[Kevin Gifford's regular "What The (Game) Papers Say" roundups chronicle the world of video game magazines, this time looking at coverage of Portal 2 and God of War III -- and observing a cultural shift at GamePro. ]
Right-o, let's get straight to business, covering all the game mags of the past two weeks. Apologies in advance if I'm a bit curt for this one -- I'm dealing with a nasty cold at the moment, and my chief motivation right now is "get this done and cocoon myself in bed as soon as possible."
Game Informer April 2010
Cover: Portal 2
info is, of course, all over the Internet at this point. The original GI article is nice and all -- really, it's one of those games where the visuals tell the whole story in the early-preview-coverage stage. I'm not sure that the text answers the one question that, in my mind anyway, should've been asked first: How will Valve take a game based on a gimmick that was just engaging enough to build a 5-hour game around and make it the crux of another, "significantly longer" title?
Otherwise, it's a fairly typical issue for a fairly dead chunk of the year. To make up for the relative lack of games to review, this issue's Connect front section extends through exactly half of the 100-page magazine, although nothing in it grabbed me too violently this month.
GamePro April 2010
George Washington staring at you
I'm not wholly sure that a mugshot of one of our bold nation's founding fathers is Newsstand Gold for a video game magazine, but the article inside about Civilization V
is pretty fantastic. Showing how the main developers got on to the project, it goes over what's new with the game and goes beyond laundry-listing the features and asks the devs some remarkably in-depth design questions. It's like a case history in Game Design 101 -- which dovetails nicely with the rest of the mag, which has a ton of indie scene/game-school coverage.
It may be time to stop saying that articles like this get printed despite
being GamePro, and start saying that it happens because
The "history of NeoGAF" article is also great, despite the fact that my opinion of the forum is closer to Denis Dyack's than most. (I am admittedly bitter when it comes to Internet communities. Keep in mind that I had to deal with the anime community, even grabbier and more ungrateful than their gamer counterparts, for three years straight. It was a full-time job in itself.)
Official Xbox Magazine April 2010
dude staring at you
Fallout: New Vegas is the big story across three Future mags this month, although OXM's Halo: Reach feature is a bit more prominent once you go between the covers, so to speak. OXM also gives full feature treatment to their Final Fantasy XIII review, which is more than P:TOM did -- funny, since PTOM gave it a perfect score (five stars) and OXM didn't (9.0).
PC Gamer April 2010
Fallout dude staring down at you derisively
If I had to choose, I'd say that PC Gamer's New Vegas coverage is a bit better. Both features are the same style, that Future house look with tons of trivia-laden sidebars and all that, but PCG's is a bit more engaging, somehow. Maybe it's their choice of screenshots that's subliminally biasing my opinion.
Best part of this issue: The "MMO tour" piece, which is written in a pretty non-critical tone but still delivers a neat progress report-type look into a selection of online games.
PlayStation: The Official Magazine April 2010
Kratos staring at you
It's an exclusive review of GOWIII this issue, one that extends over 10 pages and uses only 5 screenshots -- each splashed out across an entire spread, the review text woven around the imagery. It's a cool, cool effect; one of the most memorable review article designs I've seen in game-mag-dom.
Fallout: New Vegas has a full-on feature in this mag, too, but GOWIII understandably takes precedence on the cover.
Retro Gamer Issue 74
Ghosts 'n Goblins
Stuart Campbell, who seems to spend his off-days trolling classic-console forums when he isn't busy writing for RG, is back with a big look at all the GnG games, including a WonderSwan release that I wasn't aware of before.
There's also a lovely piece on game controllers, including a sidebar featuring an ergonomics expert calling the Atari 2600 joystick "truly appalling."
Beckett Massive Online Gamer May/June 2010
Spock staring at you
From an interview with the "FFXI Community Team" (exactly who's being interviewed is never identified) to an in-depth feature about what attending a wedding in World of Warcraft is like, this month's issue of MOG makes me wonder if people buy this only for the in-game item codes or what. It's admittedly not all bad, though -- a feature on the Chinese online game industry is focused on user share and financials over boring game descriptions, and it makes for much better reading as a result.
This is the GDC issue -- you can tell because the mag's suddenly over 100 pages long -- and the cover this time around foreshadows Uncharted 2's major wins at the Game Developers Choice Awards a few days back. The postmortem is nice, but even better is the return of "Coding Tricks," small anecdotes about hacks and kludges game devs have devised to get their stuff to work. I'm just
technically oriented to understand it all, and some of it's downright hilarious.
[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]