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Orcs Must Die! 2

Rest assured, Robot Entertainment’s sequel to their smash-hit tower defense game Orcs Must Die! packs all the strategical mayhem and deliciously destruction as its predecessor. I got my mitts on the game at PAX East and found that everything really is better with a buddy; fan demand for a co-op mode has been answered with flawless execution, adding another layer of strategical shenanigans to the familiar third-person action base.

Joining the warrior mage on his quest to destroy all Orcs is the new sorceress class, a character previously involved but not playable. The action of Orcs Must Die! 2 begins immediately on the heels of the first game’s story, but as of yet the folks at Robot are being secretive about our old enemy’s involvement and why she is fighting alongside her ex-nemesis. Players who dive into co-op mode must lead this pair in cooperation as ugly brutes pour from the rifts.

New traps, tricks, spells, and an upgrade system give players more choice as they litter the battlefield with traps and rifle through their arsenal of magic and weapons. The sorceress can summon the skeletons of dead Orcs to fight for her, as well as snipe her foes with deadly energy by flicking her wand in their direction. New traps freeze Orcs in place, push them off bridges and spear them unexpectedly on iron spikes. It’s like being a hamster ball filled with bone-crunching whoop-worthy death. It’s deeply satisfying in that primal childlike urge-to-laugh-at-cartoon-creatures-biting-dust way.

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PAX East’s Indie Showcase was a smoking hotspot of activity this weekend. Here’s what you may have overlooked, and why you should be singing a different tune.

Lawnmower Challenge

Lawnmower Challenge
Lunar Enigma's lock-and-key path-finding puzzle may look deceptively simple on first glance, but a quick run through a handful of levels professes otherwise. Inspired by late 80s tile-based Chip's Challenge, Lawnmower Challenge asks players to mow a plot of grass in the least number of moves. The plots, divided into squares and broken into sections with wooden fences, are studded with mower-impassable perils such as rocks and mud. While players can walk over the muddier areas, seeds must be collected and used to cross them with the mower. Keys scattered in the grass grant access to locked areas, and all item collection moves without the mower still go towards your step count.

What makes this iOS and Android title irresistible is its fresh and clean approach to one of the more classic game puzzles. That and the relaxing, smooth jazz soundtrack is just the clear and heady mix needed to push the noodles of your brain through the more grueling 500-move levels. The game is expected to release later this year.

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Borderlands 2

Randy Pitchford, Co-Founder at Gearbox, wants to make sure that you can satisfy your loot needs in real life by introducing new pre-order bonuses for Borderlands 2.

The man behind a billion guns showed off two of the new packages for this sought after shooter, The Deluxe Vault Hunter Edition and The Ultimate Loot Chest. If you’re not already excited for the game after reading our hands on impressions, then these might just sweeten the deal for you.

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New BioShock Infinite Details

David Gaider, lead writer of the Dragon Age series, feels narrative gives the player a reason to care about what they're fighting for. Chris Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment, developers of Fallout: New Vegas, doesn't know whether story even matters to the gameplay experience, and ponders if narrative's role is to create backdrops, letting the systems and the player's interactions with them create the story. And Ken Levine of Irrational Games, who is releasing BioShock Infinite this fall, believes that story gives context for player experience, but the value of narrative in video games is rather marginal. Levine thinks his job is primarily to present an environment for the player.

Gaider's answers might sound more like what we'd expect to hear from all three men, who are known for their skills in telling tales, but their answers underscore the complicated relationship between stories in video games and video game mechanics.

Levine is more concerned with environment than the words he's going to write. “I would say the best tool we have to sell our story is the world. The visual space...if you think about dialogue, especially in a first person shooter...the environment gives you so much information,” he said. “You can take in so much more visual information than you can take in audio information.”

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Bioshock Infinite Mechanical Patriot Revealed: Meet Your Red, White And Blue Nightmare

After the reveal of Bioshock Infinite at E3 last year, fans have been foaming at the mouth to get any information that they can on the game. Ken Levine and the creative team talked through their process of creating villains in the game. They covered everything from new gameplay ideas that just didn’t work out to the sillier things that happened during the development of Bioshock Infinite. Be warned though, if you are hoping to stay somewhat in the clear spoiler-wise, proceed with caution.

Ken set the stage for everything that was about to be discussed with a simple question that ended up being their internal barometer for the characters that they were creating; What makes for a really good signature bad guy? We’ve been bombarded by a variety of villains for decades but even then, it’s a really hard question to answer. “It’s what scares me the most when making games – that it won’t be right.” said Ken. It’s easy to agree with a statement like that. Imagine the most iconic films or books that you’ve experienced and replace their villain with someone else; it just doesn’t work.

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Screenside -- eSports: A History

Professional gaming fans gathered on Sunday to hear from some of their favorite competitive gaming hosts and discuss the future of eSports, and it's clear this rich world with its unique set of personalities has a challenge in making itself accessible to new audiences.

Dan “Artosis” Stemkoski is a competitive StarCraft player in his own right, has been a captain of professional StarCraft teams, operates a popular stream on the TwitchTV video game internet channel, and is a well-known match commentator in professional StarCraft circles. Stemkoski feels that a chief challenge of popularizing American competitive StarCraft play is how weak America's competitive gaming circuit is compared to the rest of the world.

