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“The Journey is the Reward”

It's easy to hate thatgamecompany and its prominent front-man Jenova Chen. Few in the games industry are willing to attach themselves to the games-as-art movement with quite as much emphasis, and fewer still from larger development companies. Creative directors such as Clint Hocking and Ken Levine are certainly champions of the movement, but whilst their games explore themes and ideas beyond the literal, the games themselves can still be enjoyed from a purely mechanical standpoint by those that choose to.

The final piece of the Gran Turismo puzzle

The search for greater realism with every entry in a series is a noble pursuit indeed, and it’s this dedication that has given developer Polyphony Digital an almost unique reputation in the industry. As rewarding an ambition as it is though, it does limit the amount of changes that they can make from game to game. Over the years, they’ve added tracks, cars, race types, and online play to their seminal racing series, but short of changing the laws of physics, the basic driving experience remains very much the same. The question then is this: Is there anything missing from the Gran Turismo formula that could significantly contribute to the core gameplay?

Conduit 2 and the problems of motion-controlled shooters

As is the case with many of the other games I think about nowadays, Conduit 2 interests me not because of how it works, but because of how it doesn’t. Apart from its stale and unambitious design decisions — which I’ll admit, wouldn’t make for a good article at all — it suffers from many of the same problem as other shooters on the Wii. It simply doesn’t feel right.

Review graphs: Making more out of scores

Review scores have come under their fair share of scrutiny over the years. Many have claimed that any attempt to distil a complex opinion expressed over hundreds of words into a single number is inevitably going to lose a great deal in translation. Others take issue with the way publishers have reportedly been using Metacritic scores to determine a development studio's salary bonuses.

The Fight for the Shooter Crown: Halo vs Call of Duty

Halo: Reach is a game in which you, an anonymous soldier, make your way through linear levels from a generally first person perspective. Your primary interaction with the world around you is through the barrel of a gun, which is handy because everything wants to kill you. Sometimes you come across men that want to kill things that want to kill you. This makes them your friends. You reach the end, credits roll, and then you head online to do much the same thing without the linearity.

Keeping your game: The threat of the trade-in

The war between publishers and retailers is a well-documented and yet strangely ironic struggle. Publishers love the fact that retailers sell their products, but they aren't keen on those very same retailers reselling games over and over. While the publisher gets paid once for the initial purchase, the retailer stands to profit repeatedly. It's no surprise that the conflict continues to this day.

How video games helped me get into Cambridge University

No, I didn’t turn up as an applicant, yell “Do a barrel roll!” and proceed to wait patiently for my letter of acceptance. Although I may not have gone as far as yelling memes in my interview, I certainly mentioned video games. Looking back, I can’t help but think how invaluable this was at setting me apart from everyone else. After all, it’s hard to believe the two professors interviewing people for political science turned to one another at the day’s end and said, “Hey, remember that one guy who talked about politics? He was swell.”

2011 Takes the Floor

Until I actually sat down to write this list I wasn't too excited about 2011 in gaming. There's a palpable sense this year (for me at any rate) of a generation that's fallen into a stride, a generation that's found the boundary of what modern consoles can do, and is quite happy playing within them.

Making the Case for a Video-Game Archive

This week, Paul Wheatley, a specialist in digital preservation at the British Library, expressed an interest in preserving our collective video-game heritage. “At the very least,” he said, “I would like the British Library to provide support to the NVA [National Videogame Archive] based on [its] digital preservation expertise, and I'm hoping we can collaborate further."

Should Developers Listen to their Fans?

You'd be forgiven for thinking that, had the deafening sound of applause not erupted at that exact moment , there would have been an audible sigh of relief from the audience. Here we were, guests at the prestigious BAFTA headquarters, being given a lecture by a man most of the Internet, it would seem, wants dead.

Modding the PlayStation 3: Does Everyone Have the Right to Tinker?

On August 27th, Sony won a court case in Australia to block the sale of a USB dongle that gives users the ability to back up PlayStation 3 games to their hard drive. It's important to note that this wasn't the end of the battle, as it only prevented sales through the end of August. In order to make this injunction permanent, Sony must win another court case.

Who’s to Blame for Nintendo’s Loss?

Digging through Nintendo's first-quarter profit report released last Friday reveals few software surprises. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was, surprise surprise, Nintendo's biggest new release on the Wii, and its DS contemporary was Pokemon Heartgold/Soulsilver. So far, so Nintendo: extremely well-crafted games from established franchises leaving much of the third-party competition in the dust.

Can the Japanese RPG Be Fixed?

Editor's note: Jon's ideas to repair issues he sees with the Japanese role-playing game has sparked a great deal of debate in the comments. Do you agree with Jon that the genre has issues that Japanese developers need to address? Are there problems that he left out of this post? Join the discussion! -Jason

Out of the Kinect-Box

Editor's note: I hate it when gamers write off things without considering the possibilities new technologies can bring to our beloved hobby. I like the ideas Jon lays out in this piece — especially his second point. I know many of you would enjoy watching the histrionics I go through when I suffer a frustrating death in a game. -Jason

Backtracking: You’ll Need the Blue Key to Read this Article

Editor's note: I love games that encourage players to explore their environments rather than merely wade through hordes of enemies; linear experiences can be fun, but they'll never be as interesting as those that require the player to find, and stay, on the path single-handedly. Jon explains his frustration with Doom's approach to exploration and hails Metroidvanias for enticing the player by going the extra mile. -Rob

Grinding on the Names of the Dead in Skate 3

Skate 3 is in my opinion the greatest skateboarding game since Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3. It's taken everything that was wrong with the previous two Skate games, fixed them, and made pretty nominal improvements everywhere else. Its unoriginality may have turned off many reviewers around the time of its release, but this approach has lead to exactly the game I wanted, after having gotten caught up on the admittedly minor annoyances of past games.

Mass Effect 2 – A Review

In many ways you already know what to expect from Mass Effect 2. The sequel to the flawed 2007 original sees pretty minimal changes to all areas of the game, which add up to a much greater whole, easily surpassing the original, and setting a new benchmark for how rpg-shooters should work.

The ‘Big Three’ at E3 2010

E3 2010, if it's remembered at all, will likely be recalled as being the year everyone followed up on their promises. For Nintendo this meant bringing back old franchises like Golden Sun and Donkey Kong, and for Microsoft and Sony it meant filling out the details of their respective motion controllers, Kinect and Move.