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Fans of the classic Gabriel Knight PC adventure series are already aware that game designer and novelist Jane Jensen is one of the medium's most gifted storytellers. Even those who haven't pointed-and-clicked through one of her twisty tales, though, may have recently noticed her name buzzing about the net.

Jane's pulling a Tim Schafer to fund her new studio Pinkerton Road and its first title Moebius. We recently caught up with the master mystery writer to discuss her upcoming projects, her approach to weaving an engaging yarn, and what she thinks of David Jaffe's recent rail against videogame storytelling.

What's your take on the current state of storytelling in videogames?

Jane Jensen: I'm really not an expert as I tend to focus on the games that I like and I don't play widely in other genres. But it seems like it's about what it has always been -- lots of people saying you can't do story, or wondering how it might possibly be done, and then some strong games that just do it. It's been that way since the Infocom days. There have been some good story games out recently and seems to be an uptick in interest in it.

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Steve Sucks at Video Games

While the great masses of other gamers may be into Call of Duty or Halo, I’ve been happily rocking Mindjack with a small, but dedicated collection of online scrubs, losers, and miscreants. I love it, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I stumbled into Square Enix’s third-person action game while researching a column about dead multiplayer arenas. The one-star game has become sort of a joke around G4’s offices, and I was hoping to find an occasional straggler still logging in to this backwoods of the multiplayer world and ask: “Why the hell are you playing this terrible game?” But when I actually gave Mindjack a fair look, I ended up liking it a lot.

Instead of strolling into a virtual ghost town or an unplayable crap-fest, I chanced into a small, but relatively dedicated community of players and a game that is quirky, weird and sort of great.

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A Valley Without Wind

Try to describe A Valley Without Wind, this open world dungeon crawler turned on its head, and you’re bound to forget something.

For anyone looking for a truly unique take on an old standard, try surviving in a world where the game plays against your strengths, taking on randomly generated worlds, and beating the game is only the beginning. Instead of your traditional hack-and-slash, you rely on magic to take on your foes in this 2D post-apocalyptic world where Iron Age collides with the world of technology.

See what I mean? I still haven’t mentioned that you have to build your own civilization or when you die to come back as someone else. Every area presents a new challenge or even a new spell in your ever-growing inventory. Even after hours of playing through it, I still have yet to scratch the surface of this game.

Fortunately for you, I’ll let one of the creators of one of the most ambitious games you’ll play all year, Chris Park, tell you about what it takes to create A Valley Without Wind.

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Disney Epic Mickey 2

Chase Jones is the Design Director on Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, and it’s his job to make sure that all of the moving parts work smoothly together. Are the artists turning in their assets on time? Does the gameplay work cohesively with the story? Is everyone remaining fairly sane? It’s a lot to keep track of, and a big step up from his previous job as Lead Designer on Disney Epic Mickey.

We spoke to Chase when Disney Epic Mickey 2 was announced in Austin, Texas, where Disney’s Junction Point studios are located and headed up by gaming legend Warren Spector. Read on for the full interview with Chase where he talks about what the game holds in store, what changes they’ve made, and the most amazing thing he saw in the Disney Archives.

G4: So, it sounds like your team has been working on this game for quite awhile.

Chase Jones: Ever since the first one wrapped up. I mean whenever you set to finish out a project it’s like, what do we want to do next? So I think as we were deciding to bring the first one to a close, we started talking about this next one. Anything from camera to story, to mechanics; all of those talks began the moment we shipped.

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How To Use The Kinect Features In Skyrim »


Dragonborn, let your voice ring true with the new Kinect-enabled abilities in the latest patch hitting Skyrim. With the DLC already on the way, we thought now would be a good time to test out our dragon shouting skills.

And it works. Instead of having to flip through the menus of Skyrim to switch shouts, you can simply say what you want. Even if you don’t know your OD AH VIING from your STRUN BAH QO, you can simply say what you want from the shout. That is if you can remember the names.

The patch adds support for other actions such as pausing the game or equipping weapons. Here’s where things get a little sticky. Some of the abilities work better than others, and much like the shouts, you need to say exactly what you want or it won’t work. I find that the pause between switching items or weapons gives me a moment to think when I’m looking down the snout of a dragon.

When it works, the Kinect features really make you feel like you’re a part of the action. Missing a shout by a word or waiting that second for the system to try to figure out what the hell you’re saying kicks you out of the experience. Luckily, it’s all for free so you can try it out without loosing a cent.

Warm up those vocal cords. We’re going to war!

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Superman

Why is it so hard to find good superhero games? Why is it that for every bright spot like 2003’s Hulk or the more recent Batman outings, we get about seven mediocre movie tie-ins and a few truly abysmal titles, like the infamous Superman 64 and that atrocious Catwoman game.

Superheroes seem like the perfect subject matter for videogames. Think about it – the entire genre focuses on larger than life characters with special powers, suited to sci-fi or other “genre” fiction, the bread and butter of about 80% of AAA titles. Why, that sounds like a game designer’s dream. Not to mention the fact that there’s a huge crossover audience between folks who like to watch superhero flicks and read comics and people who like to get their game on (read: the ever-so-fickle male 18-35 demographic).

