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Alien conspiracies and government cover-ups shrouded in mystery, what’s not to like?  Producers Drew Smith and Harvey Whitney took me into a back room where it was set up like a 1950′s kitchen.

The stainless steal sink; the red, plastic, and metal chairs; and the vase ornaments mantled on the shelves gave the room a distinct feeling.  It was vintage, but it was uncomfortable and very eerie – A pristine environment that mirrors XCOM’s world. Read more… »

NBA Jam – we all have played it, we all have seen it, and we all remember the legends of its existence.  The over-embellished gameplay stuck to us for reasons completely unknown to anyone.  But for some odd reason, seeing our favorite players transposed into the extraordinary games made us fall in love.

Fast-forward to the present and EA is remaking the game exclusively for the Nintendo Wii.  With updated rosters and the same in your face slam dunks, NBA Jam is reason enough to get excited for the Wii’s revival. Read more… »

The graphical achievements Crytek Studios reached with the original Crysis was set so high, that it became the benchmark for all games and technology to be tested and compared to.  The game went on to receive many praises for its high energy and pristine beauty.  Essentially, it became a question of how Crytek could top itself with its next installment.

After roughly three years, Crysis 2 is nearly upon us.  And after witnessing a live, hands-off extended demonstration, I can safely say that its graphical achievements don’t dissapoint.  But it gets even better, the same energy has been taken to the next level.

Although its graphical display is stunning and the gameplay is exciting to watch, it did have a few small hiccups. Read more… »

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Gamer Limit user Keith commented last week about Red Dead Redemption’s hydrophobic protagonist, whose life is extinguished without warning whenever he encounters water more than, oh, waist high. If you’re anything like me, your first time discovering this was accidental, maybe stumbling off of a dock. In my case, the next moments were spent staring at my screen asking, “Really?”

I actually find myself asking the question “How is this still acceptable?” rather often when I’m playing games. There are certain design flaws or failings that just seem like they should have been fixed eons ago, yet they still crop up, and often in some extremely high quality titles. So let’s all put on our bastard hats and tear into those design flaws that are well and truly unacceptable.

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We all know the old adage, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” And while that’s true for the most part, sometimes what appears to be a great deal is simply that: a great deal.

Awhile back, I was seldom excited by independent games. Pretentiousness and fourth-grade development skills rarely caused me to email friends and family imploring them to shell out some dough for a great deal. However, when the Humble Indie Bundle appeared, it was something else entirely. Not only did it offer six spectacular indie titles, but it also appealed to gamers’ sense of community.

We gamers could all do with a few more Humble Indie Bundles.

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There are a lot of clichés in video game stories. Too many. It seems that for every original, well-written narrative, there are ten cookie-cutter stories churned out.

The other day I came across a fill-in-the-blanks story and decided it might be fun to implement a generic RPG storyline into it. I then filled in the blanks with what I thought was a more accurate depiction of RPG narratives. This is the result.

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[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

With games having an increasingly narrative focus, it’s natural that some common storytelling themes have begun to emerge. No, I don’t mean themes like “saving the world.” Games are beginning to be about things, tackling themes that are more personal to both the game’s creators and its audience. They’re demonstrating a level of personal involvement in the narrative that seemed to be absent from gaming for quite some time.

It’s only natural that some of these themes overlap, and that the industry as a whole might follow some sort of narrative trend, putting games on the same path, though their journeys may be quite different. I’ve already noticed some that recur in some wildly different games.

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Anyone would be hard-pressed to argue with the assertion that gaming has changed over the years. Once regarded as the flagship hobby of the social outcast, it has been interesting to see gaming grow into a mainstream entertainment medium, encompassing anyone from “professional” tournament players to children hardly old enough to read.

But, as with anything we dedicate our time to, the question must inevitably be asked: How is it going to change?

In this feature, I’d like to explore what awaits us in the near future, and share with you what I hope we will see in the years to come. Read more… »

[We Need to Talk is a weekly feature that puts you in the driver's seat of the discussion. Got something to say? Hit up the comments and keep the discussion alive. Got a lot to say? Register for a Gamer Limit blog and write a response.]

We’ve all heard the talk: Japanese RPGs are dying, being replaced with the philosophies of the superior Western RPG. Either that, or JRPGs are evolving to become more like WRPGs. They’re grittier, more straightforward, and essentially devoid of all things that make a JRPG “Japanese”. Casts of characters filled with strange creatures, insane female ninja with massive breasts, and naive teenage boys are quickly being replaced with hard-ass males and females.

Amidst these changes and claims certain developers have levied, such as Hideo Kojima’s suggestion that Japanese games simply can’t compete worldwide anymore, it certainly might seem that the WRPG will win out over the JRPG.

But I’m not ready to declare a victor quite yet. There’s plenty that Western games in general can learn from the JRPG.

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I recently finished playing Rocket Knight, an action platformer game that is easily one of my best experiences with a game on Xbox Live Arcade. After happily writing the review for it, I quickly learned what other people were saying about it: “Fifteen dollars is too much money for just two hours of gameplay. Is it really worth the money? I think maybe my cash is better spent on a longer game.” Even critics give the same opinion. I found a review that gave it an average score when the only bad thing the critic had to say about it was that it cost too much.

At first, this reaction made me fly into a frenzy of nerd-rage so extreme that my mom would have had to come out and tell me to “cool it” if I still lived with her. “How can somebody put a price tag on fun!?” I thought to myself as I smashed the nearest coke can. After having a few days to think about it, though, I realized that I should be asking a different question to gamers (and critics) with the “pricetag on fun” mentality:

“How would your perspective on games change if they were all free?” Join me as I take a theoretical look into how the landscape of gaming would change if developers still received money for “sales,” but all games were free, forcing gamers to think about how they want to spend their time on video games – not their money. Read more… »

I loved my local arcade. The cacophony of electronic sounds, the flashing lights that made ceiling lights redundant, the smoky haze upon entry and that real feeling of a like-minded community as everyone gathered around the Street Fighter machine. It all combined into something special. Sadly, my local arcade, just like the arcade industry, died long ago.

While the arcade in most countries is a thing of the past, its spirit does live on in a way. HMV’s Gamerbase stations in stores around the UK have proven to be extremely popular with gamers who gather together to play solo, competitively, and cooperatively.

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By now, every PC gamer has at least heard whispers of Alienware’s new M11x “Gaming Netbook”.  11-inch screen size, combined with multiple power-saving options, it could very well be a portable supplement to a PC gamer’s lifestyle. But what about those of us who already own a Netbook? What do we do with machines meant for the sole purpose of doing work?

The Netbook’s entrance into the consumer market began more than three years ago, and is marketed as being a convenient alternative to both the typical 15.6″ laptop, and the various smaller, but more power-hungry, options available to consumers. With hardware that screams “bare minimum”, and a price that reflects such a fact, any gamer would find themselves apprehensive at the thought of using one of these machines for their hobby. Read more… »