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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.

Bits of news

Dragon Age Return to Ostagar

In DLC news, extra content has been announced for both Dragon Age: Origins and Assassin’s Creed II. In the case of Dragon Age, the new mission is titled Return to Ostagar. Those already familiar with the game will certainly remember that Ostagar is the location of the intense Lord of the Rings-style battle that basically kicks off the adventure proper.

Assassin's Creed II... still not great

Assassin's Creed II Screenshot

Sadly, the adventures of both Altair and Ezio fall far short of what I would expect from such a rich, promising premise. My review is complete, but I'm going to sit on it for another day to make sure that I'm not letting it go too soon—with such a high-profile title, I'm really making every effort to ensure that the piece says what I'm trying to say. Readers can disagree with me all they like, but I want them to disagree because they actually disagree, not because they misunderstand what I'm saying. (Inevitably, both will happen.)

Assassin's Creed II disappoints and my Big Red Potion appearance

Assassin's Creed 2 Screenshot

In spite of my dismay, I held out hope that Ubisoft would take the copious amounts of player feedback and apply it towards the sequel, finally crafting a title that lived up to the promise. The early word was good, and practically everyone I spoke to said that the developers had seen the error of their ways and had delivered a game that "kept all the good stuff and got rid of all the bad". I wanted to believe. Oh, how I wanted to believe.

I actually like Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman: Arkham Asylum Screenshot

Getting closer to the end of my "must-plays" of 2009, I just wrapped up Batman: Arkham Asylum on the PS3 a few minutes ago. I've got to say, this is one of those extremely rare times when I felt that all of the praise and accolades given to the game were well and truly deserved.

GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 26: Game Studies, Ludology 101 with Matthew Wiese from Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab

Bonjour class! Welcome to Ludology 101. Matthew Wiese of the Singapore-MIT GAMBIT Game Lab talks about his work and his experience on the academic side of games. Is ludology as sleep-inducing as it sounds? No sir, and in fact criticism and academia may have more in common than you think. With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, and Tim Spaeth. Happy Thanksgiving to all our listeners!

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