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Burnout Revenge for Xbox
It may have started out as just another post-Ridge Racer driving game with a unique focus on beautifully destructive car crashes, but over the years, the Burnout series has really carved out its own spot in the racing genre. Last year's Burnout 3: Takedown was when the series truly came into its own by achieving a near-perfect balance between high-speed racing and nefarious racing tactics designed to put the other racers out of commission. With a name like Burnout Revenge, you might expect the latest game in the series to be a little rougher, a little meaner. And you'd be right. While it isn't a total reinvention, Burnout Revenge makes significant alterations to the Burnout formula that essentially render every other game in the series obsolete.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown
While longtime PC players know the original Rainbow Six games as ultra-hardcore tactical shooters, the series' transition to consoles has eased the formula, making it more accessible. For the most part, the changes have left the franchise no worse for the wear, growing the popularity of the games while still maintaining some hardcore tactical roots. With the newest iteration, Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown, the series lurches deeper into the arcade realm. Though Lockdown is still a worthwhile shooter, its overall feel may leave longtime fans wondering if the developers have finally strayed too far from the game's roots.

 

NHL 06
Last year, EA's NHL franchise took something of a misstep with NHL 2005. Despite being a generally good game of hockey, some gameplay problems, a somewhat lacking dynasty mode, and a few other scattered problems cost the series the momentum it had built the previous year with the thoroughly excellent NHL 2004. For this year, and for the triumphant return of the NHL from its ugly player lockout, EA has righted a couple of wrongs, left some other wrongs as they were, and tossed in a couple of new ones. NHL 06 doesn't feel like much in the way of forward progress at all, really, as it simply tweaks things that probably needed bigger overhauls and leaves an awful lot of the package generally untouched. Sure, it's got all the new rule changes, as well as an almost entirely up-to-date roster (on the Xbox and PlayStation 2 via online downloads), but considering how similar the game is overall to 2005's version, you have to ask yourself, "Is that really enough?"

Dragon Warrior III
When Enix released the Dragon Warrior I & II game pak last year, I was a bit skeptical. Sure they were planning to upgrade it, but how much better could the game become if it were done on the Game Boy Color? Much to my surprise, I soon found out that the game remakes were of far greater quality than the originals, with upgrades to the game mechanics, graphics and sound that really made me realize that Enix still had the utmost respect for a game that was father to an entire genre. Fortunately for gamers everywhere, Enix has once again taken a Dragon Warrior title and given it the royal treatment. Dragon Warrior III is now here and it was definitely worth the wait!

Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel
A little warning before I go head first into this review ? although I proclaim myself as a total old-school gamer, I have to admit that I was introduced to the Metal Gear series not by the NES or Japanese MSX versions of the game. The first time I ever wrapped my hands around the controller connected to a Metal Gear game was on Snake's first 3D adventure on the PlayStation. And man, how I loved that game. The action, the suspense, the challenge, the storyline ? this was a game done right, and still holds up today as one of the system's finest games available.

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