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Link Roundup for Friday, September 27th: Valve attacks with a vengeance; China lifting its ban on video games; the weird, awesome world of Paradox Interactive; and more…

Steam-Machines

Link Roundup is a collection of links from gaming (and non-gaming) sites all over the internet we hope will spark discussion, keep you informed and up-to-date, and broaden your gaming horizons. It will publish each Tuesday and Friday. Readers are encouraged to send link suggestions to jtmgames@gmail.com. (Although this is gonna be an extra long one because I didn’t put one up Tuesday.)

Valve is unleashing multiple Steam machines next year. The world shakes.

I don’t normally like to link to the “big” sites, since anyone reading this probably checks them anyway, but after this past week’s glaring reminder of widespread gamer immaturity everyone should check out GameSpot’s video on misplaced anger.

China is lifting its ban on video games and consoles. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve just heard a very loud cha-ching.

Please stop comparing real-life to video games.

IndieGameStand is having a rocking big sale until the end of September. They’re associated with Destructoid, and their HUGE members can claim a free game right now. (Including the JTM-favorite Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller!)

What does the New York Daily News think are the three best games of the year so far?

A number of new Africa-centric games are starting to make waves on the continent.

What does ‘serious game‘ really mean?

10 classic games that got a major level up.

Definitely read this article on Paradox Interactive, the makers of the awesome Crusader Kings, whose vice president uses the title Vice President of Business Development and Manager of the Unicorn Division.

In honour of Breaking Bad ending this weekend, here’s a clip of Bryan Cranston doing the voice over for Twin Man on an episode of Power Rangers. What does this have to do with games? I don’t care.

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode 3: The Oracle Review

cognition episode 3 logo

Man alive! Just when I think Cognition’s openings have plateau’d, Phoenix Online Studios fires off another one.  “Cognition – Episode 3: The Oracle” picks up immediately after “The Wise Monkey,” the previous episode. The opening to this installment isn’t as shockingly violent, but holy heck if it doesn’t throw a climax-worthy twist at you in the first ten minutes. Way to keep me on my toes.

In fact, I can say with confidence that “The Oracle” is the best entry yet in the series. It’s the most focused, surprising, and enjoyable. This series has always been good being unpredictable, but this entry tosses some Cliff Lee-curveballs. A few frustrations remain, but generally I’m happy to report Phoenix Online Studios seems to be getting darn good at this. Read the rest of this entry

The Demented, Frustrating World of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller — Episode 2

cognition episode 2 logo

Well you gotta give it Phoenix Online Studios: they sure know how to open a story. The first episode of Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller began in medias res with Erica Reed and her partner bursting into a cemetery in order to take down a notorious serial killer who had kidnapped Erica’s younger brother. It does not end happily. Episode 2 begins with a seemingly innocuous conversation between Erica and her sorta-boyfriend/friendzoned-guy-with-benefits Sully. This innocent interaction takes a dark turn quickly, and Erica is on the trail of yet another brutal serial murderer.

I could pretty much copy-and-paste my Episode 1 review. On the positive side, the story is very engaging; the visuals are top notch for a downloadable title; and the voice acting is consistently great. On the negative, the point-and-click gameplay is very limiting and often frustrating, and the mechanics introduced in Episode 1 — Erica’s psychic powers — are improved here, but remain mostly undeveloped. There are a few addendums to the previous review, however. Most them, unfortunately, negative. Read the rest of this entry

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller — Episode One Review

cognition-erica-reed-thriller

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller — Episode One: The Hangman is the first of a planned four episodes from Phoenix Online Studios. You may have heard their name tossed around a couple of years ago for creating The Silver Lining, a 5-episode spiritual continuation of the classic King’s Quest series (which, I’m happy to report, are some of the very few point-and-click adventures that have ever hooked me). Cognition is Phoenix’s first original IP and — while it does not live up to the estimable King’s Quest series — it’s a great looking adventure with some great storytelling. Read the rest of this entry