Game reviews

Associated Press
Some of the people who made ABC's Lost such a popular TV show helped to create the video game Lost: Via Domus.

TREASURE ISLAND: Since 2004, the producers of ABC's Lost have been playing games with their devoted viewers. A video game was inevitable -- and now, here comes Ubisoft's Lost: Via Domus , due Feb. 26.


"They know games," Via Domus scriptwriter Kevin Shortt said of the TV show's brain trust. "You could tell they were excited."

Lost staff writer Dawn Kelly collaborated on the game's script, and "we worked with (series co-creator) Damon Lindelof on a really cool ending," Mr. Shortt said.

So, what's really happening on the island?

"They didn't give us the big answers," Mr. Shortt acknowledged, although players will be able to explore parts of the island that were only glimpsed on TV. For example, fans can finally find out what was behind that magnetic wall in the hatch in Season 2.

The main character is a guy named Elliott whom Mr. Shortt describes as "one of those other castaways you see wandering around the beach." Like everyone else on Lost , Elliott has a tortured past, and his experience on the island could lead to redemption. During his journey, Elliott deals with most of the TV show's characters, as well as strange creatures such as the Black Smoke.

"It's not the kind of game where you're just shooting at people," Mr. Shortt said. "You're discovering stuff, unlocking mysteries. ... We're really happy with it." And everything is consistent with the TV show's elaborate mythology.''

BAD TO THE BONE: The year's best-selling game is almost certain to be Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto 4 , due April 29. Blogosphere buzz has only gotten louder since the game was delayed from its original 2007 release date, and the publisher is bracing for the inevitable protests against its violence, sex, profanity and general lack of social responsibility.

"I expect it, because we've had so much of it in the past," GTA IV writer Dan Houser told The Associated Press' Derrik J. Lang. "I wish people would treat video games the same as other media. They seem to not want to do that for reasons that I don't understand. It's a convenient enemy for people."

Mr. Houser protests too much; no game company has exploited controversy more expertly than Rockstar. But the GTA games have always offered more than cheap thrills, and GTA IV promises a level of realism never before seen in an open-world adventure.

"We give you choices to really recreate the experience of an immigrant moving to New York in the present time and emulate walking down the street and meeting the freaks that you meet," Mr. Houser said.

GRAN CENTRAL: Another of the most hotly anticipated titles of the console generation is Sony's Gran Turismo 5 . It's the first PlayStation 3 installment of the venerable auto-racing franchise, and it looks as sweet as anything we've seen yet on that machine.

We still have only a tentative late release date. To tide fans over until then, Sony is releasing Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on April 17. It'll feature 60 vehicles and a small selection of the final game's tracks, and will allow 16 players to race online.

The catch: It'll set you back $40, which seems like a lot for an extended demo disc. Then again, if you're a GT aficionado you'd probably spend twice that for a taste of the high-def racer.