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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 27: What Compels You to Play?

What compels us to spend 25, 40, 50, even 70+ hours on a single game? We think we've figured it out. Join us for conversation about Dragon Age, Assassin's Creed 2, Way of the Samurai 3, Torchlight and Borderlands DLC. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim "Yes, I Like Borderlands Now" Spaeth.

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Assassin's Creed II Review

How Much Do You Like Running on Rooftops?

Assassin's Creed II Screenshot

HIGH Feeling my stomach pitch climbing the heights of a towering church.

LOW The poorly-planned, hours-long, painfully slow beginning.

WTF Is finding feathers supposed to be fun?

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Second Opinion

Plenty of Sugar, Little Nutrition

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Screenshot

High The train section in the middle of the game is exhilarating.

Low The firefights drag on, never as exciting as they should be.

WTF The weird "warp" animation when the devs force Drake to make an extra-long jump.

Mass Effected

Mass Effect Screenshot

So, I'm replaying Mass Effect. Why? Well, I had no plans to. I had a blast playing it the first time through, felt totally satisfied, and was greatly looking forward to the next installment. Over, done with, finished.

Assassin's Creed II

Game Description: Get ready to plunge into the lush and deadly world of the Italian Renaissance, an era of arts, riches and murderous conspiracy. Assassin's Creed II introduces you to Ezio, a new assassin carrying on the deadly lineage of his forebears. Confront an epic tale of power and corruption as you hone your assassin's art, wielding weapons and instruments designed by the legendary Leonardo da Vinci himself in this gripping and deadly sequel.

Chosen at birth

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Last post, I mentioned that the tendency to choose segregation as a means to solve problems was a feature of many societies in the world of Dragon Age. Another, related motif appearing in many Thedan societies is the existence of a rigidly-defined social order in which a person's status and even his occupation are set at the moment of birth. To varying degrees this kind of social rigidity appears in almost every social group in the game (except the elves). Through its dialogue and plot, Dragon Age: Origins repudiates these systems, but in its mechanics it supports them.

Out of sight, out of mind

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

Playing Dragon Age gave me a relatively frequent sense of déjà vu. Although the game portrays a number of different nations and societies, there are recurrent features that speak to underlying ideas about the psychology of its inhabitants. One such motif is the tendency for its denizens to solve their problems through segregation. At several levels, the people of the continent of Thedas like to resolve issues by pushing problematic groups into isolated areas and pretending, as much as possible, that they no longer exist.

Uncharted 2 gets charted

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves Screenshot

Still on my quest to play all the "big" games of 2009, I've almost got Uncharted 2 wrapped up… only two or three more sections to go. Having already put together a rough list of the year's top ten, I was wondering which title I might have to bump to make room for it. That concern is now moot, since it's not going to make the list.

Fairytale Fights Review

No Happily Ever After Here...

Fairytale Fights Screenshot

HIGH Skewing classic fairytales is a great premise.

LOW There is absolutely no depth to the gameplay.

WTF The amount of ice needed for my right thumb after two hours.

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