A New YouTube Channel for G!

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Hello my friends (and otherwise). DR. G-Man now has an official YouTube Channel! Check it out here.  This is where we will provide video versions of our normal podcast and possibly expand to accommodate other types of video content (stay tuned for more on that later). Just wanted to say thanks for supporting us these past couple years and I hope we can continue to provide something informative (and sexy) in video form. The latest episode takes advantage of this new development and is on the front page right now!

Catch DR. G doing a Live Blog of EA's 2013 E3 Press Conference

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Hello fellow Gs and G-ettes. David here to let you know I will be attending E3 this year and, more specifically, will be covering EA's press conference via a live blog on Default Prime. Ivan and I will be sure to post E3 impressions through another one of our silky smooth podcasts, but for on going coverage during the week, make sure to visit www.defaultprime.com. My live blog will be happening here. As always, thanks for the support! 

No G-Cast This Week? That's Inconceivable or Something!

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Yes my fellow G lovers, it is true. This week been full of a slight amount (shit load) of craziness to prevent us from bringing you a brand new episode. I promise I'l make it up to each and every one of you by giving Ivan 40 lashes (seriously, his eyes are going to look lavish!). We will be back with a new G-Cast next Friday. Until then, we suggest going to our Facebook or Twitter or emailing us user questions to drg@drgman.com. As always, thanks for listening!

G-Cast Takes a Couple Weeks Off

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Hello fan! Due to technical difficulties, (cough) Ivan sucks! (cough), we unfortunately wont be able to produce a G-Cast today. To make matters worse for our fans (Ivan's mom) this comes right before our scheduled week off for the holidays. What does that mean? No G-Cast for two weeks :'(. BUT, we will be back and better than ever (or the same) on January 4th, 2013 for our first episode of the new year to discuss our favorite games of 2012. Thanks for the understanding and support, but seriously, if you're pissed off, death threats go to dante@drgman.com. As always, send user questions to Facebook, Twitter, or drg@drgman.com. Have fun celebrating whatever the hell you celebrate and we hope to see you all next year!

Review | Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

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In the future we will all live in dome-shaped homes, and ride in fuel efficient hovercrafts. Eat pill-sized meals, and watch programming through retinal displays. Yes, the future is bright- thanks to the destruction of the ozone and artificial sunlight built into every new home! Oh, and the world will run on rare earth metals mined in China, and networking security will be total ass. The latter is the more probable option for the future, at least according to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.

Set in the near future, 2025, a man seeking retribution for past events unleashes a plot to destroy the world powers. Armed with an arsenal of soldiers with high tech weaponry, and an information network that makes the CIA shrink, Raul Menendez is hell bent on accomplishing something he refers to as “Cordis Die”, first by conquering the Facebook and Twitter, then the Youtube, finally the world!

David Mason takes charge to thwart Raul’s plans only to be played a puppet by the very man who kidnapped him years ago and uncovers the plot to who really killed his father, in turn making his father’s killer reminisce about how he, Alex Mason, and Batman, fucked shit up and thus why things are so ugly! Suspense, drama!

The story seemed to be a jumbled mess switching from Present to Past; one played as David, the son, the other played by Alex, pappy. Overall the story was lackluster. The only depth that arose came from the antagonist where his terrorist actions were a subjugation of torment from apparent inequality between the rich and the poor- first world and third world relations- and how citizens were caught into the mix of things. The story between father and son took a backseat to Raul’s tragic roots.

Gameplay was very tried and true: pick up a gun and shoot it, throw a grenade and watch it explode, follow the objective and complete the game. There was no real substance worth noting in the campaign altogether, which is expected of a franchise released every year. Treyarch attempted to switch things up by implementing moral choices- much like in Mass Effect- only to a smaller scale allowing gamers to choose whether to save a life or take it. It was a refreshing experience to a worn and torn franchise and offered a few different endings; not a real bad experiment.

Real-time-strategy missions were implemented to break up the action, but were utterly disappointing. The system was broken and either the player had to go into a first-person perspective to complete the objective, or give up altogether. Luckily only one mission had to be carried out to progress, the others could be ignored.

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The newly reworked Zombies 2.0 is a love-it-or-hate-it type of mode. Survival has the player doing more of the same: shooting zombies ‘til you can’t no more. A classic staple of Treyarch’s Zombies. Aside the few new weapons and perks, nothing was changed to the popular game type. For any person who just wants to shoot zombies for the hell of it, not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Grief is essentially a team deathmatch with the inclusion of zombies. Two teams of four are placed on a map and they can either choose to destroy the opposing team or fight together, though only one team can be left standing. Matches were over too quick as one team would immediately pick off the other. Zombies served as little as a distraction and the maps offered were simply too small for a survival-deathmatch hybrid. Weapons could be obtained in the same manner: kill zombies, repair shit. Not too keen on this one.

Tranzit mode is the cornerstone of Zombies 2.0. A group of survivors go around on a bus, beef it up, and uncover a great mystery! Survivors travel on bus, or on two feet if left behind, to gather utensils to upgrade the bus or make new items to use- like a makeshift riot shield or generator for power. The premise is that a supernatural voice commands the player to perform tasks to discover some plot or ploy, and when done is rewarded with something sinister (not giving spoilers now are we?).

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The mode is puzzling the first few tries, but once the parameter is established and everyone knows what to do, all the upgrades/perks/items can be gathered in a single run. Generally the mode was not too hard while playing with others, but alone- like previous installments- is near impossible.

Multiplayer is the saving grace for this installment of CoD as it tweaks with loadouts and the number of items one can have. Only ten items in the loadout can be used at any time and can be customized in any fashion fit. The money system is out the window and is replaced with a point system. Weapons, attachments, perks, and the newly added wildcards (an extension of perks) are bought using the points generated from being promoted a level.

One point can buy anything unlockable and one point is generated from gaining a level. Wildcards are unique “perks” added into the mix that act much like a risk/reward system (kinda). One wildcard costs one point, and thus should be selected cautiously, but can be the oomph in a player’s loadout. One wildcard can add an extra kill streak from either tier, an extra attachment to a weapon, or an extra primary gun.

