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Dungeon Siege III should be in an idiom’s dictionary under the phrase “middle of the road.” Everything about it is bland and weightless. Despite all that, it kept me playing long enough to beat it and inspired me to write this article about why it bothered me so much.

Dungeon Siege III tries to craft a compelling look at race in a fantasy universe, but then completely fails to develop and capitalize on its ideas.

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Dead Space is a pretty interesting franchise. It started off as a decidedly survival horror series, then morphed into a survival-action hybrid, and now, Visceral Games seems to be taking the series into a more action oriented direction; not to mention the controversial addition of coop.

Having sufficiently tackled the single player and cooperative portions of the Dead Space 3 demo, I had a chance to speak with Dead Space executive producer Steve Papoutsis in a round-table interview and get some more information on the highly anticipated sequel. Read more… »

Final Fantasy XIII

With all of the info that’s come out over the past week or so about the upcoming Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, it looks like Square Enix is sticking with the franchise. However, it looks like they’re making significant changes to the “Final Fantasy formula: Lightning being the only playable character, no more battle menus, free movement during combat, and more.

With this brand new game supposedly coming out next year, now’s a perfect time to reexamine how the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy fits in with the rest of the series from a gameplay mechanics perspective.

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Read most headlines regarding Star Wars: The Old Republic Tuesday and you’ll see a lot of attention mongering, with the internet practically shouting at you that the game has gone free-to-play. Before we start running out the door proclaiming from the hilltops, let’s be clear — the MMORPG from BioWare and EA is getting a free-to-play option. This will run side by side with the subscription model already in place.

For a first day buyer and early subscriber like myself, this allays many of the fears and frustrations swirling around the move, one they have been publicly flirting with for several months. It arises new hopes that this pulls SWTOR out of its slump and fans get a MMORPG that is worth the growing pains as well as the money they have already pumped into it.

All speculation and sighing aside, the move itself is quite savvy.

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Diablo III and the Lords of Apathy

Diablo II and its expansion are two of my favorite games of all time. Ever since they first came out, I’ve sunk countless hours into the world of Sanctuary, hunting Diablo and then his older brother Baal. For the past ten years I’ve installed Diablo II, gotten addicted, ended up uninstalling it, and then repeating the process all over again a few months later.

I’ve waited for Diablo III ever since I saw the end of Lord of Destruction. Tyrael destroys the Worldstone? What’s going to happen next? For twelve years I wanted Diablo III to arrive and sink its hellish claws into me the same way its predecessor did. Sadly, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Not even close.

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Another E3 has come and gone; and despite favorites being uncovered from the heaps of announcements and demos, the overall verdict was that there was no clear winner. Rather, the whole event was quite underwhelming — a lot of focus on already known IP with very little surprises.

If anything, 2012′s E3 was a textbook study of company philosophy. On a high level, Microsoft played a familiar hand showcasing its tendency to favor 3rd party partnerships ala Nike. Sony touted its tried and true dedication the developer network, letting Quantic Dream take the stage with Beyond: Two Souls and front runner Naughty Dog with The Last of Us. That left Nintendo.

Many knew Nintendo had a lot to prove, as it was the only one with new hardware to promote. Its strategy was a savvy one with three presentations strategically placed: one just before, one at the beginning and one toward the end of the expo. Of course, the goal was to put Nintendo and the Wii U at the top of everybody’s minds. This strategy didn’t quite work, however, but not because its lineup or hardware was lackluster as many may think.

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I’m going to put this on record: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword is my least favorite Zelda game of all time. But I’m not stopping there; not only is it a poor Zelda game, it’s also a poor videogame in general.

Without even touching upon the love ‘em or hate ‘em motion controls, there’s more than enough evidence to show that Nintendo should’ve taken a step back, looked at Skyward Sword’s innovations, and asked themselves, “Are we sure these ideas are good?”

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Skyrim’s Lack of Consequences
By: | December 14th, 2011

Spoiler alert: This article contains some details about Skyrim’s Imperial-Stormcloak civil war quest line.

The other day I read an article on Motherboard, “Skyrim Should be a Game About Nothing”, where Joshua Kopstein claims that Skyrim should’ve been a game about nothing: “Of course I mean ‘nothing’ in the tabula rasa sense; a kind of videogaming zen that coaxes enlightenment from simplicity.” After admitting to being “spoiled” by games like Minecraft, he also says that Skyrim breaks his flow with “the fact that there is some grand quest I should be embarking on, some dragon I should be slaying or village I should be saving.” Read more… »

For those of you that haven’t yet indulged in an EA Sports Ultimate Team mode — be it in FIFA, NHL, or Madden — it is basically a way for you to build up your own dream team. Play games with your team, earn some currency, buy packs for cards, buy cards from the auction house, or, new to Madden, trade your cards on the trade block. All of this goes towards the end goal of building that perfect team and playing games online against others.

Since its inception as free DLC in Madden NFL 10, Madden Ultimate Team (aka MUT) quickly became my mode of choice. I was that person in World of Warcraft that would reset the market on the auction house. That person you despised who bought low and made a ridiculous profit by reshaping and owning a piece of the market. This, for me, was like a mini-game that brought instant gratification and reward.

As you can imagine, this was a large part of the appeal for me in MUT. The mode in Madden NFL 10 and Madden NFL 11 provided a rewarding and challenging experience. While it was never perfect in the past, it still allowed for a somewhat healthy market and an experience that drove you to perfection. The future of MUT last year was bright and I looked forward to what Tiburon had in store for the mode. Read more… »

There were several great game soundtracks that blessed my ears in the past few months. Surprisingly to me, they have all come from independents or otherwise obscure games. Also surprising, these soundtracks have all supplemented intriguing stories, charming art styles and solid gameplay.

I would be remiss not to mention the fact that two of the soundtracks on this list led me to discover their respective games and may have changed the way I first played them. In the era of high budget production and amidst clamor for AAA quality, these soundtracks make the argument that music should do more than provide a game with mere ambiance.

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Sony announced the the first annual PSN PLAY event Friday, vying to replicate the success Microsoft has had with its annual The Summer of Arcade sale. PSN will offer four games at retail, with a fifth game free to players who purchase all four. Pre-orders start Tuesday, August 9; and the event will last until Monday, September 19.

Sony goes further, giving players a free PS3 theme along with an unannounced “special gift” with each pre-order. Playstation Plus members will also get a 20% discount off every purchase during the event. This sounds like a good deal on the surface. But, I tell you, my wallet is terrified. Let’s break it down and do the math.

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Originally landing on the Wii in early 2008, No More Heroes was met with critical acclaim and has since become something of a cult hit for punk rock game visionary Suda 51 and his studio, Grasshopper Manufacture. The game has since spawned a sequel, a first for the studio, in 2010’s Desperate Struggle. Now there’s talk of a mobile game in the works, but first, Konami will be bringing Travis Touchdown to the PS3 later this summer with Heroes’ Paradise.

While I managed to get my hands on the game last month at E3, playing games in overcrowded rooms for hours on end doesn’t always make for ideal conditions. Now having played the demo in the comfort of my home today, I have some concerns for the impeding PlayStation 3 release of Grasshopper Manufacture’s celebrated Wii title.

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