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Thursday, Oct 20, 2011
Thanks to corporate sponsorship and a nominal fee, we got early access to Uncharted 3's multiplayer. It seems like a bargain, but this deal may have more far reaching costs.

A couple weeks ago, Jorge and I embarked on a journey.  With full wallets, empty bellies, and half-tucked shirts, we journeyed to Subway.  Purchasing some food allowed us to stave off hunger and gain early access to Uncharted 3‘s multiplayer.  I was particularly fond of the beta, so this was an opportunity to get another chance to check out the full mode as well as to test a relatively new means of promoting and marketing a game.  Now that I’ve had the time to play the game a bit more and to reflect on the promotion itself, I feel like my opinion regarding fast food sums up the Uncharted 3 multiplayer early access experience. It was immediately satisfying, but I fear it’s ultimately unhealthy.


Tagged as: uncharted 3
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Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 13, 2011
With the launch of Dominion, an entirely new map and game mode for League of Legends, Riot must practice a balancing act that has more to do with community relationships and expectations than with game mechanics.

With eighty-four playable heroes at time of writing, League of Legends surely ranks amongst the largest and continually updated multiplayer games on the market. The fact it is also free-to-play in no small part secures its place amongst the most popular competitive multiplayer experiences. The range of character abilities, in-game items, skill tree options, and team compositions also makes League of Legends one of the most dynamic games around. Until recently, Riot Games offered just a single official game mode tasking players to fight against waves of NPC minions to destroy an enemy base, a spiritual successor to Defense of the Ancients, the much loved Warcraft 3 mod. Balancing such an expansive game has certainly never come easy to Riot. Now with the launch of Dominion, an entirely new map known as the Crystal Scar built for a new game mode, Riot, must practice a new balancing act that has more to do with community relationships and expectations than with game mechanics.


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Text:AAA
Thursday, Oct 6, 2011
Like its protagonist Marcus Fenix, the Gears of War series has accomplished its mission and is now faced with an identity crisis.

Marcus Fenix doesn’t come across as a particularly complex character.  His bombastic attitude and beefy proportions complement the type of game he inhabits.  He is, however, an imposing character and the Gears of War series stands as one of the giants of this console generation.  The games symbolizes important trends of the last few years, offering a look at conventions that shaped the medium as well as glimpses of what the future might hold.  Certainly, Gears‘s successes are impressive and their characters have become iconic, but Gears of War 3 has revealed a deeper metaphorical layer underneath its characters’ bravado.  As important as Marcus and the rest of his crew were, their uncertain future acts as an allegory of the Gears series and its uncertain future.


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Text:AAA
Thursday, Sep 29, 2011
In Gears 3, the series’s iconic gritty brown-grey aesthetic finally couples with narrative and gameplay to actually tell a truly melancholy and sobering war story.

Warning: This article contains significant spoilers for Gears of War 3.


Deified heroes and proud warriors flood the shooter genre. The soldiers of Call of Duty, quite literally answering destiny’s call to fight for freedom, wage a relatively justified battle across the franchise’s many theaters of war. Master Chief (and all the Spartans of Halo for that matter) have become god-like. Their trials and exploits have become legend in their expansive worlds. As players, we vainglorious actors are rewarded with praise through achievements and rewards. It comes as a surprise then when Gears of War 3, the finale to one of the biggest shooter franchises on the market, ignores the trend. While Marcus Fenix and the team do share in macho gloating, the cast of Gears of War 3 share more in common with the ragged and exhausted soldiers of Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. There is no glory for gears, no triumphant chorus to proclaim their deeds, and no exultation at all for a war well fought. In Gears 3, the series’s iconic gritty brown-grey aesthetic finally couples with narrative and gameplay to actually tell a truly melancholy and sobering war story.


Tagged as: gears of war
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Text:AAA
Thursday, Sep 22, 2011
What's worse than enduring Catherine's selfish, unlikeable characters? The fact that I found myself relating to them.

Spoiler warning: This post contains details about Catherine’s plot points and ending.


In many ways, Catherine is a game that speaks directly to a social subsection in which I find myself: a group of childless men straddling the divide between Generation X and the Millenials, trying to sort out their personal and professional lives in an uncertain world.  Many folks have written about Vincent’s generally unsympathetic character traits and the game’s clumsy handling of player choice.  I agree with these criticisms, but most of my discomfort with the game stemmed from broader, more personal issues.


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