Batman: Arkham City is our Game of the Year

Tech-Out conducted a highly unscientific poll of its team of contributors to name 2011’s best game, and “Batman: Arkham City” took the top prize.

Current and former staffers for The Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin newspapers comprised the majority of our panel. We don’t get to cover games full time (I spend most of my days as a business reporter), but we like games and like to share our opinions on which titles are worth playing .

As for Arkham City, here’s what contributor Reggie Carolipio, who also reviewed the title, had to say:

Arkham Asylum resurrected the Dark Knight’s career in gaming in much
the same way that Christopher Nolan’s Batman resurrected his
onscreen legend, and Arkham City delivered even more high-flying
crimebusting and street-level beat downs than its predecessor.
Squeeze in a who’s who of bad guys ranging from the Penguin to
Two-Face, a host of storied side missions, the Riddler, and Arkham
City isn’t so much of a sequel as it is a new chapter in the Caped
Crusader’s career.

We liked other games, too. The runners up are after the jump.
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Review: Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3


Remember what Yogi Berra said about the feeling of “deja vu all over again?”

Check this out: Capcom released Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds in February. The game appeared in stores after a long wait for a retail MvC release, Marvel vs. Capcom 2: A New of Heroes, came out for the Sega Dreamcast (!) in 2000, with the game later being ported over to other consoles.

But it’s Capcom’s style to release multiple hard copy versions of the same game, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is a November release adding twelve new fighters, eight new stages and at least in this reviewer’s experience, an improved online mode. While playing the “Ultimate” version, I didn’t have to wait as long to lose.

Tech-Out liked the the first version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3 for being a game that is for newcomers to pick up and enjoy, but complicated enough for fighting game connoisseurs to appreciate. And of course, the quick, colorful ADD-like gameplay and comic art inspired visuals are also points in Ultimate’s favor.

Capcom’s practice of releasing multiple versions of the same game is starting to get weird, however. Capcom waited more than a full year between retail versions of Street Fighter IV, Super Street Fighter IV and finally, Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. But with Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, there’s only a nine month wait and the game hit stores in the middle of a very competitive holiday release period. Despite its merits, this is a game that could easily be lost in the shuffle.

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Admittedly late review: Dance Dance Revolution

A while back, Tech-Out received a review copy of Dance Dance Revolution. Sun staffer Mike Cruz shared the game with his brother in law Chris Durgin, who produced this review for us.

By Chris Durgin

Dance Dance Revolution for the Xbox360
hasn’t changed much since its debut years ago in arcades across the
world. With some advances in video game technology, such as Xbox
Kinect, there are some interesting questions about why this latest
version of the game was even released.

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Review: Battlefield 3


By Neil Nisperos

I don’t think there’s any shooter out right now that can surpass the
detail and depth of gameplay delivered by DICE’s new Battlefield 3.

While the solo-mode suffers from a rather boring and
uninvolving plot, the graphics and play are truly stunning and keep you
coming back for more.
But it’s the multi-player mode that serves the real meat and potatoes of this game and it’s well worth the price of admission.

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Cable box? Microsoft says “Xbox”

Troy Wolverton at the San Jose Mercury News has a worthwhile article on Microsoft’s plans to market the XBox 360 as consumers’ go-to source for on-demand media:

Through a software update
available Tuesday, users will get access to a swath of new digital
entertainment content, including video channels from the likes of
YouTube, HBO and Epix, and digital music from iHeartRadio. Subscribers
to Comcast’s pay television service will be able to access all of the
company’s on-demand video via the Xbox.

The software update will
also include a universal search feature that will allow users to search
for movies and other content across various digital content providers.
And it will let owners use Microsoft’s Kinect accessory to navigate the
entire Xbox interface. Previously, users could access only a handful of
functions through Kinect.

In other words, Microsoft – as well as Sony and Nintendo – will be competing not only with each other, but cable companies as technology advances. Expect Nintendo’s Wii U, Sony’s (presumed) PlayStation 4 and whatever Microsoft calls its next console to have even more features designed to make their consoles have even more multimedia functions.

The San Jose Mercury News is The Sun and Inland Valley Daily Bulletin’s sister paper.

