What I Liked At E3 (And Didn't), By Brad

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Brad

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Edited By Brad
In lieu of a fancy-shmancy comprehensive E3 awards feature, we're opting to each name our personal picks from the show last week. First, I'll say briefly the new hybrid format was a big success in my eyes, with its moderate crowds, exciting-but-not-frustrating show floor, and downtown LA-centric events. I'm sure we'll get a clearer picture from publishers over the coming weeks of how valuable the format was to them, but as an attendee, I loved it.

OK, games.

Favorite Games--Sequels Galore


I hope it's not too rote or predictable for me to say that most of the games that really got me excited at E3 this year were sequels to previous games I already liked. This really seemed like a year for developers to iterate and improve on the work they've done before--and why shouldn't it be? We're deep into this console cycle, with most developers now creating their second (or third) games for current hardware. So it's only natural that most of them would be figuring out ways to top their own past work, and in some cases, bring it closer to the vision they had and maybe didn't quite fulfill the first time around.

Mass Effect 2: Massive improvements (no pun intended) on the technical end here, including no more of the ugly texture pop-in that plagued the first game, and a frame rate that appears--and purportedly is--locked at 30. The story looks way more savage (you have a new violence option that lets you solve some interpersonal conflicts with force), and BioWare has made some significant improvements to the combat that should alleviate complaints from the first game. Looks like everything a great sequel should be to one of my favorite games this generation.

No Caption Provided
Assassin's Creed II: The first Assassin's had some brilliant, original ideas that were diluted by tedium and a lack of variety on the periphery of the game's design. This one aims to fix that with a greater number of side mission types, more varied combat, and a less-constrained approach to hunting down your targets. Its rendition of Renaissance Venice also looks stunning.

No Caption Provided
Just Cause 2: Ryan and I love to talk about how awesome the first Just Cause was, mainly because it was so ridiculous (and, consequently, fun). But it also had a lot of issues. This sequel amps up the absurdity by an order of magnitude--the sample mission shows you standing on the roof of a speeding car in a shootout with guys in other speeding cars--but looks way more solid on the technical end.

No Caption Provided
Zelda: Spirit Tracks: I'm an unapologetic and huge fan of the first DS Zelda game Phantom Hourglass so I will make no apologies that this sequel looks distinctly like more of the same, with a train instead of a boat. If you liked the last one, you're going to like this. Next!

No Caption Provided
Star Wars: The Old Republic: I guess this is only a sequel in the sense that BioWare's peddling it as "KOTOR 3, 4, and 5!!" I fear it's also the sequel to my MMO-related lack of self-control. I don't need another World of Warcraft in my life, but I will have to at least try this. Maybe it's because I never got burned by Galaxies.

No Caption Provided

Stuff I Wish I Hadn't Missed


Borderlands: Because Jeff won't stop raving about it, because I thought it already looked pretty good at last year's E3, and because it's got that snazzy new art style. Gearbox's Diablo-esque first-person shooter with hundreds of thousands of guns and other pieces of loot looks and sounds like it could be really special

No Caption Provided
Brutal Legend: I've seen a hands-off version of the demo that people were getting to play at E3, but I still would've liked to find out how Tim Schafer's rock monstrosity will actually play. Then again, I know the game's going to be hilarious, so I'm kind of content to wait till October before plunging into it. And on the upside, hey, Ozzy!

No Caption Provided
Scribblenauts: I barely know what this DS puzzle game is about--apparently you can write in the names of objects that would help you complete the task at hand to actually conjure and use them--but it got so much buzz toward the end of the show that I really wish I'd had time to track it down and mess around with it. I see Jeff is just as bummed he missed this game--but we're in luck: the guys at Area 5 did get some time with the game, so take a look.

  

Mickey Rourke: Apparently he signed autographs for an hour at the Bethesda booth, since he's in Rogue Warrior. Mickey Rourke is a badass.

No Caption Provided

Least Favorite Trend(s)


Crazy Long Press Conferences: Note to Sony and Ubisoft: Two hours is way too long for a press conference. We know the PS2 and your tween product lines are successful, we're happy for you, but we don't need to hear about it in a packed auditorium. Reserve your press conferences for big announcements and eye-popping demos of important games. Nintendo and EA, thank you for keeping it concise. Microsoft was somewhere in the middle: long as heck, but also action-packed.

