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Tertiary administrator, video game blogger.

Location:Gold Coast, Australia

stories by Tristan Damen

High Horse Audit 2011: Most Disappointing Game of the Year

There's an obvious nominee for this award, but it won't walk away with the prize. Yes, Duke Nukem Forever was horrible. It took more than a decade to see release, but it failed to "disappoint." No-one at Gearbox Software leapt forth to scream the virtues of the "return of the king." This game was spruiked solely on the novelty that the game would in fact be released. Despite my initial optimism, I wasn't overly confident of a strong showing.

Super Mario 3D Land Review (3DS): Change is overrated

When I was about eight years old, my best friend got his hands on a Nintendo Entertainment System and a modest collection of games. While each game – no matter how good or bad it was – kept us somewhat entertained, nothing quite stole my attention like Super Mario Bros. 3. It was easily the best looking of the games he'd inherited, and I'd always insist we play that rather than any other title on hand. Throughout the years, I've enjoyed many Mario titles; but none quite so much as the third instalment. Can the addition of the third dimension knock the king off its perch?

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception Review (PS3): A great adventure and a broken ride

The first two Uncharted games were reason enough to buy a PlayStation 3. Both were challenging, beautifully-rendered adventure games that combined solid third-person cover shooting with thrilling set pieces and platforming sequences. Nathan Drake returns – two years on – for his third adventure, Drake’s Deception. Can Naughty Dog deliver three essential experiences on the Sony platform?

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception multiplayer impressions: Over before it began

A few weeks ago, I wrote to those still playing Gears of War 3, asking for some mercy on new players with the objective of growing the player base in spite of competition from emerging heavyweights like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. I don't know if my advice inspired anyone to change their ways, but I've since noticed that there are other new releases that are hurting as well; games on different platforms that still need to contend with Activision and EA's FPS juggernauts. In this case, I'm referring specifically to Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception.

Batman Arkham City Review (PS3): Heroes deserve a city, not a sandbox

Batman: Arkham Asylum was the genuine surprise of 2009. Street Fighter IV may have reinvigorated a genre, and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves may have taken most of the gongs, but Arkham Asylum held a special place in my heart as the first game that genuinely allowed for players to walk in the boots of the Dark Knight.  Two years on, and again I’m in the cape and cowl. Will Rocksteady’s effort prove to be as successful and impressive as the first?  

EBGames launches sexist ad campaign in Australia

I studied marketing at university…did a double major in the field, even. So when I see examples of lazy advertising campaigns, like the one EBGames — Australia's largest video-game retailer — launched recently, I die a little inside. The animated short (seen at the bottom) shows how men can trade in games and save money so that they can buy their nagging wives pretty things. Seems like we've travelled back in time, yeah?

The RAGE Letters – A Review Post-Mortem

I find a second opinion to be essential when it comes to videogames. I'm obviously not alone here, as Metacritic – a website which aggregates critics' qualitative evaluations of movies, music, television progams and games – is a powerfully-popular choice for obtaining that second, third or seventy-ninth opinion on a recent release.

Editorial: Review scores don’t add up

It's been an interesting week for game reviews. I'm not referring to my Rage review – which is pretty great – rather, the shenanigans some game journalists have gotten away with this week. Firstly, there were some perfect review scores for Battlefield 3, an eloquent – though misguided – look at Uncharted 3 that was torn apart by trolls, and IGN once again set the standard for journalistic integrity (or its opposite, as it were).

Rage Review (X360): A wasteland in more ways than one

There's no denying that id Software popularised the First Person Shooter. The genre existed before the likes of Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, but none proved to be as compelling, enduring or as fluid as Carmack and Romero's masterpieces. After seven years in development, Rage marks id's return to the market. A vastly different monster to when the developer reigned supreme, with consoles having more clout than their native platform. Does the leap in technology and multi-platform commitment allow for another classic from the fathers of frag?

Warhammer 40K: Space Marine Review (PC): Brawling with my brainless battle brothers

I'll be honest with you: I've never been one for Warhammer 40K's lore, lofty dialogue or miniature figurines. Not that I have any objections to tabletop gaming, role-playing or dudes in bulky armour; I just have too much on my nerdy plate as it is. I did enjoy my brief love affair with Dawn of War II. Once again, not because of the source material; rather, it was a great strategy game in its own right. Now enter Space Marine. Same brand of brawny, quasi-religious tomfoolery, but from a different perspective. Instead of issuing directives from above, players get to step into the ridiculously-large boots of an Ultramarine. Will the close-up make these mammoths of men any more relatable?

Gears of War 3 Review (X360): Mad World Reimagined

The Gears of War games haven't previously been known to showcase strong storytelling. Don't get me wrong: I loved both instalments (in terms of both campaign and multiplayer), but a lot of the biggest twists in the tale of Delta Squad lacked impact. Thankfully, Epic Games contracted Karen Traviss – who has written three books based on the series – to write the script for the third game. With Gears' only weakness shielded by some powerful narrative armour, have the developers been able to fortify some of the strongest gunplay I've had the pleasure of indulging in and deliver the perfect game?

