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Sean Dimagiba

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  1. Dead Space has always been a marquee example of the definite single-player survival-horror experience. That being said, it would seem that an addition of any kind of co-op would hamper the traditional experience. And of course, with impeccable timing, the recent showing of Dead Space 3 revealed some new things such as a new environment, movement upgrades, and also an added cooperative mode.


    No longer is Isaac Clarke alone in his latest adventure, but now he has a new best friend. Games like Resident Evil 5 and F.3.A.R. have added co-op options in the past in an attempt to enhance the experience and give players another way to play. Whether or not it was the co-op or simply the way the game was designed, these titles became considerably less scary than their predecessors. Is Dead Space 3 doomed to follow this same unfortunate fate?


    It“s important to note that co-op is only an option. According to developer Visceral Games, the game can be enjoyed in both single-player and co-op. In fact, depending on which way you choose to play, some lines of dialogue, cutscenes, and scripted events are changed around.


    For example, in one of the gameplay videos, one part shows Isaac approaching a building and at the top you can see Carver, the new playable character, fighting off necromorphs and calling to Isaac to meet him up there with him. The footage then shows the same sequence except in co-op mode, and since Carver is with Isaac at that moment, instead of the aforementioned cutscene there exists instead lines of dialogue that wouldn“t have been heard otherwise. It“s neat additions like these that will add more replay value to the game because players will want to see the different changes between the single-player and co-op.




    Isaac and Carver will have to watch each other's backs. Frontal assaults like this one won't be abundant.


    As far as how Dead Space plays now, it“s more of the same, if anything. You still get all of the same over-the-shoulder third-person shooting that you“re used to. The only difference here is that you“ve got an extra pair of eyes watching your back.


    Carver seems to be a decent partner; he usually dispatches enemies that you“re not concerned with, provides support against the big bosses, and assists you in puzzles in ample time. He also seems to be the comic relief to Isaac“s more serious side, which is a nice touch considering all of the severed tentacles flying around. It“s nice to hear a lighter side of things, but some fans may not appreciate his banter so we“ll have to wait and see how that pans out.


    While Visceral managed to carry over the classic Dead Space feel, the action seems to be more fast-paced than before. Enemies move at considerably faster speeds than their necromorph brethren. And with the added roll and crouch functions, not to mention human opponents that can shoot back, the action definitely has a more amped feel to it.


    This has been the trap of many survival-horror games. Developers feel as though they need to “get with the timesé and they compare their games with bigger titles. They think that by adding more action over horror, they can gain more fans and widen their scope. While this may be true, it doesn“t change the fact that these titles originated in horror, and more often than not, it was the scares and thrills that brought in the majority of fans.


    Now that these games that have been made famous (thanks to their roots in horror) become more generic shoot“em ups, they also become more mainstream, companies make more money, but at the same time fans become disappointed with the final result. Can we expect the same fate to befall Dead Space 3?




    "Not sure if Carver is for deep gameplay experience... or EA sell-out."


    From the limited video clips shown at E3, Dead Space 3 seems to be running at a much faster pace. One of the bosses, which wasn“t even a necromorph, was a huge spinning drill that was rapidly flailing around as running necromorphs began to swarm Isaac.


    I“m not sure if this is to compensate for the extra player, but most likely this is the kind of fast-paced action we“ll see for the remainder of the game. Not that there won“t be tense moments, of course.


    Early in the footage, Isaac is shown walking through a blizzard, his path completely impossible to see. All of a sudden, a necromorph jumps in front of him and Isaac frantically decimates the foe. It“s moments like that which will preserve the classic experience we“ve come to know and love. We“ll see how Dead Space 3 shapes up in the following months, but until then, keep your fingers crossed.


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  2. Your typical movie-goer tends to walk into the theater hoping for a spectacle of explosions, gunfire, and maybe a few lines of dialogue for the sake of those sick one-liners that would probably make its way into a ten minute compilation of similar sayings. If this is what people expect from cinema, how high can their expectations be for video games?


    Looking at your mainstream flow of gaming, they usually consist of your typical, run-of-the-mill shooter-fests in which you find a good spot to take aim, mow down some baddies, and move on to the next area where you repeat the process. Of course, I don“t mean to generalize; most gamers have higher expectations and want to see variety when it comes to the basic formula, whether it is a shooter, RPG, or platformer title.


    Still, many other great titles such as Splinter Cell, Resident Evil, and Final Fantasy have fallen into this pattern in which developers feel as though they are compelled to put more action into their titles. Games that are known for their original qualities such as horror, strategy, or stealth have been reduced into keeping half of their original concept, with the other half being straight-up action. While it works in some cases, some fans feel as though these games lose its main purpose. That being said, it can be fair to say that the “Interactive Storyé genre of gaming wouldn“t seem like a popular, or more importantly - profitable - proposal at a publisher“s next meeting.


    However, in the past years, the interactive story has been making its return in the primetime spotlight of gaming, and depending on the crowd, it can deliver some of the most exciting moments and provoke the deepest emotions.



    A Storybook With Choices




    In point-and-click games like this, the player usually has to find clues and items in order to continue with the story


    The closest thing I can compare an interactive story to are the point-and-click games that were made popular back in the 90s. Their idea was simple: the player moved a cursor around the screen and by clicking on items or places in the environment the player can move the main avatar or make him/her perform specific actions. The great thing about these games and what separated them from other games during their time was that they made you truly think about what to do. Most of the time you can“t blast through the door or jump over that broken ledge, but instead you“ll be forced to find and combine items, talk to people, or solve puzzles. This is basically what interactive stories are made of.


    Thanks to advances in technology, the player now usually has the ability to move the character freely around a set environment, and from there the player will have to find items, talk to people, or, you guessed it, solve puzzles. While it doesn“t sound all too enthralling, within the right hands, the interactive story can keep you intrigued and even have your heart racing, depending on the situation.



    Pieces Of A Plot




    Trust me, while it may seem like nothing more than a romantic gesture, this decision in Heavy Rain will impact the story's conclusion


    One of the most basic features of an interactive story is that it“s a story that you should have some degree of control over. Take Heavy Rain, for example. Depending on your choices, some characters may be affected by the impending circumstances or even die, which then affects other parts of the story later on in the game. Or perhaps handling a situation one way or another affects how the plot plays out by the end.


    Heavy Rain can potentially have dozens of different endings. While the game ends in the same place, the variables involved can be completely different from one player“s file to the next. This is what helps create the intrigue in an interactive story, in that the player can essentially try to create the best outcome, see what happens when things go bad, or choose what they want to see happen. Interactive stories have no mandatory goals other than tell the player a tale of their own.



    Dealing With Dialogue




    Be mindful of who you take sides with in The Walking Dead


    Coming from a writer, one of the aspects I appreciate most from a good video game is good writing. That“s why I usually applaud games like Uncharted or Red Dead Redemption or Mass Effect; not because of its gameplay (which is superb) but because of the writing in its characters. Dialogue is taken to a next level with interactive stories. Most of the time, the player can choose what their controlled character says.


    In The Walking Dead video game adaptation, the player controls Lee and half the time you have to pick what he says to other characters along his journey. This added depth to interaction really allows the player to get to know this character that he/she essentially gets to form, and also get to know the world around the character. The Walking Dead is a particularly good example of this because when the game starts, you aren“t given any information about Lee other than the fact that he is being driven in a police car. You wonder why he“s being arrested when the game prompts you to say something to the police officer driving the car, and because of the fact that Telltale Games doesn“t give you any background information, Lee is essentially your own character.


    The choices given to you during the game, which are usually four choices performed with one of the face buttons on your controller, are fairly distinct. There“s even a choice to be silent, something that I hadn“t remembered seeing as a consistent choice in a game like this. This also adds replay value if you“re interested as to what would happen if you said something different.



    From Start To Finish




    You'll need quick fingers to survive your encounters with the dinos in Jurassic Park: The Game


    Some people doubt the entertainment value of interactive stories because of how the player is limited to movement, solving puzzles, and maybe picking dialogue. Some people don“t even consider interactive stories in gaming as video games, and that sparks arguments as to what a game actually is.


    The general definition for “video gameé is a game played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program on a television screen or display. That sounds about right. If Call Of Duty is considered “manipulating images,é then interactive stories have a right to be considered video games, too. And exactly how fun can they be? Well, let“s bring up Call Of Duty again.


    You can take bullets, sprint for miles, and come out of an exploding building without a scratch besides some mysterious red gel on your eyes. In interactive stories, you don“t get to do that. When stuck in a dangerous life-or-death situation, all you can rely on is quick reflexes and timed button presses. Now it may not seem difficult or exciting, but when your character“s life, a character that you“ve been building and following for several hours, relies on a few careful button presses, you“ll be on the edge of your seat making sure you don“t miss. And interactive stories aren“t limited to Heavy Rain or games of a similar caliber. Mass Effect and InFamous are just a few examples of games that take elements of interactive stories by allowing you to pick dialogue or change the course of the game through major decisions which add to the already rich experience.


    The best part about interactive stories comes around the end, as the plot comes to a resolution and the main characters achieve (or don“t achieve) their goal. It is the moment when the culmination of your choices over the course of several hours comes together into a hopefully satisfying conclusion. The things you said, the people you saved, and the actions you performed flourish into a final result, and you realize that it was all because of your decisions. Even better, you can go back and do it again, continue making new stories, and you just might figure out why interactive stories can be some of the best experiences in gaming.


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  3. The other day I walked into my local GameStop. Yes, I have their Power-Up Rewards membership and no, I still don“t think they“re a fine company by any means, but sometimes, you have to work with what“s in front of you. Anyways, this isn“t a commentary about GameStop“s services. I approached the gentleman at the front counter, and with a bit of hesitance in my voice, I declared to him, “I would like to cancel a pre-order.é


    Now, cancelling a pre-order is a fairly awkward experience. It“s essentially saying to the world, “You know, I thought I liked this and I put my hard-earned cash on it just to prove you people wrong, but turns out that I was wrong anyways.é You put your confidence in this product, assuming that it“s going to be good, and then you change your mind, losing a bit of your confidence along with it. The man at the desk complied, and asked which game it was.


    I told him it was Assassin“s Creed 3.


    That“s when a very short but sharp silence hit the store. The man helping me gave me a confused look, and he asked me why I would cancel a pre-order on such an anticipated game (if it hadn“t been apparent yet, he was a big fan of the series). Again, another awkward part of the cancelation of a pre-order is the part when the employee asks why. I know they have an obligation to interact with the customer, but I really didn“t feel like giving an explanation as to why, so I just spit some random excuses, quickening my time in the store. So, he cancelled the pre-order, got my money back, oh, and I might become “blacklistedé by my GameStop for cancelling a pre-order. Fantastic.


    My point here is that Assassin“s Creed 3, at this point, isn“t worth the investment for me. I“ve been a fan of the series for about three years, and I“ve played through all of the console iterations of the series. I plowed through the repetition of Altair“s journey, I spent three games and $180 on Italian playboy-turned-assassin Ezio Auditore, and I“ve mocked Desmond with witty Nathan Drake jokes too many times for me to count. I can say with confidence that I“m a fan of Assassin“s Creed. I enjoy the storyline, even though some people complain about it.


    Yes, Ubisoft“s promises that all of the answers will be answered in the next game are as fake as the Animus“ projections, and some of the religious references turn people off and quite frankly creep me out sometimes, but I still think that the game“s plot is the biggest motivation for me playing it. I also enjoy the combat system (which was finally refined when Brotherhood came out), and while you don“t really feel like a sneaky assassin a lot of the time, it still does a good job of dropping you into that sense. At this point, all of the elements in Assassin“s Creed feel very familiar. That“s where the problem begins.




    *Sigh* There was a time when two kills at once in an Assassin's Creed game were the most amazing thing in the world


    After Assassin“s Creed 2, the following games only added to the core experience. Basically, whatever you“ve seen from the previous title is recycled with a few new little tweaks and toys. I know that Brotherhood and Revelations weren“t meant to be taken as full-fledged sequels, but that doesn“t mean that Ubisoft couldn“t put the same effort and amount of new content that was seen in the jump between Assassin“s Creed and Assassin“s Creed 2. Brotherhood added the guild system and new weapons and more vehicle segments, and Revelations added new weapons, bomb making and Desmond puzzles. Both titles also introduced multiplayer to the series.


