Davis’s Five Highlights of 2012

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As 2012 comes to a close, we look back at the games released this year. While everyone wants to point out the obvious “best games,” there are others that stand out this year and deserve recognition. Here are the five highlights of the year for me, even if they aren’t the epic, Hollywood production titles everyone looked forward to all year.

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[Review] Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward (Vita)

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It certainly is amazing how much our true nature reveals of itself in the tightest of situations. Under every day, pedestrian conditions, we all bear social masks that hide our true nature and intent behind every action. However, in the most secluded location, where our actions will not and cannot be judged, how would we act? Though we put so much effort into maintaining a public front, under stressful situations, we no longer have the mental stamina to maintain that front and our most embarrassing, malicious, and secret natures are bared for all to see. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward explores that notion and does a wonderful job of making players question others and themselves, even at the notion of a virtual death or killing a virtual companion.

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[E3 2012] Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed Preview

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Mario Kart dominates the niche genre of casual racing games. Sega had their first game in this genre with Sonic & All-Stars Racing, and now Sega is taking their second shot at it with Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. We were given the opportunity to try out a few levels at E3 and see what this newest installment is all about.

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[E3 2012] Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Preview

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Out of all of Square-Enix’s franchises, Kingdom Hearts is arguably the one that’s been around the block the most. There has been a different version available on practically every portable device since the series’ inception, and now it’s about to hit the Nintendo’s 3D portable. With a little over a month before its release, we check out the game at E3.

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[E3 2012] Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Preview

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Often with music rhythm games starting from the days of Dance Dance Revolution, players have pined for either licensed authentic music from artists ala the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series or tracks from other video games. Alas, the call for the latter has been answered with Square-Enix’s Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.

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[Review] Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D (3DS)

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Hideo Kojima’s titles have always made an impact once they’re released for several reasons; not only are they well crafted, but they also push a console’s limits to show both technical prowess and imbue games with exciting new gameplay features. When Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was first released in, it had already turned heads for its meticulous systems that required gamers to do more than just sneak around enemies. With its rerelease on the 3DS, it delivers the same great experience on the portable and in stereoscopic 3D.

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[Review] Tales of the Abyss (3DS)

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While many view RPGs as the embodiment of gaming tedium, action RPGs tend to disprove that with a mixture of action, player controlled gameplay and menu-centric character customization that keeps many RPG elements fans while attracting a new group through its action oriented gameplay. While western RPGs like Fallout and Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning have blurred the lines already and practically destroyed any notion of a special “action-RPG” genre, J-RPGs still keep it pretty clear cut. The Tales series has been at it for a while already and delivers once again with Tales of the Abyss for the 3DS, which will hook players in with both its combo-based attacks and anime-like presentation.

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[Review] Tekken 3D: Prime Edition (3DS)

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When gamers think of Nintendo’s portable systems, they hardly think of them as hardcore gaming devices anymore. They’re even less likely to associate it with fighting games, which are probably the epitome of hardcore gaming with its focus on both dexterity and strategy. Even with Capcom’s Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition, which recreated the console’s gameplay almost perfectly, players still had to deal with the system’s inadequate d-pad. Namco Bandai takes its own shot with Tekken 3D Prime Edition and succeeds just as beautifully as Capcom in offering on-the-go fighters a genuine fighting game experience, if not better.

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[Hardware Review] Circle Pad Pro for the 3DS

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While the 3DS has decent control options in contrast to its analog stick-less predecessor, the DS, it is shallow in comparison to console controllers or even the upcoming Vita’s dual analog sticks. With the Circle Pad Pro, however, Nintendo  not only added an additional analog stick, but additional shoulder triggers  as well that make the system’s configuration a rival for any console controller.

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[Review] Resident Evil Revelations (3DS)

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As powerful as handhelds have become over the years, they have been unable to recreate the console experience for some of the more complex games. In particular, the Resident Evil series has never received a proper port, with only a few random mobile games under its belt. Now, with the 3DS and Resident Evil Revelations, it seems as though the series will actually be done justice.

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