The Price of Gaming

 

The relationship between money and entertainment has been a contentious issue for as long as there has been money. The concept of swapping a physical item for a representation of wealth makes sense, but when you give up your representation of wealth for something that is transient, people start having difficulties. In Shakespeare’s day, you could go to the theatre for a penny, or you could pay more to get a seat if you didn’t want to stand. People were probably sitting at home weighing up three hours of entertainment for a penny against buying a pie the next day. Fast forward four hundred years and I’m weighing up getting an indie game off Steam for a few pounds against getting some snack food on the way home from work tomorrow. How times have changed.

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Sonic & All Stars Racing: Transformed Review (Xbox 360)

Does ‘All Star’ just mean ‘Nintendo Clone’ now?

Sonic & All Stars Racing: Transformed is the second in Sega’s cross-franchise racing series, and much like its predecessor, it’s surprisingly good. Everyone expected the first game to be a straight up copy of Mario Kart, but somehow it latched onto its own feel. That has been expanded and refined in the sequel, but is this type of game relevant anymore?

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Hitman: Absolution Review (PC)

Also known as ‘The day Patrick Stewart lost it’

Absolution is an attempt to make Hitman more than a game about killing people. Sure the older games had a story (one I rather liked) but essentially the focus of the game was to give you a playground in which you could murder some bad people. For money. Absolution has tried something different, and I applaud it for that.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Review (Xbox 360)

Once you blop, you can’t stop.

Black Ops 2 is, by my count, the eighth game in the Call of Duty series this generation. It seems like a divisive series, with the two developers Infinity Ward (developed 2 and the Modern Warfare series) and Treyarch (developed 3, World at War and the Black Ops series) each having their own fanbases. Until recently it was assumed that Infinity Ward were the better developer but due to the departure of Infinity Ward’s leads things have been shaken up a little. Many fans of the series militantly defend one set of games or the other, and the subtle differences between the games can make all the difference. So for the record, below lies my ranking of all of the Call of Duty games I’ve played, from best to worst.

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Halo 4 Review (Xbox 360)

  Halo, is it me you’re looking for?

Halo 4 is the first game in the series to be handled by 343 Studios. They may have a few of the original Halo creators on staff, but they’re not Bungie and this has led to a few doubts about how well they can handle the game. Fans will be happy to know they’ve done such a good job, they’ve almost made Bungie look bad.

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Assassin’s Creed 3 Review (Xbox 360)

  Learn history through stabbing!

Assassin’s Creed 3 is disappointing. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game, but it’s below expectations. This console generation Assassin’s Creed has probably been the franchise that has shown the power of current-generation technology. The animation, the settings, the freedom. The series has told a story that is grand in scope, and has interwoven real history into its fibre. As a whole, the series is a real accomplishment for Ubisoft, one of the few publisher developers who have come out of the last few years relatively (ignoring the DRM issue) unscathed by financial or legal woes. But sadly this entry is a misstep, it’s a weak (supposed) end to an impressive trilogy (in five parts, Douglas Adams would be proud).

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Dishonored Review (PC)

 Whatever you do… blink.

Dishonored is the latest game by Arkane, the developers of the criminally overlooked Arx Fatalis, and published by Bethesda, who is quickly becoming one of the big superpowers of gaming alongside EA and Activision. As a new IP it is firmly in the spotlight despite its inspirations being clear for all to see. Dishonored is essentially a mashup of Deus Ex, Thief and Bioshock. But is it as good as any of those?

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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Review (PC)

It’s a Panda Monk Pandemic

Blizzard has a tough time with World of Warcraft these days. I mean aside from the millions of dollars they make every month in fees, it’s hard to get excited about the game. As a business, they are living on easy street, but creatively I imagine they’re in a difficult position. If they do something completely new, a World of Warcraft 2, they can only cannablise their own customers (not literally) and so business-wise it doesn’t make sense. For whatever people say about the state of MMOs, WoW is still the undisputed king. So instead of a reinvention of the game we get these expansions, and as far as I know this won’t be the last one. So is it any good?

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