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

The Wizard of Oz, Shiren the Wanderer and three great games left to play

Shiren the Wanderer Screenshot

News has started to trickle out about the upcoming Shiren the Wanderer for the Wii. Set to release on February 9, this is absolutely one of my most anticipated games for the foreseeable future. In case you missed it, I picked up a copy of Mystery Dungeon: Shiren the Wanderer on DS a while ago and blogged about it obsessively for a few days.

I knew very little about it except for the fact that it was a Rogue-like, but it didn't take me long to fall in love. More than anything, I admired the unyielding discipline of the developers and the way they implemented the rules of the game consistently and fairly from start to finish. It was certainly difficult to be sure, but it was one of those rare games that never felt unfair or cheap.

Dragon Age: Origins Review

Frodo, Meet Commander Shepard

Dragon Age: Origins Screenshot

HIGH Superb characterizations, story, and role-playing.

LOW The combat system is a mess.

WTF Screwing up a quest by missing one line of dialogue 20 hours beforehand.

That Bay State of Mind: Modern Warfare 2's boom-filled campaign

That Bay State of Mind: Modern Warfare 2's boom-filled campaign

As first-person shooter campaigns go, it's definitely in the 95th percentile of enjoyable shooting galleries. But it's also a campaign that worries me. While playing through the brief solo mode (roughly five hours), I couldn't help but be reminded of the stereotypical Bay film: Things blow up, uber-macho soldiers shout, the player performs wild stunts (like jumping into a helicopter for the umpteenth time), and loud orchestral music plays. It doesn't seem to matter that the plot is poorly paced, makes very little sense, and no characters are developed. If I'm a typical M-rated gamer, all I'm supposed to care about is that I shot people and stuff blew up real purty.

Which of these titles are you the most excited for this Holiday Season?

Assassin's Creed II
16% (103 votes)
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
12% (81 votes)
Dragon Age: Origins
15% (102 votes)
Forza Motorsport 3
2% (12 votes)
Halo 3: ODST
2% (11 votes)
Left 4 Dead 2
7% (45 votes)
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
8% (53 votes)
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
5% (30 votes)
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
12% (79 votes)
Other
6% (41 votes)
Already bought (and played) my selection
10% (65 votes)
No games this season
6% (40 votes)
Total votes: 662

Trine Review

Three Heads are Better than Two

Trine Screenshot

HIGH Excellent concept, great production values.

LOW Lack of any real boss battles.

WTF Experience comes in glowing green bottles?

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