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Also, Activision misses the simplest way to add educational content. Why not throw in a bonus DVD with any one of the dozens of History Channel programs devoted to the Civil War. Even National Geographic figured that out with its panda game.

Age range: The missions are geared for players 13 years old and older, and mainly involve eliminating enemy soldiers using a variety of weapons. None of the violence is as graphic as the average first-person shooter on the market. No blood is lost, but bodies do fly through the air during explosions. Soldiers just melt away after they have fallen.

Parents uncomfortable with their teen pointing a weapon at another human in a virtual world should, of course, keep him away.

Final advice: As one of my Confederate comrades kept telling me, “Something’s wrong.”Yes, something is really wrong in a game about the Civil War that does little to clearly explain, analyze or even put into perspective why so many died and suffered.

Game Bytes

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for aspiring singers in the family.

Lips (for Xbox 360, rated T for teen, from Microsoft Game Studio, $69.99, microphones require two AA batteries each) - Karaoke gets even more interactive with Microsoft’s new singing game.

A pair of motion-sensitive, wireless microphones add some flash to a player’s performance as he follows the flowing note bars and croons his way to virtual stardom. The magical mics are not only for singing, but a performer also mimics movements when prompted on-screen.

Most important, the basic set of 40 music tracks is a diverse lot and each includes its music video equivalent. The choices are a spectrum of classics ranging from the Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to Aly & AJ’s “Potential Break Up Song.”

Turning Lips into a potent party game are options that go well beyond simply singing along in standard, duet and competitive modes. A pair of cooperative games requires on-key and on-rhythm singing from both players.

Even folks not in the mood to perform can use a standard controller’s button arsenal and just add some percussive moments, such as a tambourine or cowbell hits, over the songs.

Finally, more tunes are available for download at Xbox Live Marketplace (160 points, $2 each) to keep the vocalizing fresh. A singer’s personal catalog of MP3s also can be hooked into the system and sung over (sans word prompts).

Unfortunately, performers cannot shoot and upload videos via the Xbox Vision camera. That might be a good thing.

SingStar ABBA (for PlayStation 3, from Sony Computer Entertainment, $39.99) - The Swedish super group from the ‘70s gets another tribute in a song pack for Sony’s karaoke franchise.

Anyone familiar with the theater musical or movie “Mamma Mia!” will appreciate most of the 25 pop songs available, including “Dancing Queen,” “SOS” and “Does Your Mother Know.”

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