Andrew Passafiume

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It’s a column shake-up! Andrew Passafiume steps away from New Game+ for a week to explore his emotions in Serotonin.

I’m a sucker for good mystery novels, especially pulpy noir stories. I grew up reading Joan Lowery Nixon and eventually graduated to the big leagues: Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and many others. This is why I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Murdered: Soul Suspect. I wasn’t optimistic about it, but it gave me the vibe of a cult classic in the making.

Playing through it made me realize why mysteries in games are even more satisfying than novels or films. Those stories are about the mystery, sure, but you are only a mere witness. Games, such as Murdered, make the act of solving these mysteries compelling in and of themselves. Sure, you want to know what’s really going on, but being tasked with figuring it out on your own is what makes the mystery truly shine.

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In From Pixels to Polygons, we examine classic game franchises that have survived the long transition from the 8- or 16-bit era to the current console generation. This time, Andrew Passafiume and Lucas White look at Ninja Gaiden, the classic Tecmo action series.

Few series have made as painless a transition from 2D to 3D as Ninja Gaiden. It began its life as a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly addictive) 2D series before becoming a notoriously difficult (yet surprisingly complex) 3D series. Boiling down Ninja Gaiden’s formula like that doesn’t do the series justice, however, as there is a multitude of small, yet meaningful changes made along the way.

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When attempting to recreate historical events in video game form, few actually succeed, often relying on a base understanding of history in order to provide a well-rounded experience appealing to a broader audience. These games seemingly sacrifice accuracy for entertainment and potentially lose something in the process. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts is a title that surprised me for a multitude of reasons, but its focus on utilizing historical facts in an otherwise-fictional representation of World War I is what stood out to me the most, creating an experience that felt authentic despite its cartoonish exterior.

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Ubisoft’s recent push towards releasing smaller, downloadable titles alongside its big hits has been a positive step in the right direction. It began this trend with Child of Light and is continuing it with Valiant Hearts: The Great War. Utilizing a striking art style, provided by the publisher’s UbiArt framework, Valiant Hearts covers a time in history rarely presented in the medium and, thankfully, does so with a level of sophistication you don’t often see in games about war.

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The rise in popularity of games like Dark Souls and indie titles such as 1001 Spikes seems to indicate people love challenging games. Yeah, I know, I’m stating the obvious here. To me, these games represent a challenge that requires more patience than I will ever have, but there’s more to it than that; I do like Spelunky a ton, after all. It’s more about coming to realize that challenge doesn’t matter to me. A game’s difficulty, specifically if it is considered “too easy,” might appeal to me more than your average Dark Souls player, for example.

It’s not that I seek out “easy” games or even actively avoid any titles celebrated for their high difficulty. Simply put, I find more value in titles for what they try to accomplish, not how difficult it is to accomplish it.

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It may come as no surprise to anyone that we love being excited about games and this year’s E3 had plenty of those and then some. Here are the handful of titles we saw at the show that made us excited for this year and beyond.

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Adventure games have taken many forms over the genre’s long history, with recent efforts including the crowdfunded Broken Age and more big-budget affairs such as L.A. Noire. Airtight Games’ new title, Murdered: Soul Suspect fits into the latter category. It features a small, albeit detailed, environment to explore and plenty of puzzles to solve and ultimately becoming a modern take on a classic genre. The twist? You play as the ghost of a detective attempting to solve his own murder case.

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Remember E3 2012? Okay, yeah, you probably don’t. It was the year before the announcement of the now-current generation of consoles, leaving us with another slew of games for our old machines and ultimately turning the show into a bit of a slog as a result. One game stood out and surprised just about everyone though, and that game was Watch Dogs. It was a brand new, original title from Ubisoft, and the reveal trailer was something to behold.

Not only did it seem like the first “next generation” title technically, it was conceptually brilliant as well. Sure, some groaned when Aiden, the main character, inevitably pulled out a gun to deal with some adversaries, but the potential for something different was there.

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Following Sony’s huge E3 conference last year, the studio had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, they delivered with some surprise reveals, including a new From Software game and LittleBigPlanet 3. Read further for that plus news about PlayStation Now and the PlayStation TV, and much more! READ MORE

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Ubisoft’s new open-world action game, Watch Dogs, has generated a lot of buzz in the two years since its initial reveal. Originally positioned as one of the first (if not the first) big titles for the next generation of game consoles, it has drawn the focus on many, even months after its initial delay. It’s almost impossible to live up to those expectations, yet Ubisoft has tried its best to make it stand out among a sea of similar, well-liked games.

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