    Sadly, Brotherhood only acted as an enhanced Assassin“s Creed 2, and Revelations acted as a refined Brotherhood. I appreciate all of the new features and fixes, but honestly, they could“ve been achieved through patching or as downloadable content. Now we“re at the “thirdé installment of Assassin“s Creed. See, after the production of Assassin“s Creed 2, the team at Ubisoft split into two camps. One group went on to create Brotherhood and Revelations, and the other team went straight to work on Assassin“s Creed 3, which means that Assassin“s Creed 3 has been roughly a three to four year project. With all that time and with no direct design connections to Brotherhood or Revelations, then how can Assassin“s Creed 3 fall in the same copy-and-paste trap? It“s easy, really.


    There are some things I will applaud for Assassin“s Creed 3. The game takes place during the American Revolution, a familiar and exciting time during history, mostly because many North American gamers will likely recognize many of the places and people. The game looks great, and weather effects and free-running animations look very smooth. Combat looks vigorous and fast-paced, and Connor, our latest protagonist, has many neat moves at his disposal. These are all good things, but I can“t help but see more of the same. That“s how every series is; you start with a base concept, and with every game you try to build on it without completely alienating from the first experience.


    With Assassin“s Creed, however, I feel worn out at this point. From 2009, there has been a new game every year, this being the fourth consecutive year in a row. It“s why I lost interest with Call of Duty. I know - a drastic comparison, but the best I could come up with. I can“t help but feel like I“ve seen it all before, and even with a completely different development cycle, I don“t know if Assassin“s Creed 3 will go far enough to truly differentiate itself from the past two titles.




    After meeting the cool and silent Altair and then the charismatic leader Ezio, how will Connor stand out?


    Bringing up multiplayer, I never really could get into it. To me, it was original, but it was also a fancy game of hide-and-seek. When I think Assassin“s Creed and multiplayer, I think intense sword fights, free-running races, or even co-op stealth missions reminiscent of Splinter Cell: Conviction. Instead, Ubisoft thought outside of the box and did what they did, and it still serves as an ample experience but not one that could keep me hooked. And it seems that they continue to do the same with Assassin“s Creed 3. They“ve added some new modes, but it“s all they can do with the route that multiplayer has taken. Going back to single-player, I think that it will feel like a new experience, but like I said before, too familiar.


    I think that the fact that they decided to release a new game every year has worn some of us out, and even with the potential in Assassin“s Creed 3, it won“t wipe the slate clean. One thing to remember though - I said I cancelled my pre-order; I never said I wasn“t going to buy it. I just feel that my excitement for the series has dwindled, and hopefully Assassin“s Creed 3 will prove me extremely wrong. Until then, I“ll wait for the mark-down sale.


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  4. It“s officially summer, and that means it“s time go outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Or if you“re like me, then you know it“ll be here for a few more months anyways, so why not just stay home for the hundredth time and play some more video games?


    Better yet, bring some people over and have a party. Here are a few games that you might consider bringing at your next summer party.




    Dance Central (Kinect)




    If you've never seen the moves in Dance Central, you're going to have a fun time figuring them out for the first time... in front of your friends


    There are a few choices for dancing games. From Just Dance, to Everybody Dances, and even Dance Dance Revolution, you can definitely have a good time with the ones that I just listed. However, I“ve seen that Dance Central for the Kinect usually brings the best crowd and laughs. Thanks to its controller-less set-up, the only assembly required is pushing aside the coffee table and leaving some space for the next dancers.


    Dance Central also has a very accessible learning curve, so pretty much anyone can get up and do the easier moves, or step up to a harder difficulty as required. The soundtrack consists of popular hits from today and old school classics that even the youngest guests should recognize. And it“s also hilarious to watch your friends butcher “Baby Got Back.é




    Rock Band/Guitar Hero (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, PS2)




    Rock Band allows you to change things around for casual gamers or those who are just picky


    This is always a given. Either title is a fine choice, but I“ll just use Rock Band as an example. You take four players and each one plays either drums, guitar, or vocals (Or the keyboard if you“re playing Rock Band) and you basically jam out to your favorite rock songs. Rock Band is definitely a great choice because anyone of any comfort level can jump in with an instrument, and you“re more outgoing guests can start wailing out Bon Jovi classics.


    The games also carry a fairly varied set list, so unless your guests are hardcore rap, classical, or country fans, there shouldn“t be a problem finding at least a handful of songs they like. Other features such as No-Fail mode and Band Battles offer more ways for your guests to have fun with it. And as far as which one is the better of the two, I prefer to stick with Rock Band because of the way the in-game interface is set up, it“s recognition among pop culture, and for its more casual play style. Of course, Guitar Hero should do the job just fine.




    Mario Kart/Modnation Racers (Wii/PS3)




    Mario Kart, where turtle shells are your worst enemy


    Mario Kart and Modnation Racers are part of the “kart racingé genre. While they“re not hardcore enough to be considered a racing title, they make it up with wacky visuals and wild weapons. There are some racing games that do feature four-player split-screen action, but they don“t seem as fun or as accessible as these two titles are. Mario Kart is a classic, with roots back during Nintendo“s early days. Players can jump in and have a short race, or try one of the other fun modes such as Balloon Battle or Coin Runners.


    If you“re itching for a more intense race, Modnation Racers is the way to go. Exclusive on the Playstation 3, Modnation boats an emphasis on creating your own tracks, characters, and karts. From a racing perspective, Modnation Racers doesn“t have any special modes, but it provides a more competitive racing experience with faster speeds and devastating weapons, all while keeping its all-ages theme. Both kart racers are fun and easy to learn.




    Super Smash Bros. (Wii, GCN, N64)




    Some newcomers may not like a Smash Ball once they see what it does...


    Take a few dozen iconic Nintendo figures (And maybe one from Sega or Konami) and toss them into a fight to the death. That“s the basic idea for Super Smash Bros. It“s a brawler at heart, and with up to four players on a single screen, you can see some very intense match-ups, some that I“ve seen go on for more than fifteen or even twenty minutes with sweat-inducing back-and-forth action. But new players shouldn“t feel hesitant to join in. Smash“s control scheme is fairly simple, with your basic attacks locked onto single buttons. So, anyone can jump in and start pulling off a few simple leaps and attacks and even hold their own against others. Just make sure the veterans don“t discourage the newbies.




    Halo/Call of Duty/Other Popular Games




    Remember kids, no screen cheating!


    Chances are not everyone at your party will be a gamer or barely know what a video game is. To be safe, it wouldn“t hurt to have some of the more popular titles on hand such as Call of Duty. You can assume that most people have at least tried or seen Call of Duty, and due to its popularity you can expect at least some people to play it. Halo and Gears of War also seem to be very recognizable so they should also do just fine.


    Make sure that whatever game you decide to use has the option to put multiple players in at once, four if you can. And also be sure to make certain that turns will be taken, and that those turns don“t last longer than 5 to 10 minutes so that way everyone gets a chance to play. Also be sure that the game is easy or easily accessible with a humble learning curve; you want to make sure your guests are having fun with the game and not spending the whole time flipping through a manual.


    Lastly, remember that video games should just be one of the few things to do at your party, and shouldn“t be used as a primary source of good times. Unless, of course, things just end up that way. I mean, it“s a party after all.


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  5. Everyone deserves a father or father figure in his or her life. Someone to tell them that things are going to be okay. Someone to show them how to ride a bike or fire a BB gun. Someone to be there when things aren“t going well.


    Father figures have positive effects on children and even adults in the real world, so here are some father figures from gaming that are sure to melt your heart.





    Dad (Fallout 3)




    "If you harm my son, I'm going to find you, and I will kill you."


    Dad, was, well, your dad in Fallout 3. He saved you from the clutches of the apocalyptic wasteland and cared for you in Vault 101, and while he seemed like a jerk by leaving you behind one night, he had good intentions. Dad wanted to clean the water in D.C., create a living world once again, and was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good of mankind in the face of tyranny.


    He was a fighter until the end, and Fallout 3 was one of the few games where I felt worried about a character“s father because Dad felt like my dad. And to top it all off, Dad was voiced by Liam Neeson. I mean, you can never go wrong with Liam Neeson. Dad was a pretty cool dad.



    Victor Sullivan (Uncharted series)




    I swear, those island shirts are like the only things that Sully ever wears


    Victor “God Damn!é Sullivan is his name, and gunning down foes with a big revolver is his game. Victor has been with Nathan Drake since the start. He saved Drake from the rough streets and together, Victor and Drake have been plundering treasure and discovering mythical lands over the course of years of climbing, running, and shooting. And who taught Nathan Drake all of the moves? Victor Sullivan, of course. And he does it with a big fat cigar in his mouth too. Sully has been with Drake in nearly every adventure and always has wise words or helpful advice to say to him. The bond they have built over the series is one not by blood, but by true comradery.




    Ethan Mars (Heavy Rain)




    Ethan tends to look sad all the time, but to be fair, if my city rained like it did in Heavy Rain, I'd be pretty depressed too


    If fatherhood was a test, then that would be represented by Heavy Rain. While Heavy Rain featured four main characters, Ethan Mars took most of the spotlight, at least for me. Ethan had lost one son after trying to save his life from a car accident, so he wasn“t so feeble when his other son was kidnapped by the origami killer.


    Throughout Heavy Rain, Ethan is forced to complete several tasks for the Oragami Killer in order to literally prove his love for his son and see how far he would go. Each challenge tested a different part of Ethan, mentally and/or physically, and his journey truly showed how much he loved his son. Some sections of the game were even hard for me to play, considering how realistic and terrifying they would be in a real-life situation.




    Giovanni Auditore Da Firenze (Assassin“s Creed II)




    Fun Fact: The actor who played Giovanni in the short film Assassin's Creed: Lineage also lent the same voice and face for the character model in Assassin's Creed 2


    How many people could say that their father was an assassin? Ezio Auditore could“ve. Giovanni was born into the brotherhood and trained to become a master assassin like his ancestors before him. To add to that, he became a successful banker and gave birth to four kids! Talk about getting business done!


    But seriously, Giovanni lived the ultimate double life as he provided for his family while at the same time killing men of evil intentions - the Templars. Only a good father could raise a son like he did. Ezio was the example of the “every-mané during his time and he practiced ideals of control, accuracy, and he was friendly to the ladies. He could“ve only been raised by such a good father, and that man was Giovanni Auditore.




    John Marston (Red Dead Redemption)




    Daniel Craig has nothing on Marston


    This list really wouldn“t be complete without Mr. Marston. John grew up in a gang, separated by his own father, and lived his childhood in murder and theft. Even with his past always right behind him, John managed to find a good woman, birth a son, and try to start their own farm. That is, until the government decide that it“s time for John to pay for his crimes and force him to hunt down his old gang if he wants to see his family safe again.


    Even after completing this, as John tries to settle in after his wild journey, the government remains relentless and John makes the ultimate sacrifice to save his family of his life-long burden that would haunt them if he hadn“t done something about it.


    John Marston, like the other characters on the list, showed affection for someone else, and projected that into selfless acts of courage and seemingly impossible feats. It goes to show how amazing father figures are, not only as real people, but as shining examples as well.


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  6. No matter how little publicity or faith Capcom has in its own product, Dragon“s Dogma is definitely the game to look out for in a few days. After getting some hands on time with the demo, I can safely say that Dragon“s Dogma will be one of the best RPGs this year, assuming all things go well. Even though some of the game“s features are slightly rough around the edges, there are some key points to the title that borrow from some games but tweak just enough to call it its own.



    The Pawn System




    It ain't no Fellowship of the Ring, but it'll do


    Dragon“s Dogma doesn“t feature an online mode like Dark Souls, which may seem lacking for some gamers. However, it does utilize an online mode in a different way: the Pawn system. In Dragon“s Dogma, you create your own character along with a permanent follower known as your “Pawn.é Just as their title suggests, your Pawn will follow you around on your adventures, fight off enemies, and even give you advice along the way. The great thing about Pawns is that they“re completely customizable, so you can change its voice, name, appearance, and equipment, just as you would with your own character. This degree of customization really adds to the experience and allows the player to create the side-kick they“ve always wanted.


