Tuesday, December 27, 2011

PS Vita Games Announced

Rumors about a successor to the PlayStation Portable began swirling around back in July of 2009, and one year later the Wall Street Journal announced that Sony did indeed have a new portable device in the works that shared “characteristics of game machines, e-book readers and netbook computers.” However, it was not until January 27, 2011 at a “PlayStation Meeting ” held in Japan that the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Kazuo Hirai officially announced what they called at that time the Next Generation Portable (NPG). Since then, details about the PlayStation Vita have slowly been rolling out, and on Saturday, December 17 the device was released in Japan.

Although the PS Vita will not be available in the United States until Wednesday, February 22 (or Wednesday, February 15 if gamers purchase the pre-order bundle), Sony recently released the list of game titles that will be available for purchase the day of the device’s release.

There will be 26 game titles that will be available including: Army Corps of Hell, Escape Plan, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, Little Deviants, ModNation Racers: Road Trip, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and wipEout 2048. Launch titles from Sony's third-party partners will include FIFA Soccer, Lumines Electronic Symphony, Touch My Katamari, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Michael Jackson: The Experience, Plants vs. Zombies, and Virtua Tennis 4: World Tour Edition.

Sony has said that the pricing of the software for the device will cost you anywhere from $9.99 to $49.99. All of the games for the PS Vita will either be available by purchasing a PS Vita game card from gaming retail stores or digitally on the PlayStation Network. It is important for gamers to note that there will be some games that will be offered exclusively on the PlayStation Network and will not be found in stores.

The Wi-Fi-powered version of the device will be available for gamers for $249.99 and the 3G/Wi-Fi version will cost $299.99. There is also a bundle that is available that includes a 3G/Wi-Fi PS Vita, a limited edition case for the device, a 4GB PS Vita memory card and the Little Deviants game. It is currently available for preorder for $349.99.

As mentioned above, the device was already released in Japan. It had a very solid start, but it wasn’t anything record-setting. In the first weekend, Sony sold around 325,000 devices. Just to give you something to compare that to, the Nintendo 3DS sold 371,000 units in the very first 48 hours, and we all know how that ended up doing…not very well. We’ll just have to see how things go for the PS Vita. It seems like a solid handheld that is more practical and useful than the 3DS, so hopefully it will not share the same fate.

Sources: PCMag - Sony Details U.S. PlayStation Vita Launch Titles and PCWorld - Sony Releases PlayStation Vita Bug Fix Before U.S. Launch

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Xbox Live Doing Away with Xbox Live Avatar Guns

Xbox Live Avatar LancerEver since Barack Obama took office in 2008, there has been a lot of talk about our nation's 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. There was talk of the Obama administration attempting to abolish this amendment, making it illegal for Americans to own firearms. While that law will more than likely never pass, ever (come on, do you wanna be the one to try to take guns away from the South?), it does appear that it will be "illegal" for your Xbox Live avatar to carry a piece, or at least buy a new one.

Sure, you may love playing your "M" rated, death dealing games like Gears of War and Call of Duty on your 360 but that doesn't mean that your avatar has to be so violent! The Xbox dashboard is usable by every single Xbox 360 owner, so naturally it is more family-friendly. However, that family-friendliness seems to be going a bit too far as you will no longer be able to buy guns for your avatar.

Epic Games saw a post on its forums that reveals, starting January 1, 2012, that the Lancer and Hammerburst Avatar accessories will no longer be available for purchase. January 1, 2012 marks the launch of a brand new Xbox Live policy that will see the complete removal of "all gun-like avatar items on the Marketplace." Fortunately, you will still be able to keep whatever gun-like items you have already purchased, but don't expect to find them, or any new ones, after the New Year rolls around.

I'm not going to lie, this makes me a little mad. While I don't particularly see the need for such an item, some gamers love decking out their avatars to look exactly like in-game characters. If they want to have their character hold a gun, that is their choice. I honestly do not see how a little cartoon character holding a virtual gun is going to harm anybody. I find this whole change to be incredibly ridiculous.

Source: G4TV - Xbox Avatars Lose Right To Bear (New) Arms on January 1

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Star Wars: The Old Republic Early Access Has Commenced!

Star Wars: The Old RepublicThis is the moment fans have been waiting for for nearly three years now, the chance to play the actual, completed version of Star Wars: The Old Republic, EA and BioWare's Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game that puts players in the shoes of their very own Star Wars hero as he or she embarks on a quest to join the Republic and bring peace to the galaxy or side with the Sith and make every inhabitant of the galaxy bow and tremble before them.

BioWare initially asserted that anybody who pre-ordered the game would get early game access as early as December 15, a full five days before the game's December 20 release date. However, the company kicked it up a notch allowing players to get in as early as today, December 13, one full week before the game's launch. I was one of the lucky ones to get in today and you should be thankful I am taking time out of my day to write this piece.

Early access was given out in waves. The process involved inviting players based on when they redeemed their pre-order code for the game, so the earlier you redeemed, the earlier you go in. BioWare decided to insert players into the game in waves for many reasons. The main reason was so the game's servers didn't completely explode on opening day from the millions of players trying to log on simultaneously. The other reason was to reward players' devotion and enthusiasm in wanting to play the game.

Having played the game enough already today to rank my Jedi Consular up to level 6 and also having participated in three beta tests, I can assure you that this game is one of the most fun I have played in a while. I'm not big into MMOs and, to be honest, SWTOR is my first foray into the genre. But I can definitely tell you that I am having loads of fun with this game and I can hardly put it down. I will be writing a more expansive review on the game in the coming days, probably around the time of the actual release of the game so check back here around December 20th to get all the details on what is sure to be one of the biggest games in history!

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

EA Source Hints at New Dead Space Games

Dead SpaceIf there is one thing I love, it is a good ol' fashioned video game rumor. While not all rumors turn out to be true, unfortunately, the sheer possibility of their reality is enough to tickle your imagination for months. The most recent video game rumor comes from Kotaku and the sites unnamed Electronic Arts insider. We all know that secret insider contacts are sketchy at best but Kotaku is a pretty reliable gaming outlet and whenever a rumor drops on the site, people's ears perk up.

