xbox 360

#6 Saints Row: The Third (360, PS3, PC)

Publisher: THQ—Developer: Volition

The Saints Row series has long been the cartoonish alternative for gamers to the now serious and realistic Grand Theft Auto games. Every mistake GTA IV made, Saints Row: The Third fixes. Everything is over-the-top, from the missions to the weapons and the story. The level of polish elevates it from the previous games in the series. But the best part of Saint’s Row: The Third is jumping into co-op and sharing the chaos with a friend. (more…)

xbox 360

#10 Marvel vs Capcom 3 (360, PS3)

Publisher/Developer: Capcom

This year, Marvel and Capcom took us for a ride with an addition to the mega popular fighting series. A large roster to master, online play and the fast pacing satisfied the fans of the series… up until the follow-up, Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, was released nine months later. (more…)

xbox 360

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…)

xbox 360

Title: Rage

Platform: 360, PS3, PC


Publisher: Bethesda Softworks

Developer: id Software

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Rating: ★★★☆☆

After years of development and hype, Rage has finally hit consoles and PC alike, unfortunately with a resounding thud. It’s hard not to look at the game as a disappointment more than anything else, as it excels at doing everything in its power to underwhelm players, especially knowing how much potential the game has in its possession.

Given id Software’s penchant for developing games heavy on the action and gameplay with the least bit of emphasis falling on the shoulders of the game’s story — one need not look further than Doom for that — it should come to no surprise that the game’s story isn’t exactly the greatest. It wouldn’t even be much of a stretch to say that it makes that of Borderlands look fleshed out, but in Rage’s defense, that partly might be due to the design of the game. Much of the attention is clearly being directed to the visuals and the gunplay, which are far superior to much of the first person shooter competition out there. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to really make up for everything else that Rage has to offer. (more…)

xbox 360

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…)

xbox 360

Title: Bastion

Platform: 360 (PC)

ESRB: E10+

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

Developer: Supergiant Games

Review By: Eric Stuckart

Rating: ★★★★★

Is it possible to reinvent the old school action RPG about the end of the world again? I was more than a little skeptical, but Bastion took the long-standing trope and grabbed me by the ears and made me pay attention and listen, and showed me a whole new world in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

To paraphrase the world-weary voice of the narrator, the Kid wakes up on a floating rock in the sky after the Calamity, a cataclysmic event that much destroyed the planet and caused everything to splinter apart and become somewhat weightless. As he explores what’s left of his part of the world, he finds that paths will build themselves up right under his feet, always giving each of the game’s areas a “more than meets the eye” feel. The Kid eventually finds the Bastion, the meeting place for the residents if anything ever went wrong, but the only one he finds there is the old man, the one who narrates the story. He explains to the Kid that he needs to travel what’s left of the planet to find cores from each of the remaining areas so that they can rebuild the Bastion and use it to attempt to reverse the effects of the Calamity. (more…)

xbox 360

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…)

xbox 360

Title: L.A. Noire

Platform: PS3 (360, PC)

ESRB Rating: M

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Team Bondi, Rockstar Leeds

Rating: ★★★★½

Review by: Bill Jones

Rockstar Games, as a developer and publisher, has been no stranger to pushing the boundaries of the gaming industry. Whether it’s pushing the envelope of what type of content is acceptable in games, breaking open the 3D open-world genre or reinventing the Western, Rockstar has often found itself ahead of the curve, boldly trying new ideas. So it’s no wonder the publisher’s collaboration with Team Bondi is such a riveting success and arguably reinvents what video games can be once again.

L.A. Noire is part open-world, part 1940s Los Angeles recreation, part noir revival, part third-person shooter and part detective simulator. And not only does it excel at all of these things individually, but, more impressively, it excels at bringing them all together in a fantastic manner that feels like something truly fresh for the world of gaming. (more…)

xbox 360

Title: The Gunstringer

Platform: Xbox Kinect

ESRB Rating: T

Publisher: Microsoft

Developer: Twisted Pixel

Rating: ★★★★☆

Review by: Bill Jones

In the realm of undead marionette cowboy video games focusing on motion controls, The Gunstringer is the only entry. And that’s why, no matter its faults, the title demands the attention of gamers. But with Twisted Pixel (Ms. Splosion Man, The Maw) behind its development, the unique entry for Xbox Kinect keeps the faults to a minimum and the fun at its max.

The Gunstringer also happens to be the name of the game’s main character, or at least the only name we come to know him by. He is a sheriff who was betrayed by his posse and killed. Only, The Gunstringer is simply a marionette, and the story takes place on a theater stage which is framed by a live-action audience. The player takes the role of puppeteer, lifting The Gunstringer to start the game, as he crawls from his grave, now undead and bent on revenge. (more…)

xbox 360

Title: Dead Rising 2: Off the Record

Platform: PS3, 360, PC


Publisher: Capcom

Developer: Blue Castle Games

Rating: [3 out of 5]

Review by: Matt Peters

Frank West is back. The reason that last sentence wasn’t punctuated with an exclamation point is because it’s been happening so frequently as of late. Between Dead Rising 2’s DLC and fighting games, we’ve seen plenty of the war-torn photographer. Off the Record marks the first time Frank’s been in a starring role since the first Dead Rising, and time has not been on his side. (more…)