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The game types from previous installments are as they were, but a few are notable like: Kill Confirmed, Hard Point, and Multi Team. Kill Confirmed has been seen on Modern Warfare 3, but has not received the spotlight it deserves. Every kill comes with a dropped dog tag, and in order to get points those tags have to be collected, but if the opposing team retrieves a comrade’s tags the point is denied. Hard point is essentially king of the hill where a team must be within the “hill” to gather points. Multi team pits three teams of three against each other in a variety of game types. Black Ops 2 also includes the first big team battle in the franchise’s history.

Overall, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 is the best work from developer Treyarch. It is transcendent from their other works and goes beyond another installment. That being said, it still suffers from franchise fatigue. The story was lackluster, gameplay was not diverse enough, and graphical improvements are generally not seen. The RTS missions bit the dust, and Zombies was unappealing. Multiplayer will stick around as it always has, but other than that, Black Ops 2 is still just another Treyarch Call of Duty. B+.

Send Us Your Questions... Again!

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G-Cast is moving right along to its second episode of the season and we need more of those big, juicy questions we can't get enough of. Send your inquiries about gaming (or whatever) to drg@drgman.com or post on our Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below. This week, we'll be reviewing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Visit the website this Friday to check out the new episode and don't forget to subscribe to us on iTunes.

Send Us Your Questions!

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G-Cast starts with a brand new season this friday (Nov. 16th) and we need your questions! Send us any inquiries you might have about gaming to drg@drgman.com or post on facebook, twitter, or in the comments below and we'll answer you on the air. This week, we'll be reviewing Halo 4, discussing recent news, and (hopefully) answering your questions. Don't forget to visit our website this friday or subscribe to the show on iTunes here!

We're Back, Baby!

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the new DR. G-Man!!! As you can see, quite a bit has changed aesthetically, but we’re still dedicated to bringing you the same sexy content you’ve always known and hated. Kidding! We know you Loathe it. Check out season 2 of G-Cast starting VERY soon (we promise) and send any suggestions for show topics or questions about gaming to drg@drgman.com and we will answer them on the air! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget to explore the site and enjoy. Thanks for reading!

Review: Max Payne 3 Brings the Max Payne Too!

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Ready to bring the Payne? The Max Payne? The Max Payne 3? Yeah, that was a bit of a stretch but Max Payne 3 is finally out and ready for gamers to salivate over! It’s been almost ten years since the last installment in the series. A development company by the name of Remedy made the previous Max Payne titles and eventually left the brand to work on Alan Wake. Now, Rockstar Vancouver, makers of the 2006 sleeper hit Bully, has just released the latest installment in the franchise with a brand new multiplayer feature and the same great cheesy writing fans know and love.

Most of the story takes place in Brazil where Mr. Payne, a former New Jersey cop dealing with a heavy pain killer and alcohol addiction, works as a private security guard for a rich family in Sao Paulo. The question of why he’s there is answered via playable flashback sequences throughout the game explaining the motivation behind the drastic move. Like any modern shooter, cut scenes surround the gameplay to further the story and break up the action. Previous installments told story through the use of motion comics but Max Payne 3 goes for more of a hybrid between cut scene and graphic novel. You won’t find any Ken Burns effects here, but words show up on the screen sometimes as characters say important lines and the video will often split into two or three screens much like comic panels.

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This keeps the storytelling modern while still respecting the game’s heritage and breathing new life into the unique way Max Payne 1 &2 did cut scenes. The flashback sequences are interesting and do their job to break up the locales throughout the story. This allows the player to explore a handful of contrasting locations without flying all over the world like James Bond. It keeps the story real and the visuals interesting. Every flashback sequence provides insight into Max’s current situation and the intrigue doesn’t let up until the very end. It’s the perfect way to tell this story and it’s wrapped up in dialogue that is cheesy, but some of the best you’ll hear in a videogame all year.

If you’ve played a Max Payne before, the gameplay should be something you’re already familiar with. It’s a shooter. Plain and simple. Environments are full of walls to take cover behind and guns to kill the crap out of whoever is trying to kill you. The only unique feature in the gameplay is bullet time. This allows you to put the world in slow motion making it easier to dive in and out of cover or take extra long to aim for that perfect head shot.

It sounds bland, but, like any shooter, it’s extremely fun to pick off goons level after level. There are numerous enemies all with different fighting styles, health, and armor. They flank, cover each other, and do whatever they can to put you in a body bag. Normally, artificial intelligence like this would be too difficult for one player to handle. That’s why bullet time is the perfect slow motion rock to their intelligent paper. This gives you the edge over groups of extremely impressive killers and defines itself with gameplay that can’t be found in any other shooter. It sounds rinse and repeat, but it’s so much fun to pop enemies in slow mo, it’s hard to get sick of it.

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For the first time ever, Max Payne 3 features a multiplayer mode. Like any standard multiplayer shooter, you’ll gain XP, unlock weapons, customize load outs, and do whatever you can to kill newbpwnge72 before he/she kills you. You’ll find the usual team death match mixed with a couple of unique modes to keep you busy after the campaign. A few notable modes are Payne Killer and Gang wars. Payne killer pits everyone on the map against one poor online player who looks like Max Payne. Whoever is playing Max eventually gets overrun, but then his killer will immediately become the new Max Payne of the match (think VIP in Halo).

Gang Wars is a collection of five matches played across multiple game types leading up to a final showdown to determine the overall winner. The better you do in each match, the better chance your team has for victory in the end.

Surprisingly, a lot of luxuries from the single player campaign make their way into the multiplayer including the bullet time. “How does that work” you ask? “Quiet! I’m talking!” I might say. After that, I might tell you that the developers have found a clever way of making slow motion work online without it becoming a nuisance. Every time someone activates bullet time, only the people within that immediate area, or in line of site of the person who activated it, is affected. This way, someone’s slow motion won’t affect a couple of guys trying to punch each other to death across the map. It’s a unique feature for online gameplay that will scarcely be found anywhere else.

