Game: When shopping is hell

Microsoft's Xbox 360 has everything from aliens to zombies

Nearly a year after its launch, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has everything from aliens to zombies. Here’s some genre highlights of its expanding library that allow your inner-child save the world while still in your underwear.

“Dead Rising”

Poor Frank West. The investigative reporter finds himself knee-deep in living dead at a remote Colorado shopping mall and it’s 48 hours before the rescue chopper arrives. In between rescuing his fellow shoppers, he must unravel the mystery of what’s made the dearly departed so darn mobile, not to mention bitey.

Zombie swarms are impressively oppressive and the mall offers plenty of zombie-battling tools: baseball bats, park benches, antique swords, cash registers, shopping carts.

Caveat emptor The save feature is aggravating and, if you don’t have an HD TV, text is hard to read.

“Hitman: Blood Money”

Genetically spliced super-assassin Agent 47 returns for the fourth execution of the “Hitman” series. “Blood Money” offers a smorgasbord of ways to off someone on the wrong side of an illegal offshore transaction, although opportunities to get away with murder are somewhat limited. The game encourages players to master each level, which results in plenty of satisfying trial and error.

Caveat emptor Controls are sometimes erratic, which in harder difficulty levels may have players seeing red.

“Prey”

Cherokee mechanic Domasi “Tommy” Tawodi is spending an evening at his girlfriend’s bar when inconsiderate aliens suck its occupants into an interstellar excursion in which humans are Snack Packs. Not for those susceptible to vertigo or motion sickness, as Tommy utilizes alien technology that allows him to walk on walls and ceilings and travel through portals that would give Newton a splitting headache. Bonus points for segments with paranormal radio show host Art Bell and bewildered callers reporting alien sightings.

Caveat emptor “Prey” is a solid single-player experience, albeit short — but the game’s multiplayer mode is distinctly lacking.

“Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion”

Construct the appearance and attributes of your character and begin your journey from lowly prisoner to hero — or villain. “Oblivion” has an open-ended design and giant landmass to explore, which allows players the option of rescuing Tamriel from hellish monsters or ignoring the main story and getting kicks from a huge variety of side-missions available. Sword combat has improved dramatically from its predecessors.

Caveat emptor Scenery makes the 360’s frame rate drop a bit, which is especially apparent when you are moving quickly on a horse. Fans of the series may find some things “streamlined” for an easier console experience, but it often feels more like dumbing-down.

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