God of War-inspired action games: Aside from the third in Sony's own character-driven combo-fest, games in this style were legion at E3. Darksiders, Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, even the new Castlevania game--all of them fall into this category. I'm sure there are more I didn't even see (I hear WET and Nier may also qualify). It's great news for people who love God of War, I suppose, but that genre is not my cup of tea. More open-world games like InFamous would be appreciated, though. Actually, come to think of it...

Bonus Least Favorite Trend: No InFamous Sequel Announced: So what if it came out the week before E3 and hasn't even proven its commercial viability yet? I'm halfway through my second playthrough of Sucker Punch's excellent superhero game and I'm ready for a new one right about... now.

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Brad

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#1  Edited By Brad
In lieu of a fancy-shmancy comprehensive E3 awards feature, we're opting to each name our personal picks from the show last week. First, I'll say briefly the new hybrid format was a big success in my eyes, with its moderate crowds, exciting-but-not-frustrating show floor, and downtown LA-centric events. I'm sure we'll get a clearer picture from publishers over the coming weeks of how valuable the format was to them, but as an attendee, I loved it.

OK, games.

Favorite Games--Sequels Galore


I hope it's not too rote or predictable for me to say that most of the games that really got me excited at E3 this year were sequels to previous games I already liked. This really seemed like a year for developers to iterate and improve on the work they've done before--and why shouldn't it be? We're deep into this console cycle, with most developers now creating their second (or third) games for current hardware. So it's only natural that most of them would be figuring out ways to top their own past work, and in some cases, bring it closer to the vision they had and maybe didn't quite fulfill the first time around.

Mass Effect 2: Massive improvements (no pun intended) on the technical end here, including no more of the ugly texture pop-in that plagued the first game, and a frame rate that appears--and purportedly is--locked at 30. The story looks way more savage (you have a new violence option that lets you solve some interpersonal conflicts with force), and BioWare has made some significant improvements to the combat that should alleviate complaints from the first game. Looks like everything a great sequel should be to one of my favorite games this generation.

No Caption Provided
Assassin's Creed II: The first Assassin's had some brilliant, original ideas that were diluted by tedium and a lack of variety on the periphery of the game's design. This one aims to fix that with a greater number of side mission types, more varied combat, and a less-constrained approach to hunting down your targets. Its rendition of Renaissance Venice also looks stunning.

No Caption Provided
Just Cause 2: Ryan and I love to talk about how awesome the first Just Cause was, mainly because it was so ridiculous (and, consequently, fun). But it also had a lot of issues. This sequel amps up the absurdity by an order of magnitude--the sample mission shows you standing on the roof of a speeding car in a shootout with guys in other speeding cars--but looks way more solid on the technical end.

No Caption Provided
Zelda: Spirit Tracks: I'm an unapologetic and huge fan of the first DS Zelda game Phantom Hourglass so I will make no apologies that this sequel looks distinctly like more of the same, with a train instead of a boat. If you liked the last one, you're going to like this. Next!

No Caption Provided
Star Wars: The Old Republic: I guess this is only a sequel in the sense that BioWare's peddling it as "KOTOR 3, 4, and 5!!" I fear it's also the sequel to my MMO-related lack of self-control. I don't need another World of Warcraft in my life, but I will have to at least try this. Maybe it's because I never got burned by Galaxies.

No Caption Provided

Stuff I Wish I Hadn't Missed


Borderlands: Because Jeff won't stop raving about it, because I thought it already looked pretty good at last year's E3, and because it's got that snazzy new art style. Gearbox's Diablo-esque first-person shooter with hundreds of thousands of guns and other pieces of loot looks and sounds like it could be really special

No Caption Provided
Brutal Legend: I've seen a hands-off version of the demo that people were getting to play at E3, but I still would've liked to find out how Tim Schafer's rock monstrosity will actually play. Then again, I know the game's going to be hilarious, so I'm kind of content to wait till October before plunging into it. And on the upside, hey, Ozzy!

