6 min read

Analysis: What The (Game) Papers Say - December 2009, Pt. 1

Game magazine veteran Kevin 'Magweasel' Gifford continues his 'What The (Game) Papers Say' round-ups, looking at the month in major game magazines, from a revamped GamePro to Play and beyond.
[Game magazine veteran Kevin 'Magweasel' Gifford continues his 'What The (Game) Papers Say' round-ups, looking at the month in major game magazines from Game Informer to Play and beyond.] It's December, and an extremely unlikely bout of snow in Houston has made me yearn for some idyllic age when it was just me, my dog, some hot chocolate, and a stack of Nintendo Powers by a roaring fire. I have only a couple of those things handy (I'm too afraid to actually try using my fireplace, which has been empty for about a decade), but my attention is diverted right now anyway with all the big and important things going on with modern game mags. For one, this week marks the debut of the John Davison-run GamePro (pictured, right), which released both its January '10 issue and a winter buyer's guide a few days back. Davison is quick to warn that the real changes to the print mag are reserved for next month, but already you can see some of his trademarks. These include features that put developers front and center; reviews that treat video games as forms of expression and rate them more seriously in realms outside twitch playability; that sort of thing. (That and, of course, the classic Euro-mag "sticker peeling off" cover graphic on the buyer's guide. I haven't seen that one lately.) I like what I see in GP's BioShock feature, and if Tae Kim's MW2 review that Davison's touted both online and off is any indication, than the age when hardcore gamers finally read GamePro for non-ironic reasons may be pretty close at hand. Davison faces a pretty unique challenge among modern editors, though, since GP (at 94 pages this month) is the smallest of the U.S. print mags. If he can find a way to make GP's print side unique despite that disadvantage, I'd call him brilliant -- and I think he's up to it. Game Informer December 2009
Cover: 200th issue (8 covers) The second issue of GI's big redesign is also the 200th overall, something they've been celebrating over on the website a fair bit as well. They did not screw around with the cover feature. There are no game features and no retro section in the back of this edition; instead 48 out of the 140 pages are devoted to 200th-issue festivities. Most of it is a "best 200 games ever" roundup which is entertaining but a little predictable -- though I'm admittedly jaded 'cos lots of game mags have done features like these over the years (I helped with EGM's once). The second part, a collection of stats and famous quotes from GI's past, is far more interesting to me, a treasure trove of insightful quotes and hilarious excerpts. (Did you know that GI called the hero of Halo "super trooper Master Sergeant" in their 2001 review?) Other neat bits include interviews with Penn Jillette and the folks behind Spike's Video Game Awards, both of which are on the site now. PC Gamer January 2010
Cover: Star Wars: The Old Republic I didn't get the Holiday '09 issue of PC Gamer in the mail for some reason, and I failed to notice until it was too late to buy a copy at the bookstore. Whoops! But I didn't put PC Gamer near the top of this column just to whine. As officially announced on Saturday, EIC Gary Steinman is moving from PC Gamer back to his old stomping grounds at PlayStation: The Official Magazine, where he'll be EIC. I'm not enormously surprised by this -- it always seemed to me that his true passion lies with the consoles anyway. But he's really reinvented PCG during his tenure, showing how a computer mag can still be engaging and enthusiastic in an age when no computer gamer isn't on the Internet. I hope whoever takes over PCG continues that tradition, and I hope Gary's tenure at PTOM is long and fruitful -- as it should be, 'cos it seems like 2010's really going to be the year of the PS3 (finally). Anyway, this issue is mainly a wrapup for '09 reviews, with two extensive features that both are pretty engaging, although (as even Gary admits) there isn't anything all that original about The Old Republic. The issue's also packed with an Old Republic poster that I'll be putting on my mag-room wall, like I always do with freebie calendars. (The wall's getting a bit cluttered now. It's probably time to pitch the old ones.) Tips & Tricks Video Game Codebook February 2010
Cover: Halo 3: ODST This is the first issue since T&T announced it was segueing to eight-times-per-year publication, and as promised, there are now three strategy guides per edition (ODST, Scribblenauts and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2) instead of two. The mag also comes with a poster for Scribblenauts and one-half of Halo Legends. One-half? "You'll have to pick up our next Codebook to get the other half," says the editor letter. "It'll be worth the wait, though, because when you put them together, the result will be twice as big as the Scribblenauts poster...and there will be another complete poster on the front!" It' innvoative idea, I'll give them that. Edge Christmas 2009
Cover: Dust 514 I had read a bit about this cover game in EON, the Eve Online-exclusive mag I mentioned last month, but Edge's approach is a lot more interesting, showing how CCP is going between Iceland and China with the dev team and how the game will connect meaningfully with Eve. The feature dovetails with the Region Specific section in back devoted to game developers in Iceland, someplace you wouldn't really expect to have a lot of game action, and it's certainly a fascinating place. An extra bit of trivia: The review section brings Edge's first 10/10 of the year, awarded to Bayonetta -- we've had a bit of a decline in scores after the mag gave 10's to three titles in 2007. Play December 2009
Cover: Darksiders or Reflex: MX vs. ATV (2 covers) Both cover features are review/interview packages written by Mr. Halverson. Both are classic Play. Not much else to say about this one. Retro Gamer Issue 70
Cover: Monkey Island A massive roundup for the series is the top offering this month, complete with a few words with co-creator Ron Gilbert. [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.]

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