Ben Richardson

Change rejection

AC/DC returns with more of the same: just the way we like it
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AC/DC stormed onto the international stage with a song called "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll). The song was an incendiary introduction to the Australian band's brand of overdriven razor-boogie, and vocalist Bon Scott's nasally shriek cataloged a life of hedonistic melancholy that ended with his death from alcohol poisoning in 1980.

It is rare for a group to write a song so prophetic of the challenges that lay ahead of them, even rarer for an outfit to suffer the loss of a charismatic frontperson and continue to exist. Read more »

Let it reign

Fallout 3 post-apocalyptic retro-futurism is a masterwork of world creation (and destruction)
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Fallout 3

(Bethesda Softworks/Zenimax Media; XBOX360, PS3, PC)

GAMER "War. War never changes." These words have introduced three Fallout games, intoned by narrator Ron Perlman as the camera pulls back to reveal a landscape devastated by nuclear bombardment. The world of Fallout is one steeped in retro-futurism, imagining a history in which the end of World War II was succeeded by rapid technological progress but complete cultural stagnation. Read more »

Doomed balloon

Quantum of Solace doesn't deliver on hype
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REVIEW Quantum of Solace begins with the taut energy of an over-inflated balloon, picking up where Casino Royale (2006) left off with an arrestingly shot car chase on a crowded Italian highway. Read more »

Blunt "Force"

Gamer: "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" offers fascinating but flawed revelations
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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

(Lucasarts; XBOX360, PS3, PS2, PSP, Wii, Nintendo DS)

GAMER Star Wars stories should start with yellow-lettered title crawls. This summer's animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars thought it could do without, and it sucked. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has a title crawl, which is good, because in addition to being a mega-hyped, third-person 3-D action game, it also contains some fascinating revelations about the history of the galaxy far, far away. Read more »

Carcass

The newer wave of British heavy metal
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PREVIEW Besides creating one of the most ungainly acronyms in the English language, NWOBHM, the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, galvanized a global infatuation with metal that lasted more than a decade. Read more »

Colorful, brutish, and short

Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution
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Sid Meier's Civilization: Revolution

(2K Games; Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS)

GAMER Reviewing games means reviewing a lot of sequels. Mainstays like Final Fantasy (Square Enix) remind us that game publishers are the only people besides porn makers willing to append "XIII" to anything, and this fall's Madden '09 (Electronic Arts) proves that gamers are willing to buy the same product once a year, 20 times. Still, repeat installments allow game designers to refine their original creation, often on a much bigger budget. Read more »

Hirocks

Digging up veteran thrash combo Hirax for the free outdoor metal fest, Tidal Wave
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"We're like a cockroach," explains Hirax vocalist Katon W. De Pena early on in our lively recent phone interview. "You can't kill us." De Pena founded Hirax in Los Angeles in 1984, and if his enthusiasm is any indication, the enemies of metal better start stockpiling Raid. Read more »

Ninja binge

Ninja Gaiden II: Gory, glorious, and fiendishly difficult
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NINJA GAIDEN II

(Tecmo/Microsoft Game Studios; Xbox 360)

GAMER It was 1988 when the original Ninja Gaiden began emptying the coin-purses of arcade addicts with its relentless difficulty and catchy soundtrack. Twenty years and roughly eight installments later, the series should be winning prizes for consistency. Read more »

What the hell

Devil May Cry 4
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(Capcom; PlayStation 3, Xbox 360)

GAMER Video games are often pilloried for expressing a particularly juvenile kind of male fantasy, where chain-mail thongs and Kevlar corsets comprise the latest in bulletproof lingerie and mindless, balletic violence is the order of the day. Despite the efforts of more high-minded game designers, every so often a game comes along that confirms the worst of these stereotypes. Devil May Cry 4 is exactly this game. Read more »

Driving reign

Is Grand Theft Auto IV video Jesus?
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Rockstar Games/Take-Two Interactive (XBOX360, PS3)

GAMER Since its April 29 release, more than 6 million copies of Grand Theft Auto IV have been purchased. While Take-Two Interactive is still taking contractor bids on Scrooge McDuck–style cash swimming pools, the gaming press has worked itself into a frenzy, bestowing five-star reviews and expostuutf8g on how GTA IV will revolutionize gaming, culture, and possibly the world.

This hyperbole exemplifies gaming's innate pathologies. Read more »