Meet the Mob: Tristan Damen (Part 1 – Ancient History)

Nerdiness runs in my blood: my father was a gamer before me. Famously, he had bested a friend’s long-standing high score in Frogger one night on his Atari 2600, only for my older brother – then an infant – to crawl past and unwittingly turn the console off. Heartbroken and exhausted, my father did what anyone would do after losing sight of an all-important goal: sit outside and polish off a case of beer (or your beverage of choice; in Dad’s case it was beer). My dad eschewed his gamer ways in order to provide food, clothes and video-games to a growing family: something for which I’m eternally grateful.

The Price of Gas

Recently I spent a week in Thailand, and my oh my was it an eye-opener. Whether it was the close proximity of excess and poverty, the scenery, the traffic, the food, the people or the bargains: Thailand – Bangkok specifically – had me on my toes.

Jetpack Joyride Review (iOS): A dangerous, well-oiled machine

Brisbane-based developer Halfbrick Studios have a reputation for creating addictive, if not shallow, gaming experiences for smartphones and tablet devices. Fruit Ninja has already stolen hours from me already, and the Kinect-controlled port also gifted me with a surprise back injury. Age of Zombies was easily the best PlayStation Mini that I've ever played and looks wonderful when blown-up on an iPad. That game's protagonist, Barry Steakfries makes his return in Jetpack Joyride; which abandons the gratuitous Simpsons quotes in favour of the developer's own brand of machine gun-themed slapstick humour. Are Halfbrick's comic chops enough to literally carry Steakfries' latest adventure?

Enough room to swing a gyroscopic cat

I've recently had the good fortune of attaining a secondment in my job; you know, the one that actually earns me money? The work is what I can stomach doing if it can't be writing about games and be putting bread on the table. There's just a few problems with the arrangement (apart from the fact that the assignment finishes in a few days):

3DS Ambassador Program fails to ease tension with early adopters

I concede that I'm making an assumption with the headline: I'm sure that there are some who are happy with the first batch of downloadable freebies that Nintendo has thrown to those who purchased a 3DS before August 12. The list started off promisingly enough: Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda and Ice Climbers were some of the first revealed in the lead up to the system's unprecedented – though arguably necessary – price drop. Then days before the program was set to launch, I was slapped with the rest of them.

Deus Ex: Human Revolution Review (PC) – Design of the Decade

Until late last year, I'd never played any of the previous instalments of the Deus Ex series. I picked up both of Human Revolution's predecessors during one of Steam's delirium-inducing digital fire-sales after tiring from the numerous, pretentious rants that I'd read discussing the importance and influence of the original. Ten years after its release, however, proved to be too late for me to discover its magic. What I saw was ugly and unapproachable. I didn't even think to load up the sequel, Invisible War after that eyesore. Instead – shallow man that I am – I waited for the latest iteration, with enticing art direction and most importantly, rendered with all of the grandeur and beauty that I've come to expect from modern hardware. Read on to find if a prettier Deus Ex is more approachable or, at the very least, playable.

Human Revolution’s path of least resistance leads right into man-mountain

Originally, I had intended to invest more time in Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Online Edition and cover the PlayStation Network PLAY promotion; Deus Ex: Human Revolution has rubbished all chances of that happening. Well, happening in a timely manner at least. Perhaps that's another flaw of Sony's plagiarised marketing scheme? Instead of leading into the peak of AAA retail releases, they've decided to run with it concurrently. Brave (read: stupid) move

PlayStation Network PLAY: Something old, something borrowed, something new

Having just recently survived Microsoft's Summer of Arcade promotion, I can't help but feel that PlayStation Network PLAY is a remarkably similar concept. Similar in that it is almost exactly the same in practice: participants purchase a handful (or in this case, just under) of polished downloadable titles to receive a free game. Remarkable in that no-one has really thought to reprimand Sony for their near-duplication of a competitor's marketing strategy; not even a week after they've finished proceedings. Sure, all retailers (digital storefronts and brick-and-mortar stores alike) employ different sales gimmicks regularly, and the "Buy X, Get Y Free" transaction isn't new either; but I can't help but feel as though my two consoles are only really different in name and appearance. The online experience, software offerings – even the way they are sold – are too familiar to generate any sensation that PlayStation Network PLAY is new, or even worthwhile.  

Toy Soldiers: Cold War Review (X360) – Passive-Aggressive Tower Defense starring Sylvester Stallone

The original Toy Soldiers – released early last year – featured World War I-themed tower defense gameplay with a twist: players could take control of towers to make more effective use of their respective abilities. Not being a huge fan of the genre, I didn't indulge in anything past the trial. This different approach showed promise, however, and all it really needed was a hint of colour and familiarity to click with me. Developer Signal Studios must have been reading my mind, as Toy Soldiers: Cold War is oozing with Eighties action hero bombast.

Red Faction: Armageddon Review (X360): Of mice and men…. and monsters and magnet guns

Save for this year's horrible downloadable release, Red Faction: Battlegrounds: the Red Faction franchise would have to be one of the most consistent in terms of quality. Not to say that any instalment was worthy of great praise, but each has provided me with a challenging campaign, interesting weapons and an enjoyable multiplayer suite. Never "Game of the Year" contenders, but each with enough redeeming features to warrant a purchase. Red Faction: Armageddon continues the trend; delivering a solid, though unspectacular experience, with a bland story, lengthy campaign and a magnet gun.