No Caption Provided
Scribblenauts: I barely know what this DS puzzle game is about--apparently you can write in the names of objects that would help you complete the task at hand to actually conjure and use them--but it got so much buzz toward the end of the show that I really wish I'd had time to track it down and mess around with it. I see Jeff is just as bummed he missed this game--but we're in luck: the guys at Area 5 did get some time with the game, so take a look.

  

Mickey Rourke: Apparently he signed autographs for an hour at the Bethesda booth, since he's in Rogue Warrior. Mickey Rourke is a badass.

No Caption Provided

Least Favorite Trend(s)


Crazy Long Press Conferences: Note to Sony and Ubisoft: Two hours is way too long for a press conference. We know the PS2 and your tween product lines are successful, we're happy for you, but we don't need to hear about it in a packed auditorium. Reserve your press conferences for big announcements and eye-popping demos of important games. Nintendo and EA, thank you for keeping it concise. Microsoft was somewhere in the middle: long as heck, but also action-packed.

God of War-inspired action games: Aside from the third in Sony's own character-driven combo-fest, games in this style were legion at E3. Darksiders, Bayonetta, Dante's Inferno, even the new Castlevania game--all of them fall into this category. I'm sure there are more I didn't even see (I hear WET and Nier may also qualify). It's great news for people who love God of War, I suppose, but that genre is not my cup of tea. More open-world games like InFamous would be appreciated, though. Actually, come to think of it...

Bonus Least Favorite Trend: No InFamous Sequel Announced: So what if it came out the week before E3 and hasn't even proven its commercial viability yet? I'm halfway through my second playthrough of Sucker Punch's excellent superhero game and I'm ready for a new one right about... now.

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#2  Edited By thordain

Very interested in seeing how Borderlands works out.

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addictedtopinescent

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I'm with you on all of this Brad, 

While I love god of war, and bayonnetta looks fucked up enough to justify me playing it, these games are just to repetitive, 
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#4  Edited By CowMuffins

I agree. No more God of War type games.

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#5  Edited By chililili

A bit too soon for inFamous sequel to be announced

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#6  Edited By Death_Burnout

Rourke seems thrilled to be there.

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Seedofpower

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#7  Edited By Seedofpower

mmmmm another year of squeals!

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#8  Edited By Claude

I just finished Assassin's Creed and actually loved it, perfect... just in time for my hype of the sequel. Just Cause 2 looked awesome, base jumping, grapple and parachute again, while shooting, priceless.

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#9  Edited By Luke

Wow, Brad really loves that inFamous... I'm kinda wanting a sequel soon myself as I've already Platinum Trophy'd the game and will probably never play it ever again :p  but there BETTER be a damn sequel !!!!!!!!!!! 

I'm really looking forward to many of these games, especially Mass Effect 2, AC 2, Zelda: ST, and Borderlands (concept sounds awesome and art is badass). 

Just Cause 2 may just be amazing as well.

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WholeFunShow

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#10  Edited By WholeFunShow

Dude, isn't Bayonetta the DMC guys? Forbes (...calling Rock Band a GH knock off...) moment?

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Brad

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#11  Edited By Brad
@WholeFnShow: It's directed by Kamiya, the creator of the first DMC, but GOW is a more relevant reference point to most people these days in my opinion.
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#12  Edited By Curufinwe

DMC 4 sold millions of copies on the 360, PS3 and PC and was released much more recently.

I think I heard Jeff saying he's not a fan of Devil May Cry style games on a recent Bombcast, so I guess Ryan or Vinny will have to do the Bayonetta and God of War 3 reviews.

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#13  Edited By Wright

loving all the stuff I've seen of scribblenauts.

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#14  Edited By JJRage

I'd say WET has more in common with Stranglehold than God of War.

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#15  Edited By ImperiousRix

I definitely am loving how Mass Effect 2 and Borderlands are looking.  Can't wait to play those.
Assassin's Creed 2?  The E3 demo of the first one looked great too, but the game really failed to deliver lasting quality, so I'm skeptical.
And personally, I love hack-and-slash action games like God of War and think Castlevania: Lords of Shadow looks radical.  I really want that game.

