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Preview: Alice: Madness Returns photo
Preview: Alice: Madness Returns
by Samit Sarkar

Eleven years ago, American McGee’s Alice saw an accidental fire consume Alice’s home in Victorian London, along with her family. Wracked with survivor’s guilt, Alice attempted to commit suicide and was committed to the Rutledge Asylum. While institutionalized there, she revisited the Wonderland of her childhood, which had decayed under the iron fist of the Queen of Hearts. By destroying the Queen -- the physical manifestation of her own insanity -- Alice restored Wonderland to its original splendor and was declared stable enough to venture out into the real world.

But Alice isn’t ready to handle life on her own. Eleven years after leaving Rutledge, she remains under the care of a London psychiatrist, and her past continues to haunt her. Her madness has returned, and she must make her way through Wonderland once again to heal the world (and by extension, herself). This time, though, there’s an insidious wrinkle: perhaps the fire that started it all didn’t start by accident.

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Preview: Yar's Revenge photo
Preview: Yar's Revenge
by Samit Sarkar

Yars’ Revenge, which launched in May 1981 for the Atari 2600, ended up being Atari’s best-selling original title on the seminal console. Twenty-nine years later, the publisher is releasing a reboot of sorts that re-imagines the game as a third-person on-rails shooter in the vein of Rez or Sin & Punishment.

Killspace Entertainment, a Hollywood-based studio that former Obsidian, Pandemic, Red 5, and EA Los Angeles employees formed in January 2009, is developing the new game. I recently had the opportunity to try it out for myself at an Atari press event in New York. Either Yar’s Revenge is difficult, or I’m just not very good at rail shooters. It’s probably the latter.

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Preview: Hunted: The Demon's Forge photo
Preview: Hunted: The Demon's Forge
by Samit Sarkar

I recently sat down with Matt Findley, president of inXile Entertainment, to play and discuss the studio’s upcoming hack-and-slash action game, Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. “Fantasy’s the roots” of the title, he said, since it’s “what got me into this business twenty years ago.” Findley and inXile love fantasy games, “but the problem with fantasy right now is [that] there’s no action games,” he explained.

That’s the void that Hunted attempts to fill -- it’s a cover-based third-person action game with Gears of War’s trademark “stop-and-pop” shooting (of arrows instead of bullets, mind you) and a traditional fantasy aesthetic. Perhaps more significantly, inXile designed the game around co-op play. Its two leads, the human Caddoc and the elf E’lara -- who each represent the epitome of their particular gender -- are the key in making Hunted stand out.

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4:20 PM on 03.01.2011

Splash Damage addressing common shooter issues with Brink

I gathered from my conversation with Brink’s lead writer, Edward Stern, that the game’s developers at Splash Damage believe certain problems to be endemic to the shooter genre, and that they’re trying to pro...

Samit Sarkar

3:00 PM on 03.01.2011

Brink blurs the lines between single- and multiplayer

Splash Damage’s upcoming first-person shooter, Brink, does away with the traditional videogame dichotomy between solo and multiplayer modes. “We’re used to there being a real difference between single-player...

Samit Sarkar



Preview: Brink photo
Preview: Brink
by Samit Sarkar

Brink, the upcoming first-person shooter from Enemy Territory developer Splash Damage, is bringing a novel approach to a crowded market. It incorporates elements from a variety of popular genres, but does so in a way that makes it seem like a unique, multifaceted experience.

I had the opportunity to play Brink at a recent press event in New York. Based on the hour that I spent with the game, I think it’s going to be one of the standout shooters of the year.

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Preview: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings photo
Preview: The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
by Samit Sarkar

At a recent press event in New York, I saw a demo of The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2007 medieval fantasy RPG from Polish studio CD Projekt. Knowing that the original game had its idiosyncrasies, which is typical of Eastern European-developed videogames, I asked the PR rep, Tom Ohle, if the development team made any concessions to the Western market in order to try and give the sequel a wider appeal.

“CD Projekt’s really a developer that isn’t following industry traditions,” Ohle replied. He went on to say that while the studio has learned from the successes and deficiencies of The Witcher and has certainly made countless improvements to the game, one thing it hasn’t done is dumb down the game. The Witcher 2 remains an old-school PC RPG, through and through.

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Preview: The Gunstringer photo
Preview: The Gunstringer
by Max Scoville
Twisted Pixel is easily one of my favorite studios these days. With titles like 'Splosion Man and Comic Jumper, what they’re currently doing with videogames reminds me a lot of what Nickelodeon and MTV were doing with cartoons in the early nineties: making them audaciously weird.

When I first heard that The Gunstringer was a shoot-’em-up starring a bandito marionette that you controlled with the Kinect, I just went, “Oh, okay."

Because really, how else do you react to that kind of concept?

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Hands-on: Dead Space 2: Severed photo
Hands-on: Dead Space 2: Severed
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Can't get enough Dead Space 2? Well you're in luck, as a new single-player experience is being released next week! The downloadable content, called "Severed," contains two new chapters and follows Gabriel Weller and Lexine Murdoch during the Necromorph outbreak on The Sprawl.