    Where does the online part kick in, you ask? Well, in this place called The Rift, you can put your Pawn up for rental and other players can pay a certain amount of Rift points to borrow your Pawn. While your Pawn is out adventuring, it gains experience and comes back stronger than before. You can also borrow other people“s Pawns, up to two in fact, and you can have up to three NPCs following you at all times consisting of your own Pawn and two borrowed ones. In Dragon“s Dogma, the difficulty will require you to bring support with you into battle so borrowing other Pawns may end up being your only option, and this further encourages the online sharing among other players.




    Climbing on your Foes




    "Excuse me, ma'am, this was not the designated drop-off point we agreed on!"


    Similar to Shadow of the Colossus, Dragon“s Dogma gives you the ability to grab onto larger enemies and actively climb them. Once you“re on, you can climb on their backs, along their legs, or onto their heads for extra damage. The system is incredible, especially when you“re in the heat of battle and you latch onto a trolls arm and it begins to violently swing around in an attempt to get you off of it. I was also impressed to see that you could latch onto the enemy at different limbs, and you weren“t limited to that specific limb; at one point in the demo, I grabbed the Gryphon“s tail and climbed all the way up to its head and started attacking from there.




    Character Customization




    You can create any type of person, really


    Any good RPG has a character creation system that allows you to form the face and build of your hero (or villain). Dragon“s Dogma is no different. Once you pick out sex, a name, and a basic body build, you can go into extreme depth with your character. You can change your character“s hair style, skin tone, and facial features, but then you can go deeper from there. You can swap out different muscles for arms and legs, adjust the way your character stands, and even pick out a custom voice out of six choices, a feature that I always applaud in any game. Your character could be an elderly miser or even a small child. Dragon Dogma“s creator gives you that kind of freedom.




    Explosive Combat




    The most potent method of dealing with Hobgoblins is definitely a helping of BURN!


    No, I don“t mean bombs and guns and stuff. Staff members at Capcom behind Dragon“s Dogma also helped to craft Devil May Cry, the over-the-top hack-and-slash game known for its flashy combat. Dragon“s Dogma takes a little bit of the flash, and adds some Dark Souls depth to it to create a beautiful mix of the two.


    In the demo, one of the levels puts you in the shoes of a sword and shield warrior type, and the action doesn“t hesitate to explode in a frenzy of color and special effects. You“ll use special sword skills, each face button combined with the trigger button resulting into a completely different move, and even the shield has its own special moves that I found came in handy depending on the situation. Combat is fast and raw, requiring you to keep your wits above you and constantly keep moving.


    As for ranged combat, pulling out your bow is literally one button press away. Just like the sword and shield, the bow comes with its own set of special moves, each one different and valuable to its own situation. There wasn“t an opportunity to use magic in the demo, but magic will also play an important role in Dragon“s Dogma. Not to mention that Pawns will help a lot in some of the crazier fights. Combat in the gameis vicious and thrilling, and is definitely action-packed.




    The Prospects of Exploration




    With all this darkness, I won't be surprised if there's a "Hold Hand" button


    Dragon“s Dogma is an open-world adventure game too. It reminded me of Skyrim with the way you can choose to take the beaten path, or explore through the wilderness to find new ones. Each village or city has shops, living people, and inns to stay at. Dragon“s Dogma, however, adds difficulty into the mix. Nearly any path you choose to take towards your destination will most likely lead to an enemy or two; no path is really considered “easy.é If that wasn“t enough, night time plays a role in gameplay. The darkness just doesn“t get a little harder to see and has the music change. Nighttime in Dragon“s Dogma makes things nearly pitch black, the only form of vision being the short area lit by your lamp. Oh, and there are zombies too (and everyone loves a good zombie).


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  7. InFamous 2“s ending left Cole“s fate hanging; no matter which ending you get, it seems that our super hero/villain still has fight left in him. Sadly, from a lack of announcements and a low sales number, it seems that InFamous 3 is treading on a faulty power cord. Of course, we should never lose hope in Sucker Punch, who have not only brought us InFamous but also the legendary Sly Cooper series.


    And if you have played the Sly Cooper games, then you“ll know that Sucker Punch is notorius for leaving the player wondering, even after curtain call. So what could happen to Cole and his world after the epilogue? Here are two quick theories, and obviously, there are some spoilers for those who haven“t played or completed InFamous games. So, SPOILER WARNING!




    The Good Ending: Cole“s Return





    Cole has survived by the skin of his teeth before, but how often can he do so?


    So, at the end of the good karma ending of InFamous 2, Cole activates the Ray Field Inhibitor. Doing so destroys the Beast and the plague inflicting normal humans, but kills all of the Conduits on Earth in the process. Sadly, this included Cole, so he and Kuo and Nix all died in the blast. In the final moments, Zeke is on a boat with Cole“s dead body in a coffin. As the boat sails away, the screen goes dark until a bolt of lightning shoots down on the boat. If you look closely, you“ll see that the lightning bolt is in the shape of a question mark, and we can only assume that the bolt hit Cole if his dead body can still conduct electricity.


    What I“m seeing right now is that Cole comes back to life, supposing that his “good karmaé has come back around to reward his endeavors. While I love Cole“s character and want to see more InFamous games, reviving Cole wouldn“t be a wise decision from Sucker Punch for several reasons.


    1. Besides Cole, every Conduit that ever existed is dead, assuming the Ray Field Inhibitor did its job. Of course, if the inhibitor did, then Cole wouldn“t come back to life. Anyways, if all of the conduits are dead, what“s left in the world? Normal human beings. If Cole were to come back, what would the gameplay be like then? Would it be to just fight armed guards and some mechs? I saw conduits as a dynamic part of the story-line so to continue without them would result in a less interesting experience.


    2. Since conduits are dead, there may not be a lot of content to work with as far as a new conflict is concerned. Perhaps someone in the First Sons may try to create a new Ray Sphere or the east coast is trying to deal with the post-destruction. The problem here is that there really isn“t a solid conflict after this ending because everything seems to be fine or at least not at the same scale as InFamous 2“s conflict.


    3. Bringing back Cole in general is kind of a silly idea. I know resurrections have been done in games before but to do so in InFamous 2“s good ending would defeat the purpose. Cole became strong enough and good enough of a person to overcome the Beast, the point of which was to destroy the Beast“s immense power. Technically, Cole“s defeat of the Beast would mean that Cole is stronger than the Beast, and Kessler“s hope (who is otherwise a Cole from a different universe) was to make sure a being with immense power doesn“t take advantage and destroy the world. I doubt that Kessler would want such a powerful being running around, especially when he is the only one with powers. And even if Cole is good-hearted in the end, Kessler probably wouldn“t take that chance.




    The Bad Ending: A New Revolution





    Sometimes the thing we hate most is what we become... I don't know who said that; it just sounds cool.


    In the bad karma ending for InFamous 2, Cole kills Nix and his best friend Zeke. Afterwards he destroys the Ray Field Inhibitor and absorbs John White“s powers, who at that point is revealed to be the Beast. The resulting blast kills most of humanity, but the Conduits of the world remain. Cole continues to search for these conduits and teach them how to use their powers, and Cole uses his power to rule over mankind with an iron fist.


    It“s pretty dark, I know. But this is the most likely way for a good InFamous sequel to happen. Considering that Cole is now the Beast, there are thousands of new Conduits in the world, and humanity is in its last moments, this makes way for a lot of new conflicts and possibilities.


    1. The game can still stay on Cole this way. Perhaps the game will be about his exploits of fighting back the worst of the human opposition, or maybe new conduit factions will start up and Cole will have to deal with rebellious conduits. Maybe Sucker Punch can even throw in some strategy aspects in the game, like controlling different parts of the world. This will also open up some fresh new locals for the series.


    2. The game can feature a brand new conduit. With a little bit of effort, perhaps this new conduit can be completely customized by the player, allowing the player to choose different features, powers, and clothing. Then they can take this new conduit two ways; support the evolution of conduits, or fight back for mankind“s freedom. This option is definitely one that I hope is utilized because this allows for a lot of open-ended content for the game.


    3. The game can feature gameplay for both humans and conduits. It can resemble Aliens vs Predators in a way. The war between the two factions will be viewed through both view-points, and the game can feature classic InFamous-style power gameplay, and maybe some third-person shooter gameplay as well. This can also adapt to multiplayer. There can be human vs conduits game modes, and even co-op modes.


    These are only a few possibilities that could happen in InFamous 3, if there is going to be one. The InFamous series has a lot of potential, and I think that potential can be fully realized with some new ambitious advances for the game, you know, besides giving your bald protagonist hair.


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  8. The year 2009; I remember that year well only because of the fact that I finally bought my Playstation 3 on December 9th, and the first game I bought for it was none other than Grand Theft Auto IV.


    The $299 price tag was a huge detriment to my funds, so I had to compensate by picking up an older game. I“d heard many good things about GTA IV, and it was only $20 at the time so that's what I ended up choosing. If it was anything like previous sandbox games I“d played before (I had never played Grand Theft Auto before then), then GTA IV would be an excellent choice to start my current-gen game collection.


    And so I traversed Liberty City as Niko Bellic, shooting up the neighborhood and causally car-jacking the locals. It was an enlightening experience by the game“s end, not to mention the multiplayer, which also blew my mind being my first Playstation Network experience. So GTA IV and I definitely had special connection, and I definitely still regret selling it to this day.


    I generally didn“t have any problems with the game, though some issues with checkpoints and notoriety glitches were bothersome at times, but overall it was a lot of fun to play. That is, until you bring up the one problem I had with GTA IV.


    It was a feature that I was shocked to not find in a game so much more advanced than other games at the time. It was a feature that could“ve easily been implemented as DLC or, heck, maybe even a patch. It was in Saint“s Row, a game that I played recently after GTA IV, and it surprised me how Rockstar Games was able to put so much attention to detail in the game, but overlook something so simple: a garage system.




    "As you can see, no man's suit is complete without a car sandwich and a pump-action shotgun."


    For those who have played GTA IV, you“ll understand this situation. After completing a difficult mission full of cop chases, apartment shootings, and strenuous running, you decide to keep that shiny old-school American muscle car coated in a smoky black paint job that you picked up in the middle of the mission. Scratched up by side-swipes and full of bullet holes, this thing has seen some serious damage.


    But say you decide that you want to keep the car, for its speed or looks or whatever reason. So, you drop off the new ride at your safe house parking spot, and when a new mission pops up, you decide to take the car out again. Unfortunately, the mission includes abandoning the car. When the mission is all done and over, you realize that you left the car in front of a subway station, or some other makeshift parking zone.


    So, you trot back to where you last saw your car, and find that it“s no longer there. Then, you try to check your safe house where you originally parked the car, but alas, that spiffy muscle car is still gone. And it will be gone, assuming that you won“t find another of the same model and jack it off someone.


    The game“s tutorial advertises a “car saveé system to the player in which can park a car in a designated yellow square, usually in front of a safe house, and the car will remain there, available for use anytime. I first figured that this was the game“s version of a garage. Sadly, it doesn“t work as well as you might think.


    See, this yellow parking spot acts kind of like generic-brand glue. What I mean is, the cars that you decide to park there will remain there, but they aren“t permanently or even temporarily logged into some kind of car history or anything. If the car isn“t left in the square and you leave it somewhere else, chances are you“ll never find it again. The car just disappears if it is out of the player“s area of play or the game is started up again. It isn“t like other games where you put the car in the spot and you can retrieve it anytime you want, regardless of where the designated garage menu was located.


    I suppose this was part of the realism that Rockstar wanted to push with this GTA, but that one missing feature just left the experience a little incomplete. I made thousands of dollars, I got all the weapons, and I bought all of the properties on the island. What better way to top off my kingly status than a garage full of sports cars? Maybe I prefer to whip out a hulking SUV instead of some random beater I hot-wired.


    Or maybe I want to chase down my target with that shiny exotic I“ve been saving for ages, fearful of taking it out because I might scratch it. Oh, and by the way, if I happened to end up scratching that car, it would just come back to my garage again, ready to drop off to the repair store, so there.




    The best way to comeback from a failed parallel park is to blow it off, act like nothing happened, and stay on that sidewalk


    Even with the lack of real gameplay footage at the moment, GTA V can only be an improvement to its predecessor considering Rockstar“s reputation for high-quality video games. One thing I notice with Rockstar games is that the games are so good and nearly-perfect that I, and other people I know, tend to easily notice the problems with the games. In other games, there is a certain balance of pros and cons so it“s hard to distinguish the problems sometimes. But in games like Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto, it“s so easy to knitpick at the small things, and this is only to Rockstar Games“ advantage.