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Unfortunately, the shooting mechanics aren’t the smoothest you’ll find in gaming. Controls that are slightly clunky are okay when fighting computer controlled enemies, but other human beings are a different story. You’ll often fight with the cover system or sluggish aiming to get a good shot on your evil online counterpart causing you to miss your mark a little more often than acceptable. Shooting mechanics must be smooth and flawless for online battles. This is just a touch under acceptable.

A couple of the multiplayer playlists are unique but really nothing that sets it apart so dramatically that you need to drop Call of Duty immediately. It’s intriguing enough to give it a shot and have some fun for an hour or two, but it doesn’t do much to make you want to hop into multiplayer any longer than that. There simply isn’t enough there to persuade you to play Max Payne 3 online over any other shooter on the market today.

The game suffers from a lack of replayabilty due to its lackluster online and linear Story mode. So, “Why such a high grade for a game with such little replay value?” you ask?  “This is one of the best gaming experiences to be had all year” I say. And stop interrupting me! The action sequences are spectacular and over the top, the bullet time makes anyone feel like an instant badass, and there’s no competition for the deliciously cheesy (and hilarious) one-liners. It might be hard justifying a purchase for a game that will essentially sit on your shelf until some downloadable content is released (or you get a hankering to play it again), but there is no substitute for a story crafted this good with gameplay that is ridiculously satisfying. It doesn’t matter if you rent, buy, or steal, every gamer needs to play Max Payne 3.

Halo 4 Getting Call-of-Duty-ed

It’s been reported on NeoGAF that the latest issue of Game Informer has some juicy details on the newest Halo. Every change sounds very “Call of Duty” and I’m worried they’re attempting to stay cool by copying the popular kid on campus. You will be able to earn Spartan Points every match allowing you to purchase new pieces of armor, abilities, and even new co-op missions. There hasn’t been any mention of Firefight, but the new Spartan Ops mode (sounds familiar) will allow players to join up and fight against A.I. across numerous objectives and maps.

The article also mentions that sprint will no longer be an armor ability. It will come standard with every multiplayer class like some other game I’m forgetting the name of. The jetpack, hologram, and active camo are expected to make a return with a new ability called Forerunner Vision, allowing you to see through walls.

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For whatever reason, Elites will not be playable in multiplayer anymore. So far, they’ve said they are focusing on Spartans vs. Spartans and that’s that. Not too much of a shame on this one. I never thought it added much.

Matches will now be joinable in mid game and hopefully destroys the days of one poor sap, who doesn’t want the penalty of quitting, stuck fighting eight enemies who spawn camp him/her for twenty minutes. You can also forget about waiting to get back into the fight after a death. Halo 4 allows you to spawn immediately after getting killed with a button press. I SWEAR I’ve seen that before…

Finally, what I think is the worst thing to happen to Halo since its inception, weapon spawns are now random. Players will no longer be able to rush to certain locations to hog power weapons and turn the tide of the battle. This was apparently done to even the playing field with newbs. This way, the expert player won’t be able to pwn his worthless enemy as hard as he could if he knew where all the weapons spawned. God forbid the better player wins.

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This destroys Halo. I already found it to be a shame when Halo Reach allowed you to bring a custom gun to the fight. People didn’t hunt for the weapons on the map anymore. Now, with random drops, no one’s going to be searching for guns unless they accidentally trip on one. The map weapons always made Halo what it was. It created choke points. It temped players to dangerous locations. It kept the fights interesting. Those power weapons were important for victory. It added a deep new level of strategy besides just everyone shooting each other.

I was cautiously optimistic about the first non-Bungie Halo, but now I’m getting scared. This information contains gameplay found in a million other games. Nothing popped out as anything unique or interesting. Halo has always lead the genre in new places every shooter dreams of emulating. It pains me to think 343 might turn it into a copycat.

Review: Slightly Less Mass Effect

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Mass Effect was one of my favorite video games of the past ten years. BioWare has never struggled to make a compelling universe I would love to spend 40 hours in and they’ve been at this for almost twenty years. Mass Effect 3 marks the 3rd chapter (surprise!) in an original Sci-Fi trilogy they started on the Xbox 360 back in 2007. With the promise of importing saves, streamlined combat, and online multiplayer, it was hard to see how it could disappoint. Now I can see it very clearly.

Mass Effect’s story starts where the last game left off. You dealt with the collectors and the council is finally ready to accept your warnings about the Reapers now that they’re already on earth making humanity their bitch. The Reapers are a race of machines who show up to harvest all life in the galaxy every 50,000 years for some mysterious reason. After reiterating what a thick skull the government has for not heading your warnings about this impending doom earlier, you decide to help anyway for the sake of mankind and you’re off to save the galaxy once again.

It becomes obvious quick that you’re not going to kill an army of machines the size of skyscrapers by shooting at them, so you and your crew set off to find an alternative method. You find plans for a device called the Crucible left in some ruins by the last civilization destroyed by the synthetic jack asses. They didn’t have time to finish building it before the pwnge, but evidence shows it could be a weapon used to destroy the Reapers and break the cycle for good. It’s the only chance you have and there’s no way you’re winning this war conventionally.

While a thousand overworked and underpaid contractors are building your deus ex machina, it’s your job to travel as an ambassador to every planet in the galaxy and unite everyone’s army against our mechanical foes. This is the most interesting part of the game and really shows off the decisions from the last two titles. Every mission has something to do with collecting resources for the Crucible or recruiting armies for the war effort and there’s a past decision behind every one of them. Old friends (the ones you didn’t get killed) show up to help, entire armies respect and listen to you depending on your reputation, and you’ll find yourself enjoying hours of gameplay that wouldn’t be there if you made one wrong move in the last game.

It’s a surprisingly simple plot for such a complex universe. Build the device to kill the machines. The simplicity of the plot is a bit of a disappointment if you were hoping for something a little more complex than what all the commercials are showing. This narrative also lends itself to a lot more action which might be sad news to players who were more interested in the RPG aspect of the game. Fortunately, the simple story also leaves a lot of wiggle room for side missions allowing you to tie up a lot of loose ends with past characters. Even though it’s a much lighter serving this time around, you’ll still get your RPG fix.