If the names sound familiar, it's because these two were both in Dead Space: Extraction for the PlayStation 3 and Wii. While the core mechanics are the same, you're going to find that the gameplay is much more action-oriented in "Severed."

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First impressions of Batman: Arkham City photo
First impressions of Batman: Arkham City
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Arkham Asylum has been closed, and the criminal scum have all been rounded up into Arkham City, a super-prison made up of districts that once were part of Gotham City. The new prison is five times the size of Arkham Island and is festering with evil.

Developer Rocksteady Studios gave us a first look at the new Batman adventure yesterday, and boy, does this game look awesome. The demo was sadly hands-off, so I'll just be describing what I witnessed as Rocksteady showed off the first chapter of Batman: Arkham City.

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Hands-on: Orcs Must Die! photo
Hands-on: Orcs Must Die!
by Colette Bennett

Just to be fair, I'm going to throw this out there before I go one word further: I LOVE tower defense games. With all my heart. As soon as I saw the first preview for Orcs Must Die! during my trip to Robot Entertainment last week, it hit me that while it looked a bit different from the 2D tower defense games I am used to playing, that was exactly what it was, with more action style gameplay thrown in. And I was absolutely thrilled.

Using a variety of traps and weapons to keep an endless wave of drooling orcs at bay may not be your idea of a good time, but I'm going to tell you right now, it definitely is mine. And since Orcs Must Die! features tons of traps, allowing you to do everything from piercing orcs with spikes to hurling them into nearby lava, you have no shortage of opportunities to kill them in any and every way you might like. And who doesn't love a little creative death dealing?

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Sesame Street for Kinect is ridiculously adorable photo
Sesame Street for Kinect is ridiculously adorable
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

I've been extremely excited for Double Fine's Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster for the Xbox 360 Kinect since the second it was announced. Not sure why and it's kind of weird since I didn't grow up on Sesame Street. It's more of a recent development and it may be my subconscious trying to balance out all the violent games I play regularly. That and I really miss The Muppets.

Once Upon a Monster is setup as a children's book and the first chapter sees Cookie Monster and Oscar coming across a sadden monster named Marco. Why is he sad? Because no one came to his birthday party. That's pretty f*cking sad.

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Hands-on: Gears of War 3 multiplayer photo
Hands-on: Gears of War 3 multiplayer
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Gears of War 3? Kind of a big deal. It is the most anticipated game of 2011, after all. Yesterday we learned that the Epic shooter will be out worldwide on September 20, and we now know that the beta will be released sometime in April.

Both executive producer Rod Fergusson and design director Cliff Bleszinski were on hand at an event in San Francisco yesterday, showing off Gears of War 3, and they feel that this is the best, most polished Gears game yet. They feel they've created a thrilling campaign that fans, and people who've never even given the other Gears games a shot, will really enjoy.

The two also discussed how this is the best multiplayer Epic has done yet.

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Hands-on: Turtle Beach Ear Force PX5 headset photo
Hands-on: Turtle Beach Ear Force PX5 headset
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

Turtle Beach's next headset -- the Ear Force PX5 -- stands in sharp contrast to their past headsets. The most striking element is that it actually feels like a good headset now. Previous Turtle Beach headsets were clunky and felt a little too plastic-y. The new model is a lot lighter, feels great, is easy on the eyes, and is a kind of headset I wouldn't mind wearing in a public setting -- as opposed to the old models.

Visual improvements aren't the only change, of course. Turtle Beach reworked the insides of the headset and the wireless transmitter by taking what people really liked and disliked about the X41 headsets, and improved upon it all.

The big addition -- and possibly a game-changer in the headset market -- is the ability to create custom presets to give you a crazy advantage in the competitive online arena.

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Hands-on: The first mission of Deus Ex: Human Revolution photo
Hands-on: The first mission of Deus Ex: Human Revolution
by Hamza CTZ Aziz

When we left off, Deus Ex: Human Revolution main protagonist Adam Jensen got his ass royally handed to him while trying to protect Dr. Megan Reed, who had discovered the key to human augmentation. Six months later, Adam is back on the scene with his newly augmented body.

Adam is pulled back into duty by the president of Sarif Industries, David Sarif, as another situation has arisen that threatens his employer. What I previewed last time was just a small taste of what is promising to be a truly immersive experience.

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Impressions: MLB 11 The Show (3D, HR Derby with PS Move) photo
Impressions: MLB 11 The Show (3D, HR Derby with PS Move)
by Samit Sarkar

When I first checked out MLB 11 The Show a few weeks ago, I spent a portion of the hands-on demo playing the game in 3D. I also tried the Home Run Derby mode, which debuted last year and now supports PlayStation Move.

Sony San Diego patched in 3D support for MLB 10, but the studio enhanced the implementation this year, and even as a person who doesn’t particularly care for 3D one way or another, I have to admit that it looks fantastic. I don’t usually enjoy 3D in videogames when it consists of objects flying out of the screen toward your face, which is why I like the more subtle style of 3D that MLB 11 employs.

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