This new rumor has to do with a new first-person shooter, space-based flight combat sim or, possibly, an adventure game a la Uncharted set in the universe of Dead Space. Kotaku's source has explained that the brass at EA commanded the Dead Space team to go bigger and badder with the creative property in order to bring it to a wider audience. This of course means FPS, something that the insider says is being actively worked on. In addition to that, a space simulator and adventure game are supposedly being worked on.

These are some pretty outlandish rumors, though Kotaku does have a pretty decent track record this year with its insider source. What's more is that the past six months has seen the leaking of a lot of information about the next Dead Space game so who knows, we all may be in for a surprise.

The first bit of leaked information came in the form of a logo and some artwork for Dead Space 3. This was a result of a sneaky camera guy who managed to capture the footage while taking a studio tour. Less than a week later some plot details followed which revealed that the game's setting is supposedly the ice planet of Tau Volentis. And as if that weren't enough, even more content leaked as to what happened to Isaac Clarke leading into Dead Space 3 and who he will be meeting in his next nightmare.

Do you think possible expansions of Dead Space into other genres is a good idea? Or do you think the property should stick to third-person survival horror games like the previous two? Who knows, maybe we will get both a Dead Space 3 as well as a new FPS or adventure game (fingers crossed).

Source: G4TV.com - Dead Space Getting An FPS? A Flight Combat Sim?! An ADVENTURE Game?!

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Pink Nintendo 3DS Bundle

There have been several different Nintendo 3DS bundles that have been announced recently. The latest was announced on Monday, November 28 and will include a pink Nintendo 3DS with one of two nintendogs + cats games: French Bulldog and New Friends or Toy Poodle and New Friends. The bundle will cost $169.99 and will be available starting December 4.

As I mentioned before, there are several other 3DS packages that Nintendo is offering this holiday season. These bundles include:

• The Legend of Zelda bundle: A special edition 3DS device with the Hyrule emblem and gold embellishments and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D game for $199.99.

• The Mario bundle: A red 3DS with the Super Mario Land 3D game for $199.99.
Nintendo kicked off holiday sales for the 3DS on Black Friday by taking $10 off the price of the device.

Nintendo also announced last week that they would be setting up special kiosks in malls across the nation between now and December 18. There consumers will be able to try out Super Mario 3D Land and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Nintendo also said that the displays will also have "all the best video games for the holidays."

Nintendo is also offering two other special packages this holiday season. The company is offering a Legend of Zelda package for the Wii featuring The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword game, a gold Wii Remote Plus controller and a CD with music from the Zelda games for $69.99. They are also offering a metallic rose or midnight blue Nintendo DSi XL system and the Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! game for $169.99.

These packages are all great deals. They would be fantastic, reasonably priced presents to give this holiday season.

Sources: PCMag - Pink Nintendo 3DS Bundle Coming Dec. 4 and Slash Gear - Pink Nintendo 3DS announced with nintendogs in tow

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Black Friday Nintendo 3DS Bundles

If you’ve been interested in buying the Nintendo 3DS, but you just haven’t been able to justify spending the money on the hand held console, as well as games, then Nintendo’s Black Friday deal might just help you justify the purchase. Nintendo just announced that they will be offering two different 3DS bundles this holiday season.

One of the bundles includes a bright red 3DS, as well as Super Mario 3D Land, which was Mario’s first full appearance in a 3DS game. The other bundle is themed around The Legend of Zelda. It features a limited edition black 3DS with a “Hyrule emblem and gold-colored embellishments.” The bundle also includes The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D.

The Zelda bundle has already been introduced in Europe. Kotaku said that in the United States, the bundle will be sold at GameStop and Best Buy. They did not mention where the 3D Land bundle will be sold, but I would guess that it would be available at vendors like GameStop and Best Buy as well.

Both of the bundles will begin selling on Thanksgiving Day (November 24) and will cost $199.

Nintendo made sure to mention that it will have special setups in malls across the nation between Thanksgiving and December 18. These stations will allow potential customers to try out the two games featured in the bundles. They will also display "all the best video games for the holidays."

The Nintendo 3DS was a huge disappointment for Nintendo when it was released. It was hyped up like crazy, but the sales have not been anything to talk about. In October Nintendo reported that the company has lost close to a billion dollars in the past six months. Between the months of March and September Nintendo only sold 3 million units, much less than the company had originally projected.

Back in August Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS from $249 to $169. Since this price drop, Nintendo’s sales numbers have been a little better but certainly still not on track. However, this new bundle could help the company boost its numbers for the device at least somewhat. Will Greenwald, a PCMag analyst, believes that the 3DS bundles really could help Nintendo get back on track with the device.

"In the gaming field, Nintendo offers the best buys for holiday gifts," he wrote. "That simply can't be disputed."

If you are interested in getting an even better deal on the bundle, Best Buy is offering both of the 3DS bundles for $179 on Black Friday. If you feel like dealing with the crowds, this could be a deal definitely worth taking advantage of.

Sources: PCMag - Nintendo Offering Two $199 Black Friday 3DS Bundles, GamesBeat - Nintendo 3DS bundles featuring Zelda and Mario Land Nov. 24 and joystiq - Best Buy selling Mario, Zelda 3DS bundles for Black Friday.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Modern Warfare 3 Breaks Even More Records

Last week Activision reported that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was the “biggest entertainment launch ever with an estimated sell-through of more than $400 million and more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom alone in the first 24 hours of its release.” Now, on Thursday, November 17 Activision announced that it has broken yet another record with its latest release.

In the first five days, Modern Warfare 3 generated more than $775 million in sales. According to data provided by Charttrack, the game beat both of the records that were set by its predecessors. A year ago Call of Duty: Black Ops made $650 million in the first five days, and two years ago Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 set records by making $500 million in the first five days. Clearly, Modern Warfare 3 blew both of these records out of the water.

