Just as English literature buffs should be knowledgeable about the heavyweights of the Western canon—Macbeth, Huckleberry Finn, Ulysses, etc.—so too should videogame critics be acquainted with gaming’s megahits, games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and, yes, the Halo series. So, like the English lit student who struggles to wrap his or her head around Ulysses, not because it’s enjoyable but because it’s important, I decided that I should at least try to understand Halo.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is an outstanding rollercoaster ride of a first-person shooter that crams so much action into its roughly six-hour playtime that it manages to feel just as grand as games two or three times its length. A prime example of quality over quantity, here is the kind of highly polished, densely packed, cinematic experience that reminds me of why I play videogames.
An incredible effort from any perspective, Mass Effect sets the new standard for story-driven games, and has unquestionably surpassed all others to become the preeminent science fiction franchise today. As far as I'm concerned, nothing else can hold a candle to it, and the great minds at BioWare should be extremely proud of what they've created.
Game Description: The setting is 1191 AD. The Third Crusade is tearing the Holy Land apart. You, Altair, intend to stop the hostilities by suppressing both sides of the conflict. You are an Assassin, a warrior shrouded in secrecy and feared for your ruthlessness. Your actions can throw your immediate environment into chaos, and your existence will shape events during this pivotal moment in history.
I have to hand it to Ubisoft. The people they've got in their PR department are marketing geniuses. They could sell refrigerators to people living on an iceberg, or a stack of Bibles to a group of atheists. Look at Assassin's Creed. The smooth operators behind the ad campaign have taken what is essentially a tech demo propped up by a rudimentary mission structure and parlayed it into one of the most anticipated titles of the season.
BioShock is a simple, straightforward first-person shooter dressed up in next-generation trappings and superb artistic design. There are numerous distractions attempting to draw the player's eye away from the basic formula at its heart, but really, that's all it is.
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