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#16  Edited By Sooperspy

Scribblenauts looks god like. You can actually have god ride a skateboard with a shotgun in hand, fighting Cthulhu.

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#17  Edited By saddlebrown

Too soon for the inFAMOUS sequel to be announced, but your rampant love is totally justified. I have already completed my second playthrough and gotten the platinum trophy and I'm still itching to go back and do it all over again.


A better inFAMOUS-related announcement would be a patch to fix all the bugs.
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#18  Edited By tekmojo

Sign me up for The Old Republic. Lots of others out there, but most of them come in the form of sequels. 

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#19  Edited By SenatorSpacer

I think Dante's Inferno and Darksiders look awesome :D

Great list.
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#20  Edited By Alberto777

Good read Brad! Yeah this year is packed with sequels and like you I'm also looking forward to playing some of them since I loved many of their first games.

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#21  Edited By grilledcheez

If Mass Effect 2 makes those changes that everybody is talking about (texture pop / framerate) it will be one hell of a game and probably my favorite game of the year.

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#22  Edited By Death_Unicorn

I am excited for most of these games as well.

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#23  Edited By EgoCheck616

I would have loved an inFamous DLC announcement. It is way too early for a sequel.
At least we got confirmation of an inFamous Home Space. That's cool, right?...

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#24  Edited By lantus

New inFamous storyline as DLC would be AWESOME.

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#25  Edited By Lazyaza

Lots of good games be coming indeed.

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#26  Edited By graf1k

Don't be knocking the new Castlevania! Shit looks hot to me, although if it and MGS Rising both end up being God of War-esque games, that would be a bit strange for Kojima. And even though they are all sequels, I'm with Brad on Massive Epic 2, All Climbing 2, and Jesus Christ! 2. They all look like pretty big improvements over the originals which is all I really ask for in a sequel to a solid game. I just hope AC2 really does mix it up more as the end of the game was really dragged down by the repetition of mission types.


As for the press conferences, if they really have to talk about sales numbers and all that crap, why can't there be an industry meeting on the Monday of E3 week where they blow through all the boring shit for all the number crunchers and buyers and whoever else actually cares and save the killer for the press conferences? Get the stuff nobody cares about out of the way before the night like the Oscars....kind of do.
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#27  Edited By monkie89

Bayonetta is a God of War inspired action game.......?

No. Don't compare proper action games to GoW please.

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#28  Edited By rNilla

I can understand if people are sick of "God of War type" games but should they really stop making them? It seems like that kind of game is just starting to propser. I don't see how they are any more stale than yet another open-world game, yet another first/third-person shooter, or yet another rhythm game. They just need more originality thrown in so it's less of a simple knock-off and more of a progression of the genre.


I would be perfectly OK with not having to perform a quick time event ever again, though.

Oh, and aside from Mass Effect 2 I am very excited about Scribblenauts.
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TheFrostedGamer

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#29  Edited By TheFrostedGamer

nothing wrong with sequels as long as they reinvent themselves to something of higher quality, or remain the same but flesh out the gripes from the original

that being said, ya, lotta great sequels coming this year, good stuff

I might be eating my words, but I'm going to call it early and say Modern Warfare 2 will be game of 2009. Sure, MW2 isn't taking any big departures from what IW has done already, but we all have to face the facts that IW's game engine (and their attention to detail) is of the highest quality. And if you're even remotely interested in FPS's, this game is almost guaranteed already to give you your moneys worth tenfold. I can see Borderlands being good because 1) it's Gearbox 2) it's coop and 3) loot. A pretty winning formula I have to say. The factor with Borderlands is going to be exactly how much content players get to keep the replay value up. Call of Duty World at War: Nazi Zombies has proven that if you make a great coop experience on a great game engine, all you have to do is support it.

Just Cause 2 and Assassins Creed 2 both look like excellent games for anyone who liked the originals and were looking for a more fleshed out, refined version of that.

Not much to say about God of War or the similiar games associated. I sort of look at those games the way I look at a Disney movie. Quality experience, but the replay value just isn't there, and a little too scripted for my taste.

