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“Arkham City”: Being Batman PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 05:58

'Batman: Arkham City'

Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Asylum was a pleasant surprise when it was released in 2009: a video game that, in contrast to the lackluster history of superhero games, was actually good. Arkham Asylum wasn’t unique – clearly drawing its combination of rooftop navigation, stealth, and combat from games such as Assassin’s Creed – but it deftly applied that formula to the experience of being Batman and inhabiting his world of Gotham City. Batman: Arkham City expands and refines the first game, crafting a new experience that, while never particularly innovative, remains consistently entertaining and a person’s best opportunity to feel like the Dark Knight.

“Minecraft”: A Whole New World, One Block at a Time PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Grant Williams   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 18:54

Minecraft starts off, in the single-player mode, as a game about survival. Alone and empty-handed, stranded in a retro-cubist 3D landscape with a first-person perspective, you have to gather resources, make tools, and build a shelter before the safety of daylight passes into the danger of night, when monsters prowl. It’s a tense and desperate experience, especially when you’re new to the game and trying to figure out how it works as the sun sinks toward the horizon.

The tension arises purely out of the mechanics. There’s no plot or pre-authored story, no voice over the radio telling you where to go, not even a map in the corner of the screen showing your location. Minecraft is a sandbox, a game of unexpected experiences emerging out of the actions of the player within some basic rules.

Once you grow accustomed to the rhythm of day and night and learn to deal with the monsters, the game becomes much more than sandbox survival. While still interspersed with moments of extreme tension, it becomes more of a quiet, contemplative, and occasionally awe-inspiring experience focused on exploration and creation. Despite its deliberately primitive graphics, Minecraft generates surprisingly beautiful vistas, and a surprising variety of terrain – from forests to swamps to deserts to tundra. Beneath the surface are labyrinthine cavern systems, filled with monsters and rare treasures such as diamonds and gold.

Rather than presenting you with a living world and asking you to empty it of life, as many video games do, Minecraft offers a canvas and the raw materials to constuct your own architectural fantasies: towering castles, vast underground complexes, dense networks of roads. Architecture, and the structuring of space, is the most visible and physical evidence of society; it is no coincidence that games about crafting a new order from an undeveloped world, such as SimCity and Civilization, center on architecture.

The Best Video Games of 2010 PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Luke Hamilton   
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 11:46

Because money doesn’t grow on trees – and good games sure don’t, either – I’m breaking down my top-five video games of 2010 based on the 35 new ones I played.

You’ll notice that all of these games are sequels, and there’s a reason for that: The originals were good, too.

But it’s more than that. All these sequels feel and play superior to their predecessors, and that speaks volumes about the commitment of development teams. They not only provide us with entertainment for today, but give us hope that bigger and better things are coming in the future, and for that I thank them.

Nintendo Makes a Monkey Out of Me: "Donkey Kong Country Returns" and "Super Mario All Stars" PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Luke Hamilton   
Thursday, 16 December 2010 08:13

'Donkey Kong Country Returns'

Donkey Kong Country Returns

When I got Super Nintendo at the tender age of 11, I had to play Donkey Kong Country because it was the only game I had. It turned out to be a lot of fun, but so frustratingly hard that I grew to be a bit of a potty mouth. More than 14 years later, Donkey Kong Country Returns (released in November on Wii) brings back old memories of exciting platforming gameplay – and some stress-induced vulgarities.

Grace of the Chase and the Thrill of the Kill: “Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit” and “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Gaming
Written by Luke Hamilton   
Thursday, 02 December 2010 09:19

'Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit'

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

I’m not a fan of racing games, as they tend to be far too similar to each other. Only the Burnout series caught my attention, primally satisfying in its exhilarating action with a focus on wrecking other racers and events designed to cause as much destruction as possible. So when I saw that the developers of Burnout were making this year’s Need for Speed title with a cops-versus-racers theme, I salivated like Pavlov’s dog. While not as chaos-oriented as Burnout, Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit (on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii) is still a wickedly fun experience.

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