"With $775 million of sales of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 in its first five days, Call of Duty has become the first entertainment property in history to set five-day launch records for three consecutive years across all forms of entertainment," said Robert Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, in a statement.

He also mentioned that, as a whole, the series has brought in more than $6 billion worldwide. This has made it one of the most valuable video game franchises in gaming history.

"We expect continued sales momentum, as reviews and audience enthusiasm suggest that this is the best Call of Duty game that we have ever made," he continued.

Modern Warfare 3 has been a huge success for Activision. The company reported that by the end of the first day the game was on sale, gamers had already logged in more than 7 million hours of gameplay. This is a 19 percent increase from the 5.9 million hours that gamers logged on the first day that Black Ops was released. The company also reported that on day one there were 3.3 million unique gamers that played Modern Warfare 3, up from 2.6 million unique users that played Black Ops on the first day.

Black Ops was able to haul in $1 billion in under two months, and I am certain that Modern Warfare 3 will have no issue with breaking that record as well.

Source: PCMag - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Breaks More Records, Hits $775M in Sales

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Skyrim: Bigger than MW3?

Statistics are what makes the world go round; recently the news has been all about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and how it broke the record for day one sales, which is all well and good, but how does it really stack up to another power house franchise like say Elder Scrolls: Skyrim? To put it straight forward, it doesn’t.

Yes, technically MW3 holds the record for most games sold in a day with 6.5 million copies. The most recent installment of the Elder Scrolls games, Skyrim, sold around 6 million copies its first day as well but is also continuing to sell games at an alarming rate. Within the first week Skyrim sold 7 million copies of their game and are looking to generate another $500 million dollars in retail sales.

It has been mentioned that to a lot of major game producing companies, selling a lot of games is their main point. Well let’s consider this: the more people playing their game, the more likely they will buy follow-up games and expansions. So, with that said, on 11/11/11 MW3 had around 78,000 people playing its multiplayer at its peak, and let’s call it another 42,000 playing its single player. For those of you playing at home, that is 120,000 people playing at once. It is an impressive number until you consider the whopping 230,000 + gamers playing Skyrim. The beauty of what Skyrim is doing is its peak was 230,000 at one time on its first day, but it continues to put up staggering numbers like that.

What we can tell is that people put down their modern assault rifles and picked up an iron sword or charged up a fireball and went to killing dragons. If you have not tried Skyrim yet, I suggest checking out what all the fuss is about. It’s an extremely well made, well polished, and artfully thought out RPG that will enthrall you for hours.

Sources: http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/elder-scrolls-v/1212337p1.html


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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Leaked Information May Cause BioWare to Alter Mass Effect 3's Story

Mass Effect 3Talk about a company that takes their games really seriously. In a recent press release from BioWare regarding the upcoming, and highly anticipated, third (and, unfortunately, final) installment to the Mass Effect series, Mass Effect 3, the company has confirmed that the story line for Mass Effect 3 may change in response to fan feedback. That's right, following a mistakenly-released beta that led to some leaked story files, co0founder of BioWare Dr. Ray Muzyka has stated that the development team is actively paying attention to input from fans.

According to BioWare co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka, "We listen to our fans all the time. We listen to them on the forums, their feedback from stories. We're regarding it all. If we can get ideas out of it, that will make the game better, sure. We're not adverse to taking feedback. That's part of our core values, is humility. Any time we get a good idea from fans... they're our audience. They keep us in business."

In addition to that, Dr. Muzyka said that the leak actually had a positive effect overall due to the fact that it led to more interest in the game as fans discussed the new content. Regardless, the development team did feel the effects of an unfinished game making its way into the hands of the fans.

"It's hard for the team when they see their work revealed in an early form like that. It was a pre-release demo. The script was certainly not intended to be released in that form and that early," Dr. Muzyka added. "But they're going to get through it because they're a strong group. They really care about delivering a great game to the fans. They're committed to making this the best Mass Effect."

To top it all off, Dr. Muzyka added that he hopes fans will not read the leaked information and also warns that it will affect their experience when playing the game. "Don't spoil the story. The fun of the story is uncovering things and exploring and finding new points to adventure in. I hope they don't lose that joy of discovery." Unfortunately, fans will have to wait until March 6, 2012 before they can get their hands on the final version of the game, though a demo is planned for this coming January.

Between Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic, it appears as if BioWare is going to have their hands full for the next four months. But even though the coming times will be hectic, BioWare's wallet will just get fatter.

Source: IGN - Mass Effect 3 Story May Change Due to Leaks

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Activision Breaks Records with the Latest Installment of the Call of Duty Series

On Friday, November 11 Activision released a statement that said, “Shattering its own day-one sales records, Activision Publishing, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, announced that its highly-anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has become the biggest entertainment launch ever with an estimated sell-through of more than $400 million and more than 6.5 million units in North America and the United Kingdom alone in the first 24 hours of its release, according to Charttrack and retail customer sell-through information.”

Activision said that it was able to break the record that it set with Call of Duty: Black Ops last year, which, at the time, sold a record setting 5.6 million units and generated $360 million in sales. Activision truly believes that the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 could be the biggest video game launch to-date.

"We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories," said the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Inc. Bobby Kotick in a statement. "Other than Call of Duty, there has never been another entertainment franchise that has set opening day records three years in a row. Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise exceed worldwide theatrical box office takes for ‘Star Wars' and 'Lord of the Rings,' two of the most successful entertainment franchises of all time."

Amazon has also said that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 has been its best-selling video game preorder ever.

Eric Hirshberg, the CEO Activision Publishing, said, "Call of Duty is more than a game. It's become a major part of the pop cultural landscape. It is a game that core enthusiasts love, but that also consistently draws new people into the medium. It is the most intense, adrenaline pumping entertainment experience anywhere. I would like to thank our millions of passionate fans worldwide. We made this game for you."
Call of Duty: Black Ops ended up making $1 billion in sales in less than two months, and it definitely seems like Modern Warfare 3 is set up to make that much, if not more, in less than two months.

