Gamer

Dreadfully fun

Turn out the lights, turn up the sound, and enter Dead Space 2.

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Dead Space 2

(Visceral Games/Electronic Arts), Xbox 360, PS3, PC

GAMER Survival horror might be the game genre most affected by the environment it's played in. You'll see the best results when a player agrees to meet the title halfway: turning out the lights and turning up the volume. Then it's up to the developers to deliver on their half of the equation. Though generally lauded when it released in 2008, the original Dead Space launched with promise but ultimately was content to repeat itself for the majority of its playtime.Read more »

Game over(load)

YEAR IN VIDEO GAMES, TAKE TWO: Games have gotten better -- and there are many, many more of them.

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GAMER 2010, TAKE TWO For the first time in my life, in 2010, I feel the weight of games yet unplayed. Soon, 2011 will begin, and the ghosts of my gaming fecklessness will lurk, dormant, on my hard drive, pregnant with the possibility of fun.Read more »

Admit it, you're addicted to Angry Birds

YEAR IN VIDEO GAMES, TAKE ONE: Forget Hollywood, this was the year that tiny screens held our attention

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GAMER 2010, TAKE ONE Although a large portion of the world remains blissfully unaware of a shift, the game industry has silently surpassed Hollywood as the wealthiest entertainment medium. The year was more transitory than breakthrough, but 2010 boasted a number of changes. Here are seven.Read more »

Shoot 'em up

Cold War globe-hopping from Cuba to Russia, Laos, and Vietnam in Call of Duty: Black Ops

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P>Call of Duty: Black Ops

(Treyarch / Activision), Xbox 360, PS3,Wii, PCRead more »

No brains required

Postmodern, sure -- but no complex moral exercise: the point of Dead Rising 2 is to kill a lot of zombies

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Dead Rising 2

Blue Castle (Capcom)

Xbox 360/PS3/PC

GAMER If Dead Rising was a videogame homage to Dawn of the Dead (1978), then Dead Rising 2 has taken a big leap forward in the George Romero zombie timeline, landing somewhere near the patchy neighborhood of 2005's Land of the Dead.Read more »

Armchair generals unite!

Civilization V will suck your present life into the past

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Civilization V

(Firaxis, 2K Games)

PC

GAMER The release of a new Civilization game always results in time-management Armageddon. Notorious for its addictive, epic gameplay, the long-running franchise has been the bane of term papers, careers, and marriages over the course of its nearly 20 years in existence.Read more »

Good enough, fella?

The gangster lifestyle ain't always shits and giggles in Mafia II

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Here's a game that piles on hot-rods, collectible Playboy centerfolds, piano joints with framed Bogie posters, and one instance of a full-fledged Sinatra sing-along. Mafia II (2K Czech/2K Games, Xbox 360/PS3/PC)is the sequel to 2004's Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, a well-received PC game that put players in the shoes of a cab driver as he rose through the ranks of the 1930s mafia. Its sequel mines similar Coppola and Scorsese territory, set this time in the 1940s and '50s, as you play a young war vet looking to settle his late father's debts.Read more »

Worth the wait

Starcraft II took a while to get here, but the new version is right on target

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StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

(Blizzard Entertainment)

PC, Mac OS X

Even for a company known for its notoriously long development cycles, Blizzard took its sweet time with StarCraft II. Though thousands of people now have their fevered hands on a copy, the reality of its arrival hasn't really sunk in. Playing it feels like the first time I listened to Chinese Democracy, except with fewer unnecessary keyboard tracks.Read more »

Deja vu all over again

Crackdown 2 trades the GTA aspirations for zombie hunting

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Crackdown 2

(Ruffian)

Xbox 360 Read more »

First-person shooter

High-brow meets joystick in author Tom Bissell's Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

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Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter

Tom Bissell

(Pantheon Books/Random House, 218 pages, $22.95)

In the fifth chapter of his essay collection Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, author Tom Bissell meets "Al," a staffer at the 2009 DICE convention, an annual game industry event held in Las Vegas. "By 2020," gushes Al, "there is a very good chance that the president will be someone who played Super Mario Bros. on the NES."Read more »