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Soldiers for Hire and a Lego Hero

Mercenaries 2: World in Flames
By: Pandemic Studios, Pi Studios
From: Electronic Arts
For: PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Rating: Pending
ETA: August 31

Info: In 2010, you're a mercenary (surprise!) chasing a power-hungry tyrant who has mucked up the Venezuelan oil supply and sparked an invasion that has transformed the country into a war zone.

Matt: Why the Venezuelan government is hot under the collar (like, for real) about this game is beyond me. I mean, you're a merc who can join any of six warring factions, not an agent for the United States or any other world government trying to overthrow some digital Hugo Chavez analogue. That aside, the same team that made 2005's golden Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction has the wheel here, so if you dig blow-up-everything sandbox action games, keep at least an eye-and-a-half on this one.

Darren: This reminds me more of an awesome buddy-action flick where the "loose cannon" is encouraged to do the job in the most visceral way possible. I remember seeing a demo of this game where one player grabs a helicopter and drops the winch while the second player leaps from an exploding oil derrick. I figure if Matt partners up with me online, I could charge neighbors to watch me play. Heck, it's better than Tango and Cash on cable. Again.

By: Gearbox Software
From: 2K Games
For: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Rating: Pending
ETA: September 1

Info: It's an RPG shooter by way of Diablo and Mad Max about a planet on the edge of the galaxy harboring alien ruins and other decidedly less pleasant things.

Matt: What do you do if you've just discovered that the planet your little band of pioneers colonized has a seven-year seasonal cycle, and the leap from winter to spring is waking up some unneighborly natives? Grab four buddies and start shooting? You sure can in Borderlands, which features four-player co-op along with vehicle-based combat. All that's missing is the Thunderdome--plus Tina Turner in turquoise chain mail.

Darren: This feels more like the Wild West in space--and if that could work for Firefly and Serenity, I feel obliged to give this game a shot. (Yeah, so the TV series got cancelled. You have me on a technicality.) Honestly, it didn't take much more to interest me in this game than hearing about a four-player action-RPG where I can drive cars with mounted weaponry.

Lego Batman
By: Traveller's Tales
From: Warner Bros. Interactive
For: DS, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PSP, Wii, and Xbox 360
Rating: Pending
ETA: September 1

Info: Batman finally gets Lego-fied, along with sidekicks Nightwing and Robin and a rogue's gallery ranging from The Joker and Penguin to Bane, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, and Killer Croc.

Matt: Lego Star Wars is easy and charming, Lego Indiana Jones is neither. Lego Batman? I'll be honest, the Lego stuff leaves me a little cool lately. Especially with so little changing in the core gameplay between each license (run around, pick up stuff, fall off stuff because of bad camera angles and vague edges). Of course, if you have kids, they'll probably love breaking down the environments and snapping up piles of classic Lego studs, and unlocking all the hidden characters.

Darren: Matt, you're a little more forgiving on this one than I am. Sure, these licensed Lego games have been fun as of late, but I never thought that they were truly great. Gimmicky, yes. Suitable for children, definitely. Something that would keep your attention for more than an afternoon? I don't think so.

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