March 8, 2011



"Stacking," the latest game from Double Fine (the mad team behind "Brutal Legend" and the masterpiece that is "Psychonauts"), just hit the electonic shelves earlier this week. You see, it is only available for digital download on Xbox 360 and PS3. I was looking quite forward to this game and have spent a little time with the demo. You play as Charlie, the smalls Russian nesting doll around. You can jump into dolls bigger than you, taking control of them and utilizing their special abilities to solve puzzles. The cutscenes are novel and the gameplay is jolly. Anything that hearkens to "Space Station Silicon Valley," where you play a hijacking microchip of robotic animals, is a pleasantry. That said, everyone speaking in text boxes left me a little overwhelmed in crowds. Running into frequent identical dolls also was a minor let down. Still, it is getting great reviews. You can read what GameSpot had to say here.

I did not even know of the video game series "You Don't Know Jack" until now. GameSpot gave the latest a 8.0 (for "great") in their video review. It is a trivia game that gets a little a flippant about its duties (as one might suppose from the title). GameSpot is not alone in heralding the zesty game, it currently has an 84% on metacritic.

"Pokemon White" and "Black" for the Nintendo DS hit shelves two days ago (on a Sunday, I know, weird right?). Of course, it is the same tried-and-true formula with some new features slapped on, namely the 3D-ish environments. IGN gave the game a 9 and labeled it "Amazing." Click here for access to their written and video reviews. The game currently has an 87 on metacritic.

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One of the games I am most looking forward to this year (third to "Skyrim" and "Portal 2") is "L.A. Noire." Made by Team Bondi and published by the ever-reliable Rockstar, it is shaping up to look stellar. Check out this interview with Rob Nelson of Rockstar juxtaposed with plenty of gameplay action. The technology behind the game (especially the secret behind those state-of-the-art facial animations) is legit. The "L.A. Noire" equation in my head? Take "Mafia," set it in Los Angles and you play as a detective instead of a gangster. I am looking very forward to May 17th.

Before Tim Burton got his hands on the "Alice in Wonderland" franchise (which turned out to be a rather disappointing venture) there was "American McGee's Alice," a macabre and bloody action game based on Lewis Carroll's books. Now, American McGee and his team at Spicy Horse are finishing the sequel, "Alice: Madness Returns," due this summer (June 14th). Here is the trailer and gameplay. I feel the twisted visuals and overall lunacy demonstrated herein surpasses what you may have seen in theaters last year and that is what Alice is all about. Still, no adaptation can surpass the under-appreciated masterpiece that emerged from Disney studios in 1951.

If I am going to buy one game this year, it is going to be "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim." The first trailer (with gameplay!) came out last week. All of the excitement that I had in the months before "Oblivion" released is coming back! It is a grand time to be a gamer. Charles and Ryan from IGN breakdown the trailer in a hearty session ofRewind Theater. There is so much to dissect herein and they do a great job (even managing to point out the nirnroot that I honestly missed!). 11.11.11 is the day.

Check out the powerful announcement trailer for yet another zombie video game, "Dead Island." It is beautiful and it is disgusting. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but see it and you will know what I mean. It left me pondering if the only way a zombie tale can have a happy ending is if you are telling it in reverse. Personally, I am sold based on a few words in the description for the game: "open world... survival on a zombie-infested island." Well, I guess the correct phrasing would be it is an "open island" game. Some dedicated journalists at IGN have recut the trailer to chronological order and analyze it in this 8-minute video. "Dead Island" is made by the folks at Techland who are otherwise noted as the makers of "Call of Juarez" series, which I have not yet played and will therefore not comment on. "Dead Island" is due sometime this year.

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At the Game Developers Conference this year, Toru Iwatani (the creator of Pac-Man) spoke on the influences and development of the arcade classic from 1980. Check out IGN's entertaining and informative article, "7 Things You Never Knew About Pac-Man."

Xbox Live Arcade is one of the best platforms for gaming today. With new releases every week and with multiple 5-star titles already in the library, it is an easy sale for anyone interested in games. Besides that, every game is required to have a playable demo! Last year IGN posted their "Top 25 Xbox Live Arcade Games." My only grievance is that their placement of "Braid" is much too low... Still, their #1 is a pleasant surprise!

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J.S. Lewis
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1 comment:

  1. Shadow Complex as numero uno. Good choice! Now if they would only return our e-mails!