I've got two somewhat disappointing video games this week. Or as I declared on Facebook, "meh."
Of the two, the better game is the racing simulator "Forza Motorsport 3." It's a pretty good racer for those of you who enjoy car simulators. You'll recognize this simulator routine:
In the offline solo campaign, you start with slow cars, then upgrade your tires and other technical bits, win races, and thereby win money to buy faster cars and better tires for future, faster races.
That solo racing comes with a cheat-rewind button that changes the dynamic of this being an exacting racing simulator. If you mess up while turning a hairpin curve, or making a different mistake, the rewind button lets you do a do-over of the last five seconds or so. That's a handy little invention.
"Motorsport's" online campaign is like most racers. You keep your pedal to the metal and try not to spin out, while other gamers try to bump you off the road. Also like many games these days, "Motorsport" is way more fun in online competitions than if you play alone against the computer.
This is a big game that comes with two discs worth of 400 cars and plenty of tracks, lined with pretty mountains and other natural vistas. My one obvious piece of advice: make sure you buy great tires. This game is all about upgrading your cars, and good tires keep you moving smoothly around corners.
My only complaint with "Motorsport" is - since it's not one of those racers with turbo boosts and explosive bombs to throw at competitors - all you do is press the gas pedal and memorize tracks. To win, just don't spin out much, and get good at knowing when to pass a car in front of you. Easy-peasy.
The new fighting game, "Tekken 6," is also simplistic in execution.
"Tekken 6's" offline solo game comes with a campaign botched with stupid cinema cuts that take forever to skip through; you play through dumb third-person challenges that are brief and clunky; and when you get to arena tournaments, fights turn from super easy to super hard in about five minutes.
Online, "Tekken 6" is more fun. But the technical lag is unacceptable; my games suddenly slow down to accommodate computer communications between my game machine and my rivals'.
This is the worst thing: I'm not great at fighting games anymore (I'm rusty at 'em), yet I easily win non-ranked online fights against gamers, simply by mashing the crap out of buttons - instead of the usual fighting-game challenge of having to memorize choice moves and position myself for strategy.
It can be fun to win easily. But when I play "Tekken 6" and "Motorsport 3," my mind drifts, thinking about all kinds of nonsense, like, "Should I buy a pool table for the spare den, or put a bouncy castle in that room?" That's my problem with fun but shallow games like these. Their ease of use lets my brain wander stupidly. I need less stupid in my brain, not more.
("Forza Motorsport 3" by Microsoft retails for $60 for Xbox 360 - Plays fun enough as a solo racing simulator; more fun in online competition. Looks great. Easy to challenging, depending on settings you choose. Rated "E." Three stars out of four.)
("Tekken 6" by Namco retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3 - Plays fun if you like fighters; has some lag time online. Looks just good enough. Moderately challenging. Rated "T" for alcohol reference, crude humor, mild language, suggestive themes and violence. Two stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.