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May 10, 2012
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By Matthew Scott Hunter

‘Sniper Elite V2’

(M)

***

505 Games

Xbox 360

If you love third-person shooters in which you brazenly circle strafe towards your enemies, gleefully expending ammunition as though you were being paid by the bullet, then this is NOT the game for you. “Sniper Elite V2” is all about caution, strategy, patience and conservation of ammo. It’s also about that gratifying moment when you’ve successfully landed the perfect headshot — a moment which the game is happy to present in a gratuitously gory, slow-mo, x-ray animation of a Nazi skull splintering around your bullet. Taking place in the final days of World War II, the game casts you as a soldier with an unusually fragile health bar compared to most WWII avatars. Consequently, you’ll want to stay out of harm’s way, and your handy sniper rifle is the perfect tool with which to accomplish that.

For the most part, “Sniper Elite V2” is a nicely detailed stealth sim. You’ll have to lead your targets with your crosshairs, accounting for wind speed and their distance from you, and even press a button to hold your breath before firing (for that extra bit of accuracy). On the down side, your adversaries exhibit some unrealistic and frustratingly inconsistent A.I. At times, enemy sentries will seem downright clairvoyant in their ability to discover a sniper in their midst, and then the next moment, they’ll seem to have forgotten about you altogether, stubbornly refusing to seek cover and thus reducing the game to a simple shooting gallery. Despite these occasional annoyances, “Sniper Elite V2” offers a serviceable alternative to the frenetic running and gunning and “twitch” gameplay of most WWII shooters. So if you prefer to find a nice, comfy perch and methodically take out your targets one by one, then this is the shooter for you.

‘Fable Heroes’

(E10+)

**

Microsoft Game Studios

Xbox Live Arcade

Cashing in on the popular “Fable” brand (sort of) is the simplistic brawler, “Fable Heroes.” Basically, you and three friends traipse around a cartoonish reimagining of the land of Albion, attacking adorable versions of Hobbes and Balverines with excessive use of the X button. With sluggish controls, repetitive combat and a board game hub world that is dangerously reminiscent of “Mario Party,” this spin-off will only appeal to the most die-hard “Fable” fans, and even they may object to the cutesy neutering of their beloved fantasy series.

‘The Walking Dead: Episode 1— A New Day’

(M)

****

Telltale Games

Xbox Live Arcade

Most zombie games are about scoring as many headshots as possible, but the first episode of this adventure game adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book series is mostly about conversation. And it’s riveting. Forced to quickly choose your dialogue from a tree of options, you’ll forge interesting relationships with your fellow apocalypse survivors that take the story in surprising new directions. It’s nice to see a zombie game that puts more emphasis on narrative and character development than grisly encounters with the undead. Although, if you’re a fan of the latter, it has that too.



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