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The seven fundamental flaws of Dead Island

Dead Island Screenshot

I covered this a bit in the review, but it's important to reiterate—leveling up implies things to the player that Dead Island doesn't deliver. Extra health is meaningless, extra damage is meaningless—over the course of the game zombies will always take the exact same number of hits to kill, so all the experience I'm gaining doesn't seem to serve any purpose.

Enslaved: The trouble with Tripitaka

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West Screenshot

During the "Females on Female Characters" panel at PAX East 2011, Susan Arendt argued briefly in support of Tripitaka (Trip), a character from Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. This appreciation seemed bizarre to me, so the moment stuck in my mind. Enslaved was a gorgeous game with phenomenal voice acting, decently expressive gameplay, and very bad writing, of which I thought Trip was a prime example.

Consoleation: A generation of disappointment

Resistance 3 Screenshot

There have been a lot of advancements and positives for console gaming over the course of this console generation. Many games sport high-definition graphics and top-notch sound. Online play gives players the option to be social with friends all over the globe, if they so choose. The rapid rise of social media has put the industry and its fans closer together than ever before. Gradually, though, this generation's negatives and general anti-consumer trends have wiped out a lot of of those positives for me.

Consoleation: Imbalanced equation

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Screenshot

The console video gaming industry has successfully trained consumers to expect downloadable content for most new games over the course of this generation. We know it's coming. It's rarely a question of if… but when.

Consoleation: War on used games—A new slippery slope

Rage Screenshot

Rage was one of the games that impressed me at E3 back in June. It had a Borderlands vibe to it, but substituted more realistic graphics than the cel-shaded approach that Gearbox Software had taken. The game ran at 60 frames per second, even at an early stage, and was fun to play. My interest level shot up for Rage, and it had been on my wishlist with growing excitement.

Shadows of the Damned: The road course

Shadows of the Damned Screenshot

I must begin with a disclaimer that I didn't like Shadows of the Damned very much, and I'm not sure if I'll bother finishing it (this coming from a man who didn't even give up on Flower, Sun, and Rain). The gameplay is standard, if unusually finicky, third-person shooting that borrows a stun mechanic from Alan Wake, the art direction is not particularly interesting, and the humor is something I'm about 20 years too old to appreciate.

Are games fun?

Portal 2 Screenshot

Those of us who spend a lot of time discussing the various artistic and narrative merits and failures of games often try to avoid "fun" as a measure of success.  For one thing, it's so subjective as to be meaningless: plenty of people seem to think that Mortal Kombat or Gran Turismo or flight sims are fun, and I personally would rather watch paint dry.

Consoleation: Capcom-edy of errors

Mega Man Legends 3 Screenshot

You know, I wouldn't have been as upset about the cancellation of Mega Man Legends 3 if it hadn't been for the PR ineptitude that followed the announcement. Let's face it: games get cancelled all the time. It's a by-product of a constantly changing industry and some games arguably have little chance of being successful on a grand scale. I know that Mega Man fans were looking forward to it, and a game in a familiar IP might have been something that the 3DS needed to help turn its fortunes around.

Western developers need religion

El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron Screenshot

I have been comfortably Agnostic for years, but my departure from Christianity hasn't erased the experience of having practiced it. I couldn't deny the influence my time within the church has had on me, and wouldn't; to do so would be to deny a fundamental piece of myself. From this perspective, I can't help but wonder if Western developers are doing themselves, gamers, and culture as a whole a disservice by continually minimizing and ignoring the role of religion in Western society.

Choose Mass Effect 3's female Shepard

Mass Effect 3 Female Shepard Facebook Mass Effect 3 Female Shepard Facebook

It's not often that you get to play a part—however small—in the development or marketing of a game. BioWare is giving fans such an opportunity. Illustrating one of the ways social networks are actually useful, BioWare has launched a promotion where fans can vote via Facebook, on the "default female Shepard" that will be used in Mass Effect 3. Fans get to chose from six different looks—actually it's just different faces while the bodies remain the same—and you vote by liking the image that you want to see win.

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