California Literary Review

Video Games

A Throne of Games – Volume 3 – A Storm of “S” Words.

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June 29th, 2013

When last we left the historie of the consoleflict, King Atari had perished in madness and the kingdom of console gaming fell into chaos and disarray. It was a wasteland. No one purchased new consoles, and merchants refused to sell them. For all intents and purposes, the idea of video gaming as a central activity […]

Video Game Review: Crysis 3

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March 6th, 2013

Walking into the ruins of New York for the first time is a visceral experience. It’s a beautifully designed and well executed dystopia. Individually rendered grass, leaning skyscrapers, gorged and festooned with jungle.

Putting the Assassin’s Creed Franchise Under the Knife – Part 2

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March 5th, 2013

I want to forgive Assassin’s Creed for getting so far away from its original, fairly flawed, but still rather fascinating first entry. Presumptuous of me I know, but as a guy who’s spent over $200 bucks (and as many hours) on this series, I think I’ve at least paid for the right to toss in these two cents about how Ubisoft would convince me to do just that.

Video Game Review: DmC: Devil May Cry

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February 17th, 2013

For in this remixed rebirth of DMC, Dante’s brash attitude is retained, but it’s now speckled with the punk rock edge and reckless nihilism of Sid Vicious. His nemesis, the Demon King Mundus, is no longer cartoonishly summoning an army from Hell for the sake of capital “E” Evil, as he already controls the world through the far more sinister forces of leveraged debt, addictive energy drinks, and agenda driven 24-hour cable news.

Backlog Video Game Review #3: Far Cry 3

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January 27th, 2013

You can’t make Apocalypse Now with an MTV cast.

Backlog Video Game Review #2: XCOM – Enemy Unknown

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January 24th, 2013

This ability to win battles but lose the war, especially on the higher difficulties where the combat quickly becomes very unforgiving, creates tension for every decision you make, really nailing the sense that you’re managing a war effort. Combined with permanent death for your soldiers and you have a game weightier than a lead lined coffin and more engaging than a shotgun wedding.

Backlog Video Game Review #1: The Walking Dead

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January 17th, 2013

With their licensed tie-in to Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, Telltale proves once again that worthwhile emotional experiences in gaming have nothing to do with fancy graphics requiring billion dollar budgets, but everything to do with well-crafted narrative and smartly written characters that you give a damn about.

Tiger Woods Needs to Start Thinking in Portals

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January 6th, 2013

The Portal franchise is a beautiful anomaly of the gaming world – the Coup de Ville hidden at the bottom of a bloodthirsty, often mindless Cracker Jack box. Just how did a non-violent puzzler become one of the most recognizable brands in gaming? And what can stagnant genres learn from it?

Putting the Assassin’s Creed Franchise Under the Knife – Part 1

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November 23rd, 2012

The word “Assassin” in the title is increasingly becoming the biggest lie in the series, and unless Ubisoft’s going to change the name to “Overpowered Swashbuckler’s Guidelines”, they need to take a long hard look at how the franchise has evolved further and further away from the original focus.

Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed 3

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November 14th, 2012

This front of AC3’s story is thankfully stronger, weaving an interesting and refreshingly mature narrative about the nature of family, vengeance, and shifting allegiances during a time of great cultural tumult. It’s also set in the period when the Tri-Corner hat was at the height of its popularity, for all you lovers of 18th century millinery.

Video Game Review: Borderlands 2

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October 7th, 2012

At some point, perhaps in the middle of a gun battle against bandits protected by shields reinforced with angry midgets or while firing your talking sniper rifle that guilt-trips you whenever you fell any of your disposable foes out for your equally disposable head, you realize that sanity was thankfully left off of the “things to include in our game” checklist. Every other mission presents you with a ridiculous goal or scenario of utter parody – a favorite being a mission to shoot an evil sheriff without killing her deputy – and if you tried counting the myriad pop-culture references and shout outs in the quest text, throw away lines of dialogue, and background art alone, you’d end up with a number higher than the national debt.

Setting Fallout 4 Pt. 2 (of 2) – On The Road Again!

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September 20th, 2012

For what I’m discussing today is nothing short of pure, unadulterated (but hopefully still informed) speculation! The time-honored tradition of fans everywhere! That of looking at something I enjoy the hell out of and going, “Hmmm, what if this were to happen next?”

So in this spirit, I’m going to hop into my rebuilt Chrysalis Highwayman here, and take a virtual road trip through a post-nuclear America!

Video Game Review: Mass Effect: Leviathan and Extended Cut DLCs

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September 17th, 2012

The premise itself is sinister; an elusive entity called the Leviathan proves all too tempting a lure for Commander Shepard, who believes that whatever it is, it can help the galaxy triumph in the war over the Reapers. To go into more detail would give away too much about the Leviathan’s nature; suffice to say this DLC ramps up the creep factor and provides a chilling entry to the Mass Effect canon.

Setting Fallout 4 Part 1 (of 2) – How the West Was Fun

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September 11th, 2012

But to do so would be to miss the point more than your Facebook friend who thinks articles by The Onion are real.

Video Game Review: Sleeping Dogs

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September 4th, 2012

Taking massive cues from Hong Kong action cinema, especially “Heroic Bloodshed” classics like City on Fire and Infernal Affairs (better known in the U.S. for its remake The Departed), Sleeping Dogs has players step into the shoes of Wei Shen, a modern Chinese supercop who fights like Bruce Lee, flips over display cases like Jackie Chan, and shoots like Chow Yun Fat. Wei’s been tasked with infiltrating the Sun On Yee Triad by going deep undercover and bringing them down from the inside.

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