This week's video games
Dec 13, 2012 (The Arizona Daily Star - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
(HTC, $200 on contract)
Since its inception, the iPhone has had a stranglehold on smartphone gaming. Its interface and power spawned a landslide of developers who created the best and brightest diversions for idevices.
Despite dominating overall sales numbers, Android devices have lagged behind. But with a generation of phones such as the Droid DNA, which surpasses the iPhone 5 on many specifications, the tide could be turning.
Almost certainly the current premiere device for on-the-go Android gaming -- although DROID RAZR MAXX HD devotees may disagree -- the DNA is a stone-cold stunner that rips the most demanding Google Play games and apps to shreds.
The 5-inch, 1080p display makes for gorgeous video streaming and gaming, and the quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM facilitates ridiculously quick load times and downloads.
The loaner unit HTC provided felt light but sturdy, although it tended to draw fingerprints and dust.
The only downsides of the stunning device, other than subpar battery life, were its lack of removable storage and battery -- two boorish design faults that the iPhone has long since mainstreamed.
That's where the comparisons stop, though. This is a phone that can not only stand toe to toe with the best Apple offers, but make it cower in the corner in shame.
"THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM -- DRAGONBORN"
(360, $20, Mature)
A robust, nostalgic downloadable expansion for the incredibly deep RPG, "Dragonborn" lets players revisit the land of Morrowind, the subtitle of an "Elder Scrolls" game released a decade ago.
A slew of new dungeons, quests and dragon shouts -- mystical weapons that can turn the tide of battle -- liven things up, giving lapsed players plenty of reason to revisit the game that probably entranced them for dozens of hours.
A self-contained story that aptly adds to the series' staggering mythos without seeming like an inconsequential sideshow, "Dragonborn" continues to buff up one of the largest, most elaborate RPGs I've encountered.
"GUARDIANS OF MIDDLE-EARTH"
(360, PS3, $15, Teen)
An excellent match of license and genre, the world of J.R.R. Tolkien melds well with the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) concept.
You select a character and loadout, join a team and engage in a strategic battle to conquer the opposition base. Just as in a game of pick-up basketball, communication and coordination will lead to success, with better players developing a shorthand and methods of self-governance that lead to success.
I occasionally found choppy matches that disconnected. While it's uncertain whether the problem was due to overloaded servers or weak connections by fellow players, the mishaps could undermine the community if they stick around.
If the process smooths out, though, the game has the chance to become the premiere MOBA on consoles.
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