Title: Pushmo

Platform: 3DS


Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Intelligent Systems

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Rating: ★★★★½

The Nintendo 3DS really didn’t have that great of a launch, did it? With its poor offerings in terms of launch titles, the lack of an online store for the first couple months, among other problems, for a while there, gamers were starting to think that the Big N’s luck has finally run out. Fortunately, these fears are finally starting to appear as unfounded. Despite being slow on the uptake, Nintendo took some opportunities to make amends with their consumer base by cutting the price of the system, giving early adopters a bunch of free games on the eStore, and most importantly, finally releasing some games worth playing.

With that, we have Pushmo, a puzzle game that hits all the sweet spots that any mobile puzzle game should strive for, and it does it with ease. Not only is it the first great title to hit the Nintendo 3DS’ eShop, it’s a great 3DS title in its own right. (more…)

Heavy Rain Director’s Cut makes a lot out of a little

By Bill Jones

It’s no secret that I love Heavy Rain. (Read the Pads & Panels review here.) I found it to be one of the most innovative games of the last decade, and it earned a prominent spot among our Best Games of 2010. But did it really deserve a “Director’s Cut,” as Sony Computer Entertainment recently gave it? Well, I ask – What else does it offer that the original did not already? Sony’s answer is as follows…

In addition to the original game, the Heavy Rain: Director’s Cut comprises Heavy Rain Chronicles: Episode 1 – The Taxidermist DLC, the Heavy Rain Original Videogame Score, new front-end menu and interface with built-in Move support, a series of eight “making of” bonus videos, three dynamic themes, 15 additional pieces of concept art and two bonus trailers. Let’s break this down. (more…)

PlayStation Vita First Impresions

By Archie Easter

With the PlayStation Vita’s Feb. 22 launch date soon approaching, a new contender is being readied in the collective battle for gamer’s pockets. I recently had a chance to go hands on with Sony’s newest portable at a PlayStation Blog Social Club event hosted in Chicago, and one thing was made immediately clear: The Vita is one serious piece of hardware. (more…)

Title: Sonic Generations

Platform: 3DS (360, PS3, PC)


Publisher: Sega

Developer: Team Sonic, CriWare

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

After so many failed attempts to bring Sonic back to his 16-bit prominence, it feels good to be able to write that Team Sonic has finally created a Sonic game worth caring about again, a Sonic game that boils things down to what we used to love so much about the series, a Sonic that we actually enjoy racing left to right across the screen, a Sonic that successfully spans generations and make us love that blue hedgehog again. (more…)

Title: Super Mario 3D Land

Platform: 3DS


Publisher: Nintendo

Developer: Nintendo EAD Tokyo

Rating: ★★★★★

Review by: Matt Peters

A Nintendo launch without a Mario game just doesn’t feel right. That may be the reason why the Nintendo 3DS stalled out of the gate. That empty space has now been filled, as Nintendo gives us Super Mario 3D Land. With a few new tricks up his sleeve and his signature hat, Mario’s ready to save the Princess again. Fortunately, this adventure was worth the wait. (more…)

Game of the Year

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (360, PS3, PC)

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks – Developer: Bethesda Game Studios

The fifth game in the now well-established Elder Scrolls series, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a game that simply must be experienced. No other game released this year shares such a massive scope or breadth of gameplay. After an impressive initial sequence, players are drawn into a world that has a life all its own and in which the threat of savage dragon attacks looms against a backdrop of a bloody civil war.

Although players will find numerous quests available to them, it is oftentimes the random encounters in the game that are most memorable. Each is full of unique moments that will make for interesting discussions among fellow gamers, and this is truly one of Skyrim’s biggest strengths. The game succeeds in telling a compelling story but also gives the player just enough freedom to make each individual’s journey his or her own. Previous rough areas in the series, such as inventory management, have been given elegant solutions, while side quests are seamlessly interwoven in the main story. There are seemingly hundreds of places to explore. It all amounts in one of the best gaming experiences to be had. (more…)

#2 Batman: Arkham City (PS3, 360, PC)

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment — Developer: Rocksteady Studios

Our Review

Batman Simulator 2.0 doesn’t disappoint, as it hits all the high spots gamers loved in Arkham Asylum and scatters them across an entire sandbox of a city to find. Rocksteady Studios is to be commended for continually getting what makes Batman fun. The double-edged sword here is – even though Arkham City is more robust than Asylum, gamers won’t get that stunning moment again where they realize that finally someone finally got a Batman game right. But the overall quality of the game is vastly improved, making it one of the year’s best. (more…)

#3 Minecraft (PC, Droid, iOS)

Publisher/Developer: Mojang

After years in the making and developing a rabid fanbase, thanks to giving users who preordered the constantly evolving beta, Minecraft finally hit version 1.0 this year. The indie sensation gives gamers a randomly generated world to make their own. Dig up materials during the day and build a homestead and weapons to fight the monsters that show up at night, or hit up some of the dungeons and mine away for diamonds. Minecraft is whatever the player wants it to be. (more…)

#4 L.A. Noire (PS3, 360, PC)

Publisher: Rockstar Games – Developer: Team Bondi, Rockstar Leeds

Our Review

Every year, Pads & Panels list of top games is dominated not only by quality titles but also by a special few that try their damndest to reinvent what we can expect from mainstream games. It’s no surprise that Rockstar Games has found itself perennially among those special few. This year’s offering from the publisher is L.A. Noire. In addition to a ridiculously detailed recreation of 1940s Los Angeles and a plot worthy of its name, L.A. Noire works to reinvent what we can expect from gaming by pioneering facial technology that allowed its creators to add in-depth, emotional interrogations to what might have otherwise been a simple third-person action title. The DLC support for the title cannot be ignored, but even without it, L.A. Noire would stand out as one of the year’s absolute best. (more…)

#5 Portal 2 (PS3, 360, PC, Mac)

Publisher/Developer: Valve

Portal 2 trades the surprise of the first title for anticipation the second time around, but it manages to live up to the hype. While the plot may not be quite as a shocking, it is still funny as hell, with fantastic voice work driving things from start to finish. Portal 2 falters a little in the variety and quality of its single-player puzzles but adds a few new elements to keep things interesting. The real selling point for Portal 2, though, is its new co-op mode. Valve gives us the opportunity to prove that two minds are better than one in a series of much more complex puzzles that involve four portals, rather than two, and seek to drive apart our friendships in the process. (more…)

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