    These small problems that become identified will be fixed in the following game, and Rockstar“s roster of games will only continue to grow stronger. So, let“s hope that garage makes it in those developer notes somewhere, because I know I“ll be looking forward to it.


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  9. Move aside, Smash Bros; there“s a new competitor in the four-player beat“em-up genre, and it“s packing quite a punch. Leaving no modesty with its fairly noticeable title, Playstation All Stars Battle Royale is the Playstation equivalent of the ever successful Super Smash Bros. series on Nintendo consoles.


    There are so many risks with a game like this; trusting a new developer, choosing a strong roster, and pleasing all of the fans are only a few of the challenges ahead for this upcoming Playstation 3 exclusive. It would almost seem like the odds are against it considering that the chances for things to go wrong outnumber the benefits. However, I“m a fairly optimistic person, and there“s still so much to expect from this culmination of Sony mascots; let's discuss a few reasons why.


    Enhanced Visuals


    One of the biggest differences between this and Smash Bros. will undoubtedly be the overhaul in the visuals. Backed up by Blu-Ray capabilities and the cell processer, the Playstation 3 is able to show off graphics unmatched by the Wii. From the short clips of gameplay, the game looks colorful when it needs to, and many of the effects are reminiscent of Smash Bros with all of the bright lights and particle effects with each impact. It“s also notable that the character models look up to scale, and there“s just enough detail to notice when your character isn“t being tossed around the field.


    Sure, some of the more mature characters like Sweet Tooth and Colonel Radic may look a little out of place with the softer-looking backgrounds, but what else could be done to compensate for that? It“s better to keep the original models because they look cool, and people will complain the minute they see a cell-shaded Kratos.




    "Visit Sandover Village Putt Putt today, and get a free handful of Green Eco with every game!"



    Varied Roster Of Characters


    I don“t think I have to stress enough that Sony has quite the collection of exclusive characters. I mean, you can never say anything bad about Mario, Kirby, or Captain Falcon; but for you Playstation fans, wouldn“t you ever want to see what would happen if Jak, Ratchet, and Sly Cooper went at it for the championship-to-end-all-championships (and don“t bring up Playstation Move Heroes, because honestly, who played the whole thing)?


    The way I see the Smash Bros lineup, I see a lot of younger-audience characters, and I don“t mean that in a negative way; it“s simply an observation. Then you look at the Playstation roster, and you see Sackboy, Nathan Drake, and Fat Princess and you think to yourself, “That would be a wacky fighté (and you“d be right). However, the wide variety in characters has the advantage of appealing to more fans of all ages, and SuperBot Entertainment can have a lot of fun making up moves and combos for all of the characters.





    Instead of damage percentages, All-Stars appears to be going with the classic health bar system.



    Power-Ups And Arenas


    At this point, there aren“t loads of details coming out for the game, but from a recent interview there are a few neat gameplay aspects that I thought deserved some mentioning. For one, power-ups are going to play a very neat role in All-Stars. An ability you may have seen in one game may actually make an appearance in your match, like maybe a LittleBigPlanet Hookgun will allow you to grab opponents from afar, or Solid Snake“s box will grant you temporary invincibility? Again, it“s another aspect that SuperBot can experiment with.


    The arenas are also interesting; well, at least the backgrounds of them are. To be honest, I think the layout of some of the arenas are really looking weak at the moment; some of them only have one platform or none at all! Maybe there are time-conscious events or changing hazards, but right now I“m not too happy about that. But anyways, back to the background.


    One arena has the host of the video game quiz show Buzz! announcing in a LittleBigPlanet level, while another has Patapon characters parading around Hades with, well... Hades. It“s definitely a little bizarre to look at, but they clash these combinations of realism and fantasy and it looks very cool in the end, almost distracting. Speaking of the intertwining series, the cross-overs of games could explain the storyline for All-Stars“ campaign mode. It will be fascinating to see why these realms have invaded each other, and also whether or not they can be told in such a connected plot (though we actually already laid out a theory that seems to make sense).





    Not only does Kratos have to defeat Hades, but he has to beat the life out of Parappa, Sweet Tooth, and Fat Princess? A former-God's job is never done.



    The Fans And The Fortune


    Even before the game“s official reveal, All-Stars was already receiving a lot of flak for its overall concept. Many complained that the game would turn out to be a Smash Bros. clone, while others complained that the combination of all of these characters would result in an awkward final product, essentially forcing the roster to work instead of letting it smooth out the edges itself. This is easily understandable because, like I said before, itis a risky title.


    It“s either going to really appeal to a big audience, or totally flop, and it would be a horrible start for SuperBot Entertainment to craft a solid game like this only to see it fail to meet expectations. While the game is largely inspired by Smash Bros., you have to remember that Nintendo is a pioneer for gaming innovation, and the other guys follow suit because they want in on this idea that they couldn“t think of. So many games have adapted on other games“ formulas and sometimes they“re able to build on the basic features, fix the flaws, and create a brand new experience. For now though, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale should be something to look forward to, for better or for worse.


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  10. Arriving in mid-June this year, Lollipop Chainsaw is just as ridiculous and raunchy as the title may suggest. I mean, it“s pretty hard to ignore a scantily-clad cheerleader prancing around with a chainsaw decapitating zombies by the hundreds. It actually sounds like a dream I may have had one night. That being said, I can“t help but wonder why such a ridiculous concept could possibly keep me interested.


    I'd like to think I“m a decent person; I play games for innovative gameplay and intriguing story. Don“t get me wrong, I think Lollipop Chainsaw has that. Its hack-and-slash style is like Devil May Cry on estrogen pills, and as for story, while the life of a high school teenager doesn“t seems ripe with originality, Juliet Starling is no normal teen. I'm curious to find out why a legion of undead take over a high school, even though I get the feeling that it“s just an excuse to get the game going. But there has to be more that I“m not seeing here. Or perhaps, something that I may be seeing too much of…




    Juliet uses a pink-outlined chainsaw that emits bright sparkles. It's certainly a pretty picture when combat starts happening.


    Alright, gentlemen. Let“s think about Lollipop Chainsaw“s main protagonist. Juliet Starling, a fresh 18-year-old blonde in high school, is dressed in a cheerleader outfit which, if I may, seems a little skimpy for sporting event attire. Let“s not forgot that she loves the color pink (i.e. her bracelets, headband, and studded chainsaw), slaughters zombies, has a certain favorability for sucking on lollipops, and carries her boyfriends head around on her waist. Chances are, for males, you liked nearly every quality listed above, know few girls who share these qualities, or at least dreamed something of this sort once in your life. Is Lollipop Chainsaw really just a blatant representation of women in order to attract male gamers?


    If you take a quick look at Lollipop Chainsaw“s developer, you“ll notice that this title is under the flagship of Grasshopper Manufacture. These delightful people have brought you games such as Killer7, No More Heroes, and Shadows of the Damned. Apparent in the aforementioned games and all of their games in general, Grasshopper Manufacture“s games all share a certain over-the-top style, each with its own flare depending on which game you“re talking about. However, each of the games also has its fair share of phallic references, but it's done in a way that it wasn“t too offensive (hopefully) and was tasteful for that specific game.


    Now, when we look at Lollipop Chainsaw, it seems that sexual references are found right at the game“s central concept. One could argue that Juliet“s revealing appearance was a stylistic choice, and there“s nothing wrong about that. Grasshopper Manufacture“s games each display over-the-top action through different means, and in this case, it“s the exploitation of the stereotypical high school cheerleader and the adolescent fantasies that usually follow. But how far is too far?




    Flashy moments like this blend the barrier between violence and imagery


    Not too long ago, there were new screenshots of extra DLC costumes available for Juliet. One good thing I“ll say is that they truly follow the spirit of the game. These include a bunny suit, a throwback to Bruce Campbell“s Evil Dead character, and a few shirt/skirt variations. Then there“s the skin-tight leather suit (Whose zipper is very far down), and straight-up beach bikinis.




    Now here's something you don't see everyday...


    Tasteful, huh?


    Well, it turns out that some of these are available as pre-order bonuses, which means you can probably buy them later on from the Xbox Live store or Playstation Network Store. I was never a big fan of pre-order bonuses or DLC trinkets, and to see bikini alternate costumes as a purchasable bonus just doesn't set right with me. I sense some Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball syndrome since it“s so obvious that it“s an easy ploy for money. Enticing the gamer with nearly-full nudity for a few bucks is a sad but easy tactic. And maybe you“re saying to yourself, “Oh, I would never stoop to such a level.é But there will be people who will buy it, and we can“t blame them or get mad at them because cash traps are designed for a reason. While the costumes are following Lollipop Chainsaw“s theme, I can“t help but bring up the serious social commentary this topic sparks.


    It“s hard to decide whether or not Lollipop Chainsaw“s use of the female body is simply style or an attention grabber, but nonetheless, I still can“t wait to play the game for its other notable merits. It seems to play nicely, has a good art style and graphics, and because I“m a big zombie buff, there“s no way I can miss out on this game. But then there“s still the issue of certain themes apparent in the game. Today“s world runs off of a few factors, and one of them happens to be sexual appeal because, as the saying goes: "sex sells."


    Depending on whom you are and what your beliefs are, you may find some of it offensive or demeaning. But when you consider the developer“s history and the true nature of the game, Lollipop Chainsaw can be considered a colorful romp through high school slicing up zombies with a chainsaw and a mini skirt. Talk about imagery.


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  11. Back in Microsoft“s 2010 E3 conference, one of the highlights of the day was the presentation of the Star Wars game for Kinect. At the time, the Kinect was making its debut that year, so gamers were anxious to see how the new technology would implement gaming and full-body capture into one solid product. After a few tech demos including re-hashed sports games and main menu action, one game that caught people“s eyes was Star Wars (At the time, an unnamed Star Wars game).


    The big screen showed off a Jedi fluidly swinging his lightsaber back and forth, deflecting laser shots and cutting through battle droids like butter. However, the part that was even more impressive was that there was a young man on stage mimicking the same movements as the Jedi in the game. When I first saw this, I was immediately impressed. Sadly, if you look closer, you“ll notice that the presentation was very fake. The movements were most-likely pre-rendered CGI footage judging by the video, and even if it wasn“t, the gameplay was surely pre-recorded before the night before things got under way. Fans were a little disappointed, and the game continued to show off some snippets over the next two years.




    "Look at me everybody! This is what acting looks like!"


    Okay, enough of the history lesson. Now, Kinect Star Wars is a full-fledged product. It“s out for Kinect right now, and so far the reviews, well… let“s just say it didn“t bomb as bad as the Death Star did. But it has received some good and bad scores. While some of the concepts are neat and it looks flashy, it doesn“t exactly live up to the footage from 2010 by a long shot, and some of the mechanics don“t work the way they should. With all things considered, I“m surprised LucasArts didn“t decide to scrap this game and make Battlefront 3! But that“s for another time.


    Some people may not know it, but Kinect Star Wars is actually a group of mini-games, with the lightsaber slashing stuff being part of the main story mode. So, you“ll surf through the main menu and sift through all of the available modes. And you“ll see great classic Star Wars activities, including pod racing, lightsaber dueling, a strange rancor-destruction game, and…dancing?




    I never knew Threepio was so...flexible...


    It“s true. Star Wars has been touched by the gift of dance. Start up Galactic Dance-off and dance with your favorite characters such as Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Lando Calrissian. Yuck! I“ve had it up to here with LucasArts' excuses for Star Wars games. Force Unleashed 2 was a let down, the Old Republic is pricy, and now this? It may not sound so bad to witness your childhood heroes become degraded to nothing more than hipster-music-dancing fools…or maybe it is?


    Speaking of music, the songs are actually popular songs that you may have heard on the radio (If you still bother using one). The twist here is that the songs have been modified lyrically so that they relate to the Star Wars universe. So don“t be surprised if you fail to remember the words to “I“m Han Solo,é “Hologram Girl,é or “Princess in a Bottle.é You may even see some new dance moves like “The Trash Compacteré or “The Speeder.é I warn you: if you cringe easily and you“re a hardcore Star Wars fan, then you may want to consider avoiding searching up gameplay footage.