We’ve done a bit of sleuthing to find the biggest constants in strained superhero game-making relations – as well as ways developers can overpower them.

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May the fourth be with you all as we go through some of our favorite Star War games.

Originally, we wanted to highlight the best Star Wars games at all times. But after a couple of bloody noses and some broken friendships, we find that it may be best to cover some of our favorite titles rather than play with rankings and hurt feelings.

And not everyone follows the way of the Jedi (or Sith, you happen to swing that way.) Maybe this would be a good time to catch them up on what’s amazing about Star Wars series. A group of us here also hope that you hold off reading this list of our favorite recent Star Wars games until May 25th, the real Star Wars Day.

Official Star Wars: The Old Republic E3 Trailer »


Star Wars: The Old Republic

Grab your lightsaber and choose your side. This massively multiplayer title gives you just about every a fan could want out of a Star Wars game. You’ll fight your way through the galaxy while making way for the light side or corrupting all you encounter. With so many classes to play as, stories to uncover, and planets to visit; you might just find yourself a little closer to a galaxy far, far away.

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  • Videos
    (6)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

  • Videos
    (6)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

  • Videos
    (6)
  • Screenshots
  • Cheats and Walkthroughs

While you're waiting for the Avengers to assemble on the silver screen, why not save the world a few times over as some of the mightiest superheroes ever with their video game equivalents? Get in on some baddie-bashing practice with the best. Step into the shoes of the world's mightiest superhero team and take matters into your own hands with this powerful selection of games. Be careful, though -- you wouldn't want to make any new enemies.

Captain America

Captain America and the Avengers

Avengers: Captain America, Hawkeye

Long before Captain America was the super soldier portrayed by Chris Evans, he appeared in an excellent Genesis brawler that could teach modern games a thing or two about team-based beat-'em-ups. Data East's challenging fighter featured Cap himself, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and Vision, each with their own special and ranged attacks, as well as a projectile that could be launched at enemies. Collecting specific power-ups would trigger additional Avengers, Quicksilver and Wonder Man, for example, to swoop in as temporary allies.

With your team assembled to take on the likes of Red Skull, you tear through waves of enemies to take apart any super villain that dares to stand in your way. This is a side-scrolling classic akin to the likes of X-Men Arcade or Double Dragon, and supported up to four players who could control their favorite heroes individually. Fighting back with Cap's shield was always a treat, even if you spend a lot more time tossing barrels of radioactive waste around. Vivid graphics and silly, mindless action combined with the ability to play as Captain America made this Genesis port a keeper -- much more than, dare we say, the Captain America: Super Soldier movie tie-in.

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DJ Hero Bel Biv Devoe + Beastie Boys Gameplay »


With the recent passing of Adam Yauch, founding member of the Beastie Boys, it’s time to look back at how his work touched so many people. Adam lost his fight with cancer today at the age of 47. Even if you are not directly familiar with the work of the Beastie Boys, you probably hear much of their music from video games through out the years.

From music games like Guitar Hero and DJ Hero to action games like Madden 10 and Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground, the sound of the Beastie Boys brought high energy and a sense of fun to just about any game they appeared in. Their music spanned generations as well as cultures. From the loneliest geek to the most popular jock, we all sign to the tops of our lungs when we hear the chorus of “Fight For Your Right.”

Though Adam will be missed, his presence will live on for generations both through his fans and those who have yet to discover him in the virtual world.

Thank you, Adam.

Welcome to G4's Knuckle Up, where we bring you a byte-sized view of our five favorite mobile games every week. The phone and tablet space is filled with incredible games that will keep you busy for minutes, hours, or even days -- we'll let you know what we're playing and why we're playing it. Here are our top five games this week:

GAME OF THE WEEK

ESCAPE FROM AGE OF MONSTERS

iPhone | iPad

Jeff Matsuda creates some seriously wicked art in Escape from Age of Monsters. If you’ve never heard of Matsuda, you might have seen his work in The Batman animated series. Now, he’s once again bringing his talent to iOS with Escape from Age of Monsters, an endless runner with incredibly slick visuals and some crazy fun gameplay. The game takes place in the Age of Monsters, where denizens of the darker side of the universe (aliens, zombies, demons, and the like) have taken over. You play as Gizzard, a guy who’s just acquired some pretty epic gloves and a handful of orphans to protect.

Gizzard must strap on the gloves and run for his life while protecting said orphans from the evil creatures in hot pursuit. While they run, walls in either red or blue block their path, and you’ll need to tap the matching left or right glove to punch the wall down and keep moving. As endless runners go, this one’s a bit different: instead of getting one solitary life per run or a “x3” somewhere on the screen, each life is represented by an on-screen person (Gizzard being your final life). Get caught up on a door... and well, little orphan Suzie just got devoured. Mistime a punch, and tiny parentless Mike is now an appetizer. It’s devilish, dark, and freaking awesome.

