of age in a fantasy adventure of shooting arrows, slashing swords, crawling dungeons, solving puzzles and otherwise exploring a vast world from land and sky in order to get the girl. To that end, the game is certainly deep, rich, long-playing and engaging. Its new waggle-Plus control scheme, meanwhile, is surprisingly intuitive. Rated Everyone (10+)

Exclusive to 3DS

Super Mario 3D Land ($40): As the popularity of Wii wanes, Nintendo’s new portable system, the 3DS, moves in to take up the slack. Topping the list of reasons to buy the dual-screen, glasses-free 3D device is Super Mario 3D Land. With new depth convolutions afforded by the trippy illusion of three dimensions on a two-dimensional screen, it’s a wildly playable game of platform hopping, Goomba stomping, mushroom popping, coin-collection.

As the latest iteration of the videogame mainstay made famous by Mario almost 30 years ago, it’s also the genre he continues to dominate to this day, simply because each game is so carefully conceived and cunningly connived. In other words, another deceptively straightforward, spring-loaded romp that is lavishly complex for those with a hankering for secret passages and hidden perks — and perfectly fun for those without said hankering. Rated Everyone (6+)

Mario Kart 7 ($40): It used to be argued that if you’d played one Mario Kart game, you’d played them all, but that doesn’t fly anymore. Mario Kart 7 adds a couple of new dimensions to the power-sliding, power-up snatching go-cart series: the first being the 3D imagery providing serious eye-candy, the second being the dimension of “up and down.” It allows players to bolt extra parts on to their karts, including a propeller for sluggish underwater segments, or a hang glider that makes the game something of driving/flying hybrid racer.

Considering the considerable graphical capabilities of the 3DS, Mario Kart 7 is certainly the best-looking version the series has yet produced, while its unique design for a unique system also makes it the most technically proficient Kart game yet. As for the plethora of tracks and shortcuts, championships and modes, including online multiplayer racing, well, that just makes it the most fun. Rated Everyone (6+)

Shaun Conlin is editor-in-chief of Evergeek Media (evergeekmedia.com)

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