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Mass Effect Second Opinion

For those of you who don't feel like reading the whole thing: it's awesome.

Mass Effect Screenshot

HIGH Wonderful narrative from beginning to end.

LOW Inventory management.

WTF Twenty minutes into the game where I accidentally chose the dialog option to punch out a hapless NPC.

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.

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.

Once again, it's Slate time.

It's not over a railing, but it's close.

There are times in my life in which I have felt despair, in which the presence in my life of the guiding force of a just and loving universe has not been immediately apparent to me. From now on, whenever I feel that way, I simply need to remember one thing—in just a few short months, everyone's favorite CoteWiNoLo is going to be back on the streets of Grant City...

Namco is publishing Dead to Rights 3.

Typing that sentence feels like being kissed by angels. Seven years after the original, five years after the attempt to make a sequel, four years and two years after the assets left over from that failed sequel attempt were crudely re-fashioned into Dead to Rights 2 and whatever the hell that PSP thing was, Namco has finally employed a development house to produce what the gaming community (by which I mean me) has been screaming for—another Jack Slate adventure!

A bunch of random stuff! Attack!

Although I haven't had a ton of game time lately, I took advantage of the extended weekend and spent some time with two download titles, Lit and Flower.

Lit is from Way Fordward (Shantae, Contra 4) and makes its home on the Wii. An intriguing mix of Puzzle and Horror genres, the game’s hook is that touching darkness or shadows is instantly fatal. Naturally, the player must make his way through twenty-five rooms (and five boss battles) by taking advantage of paths and safe zones created by lamps, televisions, broken windows, and so on. My review is in the can already and should be making an appearance soon, but in a nutshell I'd say buy it if the subject matter appeals to you, just be prepared for some frustration due to a few poor design choices.

Quickie: Study examines benefites of DDR for people with disabilities

Dance Dance Revolution

West Virginia was the first school system in the United States to incorporate a video game (Konami's Dance Dance Revolution) into its physical education curriculum. Now, West Virginia University, ResCare Home Care and the Special Olympics are conducting a study to see if the series has benefits for people with disabilities. According to the very small blurb I was able to find, "Participants will play the game three days a week, for eight weeks. If it is successful, the Special Olympics may consider making 'DDR' a competitive event during its annual games."

Street Fighter IV on Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3?

The Horror Geek presents: Chiaki Kuriyama is promoting Resident Evil 5

chiaki-kuriyamaWhenever I see hot American girls playing or promoting video games on the 'net, I invariably assume it’s some sort of scam. Hot American girls just don’t play video games. Sure, they might know what a video game is (in the same way they know that lesser female creatures actually have to pay for their own drinks), but it’s not from any actual experience. If through some miracle they manage to actually appear holding a controller correctly or answer a "favorite game" question with something other than Pac-Man or a Mario game, you can rest assured it’s because their handlers were on the ball.

Japan, though, that’s a whole different ballgame. When a girl like Battle Royale/Kill Bill’s Chiaki Kuriyama turns up promoting a game, I totally believe she plays games. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but I don't think so. I like to think it’s just one more example in the ever-expanding list of reasons why Japanese women are so much cooler than their American counterparts. I mean, aside from Megan Fox, can you think of one other hot American woman who’d spend a night gaming? I could think of dozens of famous Japanese women who would.

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