As previously stated, shooting takes a much bigger role in Mass Effect 3 than in past installments but it’s also the best shooting mechanics the series has ever seen. The cover system is taken straight out of Gears of War but is a definite improvement over ME1 and 2, allowing you to dive into and out of cover from other pieces of cover around it. This makes fighting much smoother and allows you to concentrate on the battle instead of the controls.

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Unfortunately, Bioware managed to turn this strength into a weakness with a little too much confidence. Every battle is easier and more interesting than before, but also way too long and repetitive. It’s okay to pull more focus on combat after the mechanics have been improved, but every battle seemed to have ten too many enemies in it and last twenty minutes too long. It’s especially saddening since it feels like every extra battle is replacing an interesting conversations or some clever role playing that could have been.

In an added attempt to make the combat more streamlined, the game now includes Kinect support, allowing you to shout commands at your squad members and respond in conversations by just saying the words. I imagine it’s supposed to bring you closer into the experience to be able to shout at your army like you would during a real battle, but like most hardcore games with the inclusion of Kinect, it feels like a gimmick. There are very few times you’ll want to “say the words” instead of just clicking a button. In fact, yelling at my T.V. numerous times to try to get my squad to listen to one command takes me out of the experience more than any button press ever has. At the most, it seems to serve as another bullet point to be slapped on the back of the box as a marketing tool. Speaking of marketing tools, Mass Effect 3 also comes with multiplayer for the first time in the series.

The online battles play exactly like horde (fitting, since that’s where the game took its cover system). You and a few friends get the chance to fight against numerous waves of different enemies and level up your powers to make subsequent battles a little easier. It’s disappointing they didn’t do more with this feature. The game is an RPG at heart and the multiplayer pretends to be a shooter. There are some elements of leveling up still present, but it would have been nice to go on missions or have conversations with friends to extend my single player experience.

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As it stands, the multiplayer doesn’t affect my opinion towards the game because I was just fine playing the first two with zero multiplayer. I’m just sad they wasted time on it when more resources could have been applied towards the campaign. If they had done something more interesting than be Gears of War (with less maps and a rougher cover system), than maybe I would have paid more attention to it.

For a long time fan of the trilogy, Mass Effect 3 is full of let downs. It’s very easy to point to every aspect of the game and say ‘they did that better in ME1 or ME2.’ However, this is still a great game that deserves to be bought, especially if you’re importing your save file. It will be extremely satisfying to see your decisions finally pay off and the story is still better than 90% of all RPGs out there. Bioware set the bar high and fell a little short on this one, not to mention the lackluster ending, but it’s still Mass Effect. It’s Still quality. It’s still a must buy.

Review: Pullblox in the U.K.

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The 3DS has had a rough story so far. Just before the end of 2011, it got some great titles, like Mario, Zelda and Star Fox, but what many people didn’t see is its online store. Here is where the 3DS shows its true strength. The eShop is where we saw fun little titles that captured our hearts, like Pushmo and Mighty Switch Force (check out our review). I know what your thinking, “3D is just a gimmick used to sell movie tickets at higher prices.” I totally agree with you, but can 3D enhance the experience sometimes?

Pushmo is from Intelligent Systems, the people that brought us Advance WarsFire Emblem, and Paper MarioPushmo has very simple gameplay; it’s just pulling and pushing blocks along with jumping to reach the end marker. The story is very basic. You are a Pushmo and there are Pushmo kids lost in Pushmo Park. Pushmo Park is filled with puzzles and you are trying to save the Pushmo kids that are stuck on top of these puzzles. It doesn’t explain how they got stuck but who cares. It’s for gameplay’s sake.

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In later levels, there are special tools to make reaching the goal easier. Matching manholes for teleporting, arrow switches to force all blocks of a certain color out, and larger sized levels are unlocked as you continue the story. These tools also allow for more unique level design. There is even a Level Editor that has given birth to many awesome levels. The special tools can be unlocked in the Level Editor after you find them in the story. Sadly, there is no online catalog of these custom levels in game. You can find plenty of threads for custom levels on this fancy thing called the “Internet.” In fact, if you are reading this review then you are already using “Internet.”

There are over two hundred levels to explore without even touching the Level Editor. The beginning is mostly a tutorial mode. An old Pushmo shows you all the basics from jumping to pulling blocks. He is too old to complete the puzzles and that is why you, being younger and sexier, have to save the kids. After you prove yourself worthy, the old man sends you by yourself to the harder levels. Some levels are shaped like characters or animals. It is fun to push and pull on Mario’s face to save a kid Pushmo. Every level has a difficulty rating, one star being the easiest going all the way to five stars. Trust me, the four and five star levels are some of the biggest head scratchers in all of my gaming life.

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The art is really unique. The blocks are very colorful but the backgrounds are made up of flat pictures. The character design is very round, which makes them stand out against the blocky levels. The visuals are more impressive in 3D, making colors pop and giving everything depth. The 3D also really helps with gameplay, seeing how far the blocks are pulled out. It truly is the first game that I have seen to benefit from 3D.

The 3DS doesn’t have very many good games but there are some on the horizon. Pushmo came out early December and deserves a chance. It may not seem like much, but it is a fun little experience. All the custom levels to download will have you coming back for more. This game feels like it never ends. Please post your levels in the comment section below. http://pushmo.3dsfans.com/ will help with sharing your levels on the “Internet.”

Review: Metal gets Twisted

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Remember a time when Twisted Metal was synonymous with awesome? Remember a time when Twisted Metal was accepted as the most badass game out there? Remember a time when everyone played Twisted Metal and those who didn’t were just lame and picked on and beat up behind the neighborhood back alley after school in front of the hottest girl? (Hang on a second) Me either. But it’s a good thing we have the creator of Twisted Metal to remind us of such neat times! In comes the latest installment of Twisted Metal: Twisted Metal (simply that), exclusively for the PS3.

