Spittin’ Game 

Too Human
(Microsoft)
Xbox 360
$59.99

Newcomers to role-playing games will appreciate Too Human’s hand-holding guidance through the insanely detailed and oddly number-intensive aspects common to the genre. Developing your character’s abilities via skill-point allotments is explained in concise but fairly comprehensive pop-ups, as are the advantages of swapping out armor and repairing weapons, which retain damage after prolonged usage. Whether the RPG neophytes will be converted is another matter, as many will abandon the game before playing through campaign mode in its relatively brief (about 10 hours for experienced gamers, 20 to 40 for the inexperienced) entirety. Real-time combat keeps the game from dragging too much, despite an incomprehensible plot combining Norse mythology with The Matrix, but the unusual control scheme — mapping melee weapons to the right thumbstick — is glitchy and counterintuitive. Swinging a sword by twiddling your thumb is a neat idea, but the targeting system is inconsistent, and occupying the stick normally used for camera control makes for some pretty frustrating angles in a third-person dungeon crawler.

Rock Band 2
(EA)
Xbox 360
$59.99

Still no Beatles, Hendrix, or “Stairway to Heaven,” but the list of songs here (84, with 20 downloadable bonus songs promised) should make almost anybody happy, regardless of ability or musical taste. Radio-friendly partiers and karaoke divas should be excited by the inclusion of lame-tastic tracks such as “Hungry Like the Wolf,” “Any Way You Want It,” and “Eye of the Tiger,” while indie snobs will be pacified by tunes from Sonic Youth, Modest Mouse, and Dinosaur Jr. Metal heads and masochists, generally Guitar Hero fanatics, will be thrilled at the thrashing, torturous riffage on Metallica’s “Battery” and Judas Priest’s “Painkiller.” Even a few of the neglected instruments (i.e., everything but guitar) get love: A drum-training mode is bare but helpful, a few songs (“Spoonman,” “We Got the Beat”) feature drum solos, and you can now play bass on the revamped solo mode. Singing is still treated like a foster kid, though, and the HD television-calibration settings have gotten more complex without getting more accurate.

SURF’S
UP>>A PITHY GUIDE TO RIDING THE WEB

nophonetrees.com: If you’re tired of navigating those touch-tone menus on the customer-support hotline, head to this site where the communication software (called Bringo) will choose menu options for you until a customer-service rep comes on the line (or you’re put on hold to wait to talk to one), then call you to connect. For the service to work, you’re required to type in your phone number, but the privacy policy swears they won’t sell the info.


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