2 1/2 stars = Average
Congrats, hockey fans. After several years of thrilling regular seasons and exciting playoff action, you are left with "NHL 13" (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360; EA Sports; E, for Everyone) as your only avenue to fresh, new hockey this season.
While the lockout keeps the professionals off the ice, their digital likenesses are more than happy to pound you into the boards or whip a slapshot past the goalie until your heart is content. This year's game includes a new physics engine that makes the skating and gameplay the most realistic it has ever been. Most changes were shelved beyond that, so even if this feels a lot like a retread of "NHL 12," you won't be able to turn away from the action once the ref drops the puck.
This game boasts a long list of ways to enjoy it, no matter if you're a quick one-off kind of player or if you like to customize every aspect of your online league or re-enact historic moments on the ice. All modes might not be superb, but with this cornucopia of choices, certainly one will do the trick.
The new physics engine creates a fluid on-ice experience where plays develop more organically and realistically, as if you were in the arena watching it happen live. When an attack reaches its zenith, your teammates react and instinctively move to receive your pass, follow up your shot or lay out that defender in your path.
There is no telling when the lockout might end, so it's a good thing "NHL 13" is so realistic. It may be the only kind of hockey that fans get to witness this year.
2 1/2 stars = Average
"Neon" (Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network; Majesco Games; T, for Teen) basically reprises the original Mario-Luigi arcade game released about three decades ago. The requisite visual upgrades give you a sassier presentation while remaining firmly grounded in the game play the original was known for, primarily mashing on the punch and kick buttons until numbness occurs in the hands.
Back in the day, the combat was more simplified, a few punches and kick combos accented by the occasional use of a baseball bat to finish the job. Players have a larger arsenal of moves at their disposal in "Neon," but it doesn't affect the gameplay since this is still a classic button-masher.
The game's currency allows players to buy upgrades and special moves. The later boss battles are extremely difficult, and without the proper offensive and defensive moves, players will writhe in the gutter pleading for mercy.
-- Chris Campbell, Scripps Howard News Service