    Trust me, as a pretty big Star Wars fan, I couldn“t help but shudder as I saw Han Solo dance to a Jason Derulo song. It“s almost like a big “screw youé from George Lucas because everything related to Star Wars goes through him no matter what. That means he saw this, and thought it was okay! Who would ever want to give the green light to the sinister Emperor Palpatine doing a dance-off with Lord Vader himself to random pop themes? It makes me wonder if the man is still stable with himself.


    And maybe by now you“re thinking that I absolutely detest Kinect Star Wars because of what they“ve done. And to a point, you“re right. But somehow, there“s a part in me, deep down past all of the pride and shame that tells me it“s okay. A part of me finds it all to be kind of quirky, even a little amusing. And I have to hand it to the developers for making a fully-functioning dance game in a game with four other modes. It“s really quite a daunting task. And I hate to admit it, but some of these lyrics are just so darn catchy! The songs are all ones we know, and for some odd reason, hearing Star Wars words in between like subliminal messages is sort of memorizing. I hope this isn“t some sort of brainwashing technique.




    Changing a song about a booty call to being metaphorically more meaningful than a hologram is a win in my book


    Think about it; Kinect has always had a focus on all-age gaming, and with that there have been slews of kid-friendly games on Kinect. It shouldn“t be any surprise that Kinect Star Wars is just trying to get in on the action. That“s another thing: it“s a kids game! Well, it practically is. Hell, there“s a kid on the front cover. This game was designed to attract people of all ages, and that definitely includes children. The dance mode was created out of light-hearted fun, and hopefully some of the fans can understand that. And if you don“t like it, then don“t buy the game. Simple as that. Or, if you want to have a little bit of fun, don“t be shy to drop into Galactic Dance-off for a little while. Not for the squeamish, of course.


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  12. While still not officially announced, Dead Space 3 has been revealed to be in development and is definitely still a game to look forward to in the following year or so. So far the Dead Space series has been consistent with its console releases, using the original game“s formula to craft an excellent sequel. As long as Visceral Games can keep doing whatever it is they do, then perhaps Dead Space will perform a rare feat of producing a series in which every game is incrementally better than its predecessor. In order to achieve that, however, Visceral will have to do a few things first, and here“s what I hope to see them do in the next game.



    Plasma Cutting the Fine Edges




    The outer space sections in Dead Space 2 really showed off some fantastic lighting and sound effects


    This one is kind of a given, but it still deserves to be mentioned. It's been rumored that Dead Space might be receiving the Frostbite Engine 2.0 makeover, which can be seen in such games as Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed: The Run. If you have seen those two, then you“ll know that the games look fantastic and add an unmatched realism to the game. Now, Frostbite has been used on real-life first-person shooters and a surreal driving game. How would the engine fare on a sci-fi horror game?


    Besides enhancing the engine, Dead Space 3 could definitely improve on the art design even though I thoroughly enjoyed the art design in Dead Space 2. The markings in the Church of Scientology and some of the window shots of the Sprawl were some of the more memorable moments in my mind, so I hope that the icy environments that they intend to work with in this installment will still have some variety. Maybe there could be some frozen caverns or a stage based in the middle of a snow storm just to name a few. Considering that the past two games featured a lot of indoor industrial places, some weather effects and outdoor stages would really light up some of the fans eyes.




    Taking Charge




    Even though this is from multiplayer, sadly, this is pretty much what "Point B" is for most of the game


    I had one problem with Dead Space, and it“s that Isaac Clarke spends the game running errands for everybody! The Ishimura was probably the most annoying ship on the planet because once Isaac finished fixing one thing, another thing on the other side of the ship was already broken, and this would repeat throughout the whole game. And what happens? He leaves the ship anyways! Same goes for Dead Space 2.


    While some developers claimed that Isaac would “take chargeé and start “giving orders,é I didn“t really feel that. It still felt like Isaac was going from one thing to another, but the only difference is that he had Ellie to supposedly help behind the scenes. In Dead Space 3, Isaac needs to have some serious leadership. Considering that his mind is now healed and his girlfriend is “dealt with,é I“m hoping that this game is more of a rescue mission, and Isaac Clarke is captain. Or he“s at least doing things his way instead of taking orders from his communicator.




    Sharing the Fear with Friends




    Only in Dead Space will you see two grown men become overpowered by a single child


    Dead Space 2 introduced the series to multiplayer. Two teams, one human, one necromorph, are pitted against each other. The humans have a set of objectives, and the necromorphs must stop the humans from doing them. It“s a simple formula, but I actually enjoyed the multiplayer component. I liked unlocking new weapons, skins, and necromorph upgrades. Sure, it“s certainly dumbed down compared to other multiplayer games, but it worked (when EA“s servers feel like working correctly, at least).


    Now they can take that build and really add some depth to Dead Space 3“s multiplayer. Dead Space 2 had only five maps on launch day, so I can only hope that Dead Space 3 will have at least twice as many. The problem with a small selection of maps is that it allows for more players to learn the maps quickly, and everyone begins to use the same tactics over and over again because the maps didn“t really have too much strategy to them besides using your team numbers to your advantage.


    Speaking of numbers, Dead Space 2 could have up to eight players with four on each team. I like this because it forces you to work with your team no matter which side you were on. Humans, while powerful, can be easily demolished by three or four necromorphs, and necromorphs tend to die pretty quickly so backup is practically required. I“m hoping that the player cap is increased to ten, with five players on each team. The only changes would obviously be decreasing the humans“ weapons and adding more necromorph NPCs on the field. Personally, I hope that they decide to continue Dead Space multiplayer, and perhaps with a few tweaks it can become something really big in the future.




    More Necromorphs!




    If there's one thing you never want to be in free space with, it's with a bunch of bulbous tentacles


    This is another given if you“re a Dead Space fan. There“s no doubt that Dead Space 3 will bring new foes, just as Dead Space 2 introduced the aptly named “Pukeré and the never-ending “Pack.é Every necromorph that has been added to the list each has their own strengths and weaknesses, and were all very memorable. Now we“re left to wonder what types of horrible creations can come out of the Dead Space closet. I“m hoping to see something that flies or hovers, considering that there hasn“t been a necromorph that does so thus far. Also, anything that uses sound to detect its prey as its main weapon would also be fun to fight with.


    Another issue with the Dead Space games is the way bosses are handled. They usually turn into a pattern-based ordeal where the player avoids some hits and then shoots a central weakpoint. Bosses in the first Dead Space were okay, but in Dead Space 2, the only boss in the game (which is at the very end) is a run-and-gun ordeal. Dead Space was built on tank controls, so running around and popping off quick shots really isn“t the intended way of play. Dead Space 3 needs to have more boss battles, they need to work around the control scheme, and they should be as epic as any random encounter with any other necromorph.


    What do you think? Are there any specific additions or changes you'd like to see in Dead Space 3?


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  13. After spending an extensive amount of time with Deus Ex: Human Revolution, I feel that Adam Jensen, the game“s protagonist, has taught me a lot as far as surviving in the real world and dealing with situations that may fair more difficult than throwing out the garbage.


    Of course, if its Adam Jensen we“re talking about here, these solutions may not seem orthodox, or even rational in some cases, but they“re solutions nonetheless and I thought I“d take a moment to share how you too can solve your problems the Jensen way!



    No Entrance? No problem!




    Vents also make good storage components, especially for those pesky dead bodies!


    Ever find yourself completely mind-boggled when you approach a high security gate and can“t find any way to pick the lock or hack the computer system? You may consider turning right around and heading back home. But if you“re Adam Jensen, then you“ll just find a vent. It“s common knowledge that every building that was ever made in the history of man has a ventilation system tucked inside.


    All you got to do is find a vent shaft, open it (Because they“re always unlocked), and crawl right through. And don“t worry, because in today“s day and age, vents are pretty much clear of any traps, sharp fans, or spider webs that would normally get in someone“s way.


    Vents: transportation of the future!



    Sunglasses, Day In, Night Out




    Sunglasses so cool that the lens aren't even connected to each other


    It could a cloudy day outside. It could be pitch black in a power outage. It could be inside of a black hole. It doesn“t matter. All of the greatest icons in media history have adorned the legendary sunglasses. David Caruso could do it, and he even had one-liners in between the time he took out his sunglasses and actually put them on! Adam Jensen takes this another step forward.


    Not only do you rarely see the hero“s eyes, but his sunglasses are augmentations themselves. His sunglasses are etched into his scalp, and he always has them on. They literally never leave his face. And through alleyways, sewers, and nightclubs, you can guess that they“re still on, all the time. When you have a fashion statement, you have to rock it, and that“s what Adam Jensen does.



    Good with his Pheromones




    The 'Gun' is also a viable and effective speech choice, as seen here


    In games like Fallout or Skyrim, speech can be a vital choice for the player who chooses to try and talk their way in or out of a situation. Generally, this is done by leveling up speech and hoping to pick the correct statement in order to move on. This may seem adequate for some Wasteland brute or dragon-born warrior, but for Adam Jensen, a silver tongue must be as sharp as its name. Coming from an ex-SWAT background, Jensen can instantly compile a few handy lines right on the spot. But even then it may not help. How does one get around this?


    Simple. Just install a social identification augment and download background information on your target as your speaking to them. Perhaps they“re aggressive, or have been in jail, or their favorite color is blue. You can really find a lot about a person by simply stalking their lives from a historical database. And, in the bizarre case that all of the provided information doesn“t help, why not just discretely slap some pheromones in your target“s face, guaranteeing complete and unquestioned cooperation from that point on? Whether it“s legal or not isn“t the main concern. It“s just spectacular to pull a 180 on your suspect through invisible chemicals, that“s all.



    Icarus Never Took the Stairs




    Pikachu would be so jealous


    Imagine scaling to the top of a hundred-story skyscraper. The arid breeze sifting through your skin, you can“t but feel the urge to just fly. Well, too bad. According to gravity, you can“t do that, or else you“d end up on the floor with your feet going through your shoulders. But look at this with a Jensen mindset, and in case you haven“t figured it out yet, yes, you can totally jump off that skyscraper. Take a step off the ledge, and strike your best ninja pose as you levitate down in a yellow, sparkling flash of glory. Add some “whooshingé noises and the ability to stun anyone at your landing at that earns you the Jensen seal of approval.



    Never Ask for Anything


    Just don“t.




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  14. In 2007, Ubisoft introduced us to the professionally stoic Altair. Then in 2009, we spent 3 years with the playboy-turned-assassin Ezio Auditore. And within that time we learned about Desmond Miles, an average bartender from New York born into the order. Over a span of a few years, Assassin“s Creed has brought us new, likable protagonists, each having their own pasts and stories.


    Now, in 2012, a new player enters the field: Ratohnhaké:ton, or Conner for short. Staged in the heat of the American Revolution, Connor must follow his fate to become an assassin and claim vengeance on those who wronged him. Can Conner live up to his ancestor“s gaming nirvana, or will this assassin desynchronize the series?


    Humble Beginnings


    Altair grew up in a harsh childhood, and Ezio grew up as a party-goer until he was forced to draw revenge, so how does Connor“s story add up? Well, his is similar to Ezio, but perhaps to a more extreme extent. While Ezio lost his brothers and father, Connor“s gripe is the loss of his native home. Details are scarce, but this premise will provide a plethora of juicy story-telling.


    There will also be memories of Connor during his childhood up to his adulthood, something that I enjoyed in Assassin“s Creed 2 and Fallout 3. Adding the earlier memories will help absorb the player into Connor“s world and situation more efficiently. Not only is it good for plot, but it also makes for engaging tutorial levels.



    Not too sure what's going on here, but Connor looks pretty cool



    Friends in the Right Places


    In the original Assassin“s Creed, there weren“t really any famous historical figures that really stood out to an Average Joe. In Assassin“s Creed 2 and beyond, we get to interact with Leonardo Da Vinci and even fist-fight the Pope! And in Assassin“s Creed 3, you can only expect more. American history is a class that almost everybody takes in life, and almost any American can tell you who George Washington and Benjamin Franklin is (hopefully).


    That being said, they“ll be in Assassin“s Creed 3. Connor will get to spend time with Washington to plot out missions, and he may go to Franklin possibly for some new gadgets or whatnot. There may be other famous names in this installment (Paul Revere and John Adams, just to name a few) so hopefully Ubisoft really takes advantage of the time period.



