- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 9, 2009

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

G-Force (from Disney Interactive for the Xbox 360, $49.99) — A summer that has realized a surprising number of good movie-linked video games continues with the latest adaptation of a Disney Pictures/Jerry Bruckheimer Films collaboration.

In control of Darwin, a realistic-looking guinea pig wearing a jet pack, and a commando fly named Mooch, the player enters three-dimensional environments to stop an evil billionaire from transforming common household appliances into an army of mechanical monsters.

Killer waffle irons, blade-spitting paper shredders and goo-spewing coffeemakers all must be dealt with as Darwin roams the halls of corporate America and FBI headquarters packing a major amount of upgradeable high-tech weaponry. The rodent carries an electro whip, plasma gun and even a flamethrower along with a device to scan and acquire intel on objects. He calls his flying accomplice for help navigating vents, carrying small items, unlocking doors and disabling security systems.

Most of the actors from the film lend their voices to the game, and its visuals and battles will dazzle the younger gamer, even if he never sees the movie.

I could gripe about the lack of cooperative play or difficulty, but I have a bigger issue. An optional, 3-D component to the action allows players to put on a pair of the included spectacles and slowly get a headache. The eye-popping images look washed out and accurate targeting becomes nearly impossible. Also, please do not turn on Darwin’s infrared goggles without a doctor present.

The feature is revolutionary for any guest who wears the glasses for less than 30 seconds, but the antiquated process sets back the development of three-dimensional gaming about 60 years. It’s potentially a good idea but far short of ready for the masses.

Ant Nation (from Konami for the Wii, 700 WiiWare points/$7) — Serial bug handlers can mildly rejoice in this downloadable real-time strategy game in which they control and expand an ant colony. Through about 90 missions a player pokes, commands and occasionally tortures his loyal flock to serve him, become stronger and defend their territory.

He uses a dropper to suck up and quickly send workers to a location and a virtual finger to prod the little fellows to come outside.

It’s quite the itch-inducing experience to watch hundreds of ants roam fairly realistic landscapes to perform such actions as swarm, devour and carry bits of a cookie back to their hole (a methodical, screen-saver-like experience) or even attack a lady bug minding its own business. Yuck.

By the way, collecting food morsels leads to the spontaneous generation of more ants, and the player receives gold for completing missions. The coinage comes in handy to buy more sweet treats and a dozen weapons of mass destruction, like a lightning strike or blowtorch.

It all sounds reasonable, although a bit cruel, until I had to crush a red ant with a construction-grade hammer or use a shoe that leaves a footprint to stomp out the opposition. Now, we’re in the weird zone.

A 20-level bonus game will thrill neither parents nor Mother Nature. A player uses a variety of weapons to gas, blow up and crush a massive colony of ants in the quickest time possible.

Ant Nation doesn’t quite win the Wii family-friendly seal of approval, but might elicit a diabolical giggle from the budding Darwinist.

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