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David the Grammar Nerd, Volume 1

David the Grammar Nerd, Volume 1

With the recent rush of quality user reviews coming in, it's nice to see that there are a lot of people who know how to write and communicate effectively. Unfortunately, with many Internet scribes using "lol" as punctuation, it's time for the first (and hopefully final, but I doubt it) installment of David: The Grammar Nerd.

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 11: Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games

Our guest this week is developer Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games. He's the creator of the Xbox Community Game Weapon of Choice, which we covered several episodes ago--and yes, he calls us out on many of our criticisms. He also talks candidly about the freedom and frustration of Community Games development, what inspired Weapon of Choice, and somehow it culminates into a Devil May Cry 3 rant that must not be missed. Our thanks to Nathan for participating! Be sure to visit his website at www.mommysbestgames.com.

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Please send mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Lara rising from Beneath the Ashes?

The new Tomb Raider: Underworld DLC came out today. Titled Beneath the Ashes, this new add-on level starts off with Lara Croft in her father's study, hidden underneath the burned wreckage of Croft manor. For those who haven't played Underworld yet, the story basically veers off towards Norse mythology elements, and Ashes has our heroine going deeper underground into a new secret area that was underneath the first secret area. Allegedly there's an artifact down there that can create and control the undead thralls that populated the latter stages of Underworld proper, and Lara's not one to leave vital artifacts unmolested, natch.

Tomb Raider Underworld: Beneath the Ashes DLC Screenshot

I watched a "developer's diary" video on Ashes a few weeks ago, and one of the folks putting it together spent some time saying that the Tomb Raider team really worked hard on the puzzles and were able to dig in and give it their best. I appreciate that they probably put a lot of effort into it, but frankly, I don't see it. Although it's shorter and more focused than any of the levels in the retail release, it still suffers from a heavy feeling of blah, not being very visually interesting and lacking any real personality. There were also a few spots where I was stuck—not because I couldn't figure out what to do, but because the areas still have a vaguely too-open feeling to them which was often complicated by Lara not jumping where I wanted her to. The two things combined led me to believe that I wasn't performing the correct action, resulting in some minor frustration and wasted effort.

I still call myself a Tomb Raider fan, but out of the three titles that Crystal Dynamics has had a hand in, I would rank Underworld dead last behind Anniversary and the stellar Legend. This DLC does nothing to change that, and continues the mediocrity that was present in its parent title. Additionally, this new level is overpriced at 800 points ($10) since most players will be able to get through it in less than two hours. Unless you’re an absolute Tomb Raider fanatic, I'd say that it's not worth the download.

The Horror Geek presents: Dante's Inferno wants you to go to Hell

I've been paying close attention to Electronic Arts' new IP, Dante's Inferno, since it was rumored a few months ago. A video game based on a classic piece of literature is intriguing enough (although I'm hoping Pride & Prejudice & Zombies never makes the jump to game-dom, even if it features Nazi zombies…), but one that's not only based on literature but set in Hell and looks like a God of War clone sets my geek-o-meter buzzing well into the red-zone.

Here's the first trailer for the game. Obviously, someone on the development team played and loved God of War—but is that a bad thing? If you're going to imitate something, you probably should imitate something really good—and it's hard to get much cooler than God of War when it comes to action games featuring giant set-pieces. The only real negative I see here is the giant multi-headed hellhound things looked cheesy to me. Maybe they'll fix them—or maybe I’ll like them more when I see them in the actual game. Too early to tell.

No word on a release date yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Playing some snuff-games

Finished Manhunt (PlayStation 2) today for the first time. It was an interesting experience. Although it certainly lives up to its reputation as being an extremely graphic and gory game, there was a lot more to it than just that… the story and setting (death-row convict is rescued from the chair only to be thrust into a kill-or-be-killed game of hide and seek) were engaging, and the work with tone and mood were excellent. The stark, brutal feel and incredibly bleak outlook of the game’s entire world were very well-realized. There's also quite a bit of meat to chew on for people who like to delve into meta-commentary, but I'll save that for another post.

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 10: God Hand, River City Ransom, Streets of Rage 2

When we asked you to pick any game for us to discuss, we certainly didn't expect you to pick God Hand. But you did, so we did. Plus, what makes a critic a critic, Streets of Rage 2 (no, that's not a typo), and at long last, Chi Kong Lui on River City Ransom. Warning: This episode contains a revelation that will BLOW YOUR MIND. Featuring Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim Spaeth.

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Please send mailbag questions to podcast (at) gamecritics (dot) com.

Art vs... Art?

This has been an eventful week for downloads on the PlayStation 3. Flower and Noby Noby Boy are now both available through the Store, and although I think it's correct to put them both in the same general category, my reactions to both couldn't be more different.

Flower

Flower is fantastic. I don't necessarily think it's the second coming as some seem to report it, but it is most definitely the kind of thing that makes a player step back and re-examine their entire conception of video games.

The Horror Geek presents: Another Resident Evil 5 trailer

Capcom was nice enough to send me a note mentioning that a new Resident Evil 5 trailer was available on the press section of their site recently, so I went and grabbed it. Unfortunately, 12 drunken monkeys are probably better at figuring out most computer crap than I am. So, I had to head over to YouTube to find a version I could actually get to post on the site. Anyway, here’s  the coolest trailer to date for the game. Enjoy.

I’m getting out of here now, before I blow up the entire internet…

The formula for a good game

Call of Duty 4

The great film director Howard Hawks once said that "A good movie has three great scenes and no bad ones." Lately, I've taken to pondering how this sentiment might apply to video games.

When I think about big cinematic games like God of War, Resident Evil 4, Call of Duty 4, and Metal Gear Solid 4 (damn, that's a lot of games with "4" in the title), I think the formula holds. These are all games that, for me anyway, never really had any bad parts, and had at least three great segments that really stand out in my memory. I can still vividly recall fighting the giant hydra, clashing knives with Krauser, getting hit by a nuclear blast wave, and riding a motorcycle through an eastern European city. I'm a sucker for games that give me only a few amazing moments, even if the rest of the game never rises above being merely not bad.

The Horror Geek presents: Dead Space: Extraction officially announced

Wow, a game for the Wii I'd actually play (and isn't a GameCube game or something on the virtual console). What the f**k is up with that? What's next? Original horror movies?

Anyway, Electronic Arts officially confirms Dead Space: Extraction, a Wii-based prequel to the popular survival horror game Dead Space. Even better, it's slated for release this fall. Speaking about the title this morning, VP and General Manager of EA's Redwood Studios had this to say about the game:

"We could not be more excited to extend Dead Space into an experience exclusive to the Wii. Nintendo has a wonderful history in the horror genre and we are thrilled to build on that tradition with Dead Space Extraction. As we were developing Dead Space, we realized that there was so much of the story going untold. Dead Space Extraction tells that story with all of the intensity, blood and gore that fans would expect."

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