Twisted Metal is a destruction derby set on a grand scale all around the world, and the latest installment is no stranger. Places like: Forgettable Sunny Hills, Califonia, Flatland, Idaho, and Rage and Burn, Nowhere! (Kidding… half) In past installments places like New York or London or Paris where visited and had no shortage of memorabilia. The latest installment suffers from what all new-gen games suffer: arena maps. Every location plays the same, is forgettable, and lacks depth- hard to do in such a hectic game.

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Power-ups work much the same as in past installments; pick up a power, aim, and shoot hoping to destroy an opponent. A Special is introduced where each car has a unique weapon and/or move. Sweetooth can become a mech, fly, and ground-pound, Mr. Grimm can throw flaming chainsaws- that sort of dig. Handheld weapons are also an option, replacing the mounted weapons if desired, like submachine guns, revolvers, and rocket launchers. In all, I found no noticeable difference in handheld to mounted weapons.

Only a few vehicles from the past survived including Sweetooth’s van, Mr. Grimm’s bike, and Axel’s… big wheels (insert pun). A semi and heli are new additions to otherwise obvious choices for rides (maybe that tank/car thing too), each with its unique special weapon- as stated. I’ve found that the stats for each individual car mean squat (my compatriots agree as well) because I was taking less damage as an apparent “weaker” car, and was outmaneuvering fast cars in “slower” vehicles. Oh, well. [(Did you know 80% of all statistics are made up?) Think about this one.]

The single player story of Twisted Metal is as such: Sweetooth has an amazing barber for getting those flames like that, Mr. Grimm’s make-up is all-weather proof, and Dollface sure is. Moral of the story: Calypso is one lying son-of-a-bitch. And just like that… Multiplayer!

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Unless buying this game new, forget trying to play Multiplayer… needs a code to access. A few modes are available and players choose one of four factions to take up: Clowns, Skulls, Dolls, or Preachers. Nuke mode is the jewel of Multiplayer. It plays like Capture the flag, mixed with Assault (from Halo) where players fight to take a human back to base and sacrifice onto a missile where upon the end of a countdown launches onto the enemy’s idol (statue thing at their base). Addictive at first, with lots of customization and interchangeable parts for cars, after a few hours the game quickly wears.

The single player lacks concrete. Cut scenes are live-action, old school, and downright cheese. For some odd reason the Preacher is present and feels out of place like if his agent forgot to tell him he was cut from production. Completely hit and miss. Multiplayer can only last so long. Everything was done right… for a game that should have been left in the 90’s, but it seems like Twisted Metal could not stand the test of time. Nothing notable was introduced in this installment, just polished up a bit. Perhaps if this was a downloadable title it might have been worth a nostalgia trip, but as a $60 retail title, the amount of content is not appropriate. C+.

Review: Multiplayer Mayhem in Gotham

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Do you like First Person Shooters? Do you want a Batman game without Batman? Do you want to an inexpensive online experience because you’re out of money from the holiday? Then I have a game for you. Gotham City Impostors has come out and is showing off its unique weaponry. From Bear Traps to Roller Skates to Bows and Arrows, you can’t get more unique than this. These unique weapons are equitable to your Custom Classes. There are three game-types and five maps to prove your Class is the best. Every game-type is team based so you are put on either the Batz or Jokers team.

The three game-types are Team Death Match, Fumigation, and Psych Warfare. Team Death Match is just killing enemies, getting a point per kill, until a team reaches fifty points. Fumigation and Psych Warfare are the objective game-types. Fumigation is about capturing three machines called Gasblasters, pumping the gas of whoever owns it into the air. If the Batz own a Gasblaster, it sprays out a gas that attracts bats to attack the Jokers. If the Jokers own a Gasblaster, laughing gas is ejected into the air. Owning multiple Gasblasters will fill the air with your gas faster. Once the air is one hundred percent your gas, you win. Psych Warfare, my personal favorite, is all about grabbing a battery and hooking it up to stereos. These stereos play propaganda that will demoralize the other team. While demoralized, they can only slap, and not use their guns, but they can attack the stereos to shorten the time they are demoralized. All of these game-types play the same on all the maps. The maps just help with seeing new scenery after awhile.

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Creating your own Custom Class is the main focus of Gotham City Impostors. The unlock keys, how you unlock things to customize your class, keep the game from becoming a grid to complete challenges and more about playing the game how you want in order to grow levels. Every feature of your character can be customized such as weapons, clothing, and calling cards. Calling cards pop up on enemy screens when you kill them. It is a quick way to show your personality and for players to remember you. Clothing is bought using costume coins that you get depending on how well you did in a match. The clothing can also be bought with real money if you don’t want to wait. There are even some things that can only be bought with real money. There are a lot of weapons to choose from for your custom classes. You can have two guns per class with mods on each gun. Depending on which gun you have equipped, there will be different mods. My favorite mod, which is on most guns, is the Body Oder Sniffer. It “sniffs” out enemies and will show you when they are hiding around corners or behind walls. There are also different ammo and scope types or you can expand your magazine size.

The Support Items and Gadgets are some other customizable pieces that play a big part in game-play. Support Items are more offensive tools giving you advantages in combat. Some Support Items you have to plan for and set up in advance, like Bear Traps, but there are others that are more instant, like Impact Grenades. Gadgets help with movement mostly. A Glider Rig, Spring Boots, Inflatable Shoes, and a Grapple Gun help get you into high places while Rollers Skates and Ninja Smoke Bombs let you get places fast or undetected. Targeting Goggles are a Gadget that would be more for Support Classes or Healers. Targeting Goggles let you spot enemies through walls. Spotting enemies will cause them to glow brightly for everyone on your team and if someone kills the person you spotted then you get kill assist points. Support Items and Gadgets are fun but the Body Types play a bigger part in the balance of Gotham City Impostors.

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The heavier the weapon, the more it slows down your character. If you have a bigger character the less of a movement penalty you receive from your heavy weapons. The different character sizes change how fast your character moves and how much health you have. The bigger characters are slower and have more health while smaller characters are faster with less health. The Body Type you start with is the Tough class, which has balanced health and speed. It lets you get used to the game before getting too crazy on you. Other fun customizables are the voices. There are different voice types to pick from and each has different sayings along with the ability to change the pitch of your voice. Sometimes the voices can get annoying but overall it is funny.

