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Game Review: Warp

Reviewed for: Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade)

Coming soon for: Playstation 3 (via Playstation Network) and Windows PC

From: Trapdoor/EA

ESRB Rating: Mature (blood and gore, strong language, violence)

Price: $15

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You'd be forgiven for initially wondering why "Warp" - a seemingly harmless puzzle/stealth hybrid starring a muttering alien, named Zero, who might be the cutest Pixar character Pixar never created - got slapped with a Mature rating.

Thankfully, once you use Zero's warping ability to literally warp into the body of a soldier and bloodily explode out of him, it becomes clear in a hurry. Zero's initial trick, which allows him to instantly warp roughly five feet in any direction, comes into play via an overhead puzzle arrangement that plays as much like a "Metal Gear Solid" offshoot as anything else. Zero is helpless in a direct fight against the soldiers, scientists and other traps trying to contain (or kill) him in the facility he's trying to escape, so you'll have to plot a stealthy route through large, open-ended areas that are equally rich with hazards and items he can use to his creative advantage.

New abilities, including cloning and telekinesis, gradually expand his arsenal to counter a difficulty that climbs gradually before spiking near the end, and the large environments house special challenge areas (complete with online leaderboards) and other bonus content for players who really want to put their abilities through the wringer.

As puzzle games go, "Warp" is a legitimately clever mind-bender, and as a stealth games go, it's terrifically tense. That odd-couple combination, along with the wild mishmash of adorable and bloody that weaves Zero's story together, adds up to an experience that has few peers.

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