Reign of Swords: Episode 2
The iPhone is the Wild West of gaming. In the decades of this young industry, gaming has not once been host to such a great and open platform as the iPhone.
So, sequel to an early hit for the iPhone, Reign of Swords: Episode II represents the absolute best in turn-based strategy for this new platform. Like the original, players can expect a medieval, fantasy-flavored turn-based strategy title with gameplay that'll be instantly familiar to fans of Nintendo's great Advance Wars series for their portable devices. On offer are an absorbing single-player campaign and some extremely robust multiplayer support, the latter really being beefed up in all the right ways for this new iteration.
Without a doubt, the new multiplayer mode is what really sells this new one; it's exactly what fans of the original were hoping for. Before, players could battle head-to-head, competing for greater titles of nobility on the various leaderboards of the game's different kingdoms, but only from a distance as, after armies were assembled, the computer took over and automated the result. While still a lot of fun (surprisingly so, considering the huge disconnect), this old mode obviously pales in comparison to the now direct and hands-on experience, and logging in every so often to take a few minutes here and there to whip somebody's ass is real satisfying.
Aside from the merely functional (at best) narrative, this new episode in the Reign of Swords series has all the right moves, from cool new units to a more interesting desert setting, and comes very well near perfection in head-to-head matches. If you're on the iPhone and you dig the strategy genre, this is an absolute must-have title. —Nick Marroni
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Xbox 360, PS3, Ps2, Wii
The GI Joe cartoon was awesome. You had everything: soldiers, lasers, cool vehicles and, most importantly, ninjas. Even though you knew every episode was really a thinly veiled commercial for the toys, every time Serpentor yelled "This I command!" all was forgiven. Not easily forgiven though, is GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Based on the recently released movie, words can't describe this particular gaming experience ... oh, wait. One word does: shit.
Beginning after the movie, you and your fellow Joes fight around the world, suppressing the threat of M.A.R.S. and the emerging Cobra organization. Beginning with GI Joe operatives, Duke and Scarlett, you can unlock various members of both GI Joe and Cobra, though all are pretty much the same character in a different outfit.
The controls are stupid. The camera's completely unwieldy, so you never really know if you're running in the correct direction. And the vehicle controls are so bad that you may actually want to fight on foot, except when vehicle weapons are necessary. Aiming is automatic, and also incredibly counterintuitive, since you auto-aim at whatever's directly in front of your character. Nothing's more irritating than getting blasted by Cobra agents when you're busy shooting the shit out of a power-up box … though it doesn't matter because their aim is so bad, they probably won't hit you anyway. Everything rapidly devolves into running in circles and holding down the fire trigger until all your enemies are dead, for the entire game.
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is craptacular from start to finish. There isn't anything redeeming about a movie tie-in money grab. —Brant Franks