The game is now available for PC, PS3 and the Xbox 360 for $59.99; for the Wii for $49.99 and for the Nintendo DS for $29.99. There is also a limited edition Xbox 360 console package available for $399.99. The package includes Modern Warfare 3, an Xbox with MW3 artwork, a 320GB hard drive and two wireless controllers.

Sources: PCMag - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Breaks Records, Makes $400 Million in One Day and Activision - Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare® 3 Sets All-Time Record for the Biggest Entertainment Launch with More than $400 Million in North America and United Kingdom Sales Alone.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

Video Games Lead to Increased Creativity?

It seems as though the typical stereotype surrounding video games is that if a gamer plays them too much, their brain will turn into mush. I’m sure that there are many individuals whose parents have told them something very similar to that; however, a new study that was recently released disagrees with this belief.

According to a report from researchers at Michigan State University, first reported by CNET, children that play video games seem to be more creative.

The study was published in the journal called Computers in Human Behavior, and it observed 491 12-year-old boys and girls. According to the study, the children that played video games were more creative. They were able to perform in a more creative manner when it came to drawing pictures and writing stories. The study also made sure to mention that it did not matter whether or not the video games that the children were playing were violent.

Linda Jackson is the psychology professor at MSU that headed up the study about children, video games and creativity. She said that after considering the findings of the study, she believes that game developers should use the information from the study and work to find which parts of video games help to stimulate creativity in children.

“Once they do that, video games can be designed to optimize the development of creativity while retaining their entertainment values such that a new generation of video games will blur the distinction between education and entertainment,” Jackson said in a statement.

One thing to consider is that creativity is a trait that is subjective and can be very difficult to measure. The study used a test called the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. This is a test that is “widely used,” and it asked the children that participated in the study to participate in different activities such as drawing an “interesting and exciting” picture. Researchers looked at the picture in terms of shapes, the title of the picture and the story written about it.

The study also investigated whether or not there was a link between a child’s creativity and their use of other types of technology like a cell phone, the Internet and computers. However, none of those seemed to have an effect on a child’s creativity, unless the computer use was to play video games on the computer. Video games of all different genres were found to have a distinct correlation between the creativity of children, both boys and girls, regardless of the race of the child.

I think that it is incredibly interesting that the study found a correlation between playing video games and creativity. I know that my thirteen-year-old brother will now be using this study as an excuse to play video games every time my mom questions him about playing so much. I definitely never would have thought that playing video games could increase creativity, but according to the study, it does. I agree with Jackson when she says that video game developers need to pay attention to the results of the study. There are definitely some interesting things that they could do with video games if they were able to find what aspect of games helps to promote creativity, and if they could target whatever aspect that is, maybe parents wouldn’t be as hesitant about letting their kids play video games as much.

Source: PCMag - Study Links Creativity to Playing Video Games

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011 Holiday Buyer's Guide for Gamers

Christmas gamingThe holidays are fast approaching and if someone in your family calls themselves a gamer then you are probably, once again, freaking out over what to get them for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or any of the other gift-giving holidays that are knocking at your door. The average consumer honestly doesn't know what to get their gamer for the holidays. While you could randomly go into GameStop or Best Buy and "attempt" to pick up something you "think" your gamer would like, I would highly advise against it. The last thing any gamer needs is their grandma getting them Sesame Street: Once Upon a Monster.

I'm not gonna lie; this holiday season is going to be one of the best for both gamers and shoppers, as gamers have a lot of incredible games to look forward to and shoppers have a lot of options to pick from. So let's start off with the top games for my personal favorite, the Xbox 360.

Gears of War 3Gears of War 3

If your gamer plays on the Xbox 360 and is into those graphic games with guns and chainsaws, then he/she will definitely be interested in Gears of War 3. Gears 3 (as we gamers call it on the streets) is the final chapter to Epic Games' trifecta of awesomness. It finishes the story of Marcus Fenix and his fight to save humanity from the Locust horde. A gripping campaign story mode, which now offers four-player co-op, a new and highly improved Horde mode, completely revamped multiplayer and some other new game features make Gears of War 3 a must have for any gamer this holiday season.

Halo: Combat Evolved AnniversaryHalo: Combat Evolved Anniversary

Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary is an update to the game that put multiplayer gaming on the map, Halo: Combat Evolved. 343 Studios has given this original Xbox classic a complete graphics overhaul for the next generation, recreating all the textures and graphics from scratch while simultaneously keeping all the elements that made the original game such a hit intact. A must have for any Xbox enthusiast. The original Halo on Xbox Live, people, need I say more?

Battlefield 3Battlefield 3

Battlefield 3 is EA's next installment in the highly acclaimed Battlefield series. The game takes first-person battlefield multiplayer to a whole new level, bringing in unique classes, each with its own advantages and skills. In addition to that there are also fully operational vehicles. I'm talking tanks, jeeps, armored trucks, boats, helicopters and, last but definitely not least, jets! That's right, take to the skies in all new jet combat in this beautiful modern war shooter. But remember, unlike some other modern shooters, teamwork is vital to success, so stick together!

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

The next installment in the series that took the tired Call of Duty series to new heights is finally here. Aside from having an intense and gripping story, Modern Warfare 3 has revamped its award-winning multiplayer system. New guns, new perks, new abilities, same 'ol bag of fun! It may be tough deciding between this and Battlefield 3 so if your gamer can't decide then do the responsible thing, get him both!

Assassin's Creed: RevelationsAssassin's Creed: Revelations

Ezio is back for his third and, sadly, last adventure in the Assassin's Creed series. Picking up quite a few years after the events of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Ezio is now much older, wiser (and grayer) and on a mission to retake Masyaf, the Assassin headquarters that was once the home of Altair, the main character from the original game. The game promises to let you take on missions as both Ezio and Altair, further developing the complex plot from the first three games. In addition to that, the groundbreaking multiplayer from Brotherhood is back and better than ever. I just hope they have dedicated servers this time. If your gamer has stuck by Desmond, Altair and Ezio for the previous journeys, this is definitely one he won't want to miss.

