Autumn with Xbox

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Legend (and other games) of the fall

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

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 »

Arm race

Bionic Commando, the first in an ever-expanding series of big-budget 8-bit retreads

Bionic Commando

(GRIN/Capcom; PC, XBOX 360, PS3)

GAMER Reading faithfully from Hollywood's remake-happy script, the game industry has learned to cannibalize its history. Bionic Commando is the first in an ever-expanding series of big-budget 8-bit retreads; Splatterhouse (Namco Bandai) is due out later this year, and more are sure to follow.

Bionic Commando slots you into the futuristic combat boots of Nathan Spencer, voiced ably if bombastically by Faith No More's Mike Patton. Read more »

Undead again

Cooperation's the name of the game in Resident Evil 5

Resident Evil 5

(Capcom; Xbox 360, PS3)

GAMER With sales hovering around the 35 million mark, Capcom's Resident Evil series has become less of a cash cow and more of a cash elephant. Read more »

Meaner streets

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned -- who cares about psychological realism?

Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned

(Rockstar North; Xbox 360)

GAMER Ever since the "next-gen" consoles shipped with capacious hard-drives and easy access to the broadband interwebs, gamers have been paying the price. Read more »

Let it reign

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

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 »

Blunt "Force"

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

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 »

Ninja binge

Ninja Gaiden II: Gory, glorious, and fiendishly difficult


(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

(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?

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 »