With Body Types giving you health or speed, Fun Facts can give you other perks. Some are still just more health or speed but others give you buffs against certain weapons and items. The Fun Facts are passive bonuses you can give yourself. Rampage is a special ability you can activate for completing kill streaks or death streaks. You can choose to do more damage or absorb more damage. Your character even has a Psych Profile, which effects how you gain experience. Some actions will give you more experience but other actions will be penalized. All of these different features add into one amazingly unique game.

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The gameplay is fast paced with lots of explosions. The weird weapons that you use in new ways help make this stand out from other games like Call of Duty. There are plenty of close calls and “Did you see that!” moments. The unlock system lets you unlock items when you want to, so, making your dream class is just a few levels away.  There have been some network issues, but in today’s industry, every game is released with issues they patch up later. Not saying I agree with this thought process, but it is what it is. March is going to bring some free DLC and some fixes to these problems. While fast paced shooters aren’t new to the industry, Gotham City Impostors keeps things fresh with its comedy and extreme customizing.

Review: Soul Calibur V...for Vendetta

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Soul Calibur Five. Yes, I said FIVE just to clarify; because I know someone somewhere out there is pronouncing it as a "v" (sigh). So before going on a tangent, and totally exploding on THAT type of people... Soul Calibur FIVE!

The fighting genre has experienced a boom in the number of games spit out (some good, others... not so) almost like the neighborhood gumball machine. (What were you thinking!?) Titles like Mortal Kombat 9, Street Fighter 4 (drop it), and Marvel v. Capcom 3 have brought forth a new chapter in fighting games, and reignited the flame. Now, another staple of fighters has emerged from seemingly nowhere, Soul Calibur.

Initial thoughts when loading up the disk were relatively high due in part to having a new Soul Calibur in a few years. The opening cinematic where Siegfried and Nightmare were clashing was definitely awesome and flashy; I couldn't wait to actually start playing. Once I selected my first character (Pyrrha) and began that first battle (COM), excitement turned into confusion, then further into frustration. What did they do!?

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Fighters are judged entirely on gameplay, and immediately, I had none from controller to character. Actions were clunky, slow, and generally dumbed down. Even against a mediocre COM, I had to dig deep to finish the fight. I switched characters to a faster type (Natsu) hoping to quell my fear only to reinforce it. The mechanics were tinkered with from the previous installment, and it did not bode well.

Actions have a greater lag transitioning from controller to character, and timing with each character is special. Timing combos has always been fine in previous installments, but the more I played with it, the more I noticed that this installment was not in tune. Parrying and breakers were effective, and special moves were still key at least.

The Story Mode was set, and had as much depth as any generic fighter of the ‘90s… well with a slight incest twist. Not every character was seen in the story, and involvement was transparent in the ones that were introduced. Questions were brought up, but never answered. Characters were thrown into the mix, and disappeared just as quick. Oh well, it’s a fighter and nothing to be ashamed about… right?

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Online playability has improved dramatically, and is as solid as any other current fighter on the market. Not once did I experience lag, and generally people stayed for a full match (but it’s more courtesy and less doucheness than anything). Both Ranked and Player matches are available, and custom characters may be used (I personalized the hell out of my characters!).

Speaking of custom characters… son of a bitch! If only moves could be altered, and less clothing presentable then I would be satisfied. I’ve seen more customability in WWE 12! Although I bitch about it, it was still satisfying enough creating custom characters who look like players from other franchises (I so made Lara Croft). It’s a neat mode that differs from other fighters, so that’s always a plus.

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Unlockable characters were half and half. Some came from the story, others from a mode called Legendary Souls. That being said, only six unlockable characters were present, and I did not enjoy trying to unlock the ones from Legendary Souls. Legendary Souls is a higher-level arcade mode where all you do is get your ass kicked from left to right, from Sunday to next month! I curl up in a ball under my sheets and cry for a while every time I remember getting Kilik’s pole shoved so far up my ass it tickles my insides… *shiver*.

Well, all in all. Not too bad. It’s not great. It’s not bad. It just is. Hey, they have Ezio! And not just any Ezio! End of Assassin’s Creed 2, beginning of Assassin’s Creed 2: Brotherhood Ezio! That’s great. Super. Well, hopefully next time they can get someone as badass as Yoda and Darth Vader in on the action. Oh, and console exclusives please. B-.

Review: More than meets the License

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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron has been announced and is looking awesome. Fall of Cybertron is the follow up to 2010’s War of Cybertron. They say it’s not a direct sequel but it takes place in the same universe. War of Cybertron was a smash hit and ties in with 1st generation Transformers show. You get to play as all the greats: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ironhide, Starscream, Soundwave, and Megatron. The campaign has you play as both the Autobots and Decepticons, giving you a rich, full experience. Multiplayer is fast and balanced even with custom classes. There is even a Horde mode game type called Escalation.

The story mode has ten chapters. You can start at Chapter One in the Decepticon Story or Chapter Five as Autobots. They do this so you can jump right into playing as Optimus, but trust me, start with the Decepticon side for the complete story. You will see classic Characters, Weapons, and Locations from old school Transformers. There are plenty of new things brought into the Transformers universe as well. There are some boss battles, but most aren’t memorable. My personal favorite Transformer, Starscream, gets an origin story and I love all the history that ties into the series.

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The three-player co-op is a nice but doesn’t add much to the game. You can select what character you want to play before every level and each one has different abilities and weapons. What really adds to the experience is the Co-op Versus mode. It plays like Left 4 Dead versus; three people play in a campaign level and three people try to stop them. Correctly using characters, weapons, and abilities will bring success against your enemy.

Escalation mode is yet another Co-op mode where you fight wave after wave of demented avengers (Pink Floyd Reference). It is like Horde mode with a twist. For each kill, you get points and you use these points for weapons, ammo, shields, and opening doors. The best part about these are multiple people can pay for one thing, so if you don’t have enough points, ask your teammates for help. Some of the best weapons are locked behind the more expensive doors. The DLC available for War for Cybertron adds Multiplayer maps and Escalation Maps. There is enough content to keep you busy for awhile but when you get bored, the DLC will help.

