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12 Things to be Excited About in 2012

By Matt Peters

This year is scheduled to be one of the biggest of note in the world of comics, video games, and all-around geekiness. We here at Pads & Panels would like to give you twelve reasons that 2012 will be awesome. Let’s hope our Mayan overlords don’t return from outer space until we get to experience most of it. Take a look below for some of the highlights:



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#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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Best Video Games of 2011 – Honorable Mentions


Pads & Panels will soon be counting down its Top 10 Video Games of 2011, but before we get to that point, we’d like to pay mind to 10 other games that stood out as top contenders for the year. They were all part of our discussion and all deserve some recognition for their achievements in gaming, even if they didn’t quite make the cut of the illustrious Top 10. All 10 of these titles were games that earned our attention and respect in one way or another in 2011, the list of them effectively serving as our 11-20 choices, presented here in no particular order. (more…)

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Title: Alice: Madness Returns

Platform: 360 (PS3, PC)


Publisher: Electronic Arts

Developer: Spicy Horse

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Rating: ★★★☆☆

American McGee’s Alice was a PC game that perfectly illustrated gaming at the turn of the millennium. Its art style was influenced by Tim Burton’s subverted gothic style — despite beating even him to the punch in weirding up the property, as he would nearly a decade later — and it had the extreme type of gameplay that was really starting to popularize gaming at the time. It hasn’t aged particularly well, but its blend of PS1-inspired platforming with a more mature combat style helped it stand out among other titles in its day.

It’s hard to say if that uniqueness alone was enough for it to deserve a sequel, but its cult status among its fans probably more than likely guaranteed that Alice would once again return to Wonderland, this time with Alice: Madness Returns. Fans of the series will probably find much to love in the game, with its creepy art style, its new game plus and enough collectibles to drive a player mad as a hatter, but ultimately its questionable design choices that pop up from time to time and clear lack of polish will be the true element to drive them insane, albeit in a less enjoyable way. (more…)

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Title: Shadows of the Damned

Platform: 360, PS3


Publisher: EA

Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Rating: ★★★★☆

It’s pretty standard fare by now to know that when going into Grasshopper Manufacture games, the player is likely to find a satirical, oftentimes unique gaming experience with humor and personality to spare, but it isn’t going to be the most polished experience out there. However, I have yet to be disappointed so far with this expectation, and Shadows of the Damned is no different.

In fact, the main thing that I think really pulls people into Grasshopper mastermind Suda51’s games is his way of always spinning a great, albeit weird, story. Well, that and how it factors into his games’ typically quirky “anything goes” approach. The X factor that might draw some otherwise curious gamers into this outing, however, is the involvement of Shinji Mikami, known for creating the Resident Evil series, as well as composer and sound designer Akira Yamaoka, known for his work on the music for the Silent Hill games. (more…)

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Title: Madden 12

Platform: 360 (PS3, Wii, PS3, 3DS, PSP)

ESRB Rating: E

Publisher: EA Sports

Developer: EA Tiburon

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Review by: Bill Jones

In the college vs. pro football discussion, there have always been purists who side with college football because of its focus on young athleticism over the money-hungry pro superstars and the showiness of the NFL. Of course, the NFL has star power, big-time television coverage and endorsements, and a better playoff structure in its corner. But in the world of video game football, it seems Madden’s collegiate counterpart may have finally won the debate.

Over the last two years, I have absolutely fallen in love with the NCAA Football series, from its style of pure football gameplay to its incredibly deep franchise mode and fantastic recruitment process, playing to the strengths of the four-year college rotation, rather than its weaknesses. And NCAA Football 12 gets closer than ever to making the player feel like he is in the coach’s seat. Madden 12, on the other hand, does everything in its power to remind me of why I’m growing tired of professional football. (more…)

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Battlefield 3 Live Demo Impressions

Story by Archie Easter

While at C2E2, I got a chance to sit in on a live demo of Battlefield 3. The rep stressed that it was extremely early and unfinished code, so they didn’t allow pictures of any kind. Using DICE’s new Frostbite 2 engine, Battlefield 3 is now boasting some heavy duty tech to back up its arguably more tactical and compelling gameplay. (more…)

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#4 Mass Effect 2 (360, PC, PS3)

Publisher: Microsoft – Developer: BioWare

Our Review

Mass Effect 2 has earned its spot on this list due its outstanding storytelling, rich characterization and exciting combination of adventure and combat. Additionally, Mass Effect 2 boasts an impressive musical score, a vast array of weapons and abilities that can be tailored to any play-style and a variety of ethical and personal quandaries that players must endure, which essentially guarantees a unique experience with every campaign played. (more…)

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Best Games of 2010 – Honorable Mentions

Creating a Best of List for Pads & Panels is no easy task. It involves everyone putting in feedback, a get-together and copious amounts of drinking, when we argue our cases for what belongs where on the list. Inevitably, fantastic titles don’t make it to the top of the tower, and we’re left feeling bad for not honoring the enjoyment some of these games provided us throughout the year. So that’s where the Honorable Mentions come into play. These are the list of games that didn’t quite make our Top 10, but we think you should be playing them nonetheless. Plus, it’s always kind of fun to make our readers wonder, with titles this great on the honorable mentions list, what is going to make our Top 10. They are essentially our #11 through #20 picks, but are presented in no particular order. Enjoy! (more…)

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Game of the Month – January

Mass Effect 2 (360, PC)

Publisher: Electronic Arts – Developer: BioWare


Mass Effect 2 was chosen as our “must-have” for the month of January because of its superb storytelling, its deep characters and the fact that it is just so damn fun to play. Despite its technical issues, this is a game that can easily consume more than forty hours of a gamer’s life and then get him to do it all over again, if only to see the game from an alternative perspective. BioWare made every attempt to streamline the game and eliminate the flaws that plagued the first Mass Effect, and have succeeded for the most part. For fans of both shooters and role-playing games, Mass Effect 2 is an outstanding game that holds a lot of appeal.

–Dan (more…)