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12 gaming mysteries we want solved in 2011

WARNING: The next three entries contain spoilers for God of War III, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood andCastlevania: Lords of Shadow. If you haven’t already finished these games, you may want to scroll past them to the final entry.

Have we seen the last of Kratos?

After starring in two full-length games in 2010 alone, bald Greek rage machine Kratos has earned a break. God of War III director Stig Asmussen has said as much, so it’ll probably be a while before we play another God of War sequel. For now, we’re fine with that – but we’d still like a clue or an announcement about what’s in store for the future of the franchise.


Above: Kratos can’t ever catch a break, and there’s no reason that should change now

God of War III seemed to definitively wrap up the trilogy, but it also ended with an inconclusive stinger. After committing one final, suicidal act of defiance against the now-exterminated Greek gods, Kratos apparently survived and dragged his own mutilated body away from the cliff where we last saw it resting. Was this just a corporate-mandated attempt to leave the door open for more sequels, or is there actually a plan for what’s going to happen next?

Some have speculated that the next God of War might unfold with a new protagonist (and a new pantheon of gods), but that doesn’t seem right; God of War’s identity relies too heavily on Kratos’s relentlessly horrible personality. Besides, why clearly hint at Kratos surviving if the series is just going to drop him? Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a guy who’s already resurrected himself multiple times through sheer force of will. Assuming he does come back, though, we’ll be keenly interested to see where he can go from here.

What really happened at the end of Assassin%26rsquo;s Creed: Brotherhood?

Just when we thought we had this whole ancestor-inhabiting storyline worked out, Assassin’s Creed had to go and throw us a curveball with the ending of Brotherhood, which snatched away what we thought would be a triumphant climax and gave us another bizarre puzzle instead.

Why would the Apple force Desmond to stab Lucy? What was all that cryptic babbling in reference to? More distressingly, who were the voices shouting over the credits to “put him back in the Animus?” Everything Assassin’s Creed fans thought they knew about the series was seemingly challenged by the climax.

The dominant theory appears to be that Desmond isn’t actually part of the game’s “present,” and that we’ve really been experiencing his memories as another, as-yet-unrevealed descendant in a gene-mining Animus machine. That theory is bolstered by the hidden “Truth” cutscene (accessed by finding and solving all of Brotherhood’s Cluster puzzles), in which a digitized Subject 16 appears to Desmond and says “It is far later than you know. Too late to save them,” and “Everything you hold dear. It’s already gone.” That seems to indicate the apocalypse revealed at the end of Assassin’s Creed II has already happened, although it’s impossible to be sure.

It’s possible we won’t have this answered definitively this year; it all depends on whether Ubisoft follows through on its plans to make Creed a yearly franchise. In any case, Brotherhood left us with a cliffhanger, and the sooner it gets resolved, the better.

Exactly how will Castlevania: Lords of Shadow%26rsquo;s %26lsquo;secret%26rsquo; ending affect the franchise?

About a month ago, publisher Konami sent out word that two pieces of DLC were planned for Castlevania reboot/spinoff Lords of Shadow: Reverie, which will send Gabriel back to Carmilla’s castle to help her creepy “daughter” Laura; and Resurrection, which takes place after Lords of Shadow’s ending, and promises to give “some insight into the dramatic epilogue seen by players upon completion and Gabriel's ultimate destiny,” according to the press release. Of course, we immediately assumed that to mean Resurrection would pick up after the weird twist epilogue, giving us control of Dracula in the modern world.


Above: MOAR PLZ

Now, however, we’re not so sure; on closer examination, it seems more likely that it’ll pick up after the “good” ending – in which Gabriel defeats Satan and is forgiven for his sins – and show us exactly how he went from redeemed hero to decrepit vampire hidden away in a secret throne room. We’ll settle for that from the DLC, but we still want to know: where will Lords of Shadow go from there?

Will the Supreme Court rule that games are protected speech?

For those of us who watch the industry, the Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association case was one of the biggest cliffhangers of 2010. After decades of endless, ultimately fruitless attempts by lawmakers to ban or regulate the sale of games, the question finally went before the highest court in the US: Are videogames a form of speech, like books, movies and music? Or are they a potentially dangerous commodity, like alcohol, tobacco and pornography?


Above: This man feels that videogames are a bad influence

The distinction is one that the game industry and certain legislators have argued over endlessly. If games are speech, then they’re entitled to First Amendment protection and can’t be banned or regulated. If they’re a commodity, then would-be government censors can pass laws to control how they’re produced, distributed and sold, and will finally gain the power to crack down on this frightening new medium that they’ve read so many horrible things about.

We thought the question would finally be settled when the Supreme Court started hearing the case in November, and we held our breaths as oral arguments wrapped up… only to exhale, dejectedly, when we found out the high court wouldn’t reveal its decision until June 2011. So far, the odds seem to be on the industry’s side, but not having a definitive answer leaves us with a gnawing uncertainty about the future of our favorite medium.


Above: It’s all in their hands now

Hopefully, we’ll have all the answers soon.

Jan 26, 2010

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After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.