The Elder Scrolls V: SkyrimThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (or simply Skyrim) is the latest chapter in the highly acclaimed Elder Scrolls series and even though it is the fifth game in the series (as the title suggests) you don't have to play one of the other four to know what's going on. The single-player game space is completely open world, meaning you can go anywhere you want whenever you want. You will use a variety of weapons, from swords, axes and maces to bows, magical staffs and even your bare hands to fight of any type of crazy creature and enemy you can think of. Oh and did I mention you get to fight dragons in this game? That's right, the story has your character centered as a dragon slayer, 'nuff said. A revamped combat system and absolutely gorgeous graphics make this the perfect gift for anyone who likes to play a single game for months.

Batman: Arkham CityBatman: Arkham City

Batman: Arkham Asylum ushered in a new wave of superhero games, an by that I mean actually made a superhero game that didn't suck worse than being that kid from Captain Planet with the power of "heart". Arkham Asylum brought us free-flow combat, allowing us to beat up 30 of the Joker's henchmen in one fluid motion. It also brought a gritty realism to the character, much like Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Rocksteady, the studio behind the game, has been blowing the minds of gamers and Batman fans alike with the second installment to the best superhero game of all time. This time around the world is more open, the stakes are higher and the villains are more abundant than ever. Only a true Dark Knight will be able to make it out of this nightmare in one piece.

Next up is the PlayStation 3. While I do not own the system myself, I can't deny that there are some pretty insane games coming out for it this holiday season. So let's get to it.

Uncharted 3: Drake's DeceptionUncharted 3: Drake's Deception

The Uncharted series has been one of the best PS3 exclusives since God of War. The game basically allows you to live out your fantasy of being Indiana Jones, though without the whip and awesome Chinese kid as a sidekick. If ever there was a title worthy of the claim of the PS3 exclusive of the year, it's this one. Fantastic visuals mixed with lovable characters and a story that will leave you slack-jawed, drooling and saying "wow" are just a few reasons that every PS3 owners needs to own this game.

God of War OriginsGod of War Origins

God of War Origins is every PS3 lover's dream come true, the two God of War games that left PSP owners tickled with delight, God of War: Chains of Olympus and God of War: Ghost of Sparta are finally making their way to the console that started it all. Now your entire collection can be complete without the need of that crappy PSP thingy.

Ico & Shadow of the Colossus CollectionIco & Shadow of the Colossus Collection

I don't know much about Ico but what I do know is that there aren't many people who speak ill of the game. What's more is that I haven't found anybody on the face of the planet who doesn't like Shadow of the Colossus. These are two PS2 games that came from Sony's internal development teams in Japan and both games deliver incredible stories that are both haunting and epic. With an HD rendering, these games are fit for the here and now. A must have for any PS3 owner that remembers these games and any gamer who doesn't.

Infamous 2Infamous 2

Infamous 2 hurls gamers back into the shoes of Cole McGrath, your everyday bike messenger who received incredible superpowers thanks to a gigantic explosion. Third-person action in a giant sandbox environment that reminds you of New Orleans, complete with some parkour gameplay and intense decision making makes this sequel worthy of recognition. A must have for fans of the original.

Resistance 3Resistance 3

The year of "3s" continues with the PS3 exclusive Resistance 3 The game continues the story set forth by the first two games of an alien infestation on Earth. People are turning into creatures thanks to a virus dispatched by the evil Chimera, leaving the rare survivors immune to the virus left to clean everything up. A fantastic cast of characters, compelling and dark narrative and some pretty ingenious weapons make this first-person shooter one to keep in mind.

If you are what some consider to be "true gamers", you probably find yourself turning to your PC for all of your gaming needs. Not to be left out, PC developers are bringing out some pretty incredible games this holiday season.

The Witcher 2: Assassin of KingsThe Witcher 2: Assassin's of Kings

One of the best RPGs to come out in a long time, The Witcher 2 is an incredibly deep game with lots of things to collect, craft and learn about. In addition to having some truly unique gameplay mechanics, the game itself is incredibly beautiful, provided that you have the hardware to max out the graphics. Great sound quality, incredible music and high-standard voice acting really bring battles to life. While the combat takes some getting used to, it is all worth it to have an incredibly unique experience.

Total War: Shogun 2Total War: Shogun 2

The Total War franchise has always been keen on keeping balance between depth and accessibility. The game itself allows you to take command of thousands of troops, all of which are onscreen, and engage in truly epic battles that take both skill and strategy to win. If you fancy yourself a true battlefield strategist, then this is one game you need to check out. Beautiful graphics make the battles that much more enjoyable and the ability to literally see every single one of your troops is something to be desired by other games.


Rage is a first-person shooter set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Visually the game is stunning. The open world is truly something to look at but the game mechanics are what really sets Rage apart from other, similar games. Enemies react intelligently by taking cover and instead of running directly at you, some enemies will scale walls, jump on poles, swing around, duck, dive, dodge and do anything they can to get out of the way of your bullets. If you want pulse-pounding action and a truly beautiful game, Rage is what you're looking for.

Star Wars: The Old RepublicStar Wars: The Old Republic

Probably the most anticipated game to be coming out this holiday season, Star Wars: The Old Republic, is a Star Wars-themed MMO from LucasArts and BioWare. The game is a fully-voiced, story-driven MMO and boasts more dialogue than any other game ever created. You take your place in the galaxy far, far away thousands of years before Obi-Wan, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, deciding on whether to fight for the Republic or the Empire. You get to choose from eight different classes, all based off of characters from films like Bounty Hunter (i.e. Bobba Fett) or Smuggler (i.e. Han Solo). Join up with thousands of players from all over the world to live out your Star Wars fantasy, whether it be dual-wielding blasters or cooking an enemy with force lightning.