    Running from Scratch


    Right after Assassin“s Creed 2, the team who worked on the game immediately started work on Creed 3 while other studios developed Brotherhood and Revelations. Due to this, you may notice that the animations in the past Assassin“s Creeds pretty much look the same. Altair, Ezio, and Desmond free-run in the same fashion, and maybe it has something to do with genetics, but you won“t be seeing the same set in this game.


    Assassin“s Creed 3 will be using animations from scratch, so Connor, civilians, and the environment will act and react differently than previous titles. Not that I had a problem with the old animations, but it will definitely be nice to see some new animations in work.



    "Welcome to Assassin v.s. Wild"



    Dagger, meet Tomahawk


    One of the bigger changes to Assassin“s Creed will be the addition of dual-wielding. This has been a heavily requested feature since Creed 2, and to see it in action is great and seems fitting for Connor“s character. With the addition of dual-wielding, double counters are now available. For those who don“t know, Brotherhood introduced double counter kills but the execution of them wasn“t incredibly refined and it was really a counter kill with a ranged kill so technically it doesn“t count. Now Connor can counter against two foes at once. One screenshot shows him clashing a tomahawk with a British soldier“s rifle.


    Speaking of guns, the wrist-gun was introduced in Assassin“s Creed 2, and for me, it was a very welcome addition. Along with throwing knives, a crossbow, and bombs, ranged combat has definitely become a viable alternative for combat in Assassin“s Creed. Some new shots from Assassin“s Creed 3 shows Connor carrying an actual rifle, which he“ll need because, considering the time period, it“s almost a guarantee that all enemies will have a ranged firearm on them.


    I“ve followed Assassin“s Creed since its initial launch back in 2007. There have been rough patches, but combined with the many achievements under its belt Assassin“s Creed has grown into an amazing video game series. The series started to follow the Call of Duty method by releasing a new game every year, and while each one was fairly good, there wasn“t any dramatic improvement or changes. Assassin“s Creed 3 is hoping to change that with a brand new character, story, and spirit.


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  15. I recently stumbled upon a Skyrim video which displays the certainly advantageous perks for being a rogue in Skyrim. Adorned in magnificent Nightingale Armor, the player picked off far away targets with well-aimed bow shots and performed rolls and crept around corners to pull off some sick assassinations. Needless to say, I was impressed; the majority of my Skyrim file consisted of bashing anything that got close.


    See, when I normally play games, I don“t usually have the patience to sneak around or even be subtle unless I“m actually forced to. You could say that I“m a natural “Ramboé when it comes to video games, and most of the time it works. But the problem with this approach is that after a while, it starts to lose meaning. I“ve spent so many games simply shooting or slashing at first sight, but at this point it“s all routine.


    So, I decided to spend the next couple of weeks playing games centered on stealth, or play games in a stealthy manner. Skyrim was only the first, and acted as a rough introduction to the realm of “Stealth.é


    At first, I considered starting over with a new character to try out the rogue class, but I looked over at my tank-like warrior and realized that the extremely-high One-Handed and Archery skills could help me start off well. All I would need to do is level up Sneak, Lockpicking, and Pickpocketing, and the rest will sure follow. That“s what I thought, at least.




    Some club soda should get the blood stains out


    I decided to try and hone my sneaking skills in a random cave, filled with dozens of necromancers. It was perfect. Narrow hallways, dark caverns, and good ranging distance reeked of ninja-like activity. I pressed down on my left analog stick and crept right in.


    In case you“re wondering, I was a level 30-something Argonian, and I had on a full set of Steel Plate armor; not a very suitable ensemble for sneaking. I thought my decent Sneak level would compensate for that, but without any perks into that skill tree, it served as useless. I tried to approach an unsuspecting necromancer as she walked down a flight of stairs. I unsheathed my sword and tried to get close, but my Heavy Armor made me sluggish, and just as I got about two meters away from her, she turns around, detecting my presence. I was so thrown off guard that I barely managed to finish her off was it not for a quick “Fus Roh Dah.é


    Things did not fare any better deeper into the cave; a pair of necromancers found me as I tried to shoot them with arrows from a higher ledge, another summoned an Ice Atronach as I tried to go in for a behind kill, and I alerted several necromancers and had to run all the way to the start of the dungeon before my “Hiddené status returned. Needless to say, I beat the dungeon in the sloppiest fashion imaginable.




    Caves in Skyrim can get creepy, so bring some torches


    After leaving the cave, I was just about ready to give up and return to my barbaric desires. Frustrated, I hopped onto the Skyrim wiki and read a few articles about sneaking. As it turns out, equipment, character level, and perks significantly alter one“s experience (Who knew, eh?). Because I got pretty far into the game with my level 30-something character, the enemies were tough, so my low Sneak skill couldn“t compensate for the level difference. My bouldering, Steel Plate Armor? Too noisy. And my Sneak skill was at 40 or so, but without any significant perks, the percent bonuses aren“t enough to get me by. After realizing this, I went back onto Skyrim, gathered some coins, and ran a few “errandsé to make some changes…


    After an hour or so of fast-traveling, skill teachers, and shopping, I had a decent rogue build, with an emphasis on One-Handed combat. I bought myself some Elven armor, crafted and enchanted two steel daggers, and had a few enlightening conversations with some Sneak skill NPCs. I was ready for round two, and stumbled upon another cave. This time, things went much better. I one-shot killed a few bandits, stuck to the shadows, and even got my first melee assassinations for the first time in Skyrim (Yay!). I walked out of the cave with a new perspective.




    There's no way to word how awesome this armor is


    Many games that impose multiple play styles do it for a reason. When I got my first back-stab kill, it was thrilling. Sure, I could have easily walked up to the bandit and fought him, but it wouldn“t have the same enjoyment as sneaking. My hands shook and my heart beat faster as I silently hid behind rock formations and crates, and to scan the area of hiding spots and enemies made me feel like a medieval Jason Bourne. Perhaps for someone who normally plays stealthily, they probably think I“m over-exaggerating, and I am. But to change up styles and try something new is definitely a lot of fun.


    And it went on. I improved my methods by spam-jumping up mountain cliffs, edging over deadly ledges, and using arrows to lure enemies to different spots. Eventually, Sneak became my second highest skill at a whopping 70, only second to my 82 One-Handed. I crafted dual-Dwarven daggers, found an ebony bow, and earned the right to wear the awe-inspiring Nightingale Armor. I had reached a certain rogue euphoria in Skyrim, and while there is better equipment available, I felt as though I had achieved something special.


    It was so special, in fact, that I grew a hunger for stealth. In my daily life, I clocked all of my actions, turned off all the lights in the house, and stalked several people on the street. And if my imaginary accusations of myself sound ridiculous, then you“ll know that I had to have more. I ditched Skyrim, and picked up another title with a focus on discrete death. It was about an assassin, and his creed…




    To be continued in Part 2…


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  16. For those who don“t know, The Tester is a reality game show that you can download for free off of the Playstation Store. Basically, it“s about a handful of contestants who play video games (Or, in other words, praised Sony in their audition video) and compete in a series of challenges to snag a job at SCE or another developer related to Playstation.


    There have been three seasons so far, and this season the winning contestant gets a job at Sony Santa Monica Studio, the geniuses behind God of War and Fat Princess. Over the past two years or so, the show has been trying to grab more viewers and has been trying to flesh out what the show is trying to go for. While I admit that things have improved, there are still some major gripes that I find disturbing for game show standards.



    A Video Game Show, Where Games aren“t the Star




    "This football will teach me about the complex world of Gaming! Yeah!"


    You“d think in a game show about gaming featuring gamers competing for a job in the gaming industry, there“d be a decent amount of video game playing, right?




    More apparent in the first two seasons, The Tester regular puts contestants through challenges that don“t really have a lot to do with gaming. Sure, they encourage leadership skills, integrity, and a calm composure, but if I had to lose a job because I couldn“t eat crackers fast enough or I couldn“t fire a cantaloupe off a slingshot, then I probably wouldn“t bother signing up in the first place.


    One of the few times I remember gaming-related challenges were the first two season finales and a few trivia challenges. And I“m not saying these challenges are bad; in fact, I find them almost always entertaining and when you think about it, they do actually enforce a skill required to work in the business. It“s just that when the elimination time comes, which is at the end of every episode, the judges will send someone home because they failed a miniscule part of the challenge, and it eventually becomes frustrating when your favorite was sent home for some stupid reason.


    Now, they have gotten better at it. In season 3, contestants face each other in actual video games and the winner gains a bonus for the actual upcoming challenge. It“s definitely a step in the right direction.



    Where do they find these People?




    Quick! Use a Lesser Ward!


    Like any good game show, you need to have a colorful set of characters that can create drama or awkward scenes, or most likely both. When it comes to The Tester, I“m really not too sure what they“re going for. For me, I“m split when it comes to the cast; half the cast is really well selected, and the other half is filler or conflict-starters.


    For the half that I enjoy, I think they seem like nice, genuine people in real-life and are usually the ones I root for. As for the other half, I completely despise them… or even forget they were ever on the show. Perhaps it“s just a case that they didn“t seem to reflect the same magic they had pre-showtime, but no matter whom it is, one thing that always bothered me was the phony “Personal Cameraé moments in which basically, in reality shows, contestants have little segments where their confessionals are spliced in between the show to add some insight to the situation.


    Now, in a lot of shows, it“s clear when these confessionals are forced or scripted, and in The Tester, it“s rampant. Or maybe they do actual, real confessionals. Or maybe they“re really nice when not on screen? I don“t know. But no matter what the case is, they just seem unnatural.



    A Panel of Producers




    One of these contestants will work for Santa Monica... Someone save us.


    At the end of each episode, after the contestants have completed their challenge, the losing team or contestants must face a panel of judges who will decide the person going home. This is always the most controversial part of the show, as it is in many reality shows. But it“s particularly controversial because this is where the show almost always takes a wrong turn. Generally, we would assume that the contestant who showed the least effort and failed in the challenge, along with past failures, would go home. Sadly, that“s not how it goes down in The Tester. See, in The Tester, you can do everything right, or you can redeem for your past performances; it doesn“t matter. I“ll make an example out of one of the more recent episodes: episode 3 of season 3.


    In the challenge, two teams had to go through an obstacle course, carry cantaloupes along the way, and each member must hit a target with a cantaloupe to complete the challenge. The losing team had two significantly weak members; burnNibelheim and Suzkaiden. One refused to carry ammo to the slingshot, and the other struggled to hit her target compared to the rest of the team. It might make sense to send either home, correct?


    Well, for those who don“t watch the show, Suzkaiden is basically the villain in the show; she has a horrific attitude, and she constantly opposes the other contestants. Her brash attitude has even been signified by other contestants in front of the judges during elimination at every judging this season. And yet, despite all of the clear reasons to send this girl home, who did they eliminate?


    Egoraptor, a contestant that didn“t perform poorly and who has a huge fan-base among the internet. The judges claimed that Egoraptor wasn“t being a team-player because he didn“t help out his team-mates with the launching of the cantaloupes and therefore abandoned them. Yes, this is true. He did leave… to retrieve more ammo for the team! And yes, Egoraptor did shoot his target on the first try, but to be honest, that was sheer luck. If you“ve seen the set-up they had, then you“ll know that it wasn“t science.




    Shooting fruit from a slingshot is just as mindless as it seems.


    The reason why they sent Egoraptor, and then later burnNibelheim, was because they needed to keep Suzkaiden for- you guessed it, drama! Oh, drama. It keeps the world spinning. And it also, supposedly, keeps viewers.


    But don“t blame the judges; they“re just doing whatever the producers tell them to. The producers believe that keeping contestants who create conflicts will gain views, as if they know people will always come for that stuff. But the problem here is that the villain isn“t even that interesting, or that bad; she just yells a lot. And thanks to the elimination of Egoraptor, many Egoraptor and Xbox fan-boys have been bombarding forums and The Tester YouTube videos with constant hate. So, I would say their plan has back-fired this time, and if we“re talking about butt-hurt internet people, then this injury will last for a while.


