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Portal 2 isn't everything I wanted it to be, but how could it have been? In 2007, Portal jumped out from behind the release of Half-Life 2: Episode 2, catching us unawares and stupefying our faces off, and we've spent the past four years canonizing it with jokes about Companion Cubes, cake lies, and huge successes. Without the element of surprise, and with an impossible tower of expectations looming over it, the best developer Valve could have hoped to do is make Portal 2 the next best thing. It succeeded...
Portal: Still Alive breaks every rule. It’s the first Live Arcade game to clock in at a weighty 629Mb - well over Microsoft’s miserly 250Mb limit. It’s also the first Live Arcade game to be a re-release of an existing retail game. Most importantly, even one year after its initial release, Portal is a game unlike any other, and once again one of the games of the year.
As ten minutes listening to any Top 40 radio station will tell you, timing is far more important than talent in the music business. If Led Zeppelin was just arriving on the scene today, they’d be lucky to open for Katy Perry. Rhythm action band game Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is another great example. Three years ago, its licensed soundtrack and creative guitar and drum controllers might have made it a player. But its timing is awful and it’s here now, far too late to become legendary. In fact, it’s more Justin Bieber than John Lennon in the talent department, too.
Power Gig: Rise of the SixString is available as a standalone game, a game and guitar controller combo, and a “band kit” that adds in a drum controller and microphone as well. And as luck would have it, those three variations deliver radically different experiences. So I’m going to take a slightly different approach and review the game, the guitar, and the drums individually, then wrap it all up into one combined score for the database. You ready? Then throw on a black concert t-shirt and let’s hit the stage...
It’s not even remotely difficult to imagine how the idea for PowerUp Forever came about. Somebody played the hypnotic, 2D game flOw (try the demo here and buy it on PSN) and said, “Hey! Wouldn’t this be fun if your onscreen avatar had a gun?”
The first time publisher Ubisoft spoke to us about the new Prince of Persia game, we’ll admit we feared it was going to stink so badly we’d staple week-old roadkill to our faces to try to mask its smell. The super-macho Prince, always the center of this platform adventure series, is being hobbled with a new sidekick character whose help you require for basically everything?
When we first found out about Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, it was impossible to not be skeptical. After closing out the Sands of Time trilogy and dropping wads of cash on a flashy new reboot for the franchise, publisher Ubisoft just suddenly decided that the character was too good to let go? And this decision just happened to coincide with the feature-film adaptation of the first game?
Right. This had “bullshit tie-in” written all over it. Still, Ubisoft repeatedly assured us (and everyone else in the gaming press) that Forgotten Sands wouldn’t be a movie game, and that its release date was a coincidence, even though it’s hitting shelves exactly 10 days before the film’s release. Suspicious as these claims seemed, they were backed up by some slick gameplay demonstrations that gave us hope that Forgotten Sands wouldn’t be crap.
Now that the game is out, there’s one burning question to be answered: Did this turn out to be a worthy sequel to the Sands of Time franchise? Or is it just a vapid rush job?
Prison Break was a really good TV series… half a decade ago. In its third season, however, its memory was indelibly soiled by a rapid decrease in quality and an equally rapid increase in outlandish plot twists, culminating in a final fourth season that felt for all the world like a hard kick to the groin for fans who’d stuck with the show.
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