Review: Lord of the Rings – War in the North (X360)


War in the North takes players back to Middle Earth to fight evil while Frodo and company head to Mordor to destroy the One Ring. Taking place in the North, would-be adventurers will play their part in stemming the tide of darkness waiting to erupt from the cold, wintry holds there.
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Review: Ace Combat: Assault Horizon


“Ace Combat: Assault Horizon” is an enjoyable title, but one that feels as if it could have been much better.

Project Aces, the development team behind previous Ace Combat titles,
achieved mixed results in their attempt to reinvent the Ace Combat series. At its best, Assault Horizon offers an arcade-style flight game with just enough simulator-esque touches to let aircraft enthusiasts imagine they are piloting one of several military jets.

At its worst, however, Assault Horizon suffers from an all-too-obvious attempt to abandon the franchise’s identity in order to imitate Michael Bay-style movie making. In other words, explosions, flashy visuals and loud noises take too much precedence over suspense, drama and personality.

The upshot is that Assault Horizon may please gamers who are hungry for a flight-themed title, but is unlikely to emerge as a must-have during a highly-competitive holiday release season.

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Happy 10th Anniversary Xbox!


Today marks the 10th Anniversary of Microsoft’s Xbox, the console that launched a revolution and raised the stakes in the ongoing war between the gaming giants. To many, most especially its biggest fans, the Xbox brand has proven to be a worthwhile gamble on the part of Microsoft and a tremendous success in ousting rival Sony from the top spot and standing firm in its place as a serious challenger for billions of gaming dollars.

Halo became the killer app that would go on to become a multi-billiion dollar franchise. Western developers would make dramatic splashes through its hardware expanding on what players should expect from a console. Titles such as Bethesda’s Morrowind and BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic would help set the kind of foundations that would eventually propel these and other Western developers into superstardom. And when the Xbox 360 hit, fans only wanted more and Microsoft obliged – though RRODs were far less appreciated. Yet that didn’t even slow the Xbox juggernaut from rolling ahead on multiple social fronts.

Business site, Gurufocus, notes that CFO Kevin McCarthy has stated in a recent conference that its Xbox Live service now boasts over thirty million plus subscribers. Xbox Live was introduced in 2002.

In October, Yahoo reported on Microsoft’s quarterly report revealing that over 57.6 million Xbox 360s have been sold worldwide and remained the “top selling” console in the United States, a place it has held for nine months straight.

With Netflix and a host of other social tools introduced to the console since its inception and building on the Live model begun with the first Xbox, Microsoft’s foray into a high-stakes arena strewn with dramatic risks and billions of dollars has evidently paid off.

Helping to celebrate this anniversary, Xbox Live users get a free avatar prop up until this Saturday. Also, Venture Beat’s Dean Takahashi (Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft’s Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution) has written up a two part piece on Microsoft’s Xbox journey from the first console and into today’s market with the 360.

It’s a remarkable success story that has propped the software company up as a member of the worldwide console triumvirate alongside Sony and Nintendo. As for what the next ten years will do for gaming, who can say? But one thing’s for certain – Microsoft’s Xbox will do everything it can to be there in making it happen.

Review: Rage (Xbox 360)


id Software isn’t known for strong, single player storytelling. They usually leave that to others such as Raven Software. Anyone that has played their games knows that they’re more about eye candy and blistered trigger fingers replacing favorite fictional moments with tales of narrowly avoiding your best friend’s missile punch.

But Rage is different. At the very least, it’s very different for id.
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Review: Batman – Arkham City (PS3)


Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum was heralded by many as the most definitive Batman game ever made up to 2009. It garnered accolades from many and even from the Guinness Book of World Records as “The Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever”. Even with its flaws, it was an enjoyable romp as one of DC Comics’ most iconic characters, though the incredible hype machine had also cast a shadow over the sequel.

Stringing up bad guys on rafters and beating everyone down with the Bat’s martial expertise in a game soaked with as much respect for the source material as it was from the animated series was great fun in Asylum, so getting a sequel was almost a foregone conclusion especially given the ending. Two years later, here we are with Arkham City. And the good news is that it’s polished with the lessons Rocksteady had learned from the first game.
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