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December may offer the true climax of the holiday season, but in terms of new game releases, it's very much the calm after the storm. Most of the giant blockbusters of the season made their way out between September and November, but the final month of 2011 isn't barren by any means: big releases like Mario Kart 7 and Star Wars: The Old Republic lead the pack, while system-specific versions of some notable recent titles also find their way to store shelves. But if you read this over and don't see anything on the horizon that works you into a tizzy, surely November's overstuffed lineup holds a few leftover options to consider...
Game music has been a passion of ours roughly since, oh, 1985, but in the past 10 years, it’s come to mean something more. Don’t get us wrong, we still love the beepatronic music of the 8- and 16-bit periods (and the wave of chiptune artists it inspired), but the past decade has also seen licensed music become a surprisingly important part of gaming. Sometimes, this just means a selection of familiar hits to accompany our music games, but every so often, a game will use licensed tracks to careful, brilliant effect – and in the process, will expose legions of gamers to music they might never have heard otherwise.
What follows are the games and franchises that have been the most influential in bringing strange and terrifying new musical styles to gamers’ ears – and in the interest of making this our most self-indulgent Top 7 since that other one, we’ve asked a handful of our editors to explain what made each one important to them personally...
Whether they’ve advanced menacingly toward our camera lenses, hidden their faces when we look at them or just sort of hovered aimlessly, ghosts have been a semi-constant threat in videogames almost since the medium was invented. One of the great things about games, however, is that they’re a way to explore unusual viewpoints – and every once in a while, they give us a chance to see through the eyes of these undead phantoms, and find out what it’s like to flit insubstantially through an earthly plane that’s perpetually, almost comically afraid of us.
Only a handful of games have actually offered a chance to see things from the proverbial Other Side, but these are our favorites...
It may not be Halloween just yet, but you can at least start prepping yourself early. To help get you in the mood, we’ve brought together some of our favorite Halloween-themed content from across the gaming spectrum in one video. Only a few games over the years have actually taken place on the last day of October (although) some MMOs like to live it up with awesome Halloween celebrations, but plenty of gamers have picked up the slack by creating their own custom content with mods for some of their favorite games. We’ve pulled together some of the best of both, sotake a look and re-live some old favorites (or discover some new ones)!
It's funny how the games business works. Big successes become popular franchises, we keep buying 'em because they keep getting better, and developers keep churning 'em out. Later, we'll complain about Call of Duty being the same stupid thing, buy it, verify our complaint, and keep the cycle strong. What about the stuff that doesn't review well, though, or doesn't sell, or doesn't quite live up to the hype? Those games are usually left for dead, and an original IP hoping to make its big break becomes a one-shot failure.
Aren't these the games we should see sequels to? Disappointing games are the ones that need the most improving, and are the games that'd benefit the most from a second chance. Remember, Assassin's Creed eventually became Assassin's Creed II. We'd love to see some of this generation's biggest bummers – even if they had a lot going for them – take off bigger than they have...
Long before unboxing a “Special” edition meant netting anything from a Master Chief helmet to an Altair action figure, the act usually consisted of cracking the shrink wrap on a tin case to discover a miniature art book or making-of DVD. While scooping up these limited releases has gotten more exciting – and expensive – in recent years, this season’s offerings seem to be scaling back. Some publishers seem to think downloadable extras are an acceptable substitute for cool swag, and Activision’s even shelving their annual Call of Duty Prestige Edition – you know, the one that previously gave us working night-vision goggles – for an all-digital Modern Warfare 3 Hardened Edition...
Once a videogame hero has more than one or two adventures under his or her belt, it simply isn’t enough to just have an archenemy anymore. To keep things interesting, they need a foil, a rival, or some other angry opposite number obsessed with matching wits with them. Sometimes, those characters stick around long enough to make themselves an indelible part of the series, even going so far as to make friends with the protagonist – although more often than not, their friendships tend to be shaky at best, and even those involved might never fully admit to them. Relationships like that tend to make for gaming’s most enduring and interesting rivalries, and what follows are some of the most notable...
Historically inaccurate games, big ass news from the 2011 Tokyo Game Show, and Gears of War 3 thoroughly reviewified...
History and videogames have been intertwined since at least the early ‘80s, but at best it’s been a shaky relationship. Until fairly recently, concepts like “realism” and “accuracy” weren’t often a consideration, and they tended to be thrown out the window if a cool explosion or giant monster was judged more beneficial to gameplay. As technology has progressed, however, more of these games have been trying hard to be true to their historical roots – and, predictably, a lot of them don’t do so well...
Deathmatch. Capture the Flag. Domination. Team… those things. These words have made up a familiar vocabulary for multiplayer games over the past 15 years or so, and they’ve been standard in nearly every game that’s allowed one player to shoot at another. These days, however, “standard” is seldom enough, and this year it seems like every other big fall release wants to reinvent, deepen or otherwise put its own unique spin on competitive and co-op play.
Some of those spins are more interesting than others, and they’re resulting in a fall lineup that – in spite of being composed largely of sequels – is doing enough big, unusual things with multiplayer to make even the most steadfast solo gamers take interest. And now that another annual 24-hour marathon is safely behind us, it seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the unique stuff that lies ahead...
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