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The Multiplayer was the most addictive part of War for Cybertron. Being able to transform anytime brings a very unique aspect to online shooters. With four different character classes and different weapons, abilities, and perks for each class, there are many choices to make. Each class can be leveled up to 25, unlocking things along the way. After getting every class to 25 you can do Prime Mode where all ranks are reset and you get a nice icon next to your name. Even with all that content in the mix of Multiplayer, it is all well balanced. At a low level without all the fancy unlocks I didn’t feel weak against the higher-level players.

One shall Stand. One shall Fall. War for Cybertron does not fall and, along with Batman: Arkham Asylum, shows just how licensed games can be good. Fall of Cybertron is bringing Dinobots and Constructicons to the battle. Such iconic characters with a rich history and amazing gameplay make this a must have for any fan. Also, if you aren’t a fan, there has never been a better time to jump in. Go out, buy War for Cybertron, and get ready to experience one of my most anticipated games of 2012. Fall of Cybertron doesn’t have a release date yet but expect it close to the holiday season.

Review: Sonic Generations Offers Some of the Old With Too Much of the New

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Everyone loves Sonic!... Ten years ago. Lately it’s been pretty rough if you’re a Sonic fan (if there’s any of you left out there). Back in the day, plenty of ten year olds fought over the superiority of Mario and Sonic the same way 50’s kids used to argue if Superman or The Flash was faster. Mario has ruled the past ten years with no contest considering the huge slump Sonic’s been in. Sonic Generations is attempting to win back old fans with an emphasis on 2D gameplay and classic stages with a graphical upgrade.

Early in the game, Capt. Smoke Monster (or whatever he’s called) flies into our world via a space vacuum and trolls Sonic’s life. He grabs the slightly pudgier Sonic from the 90’s and throws him into present day with 3D Sonic and his entourage of backward characters. I understand the narrative in a Platformer isn’t exactly key to its quality, but Sonic always had a few cool characters you wish someone would take advantage of. Unfortunately, it’s not happening in this outing.

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Every level has two acts. The first act is played exclusively in 2D with Classic Sonic on stages remade from past titles. The graphics are prettier and add some depth to the former 16-bit environments, but sometimes the new visuals can be distracting. Visual pizazz confused me for a workable platform a few times, causing me to fall to my death. Still, it’s a great way to revisit some of your favorite stages from 15 years ago.

The second act claims it’s in 3 dimensions, but it’s really kind of a hybrid.  The playing field switches back and forth between dimensions to give you a bit of the old and a bit of the new. They are meant to be a reimagining of the old 2D levels if they were done today. Unfortunately, today’s Sonic developers don’t quite have the skills they used to. This causes every second act to be a little bit of a disappointment.

The mechanics are everything in this genre. If it doesn’t feel good to hop around on a ton of enemies while feeling like a total badass, you might as well hang it up. Not everything feels as good as it did in the past. There seems to be a slight lag in every jump and controlling Sonic with the joystick isn’t as tight as it could be. When playing a game about speed and timing, these are a few small inconveniences that turn into huge problems during gameplay. It just aint what it used to be.

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All the original content in the game is very underwhelming. Every recycled boss requires the completion of a few drab challenges, and every spruced up classic stage is followed by a modern uninteresting one.

The game only has nine levels and makes for quite a missed opportunity. A couple of the levels are even pulled from some of this generation’s Sonic library, and trust me, no one wants to revisit those. All development could have been geared towards more classic levels and it would have made for a better game. Too much time was wasted on the uninteresting story, boring challenges, and 3D stages. With downloadable stages, this might turn out to be a pretty way to enjoy sonic in 2D again, but as is, it’s not a whole lot of content and it’s not all peaches.

Review: Bastion's Traditional Gameplay Never Sounded So Good!

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Top down RPG’s have been around since role playing made its way into video games. They all have quite a few similarities, but every so often one comes along with a few unique twists that will make even long time role players turn their heads. Enter Bastion, a game with traditional mechanics, but a unique art style and some amazing audio you won’t get anywhere else.

The first thing you’ll notice when playing, is the eye candy (not like that sicko). Everything looks like it’s part of a painting. The ground builds itself piece by piece as you step closer to the edge of the environment and every detail looks like it was carefully drawn by a talented artist. The character models are less abstract than the worlds you traverse, but the mix of styles works well and creates some pretty sweet vistas when you’re slicing baddies apart.

If you’ve played any RPG at a bird’s eye view, nothing should surprise you here. Every level comes baring gifts of new weapons, enemies, XP, and currency that can be spent at the local shop. All weapons are upgradeable and leveling up gives you a bigger health bar and bonuses towards critical hits, currency collection, weapon power, etc. These mechanics are essential to any RPG, but you can’t help but feel like you’ve seen it all before.

Bastion was made by Supergiant games (I hadn’t heard of them either) and if there’s one thing this company can do, it’s audio. The music is mellow and perfect for the beautifully coated landscapes. Build That Wall, one of the game’s repeating tracks, was honored at the VGA’s for Best Song over Portal 2’s Vilify by The National and hilarious closing tune by Jonathan Coulton. Not an easy task.

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The narration is also top notch. Every action you perform in the game is dictated by a powerful voice. No more out of place hints that remind you you’re playing a video game. If you seem lost, the narrator will always have a piece of dialogue up his sleeve leading you in the right direction. This lets you learn everything in the game without once being taken out of the experience.

Like any game in its category, there is a hub world. This area is called the Bastion (fancy that). The Bastion is a place to switch up your arsenal, upgrade weapons, and build a better tomorrow. You heard me. Bastion allows you to build multiple structures in the hub world that will help you along your journey. The order in which you build them affects the gameplay since you can only build one structure in between levels. Build an arsenal first, and you’ll be able to switch your weapons, but you can’t upgrade them. Build a forge first and you’ll be able to upgrade them, but you can’t take advantage some level up bonuses.

