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Having finally invested in a laptop that has a better graphics card than the Etch-A-Sketch-esque specs of my previous rig, I figured it was time to look into revisiting some PC-specific franchises. So, while the masses lined up to gawk at boobs from the 50′s in Mafia II at the 2K Games area, I instead joined a small group in the back for a guided hands-off demo of the latest iteration of the Sid Meier juggernaut, Civilization 5.

While the Civ franchise has continually refined its gameplay mechanics, many of the staples of combat and exploration have remained static. After seeing the changes to combat, gameworld, and user interface, it looks like the Firaxis team has moved the venerated turn-based strategy game another rung up the tech tree. I came out of the demo excited to be a PC gamer again.

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Match 3 games will eat your soul. RPGs will eat your soul. And for a good while now, we’ve known what happens when match 3 games and RPGs collide, and in terms of your free time, the result is not pretty.

Now we’re faced with a startling reality: the insanity of Puzzle Quest is back to make its mark upon our personal lives once again, giving us yet another reason to do insane things like purchase three copies of the same game on different platforms.

D3Publisher gave me the opportunity to check out the upcoming sequel, Puzzle Quest 2, which promises more of what we loved about the original and, with any luck, plenty of reason to return to a formula that many of us are now intimately familiar with.

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The Road to IGF 2010
By: | March 8th, 2010

The independent game market has exploded over the last few years, largely due to more accessible means of distribution, such as Xbox LIVE and the Playstation Network. In fact, many of the games developed for these platforms owe their huge success to the exposure garnered from their IGF wins.

Even still, the Independent Games Festival goes significantly unnoticed by the gaming community at large, despite numbers continually growing for the San Francisco based event. In fact, this year’s IGF is the largest to date and with good reason: the entries for this year are simply amazing in design, concept, and execution.

If you haven’t been following the nominations and news that have peppered gaming websites since this January, read on to learn more about the five finalists that will likely be gracing your console of choice soon enough.

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One thing that has always amazed me about the video game industry is the ability of some companies to actually make you excited about their upcoming games, even if you had no interest at all initially.  The latest example of this trend is Bungie and their newest game Halo Reach.

As I already stated yesterday, I am no big fan of the Halo series.  I like it, and I’ve played all the games, but when a new addition to the series is announced, I don’t jump for joy like a lot of people do.  It therefore shouldn’t come as a shock that Halo Reach hasn’t really peaked my interest all; that is until I watched the new video documentary Bungie released today.  Now I’m extremely excited about this new Halo game, which is a feeling I’ve never experienced before.

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The smart fellows at sister gaming e-zine Pixel Hunt realized, like the rest of us, that a significant amount of great, or at the very least “anticipated”, games are coming out this year. They also thought it might be a good idea if someone took at look at, well, all of them.

So, they rounded up some of the best writers from the likes of IGN and Hyper to tell you why you should, or shouldn’t, take a second look at the plethora of titles hitting our streets over the next 12 months.

The best part? 60 pages of easily packaged, produced and gloriously coloured previews are yours for a single dollar. I liked it so much I paid $10, so you can take my word for it. You can grab it here, or hit the jump for more info.

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GT Academy

Two years have now passed since the release of Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, an elaborate teaser that has left eager fans gasping for more. To my dismay, Gran Turismo 5 is still pinned for an uninformed release some time in 2010 however, and to ease the pain, Polyphony have conjured up Time Trial Challenge, a free playable demo of sorts designed to give us a fleeting taste of what to expect for the full works.

As the resident racing devotee, I am naturally fixated with even the smallest morsel of what is expected to be the most comprehensive driving experience for the current generation. Read on to find out how it performed after taking it for a thorough spin.

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Where is my cross game voice chat!?

So many features on PS3 user’s wish lists for future firmware upgrades. And on the top of everyone’s list is Facebook, right? Well, of course it is!

Sony has recently revealed on the official Playstation blog that the upcoming firmware 3.10, to be released “soon,” will provide Facebook support. So, as Sony continues to play catch up with Microsoft’s Xbox dashboard update, one can’t help but feel that the wish list is now complete. I mean, there isn’t any other means of social communication we need on the PS3. Nope, none at all.

Hit the jump for a preview video of this dream come true. Read more… »

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I finally got my hands on Sky Player after its launch on October 27th. The new service for the Xbox 360 was removed after Microsoft and Sky experienced technical issues over the “phenomenal demand”.

In a statement last week on a Sky Player Blog, Sky offered compensation to those who had already signed up to the feature, yet were unable to access the services on offer. I was one of the many unfortunate people unable to access this service until now. So join me after the break to see its features in action.

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The Xbox Live dashboard update preview program has made its way to a select few. While many have longed for features such as Twitter and Facebook, the dedicated applications may not be for everyone.

The update is expected sometime in November and includes Twitter, Facebook, Last.fm, Zune Marketplace, internet video, and a music games store dedicated to downloads for games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

Read on to check out Gamer Limit’s preview of the biggest features in the Xbox Live dashboard update. Read more… »

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Game Informer subscribers will get a terrific surprise in their mailbox in a few days: the cover story is on the much-rumored steampunk Disney game, Epic Mickey.

You may remember some of the leaked concept art, but now it’s real, it’s true, and it looks AWESOME.

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Hot on the heels of their biggest rivals in the football genre, Konami have released a demo of the latest Pro Evo, demonstrating a keen intention to gain back the crown it narrowly conceded last year.

Hit the jump for our impressions of their new effort.

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If you haven’t heard of 3D Dot Game Heroes, imagine the original Legend of Zelda game… then pop it up into three dimensions, and don’t change anything else. Taa-daa! You have an upcoming PS3 game that’s on a lot of gamers’ radars.

From Software (the guys that made Demon’s Souls) have produced their next masterpiece, and the new trailer will make you love with a passion you haven’t felt since 1986! You know – when Zelda first came out. Of course.

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