Meet Pinhead. He is the colourful, slightly deranged fruits of my first Modnation Racers labour. Initially built in the free demo available to all on the PSN Store, the full game of ModNation Racers recognised that I’d already used their comprehensive suite of creation tools – which in fact was only a smidgeon of what I’ve subsequently found to be available in the retail version – and imported him for immediate use. It’s a thoughtful touch that immediately casts a positive light on United Front Games’ stab at the ‘Play. Create. Share.’ mantra that LittleBigPlanet so expertly established. And , judging by the handful of hours I’ve sunk into ModNation Racers, it is a positivity that is only tempered by a few creeping doubts.

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Three hours in and I can make two sweeping assertions about 3D Dot Game Heroes: 1. It has the Worst Game Title In The World… Ever and 2. It is the Most Meticulous The Legend Of Zelda (NES) Clone… Ever. You might think that these are both undesirable monikers, and in the case of the first, it is. Seriously, who came up with ’3D Dot Game Heroes’? It sounds like a lazily-scribbled line for the game’s basic premise right back in its concepting phase – how it stuck is anybody’s guess. Of course, it could be a brutal translation from an awesome Japanese title that has no equivalent in the English language. Plausible, but unlikely. With regards to the second claim, however; it may be a meticulous clone, but that’s some source material. As T.S. Elliott once said, “Talent imitates, but genius steals.”

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As readers of my over-verbose discourse on all things videogames will testify, I am rarely lost for words. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger leaves me lost for words. A snapshot of Japanese insanity, conched in a beat ‘em up whose mechanics I have barely penetrated after a few hours play, BlazBlue both baffles and intrigues. With knowledge of fighting games stretching no further than the ubiquitous Street Fighter series, BlazBlue represents a bold step into the unknown for me, and it’s very fortunate that the Limited Edition of BlazBlue comes with a DVD stuffed full of tutorials on how to master its intricate complexities.

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I can say, with absolute conviction, that Final Fantasy XIII has the finest-looking CG hairstyles of any videogame, ever. Any, more useful, assertions of the merits of Square Enix’s latest instalment in a long, long series may have to wait for the review, which in itself may be a long time coming. I’m over five hours in and after each one of those hours, enquiries as to how I’m enjoying Final Fantasy XIII have been met with answers along the lines of ‘I don’t know, it hasn’t really started yet’ or ‘I haven’t really done anything so far’. I’ve merely been pressing forward down what is essentially a linear, elaborately-dressed corridor, dispatching waves and waves of identical enemies by repeatedly stabbing the ‘X’ button, watching at least an hour’s worth of cutscenes and repeating ad infinitum. I’m tempted to say that, so far at least, Final Fantasy XIII has bored me silly, but at the same time, I still keep coming back to plug just another half hour into it with each play session.

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a·gape1 /uh-geyp, uh-gap/

adverb, adjective

1. with the mouth wide open, as in wonder, surprise, or eagerness: We stood there agape at the splendor.
2. wide open: his mouth agape.

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After a week’s break between the end of the demo and the release of the full game, the addiction has set in again. The single player campaign has been completely ignored for the multi-faceted, frenetic warfare that comprises the online multiplayer, and the best part of twenty hours has passed in the blink of an eye. During that time, preferences have changed – I now find myself picking the Medic class, whatever the situation, with my favourite class in the demo, the Engineer, a distant second. And then there’s the inevitable comparisons with the monster that is Modern Warfare 2, and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 will divide opinion as to which is the better game. For me, the answer is clear cut. This is a CoD-killer.

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Although it was never quite going to match up to the Modern Warfare 2 juggernaut for sheer depth, Digital Extremes’ multiplayer component for BioShock 2 feels like a missed opportunity. It introduces some innovative features that really lend it its own personality, retaining the essence of Rapture and the BioShock universe, but poor balancing, ropey animation and lacklustre maps let the whole thing down.

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