So there you have it, the top games that are sure to be on any gamer's list this holiday season, regardless of which system they use. Many of the games listed are cross-platform games, meaning they come on two or more systems. These games include Battlefield 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Batman: Arkham City, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Rage. Games like Battlefield 3, Rage, and Skyrim will definitely look 100x better on the PC so if you have the option, I suggest opting for these select titles on PC.

It's going to be a good holiday for gamers. I know I am excited and with all these games coming out, you might not see me again until next holiday season.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

GameStop Dives Into the World of Tablets

For quite some time now, GameStop has been discussing its plans to sell an Android tablet that features video game optimization. Well, on Friday, October 28 the video game retailer announced that certain stores will be offering three different Google Android-based tablets from Acer, Asus and Samsung. They will be packaged with external Bluetooth controllers that they hope will bring a very console-like gaming experience.

The tablets that will be offered by GameStop include: the Acer A100, costing $329.99 without a controller; the Asus Transformer, costing $399; and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, priced at $499.

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, GameStop will be directing a tablet pilot program. Two hundred retail locations across the country are carrying the tablets. Writers at PCMag contacted several different GameStop locations on the West Coast, and they confirmed that they do indeed have tablets in stock.

A representative at a GameStop located in San Francisco said in addition to the tablets and external game controllers that the company will be selling, it will also be loading tablets with software and promoting game titles that have been optimized for tablets.

Earlier this year when GameStop first began discussing their plans to offer a tablet at their retail stores, the company said that it was planning to begin building its own tablet if it could not find a tablet that it liked enough to sell. "If we can work with our partners and the OEMs and they come up with a great tablet that is enabled with a great gaming experience and coupled with a bluetooth controller, then there's no need to go out and develop our own," said GameStop president Tony Bartel in April. "But if we can't find one that's great for gaming, then we will create our own."

Just last month, Bartel announced that he saw no need for GameStop to build its own tablet because there were so many already available. He had continued saying that any tablet that the company sold would be branded as a GameStop tablet; however, it does not seem as though that is the case with the three tablets that they are currently offering.

Although they did not build their own tablet, GameStop did go ahead and build its own controller for the tablet. This summer, they tested the controller on consumers in Dallas.

"[W]e've created a controller that we're testing to really allow for immersive gameplay," Bartel said in September. "It's hard to imagine how to stream a game—let's say Modern Warfare 3—onto a tablet and then play it with your finger." Bartel did admit that they might run across the problem of not having enough content to offer in the beginning.

"There are not a lot of tablet/android based games for the consumer that are designed to use an external controller," Bartel said. He did, however, mention that GameStop will begin streaming console games to the devices as soon as they become available.

I think that it is very interesting that gaming retailers are starting to get in on the tablet market. Personally, I think that it’s a little early, since there aren’t tons of console games available right now, but it’s better to be early than late. It will be interesting to see how things go for GameStop.

Source: PCMag - GameStop Selling Not One But Three Android Tablets

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Monday, October 24, 2011

World of Warcraft Expansion Pack Adds a New Character…A Panda?

On Friday, October 21st Blizzard Entertainment announced at BlizzCon 2011 that it would be releasing its fourth add-on to its incredibly popular role-playing game World of Warcraft. The expansion, “World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria,” adds another whole continent for gamers to explore in the world Azaroth.

However, the new lost continent is not the only new thing that players can enjoy. Now there is the option to play as a new character, a bear-like creature that is called a pandaren. If players decide to play as this neutral character, they can choose to join one of the two factions that are constantly at war with each other throughout the game, the Alliance or the Horde.

The expansion also adds a new class to the game. Players can now choose to be a martial arts-focused Monk and decide whether they want to play in the game as a tank, a damage dealer or a healer.

With the new add-on the level cap has also been increased. Players can now work all the way up to level 90. This expansion continues in the years past the “Cataclysm.” This was an event that reset the world in the game and modified some of the continents and added new opponents and dungeons.

"In the aftermath of the Cataclysm played out in World of Warcraft's third expansion, Pandaria's heroes are emerging from their land's lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains to choose sides in the escalating war between the Alliance and the Horde and to share the extraordinary secrets of their ancient martial arts," Blizzard said in a statement. "As tensions between the factions near a breaking point following the discovery of this new world, players will be called upon to explore Pandaria's exotic expanses, make contact with its strange indigenous creatures, and unlock the world-changing secrets that have been hiding in the mists for millennia."

Although Blizzard announced the new Pandaria expansion, they have not given a release date for it yet. If you’re a World of Warcraft player, I guess that you will be forced to sit on pins and needles until Blizzard decides to be kind enough to discuss the release date. Until then, feel free to enjoy the preview trailer.

Source: PCMag - World of Warcraft Adds Kung-Fu Pandaren in Fourth Expansion

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mass Effect 3 Getting the Multiplayer Treatment

If you're a Mass Effect fan and you haven't heard the biggest piece of news to hit the series in the history of the title, then you should seriously reconsider your devotion to the game. I'm talking, of course, about Mass Effect 3 coming with multiplayer. That's right, everybody's favorite single-player space saga isn't so single-player anymore, but things are not always as they appear.

With Mass Effect 3 being the final title in the series, it isn't surprising that BioWare would attempt to go all out for the game. Advancements in gaming, like motion control, are becoming more mainstream as many of the top name companies are starting to incorporate the latest tech into their games. And while multiplayer is certainly not a new feature to gaming, it is to the Mass Effect series.

One of the main things that made the first two Mass Effect games such hits was the gripping, dramatic, interactive and incredibly well-written story, something that was accomplished solo. Games like Mass Effect, that have a lack of multiplayer, make up for it by delivering an incredible story and multiple different ways to play through the game. Mass Effect, for example, gives you the option of playing through as a Paragon (good guy) or Renegade (bad guy) and also delivers a plethora of different character classes, each with their own play style.

