White wanted the game to capture the freedom that made him fall in love with snowboarding, and Ubisoft has captured that perfectly, constantly pushing the user to discover the road less traveled without the possibility of death by hypothermia.
Rock Band 2
Harmonix/ Pi Studios; PS3, Xbox 360 (PS2/Wii releasing December 2008)
I'll be honest with you. There is nothing, but nothing, that can kill a night out quite like Rock Band. Speaking from experience, it usually strikes around 11 p.m., when you and your friends are, theoretically, having your last drinks and preparing to brave the San Francisco nightlife. You may have high hopes for the evening. Maybe you'll find a cool new bar, meet some new people, or even engage in a hazy dalliance that hopefully leaves you disease- and child-free in the morning. Then, disaster strikes. Someone asks, "Hey, who wants to play a little Rock Band before we go out?" Three hours later, you are wasted, singing "Wanted Dead or Alive" at the top of your lungs, and surrounded by the same four mates you started the night with. Good-bye cool bar, new friends, and Ms. or Mr. Right (Now). The latest version promises even more lost evenings and new opportunities to show off that falsetto, with almost 100 songs from nearly every genre, including classic rock standards (Fleetwood Mac, the Who), a double helping of '90s grunge (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains), and '80s metal jams (Ratt, Bon Jovi).
Electronic Arts; PS3, Xbox 360
First-person adventure games are the Auto-Tune (T-Pain Effect) of video games, with seemingly every major video game manufacturer using this über-realistic, up-close perspective. That said, Mirror's Edge looks likely to revolutionize first-person shooters with its unparalleled gameplay. Players control Faith, the game's tragic hero, on her quest to save her sister from a web of deceit woven by a corrupt communist government. The game's gorgeous, illuminated metropolitan setting demonstrates its elite graphics, but the real attraction lies in Faith's ambitious journey. While fighting is involved, the user must navigate the expansive urban labyrinth and find ways to infiltrate the totalitarian regime. Though it boasts more action (read: combat) than most RPG's, Mirror's Edge is not a game for the unreceptive, lazy gamer who simply wants to blow shit up. But if you like using your brain as well as your bullets, you will rejoice in its complex storyline, nuance, and overall gameplay.
NBA Live '09
Electronic Arts; Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PS2, PSP
Without the mighty Baron Davis, how are the hapless Warriors going to make the playoffs? Easy. Pick up a copy of EA's new installment of the NBA Live juggernaut, make a few shrewd trades such as swapping Al Harrington and C.J. Watson for Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams (that's fair, right?), start up your season, and voilà! The Warriors go 73-9, break the Bulls all-time record, cruise into the playoffs, and crush the overmatched Boston Celtics to bring the Bay Area their first title since 1975. Meanwhile, the villainous Utah Jazz are sent tumbling to an abysmal 5-77 mark (guess who's still bitter about the '07 playoffs?). Along the way, enjoy graphics clear enough to make out Kenyon Martin's impressive array of neck tats, high-flying dunks more exciting than a moped ride with Monta Ellis, and gameplay so realistic that while playing as the Knicks, you'll be too lazy to get back on defense. *