Warm up your joystick, get your guns


What better way to pass the time than playing a video game and eating bag after bag of… What better way to pass the time than playing a video game and eating bag after bag of delicious barbecue potato chips? Fine, it’s pretty easy to make an argument for regular chips as well. But here is a quick peek at what’s coming up for the summer, and a little insight into whether or not these games will be worth dipping into the beer fund to buy.

Roma Victor

Release Date: July 15

Platform: PC


Welcome to developer RedBedlam’s attempt at a historic massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Set in 180 A.D., “Roma Victor” will give players a chance to become a part of the Roman Empire, or to live somewhere near it. A lot of what this game touts as creative will wear on a lot of players as being tedious.

Players start out in the game with two choices: They can become slaves in the Roman Empire, or free barbarians who lack the protections and amenities of civilization. There are only a few ways to become free in “Roma Victor,” and all of those mean spending time getting to a point where you can finally decide what kind of character you want to be.

There are no actual classes; instead, there will be a large set of skills that players can choose from that will help them wander through the game’s free-form system. Rather than the traditional “levels,” characters can measure how far they’ve advanced in the game by measuring their sense of frustration and combining that with how much money they’ve spent.

Combat is “twitch based,” which means that the speed at which the player moves his mouse and uses his keyboard helps determine the outcome of fights. “Twitch” because that’s the movement I make when I realize that my pizza is at the door and I can’t do a damn thing about it because I am stuck fighting lord knows what in the game.

Now on to the graphics. They look a lot like what would happen if you combined the color-scheme of Risk and the utter futility of life for the citizens of the Roman Empire and threw all of it up onto the set of one of the old Godzilla movies. Anyone who wants to see for himself can find these screenshots on the Internet. Now, graphics aren’t the most important part of a game, but it would be nice to actually be entertained by a game that will probably cost $50.

But for those of you who are tired of paying a set monthly fee, look forward to a system that awards players more money for the amount they decide to “donate” toward getting more money in Rome. It’s like extortion, but the word “Praetorian” just sounds way too cool to get too angry. So in essence, “Roma Victor” rewards the people with more money and punishes the ones who can’t spend as much.

Welcome to the Roman Empire.

Dead Rising

Release Date: Aug. 8

Platform: Xbox 360

Genre: Third-person Action

Capcom’s latest game just goes to show that nothing is quite as fun as killing loads of zombies. Its latest game stars photojournalist Frank West, a man who knew too much about what was happening in a small American town. He manages to break past military barricades only to find himself knee-deep in dead people. But these dead people can move around and eat brains, of course.

Players can spend their time in “Dead Rising” just like they did in the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise by Rockstar Games. They can complete a series of missions and side missions until they win the game, or they can go on a psychotic rampage through town until they are finally brought down.

Either way is fun, and in this game, the player will have plenty of options. Because West is inside a mall, it will be easy to stock up on devastating weapons such as soccer balls, gumball machines and a giant stuffed teddy bear lifted from the children’s toy store. Of course, the more destructive weapons will need to be unlocked as the player presses on through the game.

“Dead Rising” includes the main missions, as well as a series of time-specific side quests. The player will be given a menu that shows how much time is left on each side quest. Sometimes the game will force the player to choose between quests, as they can’t all be completed the first time around.

The gameplay is a third-person eagle-eye view, although the developers have said that for weapons with scopes, it may be possible to zoom in on a subject in a first-person perspective.

So inflate the basketball, grab the baseball bat, lock and load, and be prepared to fight through hordes of zombies to get the story of a lifetime.

Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII

Release Date: Aug. 15

Platform: PS2

Genre: Fantasy Action Adventure

Remember that one really good “Final Fantasy” game? No, not the third one … right, “Final Fantasy VII” — now that was a game. For the many people who cringed at No. 8, laughed at No. 10 and died laughing at No. 10-12, here is a game that doesn’t look like it will be a total loss.

The game takes place three years after the events in “Final Fantasy VII,” and one year after the events in “Advent Children.” It follows Vincent, that cool character that you wanted to play with more but weren’t given the chance.

If you like the sweet eye candy of the movie and the gripping storyline of the original game, you will still be mildly disappointed with this one. While the cinematics are great, the actual in-game graphics are laughably out of date. The game is not turn-based either; it’s being more in the vein of “Devil May Cry” or the latest “Castlevania” installments.

If you just like learning more about the characters and the world of “Final Fantasy,” then you will probably ignore this preview and go get it anyway. But if you are looking for a cool action game where you go ballistic on all sorts of baddies, then you can probably find something better.

Madden ’07

Release Date: Aug. 22

Platform: All of them

Genre: Sports

What can anyone say about this game franchise? This latest installment will include updated rosters and statistics. But there are also tweaks to the kicking meter and the blocking mechanics. Nothing so far will stop this game from being a “scream at your friends, spike the ball in the dorm, do a victory dance on some empty pizza boxes because your roommates suck compared to you” type of game.