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A Bold Attempt That Misses the Landing: “Mass Effect 3” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Thursday, 19 April 2012 09:05

'Mass Effect 3'

Mass Effect 3 has a lot to live up to. The concluding installment in Bioware’s blockbuster science-fiction epic finishes a story that for many players began five years ago with the original game, and anticipation was high for a satisfying resolution that incorporated and responded to the many, many choices players have made along the way. The game mostly meets expectations, but in a few instances – especially the last act – it falters.

 
The Hollow Crown: “Crusader Kings II” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Tuesday, 20 March 2012 14:17

'Crusader Kings II'

Over the past 12 years, the Swedish company Paradox Interactive has developed a stable of grand-strategy games for the PC that simulate with often baffling complexity the political, economic, and military maneuverings of entire nations over the course of centuries. Paradox’s titles, including 2004’s Crusader Kings, are fascinating and fun if you can understand what’s going on, but getting to that point is often a long process. Crusader Kings II – released in February – works hard and largely succeeds at being more accessible to novice players while retaining immense depth for those looking for it.

 
Far More Than a Cash Grab: “Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Thursday, 09 February 2012 08:47

For many gamers, “downloadable content” (DLC) inspires, if not condemnation, at least suspicion. Many modern video games seem overloaded with attempts to make money off of players after the initial purchase. “Microtransactions” parcel out minor aesthetic options or mechanical bonuses in exchange for cash. At its worst, downloadable content means additional fees for core features, as in Assassin’s Creed II and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, in which segments of the main narrative were omitted and sold as DLC. At its best, well, it’s the DLC for Fallout: New Vegas.

New Vegas’ DLC includes four major pieces, each a complete story the length and breadth of a smaller single-player game: Dead Money, Honest Hearts, Old World Blues, and Lonesome Road. There are also two smaller pieces, Courier’s Stash and Gun Runners’ Arsenal, that are of the more common, largely inconsequential variety. All are collected with the original game in the recently released Fallout: New Vegas Ultimate Edition.

 
Quantity Over Quality: “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Saturday, 31 December 2011 11:16

Reviewing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the latest open-world role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios, seems like a foolish project. It gives players the freedom to roam across almost 15 square miles of a densely populated fantasy world of elves, orcs, giants, and dragons. It allows players to create characters à la carte from a broad pool of abilities, rather than using restrictive “classes” like most role-playing games. And it offers six major narratives, each the equivalent of a smaller game. On the surface, Skyrim appears to be too vast for a short evaluation; but this is a lake a mile wide and a foot deep.

 
War Games: “Modern Warfare 3” and “Battlefield 3” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 22:28

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

In its first 24 hours of release, Modern Warfare 3 – the eighth Call of Duty-branded video game – sold $400 million worth of copies, the highest-grossing launch of an entertainment product ever. It is also the most vicious and morally ugly game I have ever played.

It is perhaps not a great fall from the militarism and glorification of war found in previous Call of Duty games to the revelry in violence of this installment, but it is a fall. The first Modern Warfare struggled to find heroics in a war largely devoid of them, but it tried. Modern Warfare 3 pays lip service to the grim realities of war but is finally just sadistic.

 
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