Ben Richardson

Watching the detective

Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr. deliver an entertaining Sherlock Holmes
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FILM Like many movies to come before it, and surely many to come after, Sherlock Holmes is completely misrepresented by its trailer. The producers were understandably eager to get butts in the seats on Christmas, and for modern audiences, butts in the seats means fists in the face during commercial breaks.Read more »

Some kind of mastodon

DECADE IN MUSIC: Out of the rap-rock toilet and into the fire — the decade in metal
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119-metal.jpg
Guardian illustration of Mastodon's Brent Hinds, Dimebag Darrell, and Metallica's Lars Ulrich by Matt Furie and Aiyana Udesen

DECADE IN MUSIC When Limp Bizkit took the stage at Woodstock '99, its sophomore album, Significant Other (Interscope/MCA), had been in stores for a month, debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Read more »

No escape from Azeroth

Five years in, World of Warcraft is still bigger than Chad
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World of Warcraft
Blizzard Entertainment (PC, Mac)

Most games don't celebrate anniversaries, nor do they last long enough to celebrate five. World of Warcraft is so unlike most games that its recent milestone seems like just a pit-stop on the way to its 10th, or 15th year. Produced by Blizzard Entertainment in Irvine, the Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game (MMORPG) has rewritten the rules of the possible when it comes to computerized entertainment, smashing records of size, scope, and popularity with every new press release.
Since it debuted Nov. Read more »

Merry mayhem

Holiday Guide: Gifts for gamers
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arts@sfbg.com

Though gamers will have plenty to choose from, 2009's holiday shopping season is defined in part by the titles that won't make it to store shelves in time. Read more »

Gun-derful

Borderlands is one of the rare games that inverts the current surface over substance paradigm
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Borderlands

(Gearbox, 2K Games) XBOX360, PS3, PC
Video games are a remarkably derivative medium, recycling old tropes and exhausting cliches. This is made more frustrating by the industry's relentless hype machine, which trumpets newer, better, more unfamiliar games, only to deliver tired titles bound up in a patina of pretty, cutting-edge graphical distraction.

Borderlands is one of the rare games that inverts this paradigm. Read more »

Saviours

GOLDIES 2009: Hewing to the life of rock 'n' roll kings with an almost philosophical dedication
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Saviours had their backs against the wall. Their new album was languishing without a title, and their record label was threatening to banish its release date to the wilds of 2010 if they didn't think of one — by the end of the day. Suggestions like "The Shlong Remains the Same" went nowhere. In these dire circumstances, it took a snippet of half-remembered conversation to germinate the perfect name, one that would encapsulate the band on-stage and off. On Oct. Read more »

Brütal odyssey

Game designer Tim Schafer rides a heavy metal road to Brütal Legend
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>>Read Ben Richardson's full interview with Tim Schafer here

arts@sfbg.com

GAMER "The first time we pitched it, they wanted us to change the genre, to make it about country or hip-hop or something."

Game designer Tim Schafer is sitting in his SoMa office, in his favorite chair — appropriately, a rocking chair — and talking about his masterpiece. Read more »

Gooooaaaallll!

FIFA '10 kicks it up a digital notch
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FIFA '10

Electronic Arts (XBOX360, PS3, PC)

GAMER Soccer is the world's most popular sport, so it follows that soccer video games are among the world's most popular games. With such a mammoth amount of cash on offer, the battle to be the planet's premier publisher of simulated footy boasts extremely high stakes. Read more »

Autumn with Xbox

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Legend (and other games) of the fall
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GAMER The fall release schedule lacks the marquee names and rabid hype that defined the previous year in gaming, but thumb-callused consumers everywhere should have much to look forward to following a summer of ho-hum titles.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (Infinity Ward/Activision), PS3, Xbox360, PC After farming out a by-the-numbers semi-sequel, Call of Duty: World at War, to developers Treyarch, Infinity Ward has redeployed. Read more »

Happy trails

Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood slings past its many faults
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Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood

(Techland, Ubisoft; PC, XBOX360, PS3)

GAMER Though the cowboy is a quintessentially American hero, the Western genre has flourished in the hands of foreigners. Famous for his "Dollars" trilogy, Italian director Sergio Leone was one of the many European filmmakers who reinvented and preserved the form, even as it became unfashionable in the U.S. With this in mind, the efforts of Polish developers Techland in creating Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood are impressive, but less surprising. Read more »