Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Game Review

I'm guessing the offices of Criterion Studios house enough testosterone to warrant at least one conference room solely dedicated to blowing off steam. I picture twenty- and thirtysomething men putting each other in half nelsons during their lunch break or igniting a Coke can full of some nitrate explosive mixture ... just for kicks.

What else can explain the video game developer's obsession with re-creating a demolition derby in its latest first-person shooter, Black?

Not that massive blasts and intense action are anything new for Criterion, which gained its macho reputation via the high-speed street-racing Burnout franchise. In those games, the better the motor, the bigger the metal-crunching pileup of multiple automobiles. With Black, it's basically the same thing, only this time the bigger the weapon, the better the kaboom.

Just Like Your Older Brother's Video Game
In recent years we've seen the classic first-person shooter game morph into a multifaceted adventure. Some projects have included elements of role-playing games. Others have emphasized the element of strategy. Still others, such as Halo, have tossed in story lines worthy of big-screen productions.

You can forget all that fancy-schmancy stuff with Black. As "pure" a first-person shooter as they come, this project clearly puts bang-bang first, story waaay last—though Criterion creative director Alex West begs to differ. "There's no point in doing a mindless shooting and blowing-stuff-up game," he says. Citing TV cult faves such as Alias, 24 and Prison Break as inspirations, West says he and his team were aiming for something "very iconic, very current, very now. There [are] a lot of references in the game that are happening in the real world. We've always wanted Black to be very credible, very believable and very authentic. ... The game is about serious, real issues. A lot of people aren't aware of that."

Exactly my point. Those who are "unaware" are the very ones playing this game ... and trying to figure out what in the world it's really about. So for the sake of everyone being on the same page, here's what is decipherable:

Playing as Sgt. Kellar, you're an elite agent for Black, a clandestine special-ops group. They take orders from no one—which is just how the American government likes it. As a result, certain global "assignments" can be executed using whatever means necessary.

As the game begins, you face a merciless Fed who's interrogating you on your knowledge of a terrorist unit called Seventh Wave. Turns out the group's leader, Lennox, is an ex-Black who's now involved in some good ol'-fashioned arms dealing. Apparently, your task of snuffing him out went south at some point, though it's hard to tell exactly when through all the co-op mumbo jumbo. Yet more muddled information gets spread across cut scenes that segue into the game's eight main operations, each of which recount Kellar's Eastern Europe dealings.

Skip the Story, Grab Your Gun
Not that any of that matters. Your primary mission here? To blow things up. And when they're completely obliterated, blow them up again, just for the fun of it. And then find a stray RPG and, hey, why not go for one more fantastic smoke-filled go-round?

Each level ups the ante with a new arsenal of weapons, an equally intimidating batch of enemies and increasing intensity. Yet what's most intriguing about this game is that despite its shallow premise and story, the gameplay alone keeps you glued to the screen, like it or not. Criterion has created a realistic environment in which every bullet fired has a lasting ripple effect. Add to that a blockbuster movie-like soundtrack, stunning graphics and audio that captures every emptied shell crunching under your feet.

Real-World Realism
Clearly, these guys know what they're doing. But first-class gameplay doesn't equate to a first-class game, at least when it comes to morality. As if over-the-top explosions weren't enough to steal the show, West and Co. decided to "get real" with lots of swearing (the f-word, s-word and "g--d--n" are liberally included) and ammo-riddled baddies who die loud deaths. There's no bloodshed during play—something gamespot.com calls "downright silly" for M-rated fare—but cut scenes feature photos of real-life fatalities. And at its core, Black is founded upon straight-up murder excused (somewhat) by a sense of patriotism.

Other recent first-person shooters have shared the nationalism motif. But each has had distinct motives. Close Combat: First to Fight simulated the actual urban combat training model for the U.S. Marine Corps. SOCOM 3 emphasized the tactical warfare of Navy SEALs.

Not so with Black, which thrives solely on increasing the body count in as spectacular a fashion as possible—gore or no gore. That makes for an easy decision on whether to suit up with this elite strike force. As Kellar tells his interrogator, "There's no way anyone in their right mind would volunteer for this."

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range









Record Label


Xbox, PlayStation 2


Electronic Arts


On Video

Year Published



Marcus Yoars Richard Warren

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!