Mediocre Fantastic Four rise against Silver Surfer

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How would Lt. Frank Drebin fare? He found that certain powers, used in repetitive excess, were the keys to victory almost every time. Between Johnny’s fireballs and the Thing’s shock wave move, most enemies and obstacles were obliterated. An occasional door or switch to be activated required more finesse and the use of powers such as Sue’s telekinesis (she can pick up a larger object with a force field and control it) or Mr. Fantastic’s stretch ability.

Parental blood-pressure meter: 120/80, normal. The main characters never die but run out of health, are temporarily knocked out and quickly return to the action. Minions, be they Skrulls, mechanical monstrosities, rock men or Red Ghost’s apes, are all dunderheaded and perish in piles of multicolored orbs, absorbed by Fantastic Four members to enhance their powers and health.

What if I want to read a book? Marvel has kept the Fantastic Four on retailers’ shelves since its debut in 1961. I would suggest a look at the current Ultimate Fantastic Four series, which reimagines the origins and universe of the team, and issue Nos. 42 to 46 ($2.99 each) for a look at a five-part story featuring the Silver Surfer.

What’s it worth? Boring dialogue, zero innovation, a confusing story (hopelessly lost in the game), repetitive action and dull computer-animated scenes present nothing special here for the advanced gamer. However, younger children will enjoy a rental of the title for the colorful mayhem and ease at conquering the entire story in hours rather than days.

Pop bytes

A brief review of game titles that didn’t have time to get fully plugged in.

TOMB RAIDER ANNIVERSARY (EIDOS FOR PLAYSTATION 2, RATED “TEEN,” $29.99)

Video gaming’s famed female explorer, Lara Croft, whose legend has been chronicled in movies, comic books and action figures, returns to celebrate 10 years as a pop culture star in a game that takes players back to her roots.

Tapped into using Sony’s last, but still most popular console (the PlayStation 2), the game is a re-imagined tribute to her original adventure in 1996, when she set out to retrieve the mythical Scion artifact.

The hard-core fan of Tomb Raider will revel in the nostalgia and updated graphics as he travels around the world with Lara to challenge his puzzle-solving skills while controlling an acrobatic hero who packs just enough heat to take down a wide range of ferocious enemies.

New players, just exposed to the Croft legacy, will now know what all the fuss was about and find the third-person adventure more than a challenge.

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