Unlockables and an undeniably epic rock soundtrack provided by Los Angeles based band The Binges elevate Escape From Age of Monsters to another level. This game flat out bleeds cool.

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The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Character Bios -- The Wood Elves, Nords, And High Elves Of The G4 Offices

As you already know by now, The Elder Scrolls Online wants to bring all their fans together to clash swords and rain down fire in a brand new MMO set a thousand years before the time of Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls Online promises to bring everything you love about the series to a massive playing field, but what does that mean exactly? With only few details, we can only speculate at this point to how the series will make the leap from single-player campaign to the big world of massively multiplayer. This all means big changes for the game that might excite some fans while upsetting a few others along the way. You can’t have an epic adventure without making a few enemies, after all.

Here are just some of our insights and concerns about The Elder Scrolls Online announcement.

Fight Together, Die Alone

Being the chosen one isn’t easy. Sure, you get to go on epic quests that only you can take on and reap the rewards that only you deserve. But at the end of the day, you’ll be crawling back into your house alone, drinking at the “chosen one”-only bar by yourself, and have no one to give the secret “chosen one” handshake. Let’s bring others to the fold as we expand our world. What make Elder Scrolls interesting are the people, places, and conflict you get when you put the two together.

Thousand of horses line up against the horizon charge against a rain of arrows coming from the battered fortress below. Now imagine being apart of the horde charging into the fray or watching from the castle walls as hundreds fall under a blanket of arrows. Take on dragons with some sort of tactic rather than everyone rushing in with swords and pitchforks. Bringing more people to the party means bigger fights and even greater adventures.

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Black Ops 2

Unlike it’s modern counterpart, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 offers more in the way of eras to visit and operations to uncover than just new gadgets to eviscerate the competition. That’s not to say that we won’t get our virtual hands on some of the greatest devices this side of the cold war. This slice of the Call of Duty franchise seems to focus more on the historical espionage of our time as well as those events in the future that have not yet been written.

Maybe it’s about time that we started to read between the blacked out lines and think about some of the great operations, military hotspots, and amazing weapons we want to get our hands on this time around.

Here are our picks for things we want to see in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 single player campaign.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Locations

Operation Cyclone - Making Frenemies

The team behind Call of Duty has never shied away from controversy or dipping their toe into the darker eras of American history. Taking the fight to deserts of Afghanistan with Russian forces nipping at your heels during the early 80’s could provide a very interesting background for a couple of the levels in the game. Looking to stop the spread of communism no matter where it went, the United States spent millions to support militant Islamic groups in that were already fighting a Marxist-oriented regime in the area.

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Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Locations

Could it be that the Black Ops 2 locations have been revealed? We've uncovered eight locations that you may play in the single player story of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. If you look closely at the Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 trailer, you will see a set of numbers during the Treyarch logo scene that reveal dates and coordinates. The coordinates represent longitude and latitude that pin point certain places in the world and if you combine that with the dates, you will soon see major events that happened during those times. However, we did the research for you and down below are what we believe will be eight locations with a description on what was and will happen during your single player experience.

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Every so often, we miss some of the great indie games coming out. With new games coming out on every system and often without any fanfair, the occassional hidden gem sneaks through our grasp, never to be seen again. (Or at least, that's my excuse.) Check out the top five indie games that you need to know about right now.

1. Qasir al-Wasat

I know. Stealth games are a dime a dozen these days and Solid Snake has been doing it since before it became fashionable. Nonetheless, there's something insidiously charming about Qasir al-Wasat.

A stealth action-adventure set within 'one ominous night inside a wondrous palace in 12th century Syria', Qasir al-Wasat will have players taking on the role of an invisible fiend, one that had been forcibly summoned by sorcerer to carry out an assassination attempt.

Unlike many other titles, Qasir al-Wasat doesn't put a limit on how long you can go invisible. It's a permanent thing. This, of course, has a lot to do with the fact that the protagonist is about as fragile as centuries-old china; one friendly nudge and you're dead. To further compound your health risks, you're susceptible to stuff like blood stains and environmental debris. People will take notice if you're careless enough to take a bath in someone else's bodily fluids or if you decide to dance the flamenco in a patch of dry leaves.

To be fair, I could be biased. I'm totally smitten with the aesthetics. In an industry saturated with voxels and big, blocky pixels of all sorts, it's kinda awesome to find yourself immersed in what feels like one of the darker chapters of Scheherazade's One Thousand and One Nights.

And really, what's there not to like about a game that will let you play as a nefarious spirit dragged from another dimension, hmm?

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Blizzard has released this Diablo 3 auction house FAQ to introduce you to all the ins-and-outs of the system. Read on for the full details about Diablo 3's auction house system and let us know what questions you still have burning in your virtual wallets. We'll do our best to get the straight info from Blizzard.

Keep in mind that this list is long. If you want the shorter version, check out our Top 10 Things You Need To Know About The Diablo 3 Auction House feature.

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