    I hope the producers for the show will learn from their mistakes after this fiasco. If you search up the episode that I“m talking about, or now any Tester-related videos, you may see that the “Dislikeé bar is the majority. Let them take this as sign to change the way they do the show. And for the onslaught of Egoraptor/Xbox fan-boys, go do something else. All of the abrasive comments are pointless, rude, and degrading to the show and Egoraptor himself. While some of them demand change, complaining about it in a ridiculous manner won“t get you anywhere.


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  17. My first experience with Twisted Metal wasn“t a good one.


    I remember going to my chum“s basement on a chilly Fall afternoon, and my friend kept nagging me about never having played Twisted Metal Black, a game that I“d heard about maybe once or twice. It wasn“t long before he put the disc in his busted PS2 Slim and we were off.


    Now, this game spawned around 2001, roughly two years after the PS2 debuted. With that, I was prepared to be lenient on my judgment of the game (It was 2008 at the time). Unfortunately, my judgment still stood; I thought the game was actually pretty horrible, to put it lightly. The controls felt stiff and cheap, the visuals weren“t all too hot for a 2001 title, and the vehicles and characters were easily unlikable. I didn“t understand all of the high praise emitting from Twisted Metal, and from that point on I never played it again (As well as my friend who always held a grudge against me for my opinion on the game).


    But of course, fate loves throwing curveballs, and in February of 2012, Twisted Metal was ready for a new installment. Could an eleven-year lapse between Black and the reboot cure my hatred?




    In a game like Twisted Metal, physics are out of the question.


    It was another chilly Winter night, similar to the one when I first played Twisted Metal. Returning from a local video rental store, I popped the brand new Twisted Metal in my PS3 and immediately an imprint of Sweet Tooth“s face greeted me upon start-up. I sighed in agony and started a standard death-match. As I sifted through the already-unlocked vehicles, I thought to myself that even though the vehicles were a bit ridiculous, they were still kind of neat in theory. I mean, how many games let you drive around in an ambulance that fires hospital gurneys?


    In the end, I picked "The Outlaw," a souped-up police SUV. Then, the match started up, and without warning, as I flipped through the manual, I was immediately bombarded by a waterfall of bullets as two foes rushed at me and plowed me over like a toy car. I frantically tossed the manual aside and began driving away, one of the few controls I managed to memorize. As I started to get away from my foes, a red targeting sight creeps from behind and I“m once again bombarded, but this time with a shower of fire.


    Now burning in an inferno, I tried to drive through all of the houses and stores littered in the map in hopes of loosing my pursuers. My health was drying up faster than a lake in the Sahara, but the HUD indicated a health power-up located inside of the middle of a grocery store. I casually shattered through the store“s windows, and just as I was about to absorb a well-needed health, an enormous semi-truck that I later found out is known as “Darksideé popped out of nowhere and smashed the side of my SUV, delivering the final blow. The game laughed in my face, and a tacky “Game-Overé logo blinked on-screen. I sat back in silence, awe-struck.




    This vehicle is most-likely not street legal.


    I sat in shock. Not because of sheer anger, but because of how exhilarating my two minutes alive were. I“ve played difficult and intense games before, but Twisted Metal slaps you in the face and pours freezing water over your head… and that's only as a morning wake-up call. Never do I remember this game being so difficult or fast-paced, but then again my previous experience was mostly me quitting after a few minutes and watching my friend play as he yelled in frustration.


    I now understand why. Twisted Metal embodies the chaos and intense speed of death racing, and does so with big guns and bigger cars. Sure, the controls are still similar to how they were back in 2001, but they work, and are absolutely necessary if the player hopes to escape death and fire off weapons quickly enough.


    But I suppose the real question is: Do I like Twisted Metal now?




    How do you improve a chainsaw? Ignite it in flames, of course!


    Well, to be short- yes.


    I know getting my ass kicked seems like a weird way to like a game, but that beating only pushed me to beat through it again, which I did several times. It was because of the challenge and chaos that Twisted Metal pulled me in and didn“t let go for the few days I spent with the game. Perhaps it isn“t enough to get me to buy it, but maybe, if the price drops or someone gets it for my birthday, then theoretically I won“t be disappointed to play it again. Possibly.


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  18. I“m going to just come out and say it: no one messes with the Vanguard in Mass Effect! No one! Honestly, that thing is a tank made of pure biotic power and awesomeness. Biotic charge is nothing short of exhilarating, and that Nova attack… wow. You don“t want to be the person inside of that radius, I“ll tell you that.


    But enough about why the Vanguard kicks ass. I digress because the Mass Effect 3 demo came out a few days ago, and the public multiplayer beta only a couple days after that. I eagerly downloaded the 1700mb file and after a quick trip through Commander Shepard“s preview of his upcoming adventure, I dove straight into the online fray. Right from the start you are introduced to a class selection page. All of the single-player classes make a return here so players who have spent hours with their beloved Engineers or Sentinels should feel right at home.


    As I scrolled down to the Vanguard, which was at the bottom (Because Bioware saves the best for last), I was puzzled to see that only the human female was available for that class (each class has a human male and female and two other races to choose from). I don“t see why male or female for humans can be interchangeable as it only subtracts one race slot that could“ve been used for another race. But, I decided that playing as a female would be well worth it, so my female Vanguard deployed.




    All of the normal classes return, but I'm pretty sure we all know who we came for...


    The general layout for Mass Effect 3“s multiplayer is nothing special; in its beta phase, the menus are just plain blue with red highlights, and navigation definitely isn“t as smooth as interfaces from Halo or Call of Duty. Nonetheless, it gets the jobs done, and there was a surprising depth to it all; I spent a good twenty minutes configuring weapon-load-outs, equipping weapon mods, leveling up powers, and customizing the outer appearance of my female Vanguard right from the start before any playtime. Here, finding a match is simple enough. The player sets up several categories such as difficulty, location, and enemy variation, and matches are found faster than a Biotic Charge, and I“m running on NAT 3 people! Bravo!


    Now, the fun part. As I get tossed into the middle of a match, I hear gunshots and vibrations from my controller erupt during the last moments of the loading screen. After a while, I realize that those shots were my character being shot at. What the hell? What a great way of starting the match. Eventually, I“m in, and I immediately notice a change in movement. Compared to Mass Effect 2, my character moves with a similar tank-ness but feels more agile thanks to changes in control and additions of unlimited sprint, dodge-rolls, and improved cover maneuverability. The new cover-to-cover system is reminiscent of Gears of War, which some people may find handy.


    In addition, the two maps provided are fairly small, but they offer not only varied levels or combat but also good, strategic points to try out your abilities. If your teammates are suppressing enemies in a small straightaway, you can run into a nearby building and flank them from above. Speaking of teammates, Mass Effect 3“s multiplayer is a full co-op experience. Sadly, you won“t be going toe-to-toe with your friends to see whose Singularity is more potent, but you will get to team-up with three other players and battle waves of enemies to perform a set of goals. After each match you level up, and you can buy item packs, one of which may contain that shiny secondary color for your armor!




    You can choose to play on Bronze, Silver, or Gold ranking missions. Or, pick random and cross your fingers.


    Overall, I“m very satisfied with how Mass Effect 3 is turning out. The game has a solid multiplayer, it looks gorgeous, and the weapons and powers have a more powerful impact. While cooperative-only components aren“t among the most popular features in a game, the way it was implemented in Mass Effect 3 is excellent and I hope it can thrive at least for a good year or two with a few DLCs sprinkled here and there. Mostly everyone knows Mass Effect for a fantastic single-player experience, but now we may know it as a game with great multiplayer, too.


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  19. I always make sure to give a chance to games that lack the huge amounts of advertising or money as triple-A titles. Recently, in fact, I stumbled upon a little game called “AMYé the other day, and judging by YouTube videos and screenshots, I was excited to try out a brand new survival-horror game that wasn“t Resident Evil or Dead Space.


    I remembered how greatly impressed I was when I discovered Siren: Blood Curse, hidden in a small corner in the Playstation Store, so I took the same feelings upon downloading AMY. Almost faster than the time it took to download, I quit the game and yelled at the Xbox to give me a refund.




    "I'll teach you to try and steal my purse!"


    Right from the get-go, Lana, the game“s protagonist, awakens from a train crash, and at first I thought it explained the wonky movements in the game, but sadly, the controls didn“t fare any better off the train. Lana uses a tank-control-like system, so her movements are fuddled together to simulate the disparity of the situation or some other nonsense. It doesn“t matter because moving around in AMY is pretty bad. Half the time I walked into walls or barriers that were basically things on the floor with invisible walls. It was also hard to position Lana to use consoles or pick up items, and in a game where survival is key, fighting the analog sticks shouldn“t be part of the battle.




    While I respect AMY's style, it's broken gameplay just can't pick up the slack.


    It only takes a few minutes for Lana to pick up a wooden board and start handing out a thrashing. As I walked with my new weapon an infected stood up and began to limp towards my direction. Combat in AMY is interesting to say the least. First, Lana slouches over in some sort of demented “battle-stance,é and with one button press she will flail the plank like it was the hammer of Thor. Sadly, the wooden plank definitely packs less of a punch than any kind of hammer.


    Combat feels very airy, similar to Oblivion, but to a completely new level. Your best bet is to mash the attack button and hope that the enemy can“t get a hit in because dodging is just embarrassing, really. I feel as though Lana“s lack of energy in her dodge reflected my growing disinterest for the game.




    I think this portrays how I felt after playing AMY.


    I think the most aggravating part of AMY was my overall expectations. Now, I always try to jump into a game with a neutral perspective, but the trailers really got me excited. I loved everything the game had to offer; new survival mechanics, gloomy art style, and a possibly involved storyline. After playing through the first chunk of AMY, I just couldn“t bring myself to move on.


    Later on, the game becomes slightly unplayable due to continued problems in its exposition and attempts at strategy-based bosses and Amy“s combat abilities. Not to mention that frame-rate drops faster than rain, and screen tearing is rampant. I even usually say that games have some redeeming qualities or little quirks to spark the interest in people, but if I were to recommend AMY to someone, I“d feel pretty bad.


    If you wish to give AMY a chance, then download the demo. Trust me, it“s as far as you“d want to get in the game. Or you can check out our review for another take on Amy's shortcomings.


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  20. From what I hear and see around the internet and from other people, the Playstation Move seems to be a decent accessory to the Playstation 3. That“s the problem- I have yet to find enough reason to pick up the Move, other than the fact that I don“t have a hundred or so dollars lying around. I respect developers trying to toss in Move functions in games like Resistance 3, Killzone 3, and Resident Evil 5.


    But see, I“m a fairly picky person. I spend minutes separating the bits of vegetables in my food, and I tend to spend half of my time in RPGs customizing the color of armor trims. So, that being said, I“m a little hesitant on the selection available for the Move. Not that the games are bad, but there“s a few that I“d really like to see and that just might tip the scale of my decision.




    Dead Space 2




    If it can be done in Resident Evil, then there“s no stopping it from happening in Dead Space. Practically sharing the same control scheme, Dead Space can take a few notes from Resident Evil if it ever happens on the Move. Imagine traversing the Sprawl and fending off necromorphs with the Move controller. Considering Dead Space“s third-person angle, the Move could easily be implemented for improved aiming over the analog controller. I was teased by the collector“s edition of Dead Space 2, which contained a free copy of the game Dead Space: Extraction using Move capabilities. While this was fun, I was hoping for a more daring feature on the disc. Another factor to consider is that in Dead Space, the player can move and shoot simultaneously. This added mobility should also be enticing for Visceral Games as a good opportunity to show off the Move“s potential.





    Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception




    I wasn“t the only one thinking of it. There were many rumors about Uncharted 3 making a Move release, but sadly it didn“t happen. While I understand that Naughty Dog wanted to create a solid product, I think adding Move capabilities would truly enhance some parts of the game. Using some of the advertised Move attachments, the player can really feel like he or she is firing an AK-47. It would also be interesting to utilize in button prompts for climbing and scripted events. Perhaps one could even throw a punch with the swing of the controller? I have seen several iterations of motion control in Uncharted but they only went as far as throwing grenades and balancing Drake on a log (both of which were a bit laughable).





