Shoot 'em Up

Remember back in the day, when you'd fire up your NES (Nintendo Entertainment System), and instead of hunting ducks or picking flowers, you'd shoot drug dealers?

Those were the days. When kiddy games were kiddy games, and adult games were kiddy games as well. The original eight-bit NARC for the first Nintendo system had you shooting everyone remotely near you, and even had you making dog barbecue with your rocket launcher.

Well, gone are the days of yesteryear, when EVEN IF they were really violent, video games were still just cartoons.

Flash forward to 2005. Out now from Midway, and for cheap, comes an updated version of that third-person shooter. But in a world where games like Grand Theft Auto and Streets of L.A. rule the store shelves, cartoons just don't sell anymore. That's why the new version of NARC substitutes shooting dogs for shooting hookers, and the upgrades in this game include, well, drugs.

It's a fun game, even if it does appeal to the lowest common denominator, and I mean LOWEST. The disc features voices from cult movie stars like Michael Madsen, Ron Perlman and Michael Wincott.

I can't help but feel guilty every time I turn on my PlayStation2 and load in from a save point. I mean, I should be playing something that will improve my brain skills and make me think like a NICE human being. But this game throws all that out the window for gore, guts and bobbies galore. You can play either a "good" cop or a "bad" cop. But as you put the hours into this slice of plastic, you quickly find that being "good" doesn't pay off. So eventually you find yourself in a world of prostitutes, drugs and thugs. But it's all in good/bad fun. And unlike the original, it's for adults only.

So have your mom buy it for you.

Another game that carries the "M" for mature rating is EA's Time Splitters: Future Perfect. Although it really shouldn't. It's a stylish first-person shooter that has you jumping around in time like Dr. Samuel Beckett. The game-play is tight, the graphics nice, and it's out for all three major consoles.

While I'd rather play Doom 3 more than any other first-person shooter, I just got Time Splitters in the mail today -- so I guess soon it will be goodbye to Al and Ziggy. Oh, and this Time Splitters has some REALLY decent weapons that work great for online play.

Also in the video game department, I've been screwing around with Need for Speed: Underground Rivals, again from EA, but this time for the PSP (PlayStation Portable). While I'm not a huge fan of racing games where you can't kill people, I do have to admit this action title is nice to look at and does provide some fun. But like lots of other racing games, I just can't stand the controls. You use the PSP's "nub" to steer, and it's always either too loose or too tight. But maybe that's just me and I'm projecting my manhood inadequacies.

A game I was really looking forward to was Rise of the Kasai from Sony for the PS2. It's a sequel of sorts to one of my favorite games ever, The Mark of Kri, which was like watching a Disney film on angel dust. Unfortunately, while this game looks as good as the first, and does have some genuine targeting systems, like the first, overall the AI is so bad it makes the game frustrating. I really wanted to love this game. Really and truly. But the more I played it, the more I found it to be like Deus Ex 2. An utter disappointment.

Forgetting Sony's bad luck with Rise of the Kasai, it's certainly hit the nail on the head with the awesome God of War. Actually, God of War just may be the best video game I've played this year. The graphics are too amazing for the PlayStation2, and the plot is incredible: You're this guy who just wants to die, but has to first serve mythical gods like Zeus. Without giving anything away, I'll just say that the game has a story that's really tight and very Resident Evil-ish. The game-play is amazing, to say the least, and the upgrades for the blades you wield are amazing.

In God of War, you'll find yourself fighting zombies, Minotaurs, demons, and even innocent soldiers whom you have to "sacrifice" to the gods. Fuckin' Punk Rock!

While at first I found that having no control of the camera made this one tough cookie, I began to see the genius in just how the game is laid out, and I've got to say, Sony really does have a HUGE hit on its hands.

Toward the end of this amazing adventure, you have to enter a temple to find Pandora's Box. While it's not as fuzzy or wet as you'd expect, it certainly does unleash special powers that have got to be seen to be believed. The game is very bloody, like Mortal Kombat, but the story is so good that even though it's rated "M," I'd let my kids play it. If I had any. I tried having P.J., my Yorkie, give it a spin, and he just chewed through the cable.

I got Jade Empire for the Xbox from Microsoft, but can't tell you much about it, yet. Except it's a lot better than I expected. Remember Fable?

THQ is one of my favorite video game companies, and I'm really happy to say that MX vs. ATV Unleashed delivers. If you are into off-road racing, and pulling crazy stunts, this game is for you. Of course, in real life, these machines scare the living shit out of me. Then again, I'm a huge, I mean, HUGE pussy.

Finally, it took a long ride over to East Side Records in Tempe for me to find that Dead Boys DVD, and it was well worth the price. Gas included. Recorded live in 1977 at CBGB, the DVD features the band at its best: held together by duct tape and a tiny piece of thread. Stiv Bators, lead singer of the band, wears bologna safety-pinned to his jacket, which he proceeds to blow his nose into, then eat.

Songs here include the hits like "Sonic Reducer," "All This and More," and one called "Revenge," which I guess is what the band originally called "I Won't Look Back." There are also great interviews on this DVD, including a newish one with Cheetah Chrome, who really puts a great perspective on things. Also, it's nice to see my pal Hilly Kristal from CBGB telling the same story about the band I've heard a thousand times. From his own mouth.

Interestingly, the director is none other than Rod Swenson, who went on to work with, and then married, Wendy O. from The Plasmatics. Hilly tells me that Rod is building his own house near Superstition Mountain, and says I should give him a call.

You know, I really should.

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George Tabb
Contact: George Tabb