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Aeterna

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#30  Edited By Aeterna

Finally something scribblenauts.

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#31  Edited By McQuinn

God I didnt even think about but they need inFamous 2

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#32  Edited By TOYBOXX

One of your least favorite moments was that Nintendo and Sony had long press conferences? I'd say that the least favorite moment was the lack of games for the Xbox 360. Their biggest reveal was Natal and we don't even know if the camera will work as well as was shown on the videos. Mind you no tech demo what so ever. Sony, on the other hand, shown 364 games in little over 2 hours for all of their platforms. That's impressive in my eyes. Yes a price cut wasn't announced for the PS3 but hopefully the line-up of games for it will prompt people to buy the console. But what do I know. The media has already been clamoring over what was shown for the 360 and everything else was ignored by the media. Great non-biased cov4rage right?

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#33  Edited By maxszy

God I can't wait for Mass Effect 2. I really do wish it was this year but perhaps its a good thing that its not. Gives them more time to polish along with no competing with all those ridiculous other games coming out in the fall.

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#34  Edited By TwoOneFive

wow you really like sequels. 

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Max_Power_

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#35  Edited By Max_Power_

I want an Infamous sequel so bad that i have to ignore the logical part of my brain...

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#36  Edited By Duckbutter

when i first heard about KOTOR 3 i was like :O then i was like :D then i found out it was an MMO and i was like :/
when Trenton said "we got FF14" i was like :O then when it said ONLINE i was like :/
when i saw Brutal Legend i was like :D then when i heard Activision is still trying to shut it down i was like :(

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#37  Edited By Cerza

I'm totally with you on the God of War Inspired Action Games Brad. That style of play was alright at first, but it seems like just about every game that is an action game today falls into this category and I feel it's totally killed it. Oversaturation is never a good thing.

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#38  Edited By Jimbo

I approve of this list.

Another game I'm really starting to like to like the look of is Shadow Complex.  I was never into Metroid or Castlevania, but I think SC looks excellent.

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#39  Edited By Azteck

I'm totally with you on the sequals, especially Mass Effect 2, that game is gonna be totally rad.

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#40  Edited By DarkKitchen

If you can't stop yourself from getting addicted to MMOs I suggest you get some help because its not the MMOs fault

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#41  Edited By crusnchill
@Duckbutter:
Dude! Hilarious comment.
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#42  Edited By Kohe321

Great list

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#43  Edited By eduardo

I hear Darksiders is more Zelda inspired than anything else, but I can't say since I didn't play it.

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#44  Edited By falco_eagle

I can't wait for Zelda Spirit Tracks i loved Phantom Hourglass I've beaten it like 3 times and its still fun
and I also can't wait for Brutal Legend

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#45  Edited By Whiskeyjack

An inFamous sequel would have been nice, but an official mention of Sly Cooper 4 would have been even sweeter. Even if it's teased in-game in inFamous.

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#46  Edited By infekt

I don't think it's really fair to call Bayonetta a God of War-inspired game when it's being made by the original Devil May Cry director...  I understand where you're coming from, as I also don't enjoy the "God of War" genre of games, but I feel like DMC doesn't quite fall into that category; it's more stylish and less button-mashy. 

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#47  Edited By DryPenguin

I think I am the only person who thought that Phantom Hourglass got repetitive and boring.

Scribblenauts has caught my attention as with everyone else it seems.

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darro

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#48  Edited By darro

Ok Scribblenauts is on my radar after watching that sweet demo for it.  To tell you the truth, while I can understand about your lack of enjoyment towards GoW style action-adventures due to so many of them coming, I just find them really fun to play.  X-Men Wolverine: Origins is one I am really enjoying at the moment and looking forward to CV: Lord of Shadows and of course, GoW 3.


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RHCPfan24

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#49  Edited By RHCPfan24

Good choices, Brad. But both you and Jeff are missing something very special. I am speaking, of course, of PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE DIABOLICAL BOX which is going to be amazing when it finally gets released stateside.

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#50  Edited By coolarman

You had the chance to meet Mickey Rourke. Dude you should have went man