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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Dec 1, 2010
Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games, PC) [$19.95]

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is probably the best designed horror game to come out this year. It doesn’t have the best story and it runs out of content about half-way through, but conceptually it’s one of the scariest systems I’ve ever engaged with.


You have no weapons. Darkness slowly drives you insane and you have limited amounts of lamp oil. Fleeing from monsters means sitting in darkness, slowly losing all your senses, and hoping nothing catches you in this state. The experience stayed consistently disturbing throughout the game as the challenges grew more complex. The mod tools have recently gone online, meaning there will be a lot of strange content for owners to enjoy after they’ve beaten the game. It’s a great gift for anyone looking for a few chills this Christmas.



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Text:AAA
Tuesday, Nov 23, 2010
Red Dead Redemption (Rockstar Games, Format: Xbox 360, Playstation 3) [$59.99]

It’s possible that you may have heard of a little game called Red Dead Redemption that was release earlier this year. Sometimes, the hype is for real. While known largely for the seminal open world crime series, Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar turns its sometimes farcical, sometimes loving eye back on American culture, but this time their lens is focused on both skewering and glorying in the mythology of the American West. A new American gunslingin’ icon has been created in the form of protagonist John Marston, and Rockstar has created one of their most interesting and interactive sandboxes ever in the form of the dusty plains of New Austin. The game is better than GTA IV, and if you and yours haven’t checked it out yet, it would be a welcome sight under any gamer’s tree.


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Text:AAA
Monday, Nov 22, 2010
Mass Effect 2 (BioWare / EA / Xbox 360) [$19.99]

Mass Effect 2 came out in January, a lifetime ago in the games industry, yet you’re guaranteed to hear it in many “best of the year” discussions. It’s an improvement over its predecessor in every way, with a streamlined inventory, improved combat, and a well-implemented morality system. It also imports your save file from the first game to create a personalized adventure with a cast of fascinating characters, and a wealth of extra downloadable content. Since it’s easy to find on sale, Mass Effect 2 has a dollar-per-hour value that can’t be matched by any other single-player game this year.


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Text:AAA
Wednesday, Nov 17, 2010
Rock Band 3 (MTV Games, Format: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii) [$59.99]

If 2009 overwhelmed rhythm game fans with sequels and band-centric content, 2010 has seen a leaner line up of releases in the genre but real effort at innovation.  Rock Band 3 is the most successful of these innovators, especially with its addition of the keyboard peripheral into your band’s repertoire.  Featuring a strong, ecletic track list representing five decades of music, the game also features robust new tutorials for “Pro” versions of its instrumentation.  The keyboard tutorials are stripped down and basic but amazingly accessible.  Even this musically impaired gamer found that I might be able to learn something very much like real keyboard (albeit I am becoming a masterful one-handed piano player, but still).  Come to play The Doors’s “Break on Through” but stay to play through the charmingly kitschy opening and closing bars of Night Ranger’s “Sister Christian”.


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Text:AAA
Friday, Dec 18, 2009
The Sims 3 - PC [$49.99]

My virtual son has a logical mind and a natural talent for music, but he prefers to be alone and tends to act and speak inappropriately. In other words, to mirror my real-life family, I created a little kid with high-functioning autism.


As a life simulator, Electronic Arts latest addition to the Sims family, The Sims 3, is more powerful than ever. As a video game, it builds on the success of its forerunners and extends the franchise without becoming labyrinthine or needlessly complex. The biggest change between The Sims 2 and The Sims 3, however, is the dynamic, walkable, living neighborhood for your sims to explore. Walk to a community lot or hop on a bike or into a car and visit a neighbor, no load screens are required. This feature has really given a big hit to my household productivity; I used to fold laundry or knit during venue changes, and now, they’re so quick that I barely have time to pick up my knitting needles.


The controls are easier to use and faster to learn than ever, and at the same time, the player has more control and more choices at every turn. With the third and newest version of its hit series, the developers have struck precisely the right balance between complexity and intuitiveness. Playing in the virtual doll house is as fun as ever.


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