I am a firm believer in the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" which is why when I first heard about Mass Effect 3 having multiplayer, I wasn't so thrilled. There are many reasons I think Mass Effect multiplayer is a useless commodity. For starters, I enjoyed being the lone hero in my galaxy. Everything was personal. Second, I honestly did not want what I like to call the Dead Rising 2 Effect, basically the exact same character running around like a clone. I don't want multiple Shepards running around and I certainly don't need one helping me through my adventure.

That being said, I was completely surprised when BioWare announced just exactly how Mass Effect 3's multiplayer would work and from what they've said, it seems like it is going to work out perfectly.

If you aren't familiar with the way the game works, Mass Effect has you traveling to different planets and fighting off this extremely old race of sentient machines hell bent on purging the galaxy of any and all life. Every person you talk to, every place you visit and every choice you make has a direct impact on the endgame. Spare this guy, kill that one, blow up this building or ignore this mission, no matter what you do, there will be repercussions.

It is this cause-and-effect mechanic that is the main feature of Mass Effect 3's multiplayer. Instead of playing as Commander Shepard and teaming up with your friend's Commander Shepard, you take control of a completely unique character that you personally create. Then you and up to three friends travel to other planets to complete missions and gain control of these systems in order to affect the endgame of Mass Effect 3. The characters you create in multiplayer don't have any interaction with the main story characters and are simply a way to tweak your endgame to your specifications.

The best thing about the multiplayer component is that you are not restricted to play as a human. Multiplayer in Mass Effect 3 allows you to create a completely customizable character using any of the main alien races you encounter in the game, including races like Salarian, Asari, Drell, Turian, Quarian and my personal favorite, Krogan. In addition to picking a race, you can also pick a class like Soldier, Engineer, Technician or Adept. This allows you to play your character like you would in the single-player without having to run around with three other Commander Shepards.

Honestly, this is the only way multiplayer can work for Mass Effect 3. Giving players the option to choose a race other than human will play to the fantasies of many fans of the series and not running around with clones of your character or engaging in the same old team deathmatch multiplayer modes should help in putting all the haters at ease. What's more-- the multiplayer is completely optional. With the game mechanic having a direct effect on the endgame, one would assume that it is necessary to finish the game. However, BioWare has already announced that if you want to play Mass Effect 3 like you did Mass Effect 1 and 2, by playing completely by yourself, then you still can. At no point in the game are you forced to play multiplayer, nor are you penalized for opting not to.

Personally, after hearing how multiplayer is going to work, I can honestly say that I am excited to jump in and give it a try. All my fears about playing with another Shepard or running around trying to kill as many enemies as possible in Team Deathmatch have all been laid to rest. BioWare even made the announcement sweeter by stating that no team members were taken away from the single-player development as the multiplayer aspect has been developed by a completely separate team.

So what say you? Are you excited for Mass Effect 3's multiplayer? Do you think it is a good idea or one that will completely ruin the game for you? Sound off in the comments with how you really feel.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Critics Claim COD is Simply "Cutting and Pasting"

Call of Duty is considered one of the most successful gaming franchises of the past decade or so, but recently it has been facing some criticism surrounding Modern Warfare 3. Some critics are saying that the franchise simply uses the formula from the previous game and essentially cuts and pastes the previous version, makes a few minor changes and sells it as a “new” game. Well, according to the general manager of Sledgehammer Games Glen Schofield, this is most certainly not the case.

Schofield sat down for an interview with CVG and replied to the current accusations of the critics.

"If you put Modern Warfare 2 next to Modern Warfare 3, you would see a huge difference," he said. "Look at all the character models, look at all the gun models, look at the reflections, look at the water. There is so much that we've added, so when someone says 'cut and paste', I don't even want to talk to them because they don't know. They just don't know. They have no idea."

“I need to make sure that the millions of people that played Modern Warfare 2 will pick up this game, notice that it's better, notice that it's bigger, that there's more in it, that there's more polish, all that stuff.”

"I've worked on a lot of engines over my lifetime and spent a lot of time putting graphics into them and this thing is Porsche," he continued, "and what I mean by that is that it is stream-lined, everything in it is perfectly freaking clean. You can tell it's been worked on for years. It's easy to upgrade."

"On top of that you have what we added to the audio engine. Then there's a lot of stuff under the hood. People don't think about this but when you make your tools better and you can iterate twice as many times, you make the game better."

However, graphics are not the only thing that has been upgraded. Schofield said that gameplay was definitely the primary focus for Modern Warfare 3.

"I've said this before - I'm not shipping an engine, I'm shipping a game. So that's why I'm going to talk about the game. You can talk about your engine all you want. It's not fun."

Many people have also criticized the games lack of an open beta, but Schofield said that he believed that Call of Duty XP was sufficient enough. "This game is so big between the campaign, the Spec-Ops and the multiplayer, there was so much work to do that I don't know whether [a beta] hit anyone's mind or not," he said. "We had XP and XP was in itself a way for thousands of people to play the game and for us to look over their shoulder and see how they were doing and how they liked it and that was really good."

So some people are criticizing Modern Warfare 3, but do you really think that will diminish the sales numbers for the game? I highly doubt it! The Call of Duty franchise knows what it is doing, and as Schofield said, Modern Warfare 3 should be very different from Modern Warfare 2. I personally cannot wait to get my hands on the latest Call of Duty game. It will be available on November 8, and all I can say is that I am counting down the days!

Source: IGN - Sledgehammer: Modern Warfare 3 Not a 'Cut and Paste'

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Could FIFA Be the Link to the Recent Xbox Live Hacks?

During the past couple of weeks, reports of Xbox Live hackings have been appearing on the Internet. Allegedly, there are purchases that are showing up on some users' credit cards that are linked to their Xbox Live accounts. Obviously, a few hacks here and there are to be expected, but some are speculating that there is a common link between these recent hackings.

