Gamewatch: Red Dead Redemption, Alan Wake

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Goodbye spring, hello Christmas in May, and hold onto your wallets, because this week's video games release list brings its A-game.

We've got Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption (PS3, Xbox 360), a spaghetti sandbox "tour de force," though according to the guy who somewhat hysterically called The Beatles: Rock Band "the most important video game yet made." Hey, if the carefully cultivated early game reviews aren't gilded, at least it'll redeem Rockstar's mediocre Red Dead Revolver.

Less Eastwood, more don't-go-into-the-woods? Try Alan Wake (Xbox 360), the game everyone (including the developer) keeps calling an homage to half a dozen different spooky books and TV shows. It's a survival horror action game about a writer who vacations in a lake cabin deep in the woods...and we all know what happens in such places (though if you're hoping chainsaws and boomsticks, sorry, your deep woods arsenal here is comparably tame).

Then we have the only movie tie-in of the year that might not suck, i.e. Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PSP, DS). I say this because the last several Prince of Persia games haven't sucked (they've in fact been quite good) and the developer remains the same (the Ubisoft Montreal guys, though be aware the Wii and PSP versions are with Ubisoft Quebec, and the DS version is in process at Ubisoft Casablanca). I know, the trailer for the movie looks ridiculous, and with or without Jake Gyllenhaal I'm betting the movie critically nosedives, but maybe we'll get a decent leap-and-clinger in the bargain.

Speaking of movie tie-ins, don't forget Shrek Forever After (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, DS) if you have young ones. The last several--oh who am I kidding, all of them, really--have been pretty disastrous. Even the perennially sunny reviewers at Game Informer awarded Shrek: Fairy Tale Freakdown less than 1 out of 10. As for Forever After, the developer hasn't said (or shown) much, so I'd give this one wide berth until the reviews are in.

What about Attack of the Movies 3D (Xbox 360, Wii), Split Second (PS3, Xbox 360, PC), and City Builder (Wii)? They're coming out this week, and that's all I can tell you.

In the handhelds-only column, we have Blue Dragon: Awakened Shadow (DS), the latest in developer Mistwalker's Blue Dragon roleplaying series. There's also Imagine Animal Doctor Care Center (DS) from Ubisoft. As a dog owner, I'm loathe to mock a game that lets you "be a veterinarian," "care for animals," and "adopt your very own pet monkey."

Last but hardly least, don't forget Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii), out this Sunday. The first was geometrically clever but way too easy, something Nintendo promised to fix in the sequel. I could say more, because I have a review copy, but I've been unable to play it, since my Wii's in customs hell after a two month paddle (in a cargo container) across the pond.

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