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In-Depth: What The (Game) Papers Say - June 2010, Pt. 1

In this round-up, magazine veteran Kevin Gifford takes an analytical look at the latest video game magazines, including GamePro, Official Xbox, and more, all of which are currently trying to squeeze in all the E3 hype they can.

June 8, 2010

5 Min Read

Author: by Kevin Gifford

["What the (Game) Papers Say" is a weekly column by Kevin Gifford which documents the history of video game magazines, from their birth in the early '80s to the current day. This time -- an analytical look at the latest video game magazines released in the last couple of weeks.] Some apologies are in order before I get started. Back last month, I saw that the developer feature in the June PC Gamer covering EVE Online's CCP Games had no byline and therefore assumed that the piece was borrowed from the mag's UK edition. I was wrong -- as EIC Logan Decker's informed me, it was actually written by Josh Augustine, associate editor at PCG US and obviously a fine gentleman if this is the output he's capable of producing. Sorry about that, Josh. Anyway, on to the mags that crossed my desk over the past two weeks. It's that awkward time for the print side of the business, with many of the big pre-E3 announcements taking place long after the deadline for June/July issues has passed and not a heck of a lot else going on to cover. Let's see how each publication tackled this sticky problem: Official Xbox Magazine July 2010 oxmus-1007.jpg Cover: Call of Duty: Black Ops OXM, I suppose, has it the worst out of all the mags this month -- they (along with most in-the-know gamers) mostly know what Microsoft's E3 lineup will be like already, but they can't talk about it in real detail quite yet. Instead there's an interview piece about Halo: Reach's multiplayer, one that goes into a great deal of depth on the dev team's beta experiences, and a few features on not-quite-AAA titles like Guitar Hero 6. The Black Ops piece is a lot neater than I anticipated, though, recapping the series and explaining why the new game isn't necessarily Modern Warfare 2's kid brother. The original piece of the month -- a simple recap of interesting indie game stuff -- is also surprisingly nice, thanks chiefly to its design. PlayStation: The Official Magazine July 2010 ptom-1007.jpg Cover: Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood PTOM has it a bit better than its Xbox counterpart this month; indeed, the cover piece is the most novel of the crop in this column, from the design to the sheer amount of enthusiasm with which the text is written. I also like the "fun" pieces in this issue more than most. Up front, there's a bit with a mo-cap actress from Heavy Rain, who's rather sexy and pretty frank about the sorts of silly things she had to do for the sake of nerds passing their lonely Saturday nights. Later on is a piece by Mitch Dyer where he has his mom gauge his choice of PS3 titles -- a lot funnier than it sounds, I promise. (It's also illustrated by Robert Cortez, who was the art guy and one of the main creative spearheads on PiQ, my old magazine. There -- that's my requisite PiQ name-drop for the month.) GamePro July 2010 gp-1007.jpg Cover: Killzone 3 The cover piece is the one that's gotten the most discussion on the boards, and it's a nice one, even if it does let the pretty pictures do much of the talking. I've noticed that GamePro's art layout tends to be devised around spreads instead of individual pages. Features (like the piece inside on piracy, or the other one on the psychology behind rampant online fanboyism) take a basic idea for a spread and repeat it for every spread after the opener. This works well, for the most part -- the piracy article is interesting in no small part because of its neat art, a series of iconic images modeled after warez-related buzzwords -- but the interview with veteran designer Dave Jones gets a tad annoying to read because its circular design is hard to follow and it repeats three times through the article's eight pages. Otherwise, the usual good stuff. I never would have thought a year ago that GamePro would be publishing columns about whether it matters if games are art or not, or the status of LGBT equality in the industry -- both of which figure in this issue. Game Informer June 2010 gi-1006.jpg Cover: Gears of War 3 This issue is a little long in the tooth by now, and I apologize for not covering it sooner. It's pretty much your typical GI -- a cover feature that's spoiled by forums long before you read it and doesn't say a heck of a lot more than the online synopsis anyway; a much more interesting secondary feature (this one on LittleBigPlanet 2, a bit less "homer" than Edge's and more in-depth on the game experience), and a couple of long-form previews to round out the pages. There's also the front section, of course, and my favorite bit from it is a piece by Jeff Cork about the bad habit many gamers have of pushing their hobby on their kids, friends, and so forth. GamePro Special Summer Issue gp-special-1002.jpg GP's specials have been fully Davidson-ized in terms of art design, which is both neat and a little funny, especially when you see that cutting-edge look applied to all the younger-skewing games in this issue. It's interesting to me that GP charges $4.99 on the newsstand for this while Future specials are always $9.99. Even Tips & Tricks is more expensive these days. [Kevin Gifford used to breed ferrets, but now he's busy running 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 of publishers and game companies.]

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