Videogames | Grand Alternatives: For those not on Auto-pilot, here are some other worthy new titles | Video Games | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Culture » Video Games

Videogames | Grand Alternatives: For those not on Auto-pilot, here are some other worthy new titles


I’ve barely scratched the surface of Grand Theft Auto IV, but it is so far the best of the series and one of the best games I’ve ever played. That, however, is the last you’ll hear about GTA IV in this space.

It’s so easy to write about the hottest games when they come out, but the fact is, not everyone owns a PS3 or Xbox 360, and therefore won’t be playing this title. Besides, chances are if you’re interested in GTA, then you already know about it, and have been throwing back Red Bulls and playing it incessantly since you got it.

But, what if, for some unknown, un-American reason, you don’t want to play GTA IV—even though if you don’t, you’ve allowed the terrorists to win? Usually when a big game is released, you don’t have many new options that week or in the week or two leading up to it.

That isn’t the case this time around. Game manufacturers have finally gone the way of movie studios. For example, a movie studio would never release a new Indiana Jones up against a new Star Wars, because they’re fighting for the same audience. However, when Indy is released in a few weeks, you can be sure there will be some film released starring Gwyneth Paltrow or Matthew McConaughey with his shirt off. Why? Because not everyone likes blockbusters, even though they are widely popular.

So in that spirit, game companies have offered up a few Gwyneth Paltrows to get you through GTA IV-apalooza. Here, in fact (in honor of GTA IV) are the best four of the past few weeks (complete with stylish Roman Numerals).

I. Mario Kart: This title for the Nintendo Wii not only came out around the time of GTA IV, it came out the exact same day. Any other week, and this would be the Goliath release. Some of the best surprises for the Wii have been the redevelopment of classic Nintendo titles like this and Super Smash Brothers. The game comes with a steering wheel that secures your Wii remote for the ultimate driving experience. New aerial maneuvers make this game more fun than the original while still providing a terrific sense of nostalgia.

II. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII: It’s not often that a great story and great game-play converge together on the PSP, but this one does it in spades. Probably the best role-playing game to ever hit the big small screen, FFVII (enough with the Roman numerals) is beautiful to look at and a marvel to play. You don’t often get to say that about a PSP title, despite the fact that it offers the best game play of any handheld. It may be the best handheld gaming experiences ever assembled.

III. Jack Keane: It’s not that I don’t love my PC for gaming; it’s just that I really, really love my consoles and hand-helds. But, every so often, I do come across a PC game that allows me to immerse myself into it without feeling the uncomfortable lower-back pain that accosts me after too long a time in my office chair. Jack Keane is a fun British period piece on the high seas. It’s like an interactive cartoon with fun characters and a sense that it’s just challenging enough—a big plus for me when dealing with PC games. I do my serious gaming on my console, but for a fun diversion, I do find myself taking Jack Keane out for a spin quite a bit, especially when I’m supposed to be working.

IV. Deca Sports and We Ski: Any games that feature the Wii’s more active side are always going to be welcome. These aren’t out until May 11, but both promise to be great releases for kids and general Wii maniacs. Deca offers a variety of sports from beach volleyball to badminton, curling and snowboard racing (there are 10 games in all). We Ski looks to be the most promising of the two, you can grab your Mii character and hit the slopes. It will almost be as much fun as the random and senseless violence of GTA IV. Almost.