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COMMAND & CONQUER 3: TIBERIUM WARS

Price: $39.99

Platform: Xbox 360

Rating: T (teen)

Company: Electronic Arts

It's another bleak forecast for the future in the new video game Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. Yet it's so much fun you probably won't mind the prospects of an Earth politically splintered and environmentally devastated by an ever-spreading crystalline alien substance called Tiberium. This latest saga marks one of the best, and only, games of its type for the Xbox 360. Like other real-time strategy titles, the gameplay is centered around collecting resources (in this case, truckloads of Tiberium), constructing barracks and other structures, and then sending your newly minted army into all-out war. The frenzied managerial pace of building forces, collecting tiberium and defeating rivals remains an intense experience. The hours will quickly pass as you conquer one mission after another. Anyone who's played earlier games in the series, which date back to the mid 1990s, will get an especially big kick out of seeing what fanatical Nod leader Kane and other characters in the long-standing series are up to now.

The Darkness

Price: $59.99

Platform: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Rating: M (mature)

Company: Starbreeze

Shut off the lights and prepare for an entertaining blend of Mafioso-meets-macabre in the first-person shooter, based on the comic book series of the same name, which dares to be different - and for the most part succeeds. The surprisingly interesting story centers on mobster Jackie Estacado. He soon finds himself on the bad side of a deal gone wrong with his employer, who just happens to be the Don of the New York Mafia. So what does he do? Well, what does any trained assassin do? He kills stuff. In "The Darkness," that includes pretty much everything in his path - mobsters, police officers and random strangers - in a blood-soaked zeal to exact revenge on his former employers. What makes this game different from other first-person shooters are the demonic powers Estacado gains as the game progresses. You see, Estacado isn't just a professional killer. He's also somehow become possessed by evil spirits, giving him a pair of grisly, snarling tentacle-like serpents that sprout from his shoulders with the tap of a button. He can summon this "Darkness" mode and other powers at will, and with devastating results on his enemies. You also can summon little demonic buddies who'll help unlock doors and fight for you. It's this dynamic that makes the game so much fun. There's shooting aplenty, but the demonic powers bring a new dimension to the action, making the game much more that a simple point and shoot affair.

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