Game Check

GAME CHECK

February 01, 2007

Ghost Rider

2K Games

[PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable] Rated T

The TV spots for the coming Marvel Comics Ghost Rider movie began airing recently, which can only mean one thing: A video-game version is just around the corner.

Sure enough, versions of Ghost Rider for the PS2 and PSP drop Feb. 13.

Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage in the film) is a stuntman who made a deal with the devil. The result sometimes leaves him with a flaming skull for a head -- and a really wicked motorcycle.

Now, here's the good news for Ghost Rider fans. Instead of just rehashing the movie, the video-game version unfolds after that story ends and includes characters (such as Scarecrow and Lilith) and elements from the comic. Even better, comic book vets Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti are responsible for the script.

The game is pretty much a blend of hardcore combat and awesome motorcycle madness. Traditional weaponry is tossed aside, as well it should be with a supernatural superhero, though there's a host of hand-to-hand combat moves. GR's "penance stare" forces bad guys to feel the misery they've caused others in a single moment. (It makes for an awesome finishing move.) The shotgun fires soul-powered blasts of retribution.

There are also racing levels that'll let you put that hellish bike through its paces.

Comic book fans will flip over the unlockable content. For starters, once you finish the main jaunt, you'll unlock another playable character: Blade, the half-vampire who's made a name for himself in other comics and movies. The game is the same playing as Blade, but you have an entirely new skill set to bring to the proceedings. You can also unlock original art and, best yet, an actual issue of the Ghost Rider comic that you can read onscreen at your leisure.

Bowmaster

Lostvectors.com

[Online for PCs] Not rated, but suitable for age 13 and older

This is an awesomely addictive and free game for anyone who owns an Internet-connected computer (go to lostvectors.com/bowmaster). Bowmaster puts you in a castle on one side of your screen, with a computer-controlled enemy castle on the other side. You send troops to capture the enemy flag or destroy the castle, and you can lob arrows, bombs and other goodies from your keep into your foe's fortress.

There's a surprising amount of strategy in the game. Each time you capture your enemy's flag or destroy his castle, you can buy upgrades for the next round. You can buy archers, ground troops, horsemen, trebuchets, magical arrows, wizards and other items. Once in battle, you have to adjust your tactics according to terrain.

On early levels, you can easily dominate. But soon enemy troops are swarming over the hills, firing arrows, decapitating your archers and obliterating your castle. You can make the game even more challenging by changing your firing technique from point-and-click to actually having to draw your mouse back like a bow to launch an arrow.

[FROM WIRE REPORTS]

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