Back from vacation …

Lots to catch up on …

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This is the first time I’ve seen my desk in about a week, and the first thing I see is a copy of “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” in every practical form. I took home the 360 version and put in a few hours over the weekend. Considering how horrendous the last “F4″ game was, it’s easy to say that expectations were not high.

Well … it’s definitely a lot better than the first one. I know that’s not saying much, but it at least has elements of games that I liked, such as “Marvel Ultimate Alliance.” You’ve got some decent co-op combat, a somewhat friendly control scheme and the occasional changing up of the game modes. I don’t want to spill out too much here, since I want to save some words for the actual review. So far, I’d have to say it’s a been perfectly average experience.

The one game that should be on everyone’s radar this week is “The Darkness,” which could snap me out of my FPS funk. I’ve been a little burned-out on first-person shooters, having binged on “Rainbow Six,” the beta for “Halo 3″ and then “Shadowrun.” Run-and-gun this, run-and-gun that, bunny hop, bunny hop, boom headshot — I actually started to foster ill feelings toward the genre in general. I was almost done.

Then I got to see “The Darkness” a few weeks ago at The Mondrian hotel with 2K Games. I knew it had a chance to be good, seeing how it was made by Starbreeze. But I wasn’t expecting it to look and feel the way it did in that hotel room. We discussed it at length on AGI, but I think it’s also worth mentioning that this game — along with Bioshock — could end up being unfairly overshadowed by Halo 3. Everyone likes to buy games with numbers after them, you know.

I’d love to post some of the video I’ve been sent, but it’s pretty violent, and parents probably wouldn’t be too happy with me putting up video of demon heads tearing hearts out and blood splattering everywhere. Call it a hunch. However, I can’t stop you from going to the Web site.

Then there’s Bioshock, a very creative FPS that puts you, a plane crash survivor, in the heart of an underwater utopia. This utopia was created by a guy who seems like Walt Disney from hell, and it’s filled with weirdos and creepy little girls. I got some hands on time with it not too long ago for a three-hour demonstration, and I was pretty blown away.

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As I said before, the world you play in is pretty twisted, but you’ve got plenty of strange firepower (and some cool chemical upgrades) that can help you survive. You’ve also got access to some special powers, such as electricity and fire. The environment can be used as a weapon — for instance, if some jerk is standing in a pool of water, you can hurl some electricity and fry the sucker. I’ll get more into it as the game gets closer to release.

After The Darkness, I’ll try to spend some time with Transformers, the game based on the Michael Bay movie coming out. We’ll see how that goes. I’ve also got the screening for “The King of Kong” this week.