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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The new version of the video game "Call of Duty" is out now, released last week. In the first 24 hours on shelves in the U.S. and the UK, the game made a staggering $400 million in sales - a new record.

Harold Goldberg covers video games for the cable channel G4TV. He joined us to talk about this season's hot video games - starting, of course, with "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3."

HAROLD GOLDBERG: For gamers who love military shooters, it's the game to get this year. And it's almost a lifestyle for certain people.

MONTAGNE: What is the story? What do people have to care about to really get into this game?

GOLDBERG: The story on single players is that the Russian federation is attacking the United States. And so you go to various locations around the world, including New York City, to defeat them. But more than story, this is about game design in multiplayer, and so it's just getting your friends versus people who are playing online, and trying to battle and win.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as character) We're detecting multiple hostiles on the rooftops in your area. You've got (unintelligible) of a fully armed reaper.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) Establishing uplink with the reaper and buy us some time.

MONTAGNE: Tell us about another game that's expected to be high on lists, and that's not just wish list but critics list - "Uncharted 3" is the game. Tell us about that.

GOLDBERG: It's about the adventures of kind of a cheeky descendent of Sir Francis Drake. You are traveling the world in search of great treasure. Early on, you escape some violent goons by leaping from rooftop to rooftop in Colombia. It feels like you're this caffeinated monkey, or something like that. And later, you're in a vast desert, searching for lost treasure. So you really do get this kind of "Lawrence of Arabia," great action movie feel from it.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: (as character) Why are you here? Why do the English cross the Rub' al-Khali?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (as character) They're looking for the lost city of Ubar.

(SOUNDBITE OF EXPLOSION)

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "UNCHARTED 3: DRAKE'S DECEPTION")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: (as character) Let not the world deceive thee with its beauty. It is the dream of a dreamer, mirage of the desert.

GOLDBERG: In fact, you know, this will be - most likely be a movie at some point.

MONTAGNE: There is another gaming system out there, Nintendo. And it has a new offering that is, I guess, in game years, very mature. Tell us about "Zelda."

GOLDBERG: Well, the new game for the Wii is "Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword." And it's the 25th anniversary of this beloved series. And this is the great game for the Wii. It's created by Shigeru Miyamoto, who's kind of seen as the Spielberg of video games. And here, he offers a game that's at once sweet, adventuresome, heartwarming - and a little scary.

MONTAGNE: Well, outside of the big blockbusters that we've been talking about are some pretty creative games that go into other worlds. Pick a favorite of yours, and describe it for us.

GOLDBERG: Well, I like a deep role-playing game. And there's a game called "Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim" that's set in this open fantasy world somewhat based on Nordic legend.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO GAME, "ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #5: (as character) You should have acted. They're already here. The elder scrolls told of their return.

GOLDBERG: Basically, your task is to eventually slay a massive, evil dragon. But it's much more than slaying dragons. It's building up your character, talking to characters who live in this world. And you find that they're involved in this massive civil war. And I took a trek when I first played it, traveling along the sea, only to be chased by these mutant walruses. And I led the warrior into their lair and then slew them all, so I felt very - kind of manly and big.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MONTAGNE: Harold Goldberg is the author of "All Your Base Are Belong To Us: How 50 Years of Video Games Conquered Pop Culture." Thanks very much.

GOLDBERG: Thanks, Renee.

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