Many of the hacks that have been reported state that that FIFA Soccer 11 and 12 have been played on their account, although they have never owned or played the game. This is causing people to believe that these recent hacks might be FIFA-specific.

Despite all of these speculations, Microsoft is saying that they do not have any kind of evidence of a widespread Xbox Live hack. They issued a statement saying: “We do not have any evidence the Xbox LIVE service has been compromised. We take the security of our service seriously and work on an ongoing basis to improve it against evolving threats. However, a limited number of members have contacted us regarding unauthorized access to their accounts by outside individuals. We are working with our impacted members directly to resolve any unauthorized changes to their accounts. As always, we highly recommend our members follow the Xbox LIVE Account Security guidance provided at www.xbox.com/security to protect your account.”

So is it all just coincidence? Are these truly random occurrences that just happen to appear as if there is a pattern? Electronic Arts believes that this is most definitely the case.

“With the popularity of FIFA globally and the sheer number of players playing the game online, FIFA is an obvious target for phishers and frauds,” an Electronic Arts told Giant Bomb.

“It’s not a title-specific issue and is coincidental that FIFA has been tied to a number of compromised accounts,” a Microsoft representative said.

Microsoft and EA seem very confident that all of this is a coincidence. I’m not exactly convinced yet. We’ll just have to see how things go the next couple of weeks. All I can say is make sure to pay close attention to your account because you don’t want to have to deal with the stress of being hacked.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Battlefield 3 Open Beta: PC vs. 360

Battlefield 3 betaLike many of you, I signed up and downloaded the new open beta for Dice's upcoming war shooter Battlefield 3. Unlike many of you, I did so on both my Xbox 360 and PC, just to get a feel for how different they may be and to see which layout I like better. I didn't expect the betas to be all that different from each other but, unfortunately, I was wrong.

Before I played the beta for Battlefield 3, I was fortunate enough to get in on the alpha. An alpha is like a beta to the beta, in case you were wondering. I was initially very impressed with the alpha. Graphically the game looked very good and the different play style from Call of Duty was a fresh change. The game felt more tactical and I seemed to rely on my team more than I would in Call of Duty.

Since it is a Battlefield game, there had to be vehicles, the series' trademark. There was only one in the alpha map, a large armored truck with a cannon on top. The good thing was that the vehicle didn't feel overpowered, especially when three or four RPGs were hitting it from all directions.

Skip over to the beta and things are a little different. The map, Operation Metro, is the same from alpha to beta but not everything is alike. Gone is the armored truck, as well as any other vehicle, and one of the MCOM stations has been moved parallel to the other, avoiding the annoying aspect of trying to plant a bomb directly in the middle of the defenders' spawn point.


The PC version of the beta runs a lot smoother than the 360 build. This isn't surprising considering that fact that PC games usually run smoother than console games but also because the Battlefield series has, until now, been a strictly PC-only game. Aside from Battlefield: Bad Company 1 and 2, all the other games have been on PC.

Graphically the game is much smoother and more crisp and the graphics themselves look very good. Trees fall down from explosions and foliage blocks you from the enemy and the enemy from you. The textures look very realistic and character movements are more realistic and fluid as well. Knifing an enemy, for example, has you turning the person around and stabbing them in the chest while simultaneously ripping off their dog tags, a very satisfying kill indeed.

As far as gameplay goes, Battlefield 3 plays like a mix between Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty. The characters feel bigger than they do in Bad Company and the map you play on feels smaller, much like a Call of Duty map. However, every map is tiered. In Operation Metro there are four tiers: the first is outside in a park, the second is in a blown up subway terminal, the third is in the lobby/ticket area of the subway terminal and the fourth is outside in a city street.

One complaint I do have with the PC version is that it seems like I die with one shot, no matter the gun or the distance. However, that could either be glitch in the game or my extreme lack of experience with PC first-person shooters.

Xbox 360:

Compared to the PC beta, the 360 beta looks like complete crap. Graphically the game looks bad. The character model of your hands and weapons look about the same as any first-person shooter but everything else looks very rough. While I would normally dismiss this as just being part of the beta, I am hesitant to do so, especially considering that the game is coming out in about three weeks. Any type of polish should be done asap if Dice wants to make a stand against Modern Warfare.

The gameplay of the 360 beta also felt very buggy. The game didn't feel as smooth as the PC build and seemed very choppy. There were also some serious glitch issues when you die and you see who killed you. I can't remember how many times it looked like a floating person or a helmet on the ground killed me after I died.

Combat felt more balanced though there was still the occasional one-hit kill from a pistol or heavy machine gun from across the map. The gameplay is still basically the same as the PC version just not as good. It's like wanting a whole pizza and getting a pizza hotpocket, the hotpocket is good if you can't get a pizza but it just isn't the same.

As it stands right now I am leaning more towards getting the game for PC. While more of my friends will probably be getting it for consoles, I honestly feel like I will have a better experience on a PC, as far as the beta is concerned that is.

Additional Comments:

There are some things that worried me about the beta and some things that didn't quite make sense. One is the lack of vehicles. The one major thing that Battlefield has over Call of Duty is that addition of fully operational vehicles. The ability to fly a jet or a helicopter or to drive a tank right into the battle is something that I loved most about Bad Company 2. Not putting the main feature (in my opinion) into the open beta seems like a big mistake on Dice's part.

Another thing that Battlefield has going for it over Call of Duty is destructible environments. However, that was lacking in the beta as well. Battlefield prides itself on having fully destructible environments that add a tactical aspect to the game. However, in the betas as well as the alpha, the only thing I found really destructible was on the last segment of the map. Players can take position in multi-story buildings and shooting the window areas with an RPG crumbles the exterior of the area, raining debris onto the streets below. While doing this is cool, I want more in the final product. Having a map with only one destructible feature just isn't going to cut it.

Battlefield 3 is going to have to pick it up if it wants to beat out Call of Duty during this holiday season. What I thought was going to be a landslide in favor of Battlefield 3 has suddenly turned into a footrace to the finish.

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