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The game also takes quite a unique approach to difficulty. The main screen only gives you two options: super easy and normal. If you want a challenge above that, you’ll have to build a shrine on the Bastion. This allows you to make the game harder in different ways (enemies that are faster, stronger, etc.) and lets you collect currency and XP bonuses for the extra effort. Think Halo Skulls. It’s a unique approach to difficulty and certainly allows the player quite a bit more control than just asking for a harder experience.

Bastion deserves praise for its sophisticated story line, gorgeous levels, strong narration, and fantastic music. This makes the traditional gameplay all the more perplexing. It’s a fun ten hour experience but you’ll wish Supergiant took as many chances with its gameplay as it did with everything else. I recommend everyone plays this game. Everything it did wrong is easily forgiven, but everything it did right is something I guarantee you haven’t seen in years. 

Review: Raam Living in the Shadow of Gears

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The Kryll Storm is only hours away. You are a part of Zeta Squad and have to evacuate Lima City. Did you know what the Kryll Storm was? Neither did we. Raam’s Shadow is out and brings about three hours of story for 1200 points, if you didn’t get the Season Pass. The Season Pass is still available for only 2400 and there are two more pieces of DLC on their way. Not only do you get to play as some old gears, Minh Young Kim and Tai Kaliso, but new ones as well, Michael Barrick and Alicia Valera. You also get in the shoes of some cool Locust characters, General Raam, Elite Maulers, and an Elite Theron.

This DLC takes place before Gears of War 1, so there are no Lambent. Minh Young Kim is the leader of Zeta Squad, too bad he dies in the beginning of Gears 1. Zeta Squad is ready for action in Raam’s Shadow. The beginning is just holding at a single point from waves and waves of Locust. During that fight, the game shows the new Hammer of Dawn Command Center. Make sure to look around, there were guns and ammo crates that I didn’t find until my third or fourth time playing it. Jace makes an appearance in this DLC. It shows how Jace got into the war and decided he wanted to be a Gear. I would have rather seen someone else’s origin story, but whatever, it is still a fun story.

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Playing as the Locusts has never been cooler. This is the only way to play as the Locusts other than Beast Mode. Beast Mode was a big deal before Gears 3 came out, but has taken the back seat ever since. The story uses the Locusts very well. Playing through an area killing COG, planting Seeders, and busting down walls is cool. What is even better is playing that same area as Zeta Squad after all the destruction. Four-Player Co-op is where this DLC shines. Depending on what player you are, you get to control a special Locust. First player is Raam. Second is the Elite Theron. Third and Fourth are Elite Maulers.

Raam has his Kryll Shield and his sword from the first game. He can use his Kryll Shield as a weapon by having them attack COG. The Elite Theron has a Sawed-off Shotgun with a bayonet attachment with a sick charge attack. He is also is equipped with Kryll Grenades, allowing him to call Kryll of his own to the field. The two Elite Maulers are much like normal Maulers with a twist. What make them “Elite” are the Shields. They can reflect bullets back at the COG. There is even an achievement to do that ten times. Sadly, these new Locusts are not in Beast Mode. Maybe next DLC.

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Overall, it is an enjoyable three-hour experience, unlike what happened to Gilligan and his friends. The characters are very unique, each offering their back stories very easily. It was fun to play the Locust side of things and I hope to experience that some more. It is also interesting to kill the Locusts, which you have played as, later. For 1200 points, Raam’s Shadow doesn’t have enough content. No additions to Multiplayer, Horde, or Beast. As part of the Season Pass, it is totally worth it. Hurry up and buy the Season Pass before it is gone and you are forced to pay full price.

Review: Go Back to Karkand, and Never Look Forward.

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Battlefield 3’s launch has been everything but smooth. Servers didn’t work properly for a solid week or two, the multiplayer was riddled with glitches, and the maps didn’t seem nearly as destructible as past installments. With such big tech issues and graphical disappointments, I found it hard to believe that Battlefield 3 would ever have legs as long as its predecessors. Almost two months after the game’s launch, DICE released a new map pack, called Back to Karkand, including classic arenas from previous titles. New content for a broken game isn’t usually news, however, this return to form might be just what Battlefield 3 needs to win back its fans and recover from its rocky start.

There are four maps in the new update: Strike at Karkand, Wake Island, Sharqi Peninsula, and Gulf of Oman. Each one is a remake of past Battlefield maps. They look slightly different and some of the structures have changed, but they’re all a fairly accurate representation of the original version. This should please longtime fans of the series because there’s a reason why they’re called classics.

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Every map embodies everything that’s great about Battlefield. Everybody chooses a class, defining their role in each match. A great map gives everyone a chance to play the role they want and have fun doing it. All four maps provide this variety of gameplay and nail that Battlefield experience. There are wide open areas for snipers, plenty of vehicles for engineers, and close quarters combat for assault and support classes. This makes every player feel welcome on this visit back to the most loved maps of the series.

Also, every map is more destructible than any other Battlefield 3 map to date. Rubble piles into the street and buildings collapse if too many walls are blown out. This was standard on past Battlefields, but was strangely absent in a lot of the on disk maps. It was possible to destroy almost anything in Bad Company 2, but Battlefield 3 launched with stagnant environments that had only a few destructible walls. It’s still curious why this happened, but at least the new maps are a huge step in the right direction. They’re still not 100% destructible like BC2, but it’s enough to give you that great feeling of leaving a huge crater where you just had a firefight.

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Back to Karkand also introduces Assignments. Pulled directly from Call of Duty’s Challenges, Assignments are little goals for you to accomplish in multiplayer that will earn you new weapons for every class. There are only about 8 assignments, which is quite low considering what Call of Duty has, but it’s a nice addition and gives you a few more goals to strive for when pining for those addicting unlocks.

I was weary to hop back into a game with so many issues, but this DLC made me a believer again. Every map is infinitely playable and the technical updates have turned a frustrating online shooter into a solid multiplayer experience. I can’t wait to get back in and start unlocking more weapons. Of course, it’s not quite perfect yet. Squads still don’t work properly and it’s not completely free of glitches, but it’s definitely enough to give this game another go before you decide to drop it for another shooter. Oh, and did I mention, if you have the limited edition, this map pack comes at no extra charge! Download and enjoy.