    The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim




    I know this one“s a bit of a stretch, but hear me out. If you“ve ever played Skyrim, then you“ll know that combat boils down to whatever is in the player“s left and right hands such as magic or weapons. So, if the player has two functioning hands, and if there are two Move sticks, and if I“ve done my math correctly (for once), then Move controls would make sense in Skyrim. The Move controllers would act as your hands and you could swing a sword, cast spells, or fire a bow using the accurate sensors of the Move. Swordplay, you ask? Check out a game called Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Archery? Wii Sports Resort boasts a whole mode for archery in a very clever way. And throwing? It“s a simple task for the Move. Besides combat, the Move can also be used to possibly play alchemy, pick-pocketing, or lock-picking mini-games.


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  21. I Am Alive was a game that we heard about, oh, only four years ago. Essentially, we received an E3 trailer in 2008 and were subsequently left in the dark after that. There wasn“t any news, updates, or information besides another trailer in 2010 which was less than impressive.


    Finally, in 2011, Ubisoft released a legitimate gameplay trailer for I Am Alive. After being in the dark for nearly four years, many delays, and changes in developers, will this downloadable title take advantage of its rough journey?



    A Project in the Darkworks

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    I Am Alive had a confusing and jumpy upbringing. It all started when Jade Raymond, ex-producer for Assassin“s Creed, was rumored to have been working on a new title at the time, which we later found out wasn“t true. At E3 2008, the first trailer emerged for I Am Alive, and it depicted the main character running for his life and defending himself against a group of men for a bottle of water. Later on it flashes back to the main character walking to work, and then falling victim to the earthquake that would begin the game.


    There was much speculation about the story and gameplay. After compiling everything, it would have been a third-person survival game in which you venture around in a post-apocalyptic Chicago and try to find survivors while trying to survive yourself. I was very excited for this idea so I kept my fingers crossed as I waited, and waited...and then waited some more. I consistently checked the official webpage and scoured forums and news sites for any relevant information about the game but after about a year of waiting and with nothing new to see, I gave up hopes for the game for a little while.


    Then, in 2010, I Am Alive made a surprising comeback with a new gameplay trailer, which displayed some of the destructible environments. I“ll be honest, after waiting two years and only getting a minute-and-a-half minute teaser, I was pretty ticked off. It didn“t stop me from getting excited again, however. Sadly, nothing new came up again for another year, when they released a real gameplay trailer showing what the final product is. Turns out that they scrapped the original concept, and the title was handed over from Darkworks to Ubisoft Shanghai sometime in 2010.




    I Am… a Family Man

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    Now that we have a game nearly ready to go, we can delve into the meat of it. You play as a man who is searching for his wife and daughter. The catch is that it has been one year since the “Event,é a circumstance that has eliminated nearly all of the world“s population. It sounds similar to the previous earthquake concept considering how the game features destroyed skyscrapers and roads, most likely damaged by earthquakes. The story is definitely a change from before, but I actually like the new story concept because it seems like a good outlet for character development, drama, and I“m just a sucker for those kinds of movies/games.





    The Beauty of an Empty Handgun

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    The game is still a third-person survival game, but it takes some qualities of Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the Uncharted series. One aspect of the game is combat, which you can imagine that, in a post-apocalyptic game, it would mostly involve melee. The main character can use blades and blunts, but nothing has been shown for any make-shift weapons just yet. Ranged weapons are also a possibility. The player starts out with an unloaded handgun, and besides having some fantastic metaphorical meaning, the player can find ammo or use the gun to thwart would-be waste-landers, loaded or not.


    When fighting man-to-man, the game stays in third-person, but when using a gun or the featured bow and arrow, the game shifts to a first-person angle. I was never a big fan of this mechanic but it seems to be bearable in I Am Alive. When not fighting for one“s life, the player will be climbing around crumbling buildings and shattered boulevards. The climbing system in I Am Alive includes a stamina bar, and when performing free-running actions this bar will decrease, so the player will have to strategically conserve stamina.


    The last part of I Am Alive is survival. Considering that the environment is a desolate city filled with crazies and lunatics, you“ll want to stay fit and healthy, so the game will include ways to keep the main character in shape. The player will also find many items to help him traverse the wasteland or barter with other survivors. Speaking of other survivors, you“re not alone in this journey. Some survivors will ask for help or items, while most will try to kill you and use you as a blanket. You can try to talk your way out, run away, or, like I said earlier, you can use your acting skills to threaten enemies with a possibly-loaded handgun (And by the way, it probably isn“t).





    Is the Anticipation Still Alive?

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    At the moment, I Am Alive is shaping up to look like a good game. With interesting game mechanics and a graphic style that reminds me of movies like The Road and I Am Legend, I Am Alive should be another excellent title under Ubisoft“s belt if all goes well. No matter what happens, I want to point out that this game took way too long to complete.

    After holding onto the edge for four years, I may be thankful to finally receive a game but the fact that it“s only a downloadable title makes me question Ubisoft“s integrity. Not to say that downloadable games aren“t good, but couldn“t they use more time to get this as a full release, even with all of the setbacks they had to go through? And, I was more excited before when I saw the first trailer compared to when I saw the most recent one. Even though I“ll definitely be waiting on the final product, I“ll always wonder what could“ve been…


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  22. I know a yearly recap may seem a little belated at this point, but I wanted to give 2011 the chance to flesh out a bit. After looking over some of the events and games that have occurred over the past year, it“s easy to point out some very notable instances, whether they“re good or bad.


    And while I can“t pin-point every single triumph or tragedy from 2011, I can surely express some thoughts about what has happened in this great year for gaming. Considering how many fantastic titles there was this year, I didn“t get the chance to play everything so don't be shocked if I missed out on something. I can still give you a decent wrap-up of what I have played, however.




    The Year of RPGs

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    Not to be confused with its explosive denotation, 2011 consisted of many stellar role playing games. Many of these titles were highly anticipated over the course of several months or even years. Now that I mention it, many of these games will keep you busy for several months…or years.

    - Dead Island“s reverse trailer provided some powerfully emotional images, and while the final product had a rough launch, it“s hard to deny that severing the limbs of zombies with a fire axe or a katana would ever old.


    - Deus Ex: Human Revolution also copied Dead Island“s approach to advertisement by showing off an impressive cinematic trailer with movie-quality standards. Thankfully, while it definitely wasn“t one of the most graphically stunning games of this year, its art design, soundtrack, and overall style helped bolster the innovative power-based gameplay in Deus Ex.


    - RAGE, developed by legendary id Software, reaped the benefits of its nine year journey. The game runs at a beautiful 60 fps, and there are loads of guns, missions, likable characters that call to other classics such asBorderlands or the movie Mad Max (both of which are very awesome).


    - Dark Souls continued Demon“s Souls“ notorious reputation of being difficult, and not the normal kind of difficulty seen in today“s games, but classic, finger-numbing, nearly-lifeless gameplay reminiscent of older titles.


    - The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was definitely the most anticipated RPG of the year, and for good reason. Skyrim has an interesting main quest, a plethora of side-quests, and more weapons or spells than one could imagine. The innovative leveling and skill system also helped Skyrim revolutionize what an RPG should be.


    - Mass Effect 2 hit the PS3 in 2011, and I was skeptical. I didn“t find the combat or dialogue tree enjoyable at first, but once the experience pulls you in, Mass Effect 2 introduces a compelling story-line with believable characters and dialogue, and the combat and RPG elements are fantastic as well.




    A Little Competition Never Hurt Anyone

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    With the slew of legendary series making new installments, the giants of the gaming industry had to go toe-to-toe with their genre counter-parts. Sometimes there were conflicts among fan-bases, platforms, or even both.


    - The third-person shooter market has been emerging past the many first-person games that many know and love. The two notable TPSs of 2011 were Uncharted 3: Drake“s Deception, and Gears of War 3. Both are cover-based shooters. Both are exclusives to their respective consoles. Both show off the technical power of their engine and their software. Uncharted and Gears of War arguments have constantly lead to verbal death matches in which no one simply wins. The people who win are the people who enjoy whatever they choose to play, whether it be Uncharted,Gears, or both. And just to let you know, I prefer Uncharted over Gears, but that doesn“t necessarily mean that it“s better. Rather, it just means that I think Nathan Drake/Nolan North is one of the greatest characters/people in the world.


    - The big bout of the year was Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. While I didn“t really care much for either, it was hard for the topic to slip from conversation. Two long-running series had been set for a Fall release. While Call of Duty has millions of players online everyday of every hour, Battlefield has had its stake in the ground of gaming for years. The reason for the conflict is probably the fact that Call of Duty nowadays receives a lot of hate for being popular and, let“s be honest, haters do what they must. Just like most game arguments, it was pointless to figure out which game was “betteré because both games have separate styles and features. Call of Duty is more fast-paced and quick while Battlefield is more strategic and tactical. It“s kind of like comparing a hockey match to a chess match, and I mean no insult to either game.


    - Motion controls are no strangers to the PS3 and the Xbox, and the Playstation Move and Kinect have continued to try to win gamers over. Kinect has been trying to work on new games and insert any chance of motion control into games like Forza 4. Move has been trying to do the same with games like Killzone and Resistance. While I didn“t care for either, I did get the chance to tinker with both platforms and they“re both a lot of fun. I don“t see this becoming anything serious anytime soon, but what matters is that they“re entertaining. Meanwhile, the Wii has been playing it safe with more stellar titles like Skyward Sword. It“s all a calm prelude before the Wii U makes a debut this year so we“ll have to wait and see how much farther motion controls go in the next few years.





    The Strange, The Weird, and The Goofy

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    Every year, there are games that stand out amidst all the others, and 2011 is no exception. Whether they were known for its design, humor, or style, these games sparked a feeling inside of me like no other games, and whether it was good or disturbing is under my discretion.

    - Shadows of the Damned came from Grasshopper Manufacturer, the people responsible for wacky games like Killer7and No More heroes. Considering their reputation, it should come as no surprise that Shadows of the Damned is definitely out there. You play as a Mexican demon hunter who goes to hell to save his true love. This brilliant concept wouldn“t be complete without a torch as a sidekick and a handgun called “The Boner.é Yeah.


    - If Grand Theft Auto is the Martin Scorsese of video games, then Saints Row is Quentin Tarantino. Saints Row: The Third promised to continue the over-the-top sandbox gameplay from the previous installments, and it surely didn“t disappoint. Creating a character with thousands of items and accessories and venturing through Steelport is only a fraction of the fun contained in Saints Row: The Third. You can pilot a futuristic aircraft, body-slam a pedestrian on the street, or go on a rampage inside a cat-shaped car. The one thing I like about Saints Row is that it doesn“t really take itself seriously, which a lot of games don“t do very often.


    - The Driver series made its return with Driver: San Francisco. Instead of being your average racing game, Driver: SFcame with a twist. In this iteration, the player can leave their body and jump into the body of another driver, essentially taking over the other vehicle. It“s definitely a strange idea, but it was necessary to win races and chase down bad guys. And it was fun.




    The Creation Station

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    More and more games are starting to include features in which the player can create their own little parts in the game. Level editors and building still have a likeable effect on people no matter how old they are.

    - LittleBigPlanet 2 is known for its idea of creation. By simply typing in a single keyword, you can find thousands of levels created by people around the world. It“s really quite amazing how people who play the game can imagine and bring to life all of the environments and puzzles using the tools given, and trust me, I“ve tried to make my own levels but the farthest I ever got was a wooden platform. Shame on me.


    - I“ve said it many times before and I“ll say it again; Minecraft is one of the best games out there right now. Leaving the player in the middle of nowhere with nothing but there bare hands sounds like the beginning of a movie but in fact is the start of a brand new adventure. Once the player gets his or her bearings, that“s when the real work begins. Millions of people have built castles, houses, forts, statues, and elaborate traps for unsuspecting friends.


    - InFamous 2 threw quite the curveball at players with its level editor. That“s right. In InFamous 2, you can create and share levels that you make. You can put obstacles, power-ups, and enemies in specific positions anywhere in the map and have them perform special functions. While it isn“t the easiest thing in the world to use, it“s definitely a neat addition to the game.




    Looking Back - and Ahead

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    There“s a lot that happened for gaming in 2011, and a lot of it that I missed. I only wish that I had some time to go back and see it all but just as soon as I get some time to catch up, 2012 brings even more surprises. It only seems like yesterday that I was waiting for Skyrim and Uncharted 3, and now I“ve already got plans to purchase Mass Effect 3,Twisted Metal, and other upcoming titles. Now that we“re done looking back, let“s hope that 2012 will once again change the gaming industry for the better!


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