Getting new players into the circuit comes down in part to making players aware it even exists. TwitchTV has made strides towards accomplishing that goal. Kevin Lin, TwitchTV's Chief Operating Officer, made a guest appearance on the panel to talk about the growth of Justin.tv, the parent site from which the gaming channel spawned, and how it led to the ability to support competitive gaming broadcasts.

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BioWare Talks Mass Effect 3 Extended Cut And Resurgence Multiplayer DLC Packs

Only one day after the announcement of Mass Effect 3: The Extended Cut DLC, BioWare held their first public forum with the gaming community at PAX East 2012. BioWare's panelists included a mix of writers, producers and community outreach: Chris Priestly, Mike Gamble, Corey Gaspur, Patrick Weekes, John Dombrow, and Reid Buckmaster. Exec Producer, Casey Hudson and Lead Writer, Mac Walters, were not in attendance.

The panel began with Chris Priestly acknowledging how much the community loves BioWare, which was met by laughter from the crowd. That was the general tone of the audience, there was an elephant in the room and everyone saw it. As the panel was in its first few minutes you could hear fans yelling from the hall, "Why did you do it?" "We love you devs." "We love you still." I think we all felt better after getting that out of our system.

Producer Mike Gamble got the panel moving with a survey, a show of hands; Which game in the series was your favorite? A few dozen raised their hands for ME1, the same number raised their hand for ME3, but 90% of the room raised their hand for ME2. I could tell by the faces of everyone on the panel they had not expected that. I'll admit, I was part of the 90%.

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Welcome to G4's Knuckle Up, where we bring you a byte-sized view of our five favorite mobile games every week. The mobile 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

FIBBLE: FLICK ‘N’ ROLL

iPhone | iPad

Fun fact: the same development company responsible for our Game of the Week is also responsible for creating one of the best sci-fi FPS games ever created in Crysis (and its glorious sequel). Fibble: Flick ‘n’ Roll isn’t anything like what I expected Crytek to make when I heard they were making an iOS game; however, that’s definitely not a bad thing, as Fibble is a really fun game with some very high production value.

Fibble’s an alien who’s crash landed on Earth, and it’s your job to help him navigate the house he’s landed in and find his alien friends. Each level consists of a little track for Fibble to roll through, and an environment with beautiful renders of objects corresponding to the room you’re currently in (toys, groceries, etc). Finding Fibble’s alien buddies lets you place them around each track to get to places Fibble wouldn’t be able to go by himself; for example, Byte will launch Fibble into the air if you tap the screen while Fibble is in proximity, getting him to otherwise unreachable areas.

Fibble is Crytek’s first foray into mobile gaming, but it’s a solid iOS title that brings great gameplay and gorgeous production value to your iPhone or iPad. It’s pretty crazy to see the makers of ultra slick sci-fi shooter Crysis also bring us the silly, fun world in Fibble: Flick ‘n’ Roll, but at the end of the day, all that matters is that Fibble is packed with delights you won’t want to miss.

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Gaming is struggling to find new mascots in the modern age. Seemingly sure-fire winners like Sackboy, the Miis, and Master Chief aren’t capturing people’s imagination (and more importantly their wallets) like Pac-Man, Mario, and Sonic used to. It’s good that games need to do more these days than have a marketable face on their covers, but gaming without mascots is like Uncharted without frail floorboards; it just isn’t right. In an age of reboots, remakes and reimaginations, why try to come up with something new when gaming can offer a litany of old-school heroes who deserve another day in the spotlight?

Here are five of gaming’s most notably forgotten mascots along with suggestions for how they should make their glorious returns to the fore.

MC Kids

Mick and Mack in PHOENIX WRIGHT: SUPER SIZED

M.C. Kids typically gets dismissed as an opportunistic clone of Super Mario Bros. 3 that was designed to shift more burgers than copies. Thing is, McDonalds barely even promoted the game. The design team made it harder than a month-old Big Mac, so reportedly the fast food chain was absolutely furious that it was too difficult for kids. Minus all the shameless in-game promotion, M. C. Kids was actually aunique and fun game that even made Mick and Mack oddly likeable. They then resurfaced in the platformer-shooter Global Gladiators, but despite good reviews, the kids soon fell off the radar and into obscurity.

Now, the big M doesn’t need any more moolah, but perhaps the kids could return another way...

How it would work: Two decades have passed since Global Gladiators, and the kids have been going to their favourite restaurant every day since. And now they’re morbidly obese. A certain clown banishes them for fear of association, but luckily a friendly lawyer called Phoenix sees the downtrodden blobs and takes them on a thrilling, family fun adventure of frivolous lawsuits and exciting resultant legislation.

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inFamous

Pop music might not be on your iPod rotation, but video games have warmed up to them over the years. More than just audial wallpaper, there’s a method to this musical madness. As games have matured, the way that they utilize popular music has matured with them. Now if only popular music could do the same.

More often than not, you can guess the music a game will feature before you even open the package. Is it action, adventure, RPG, or a shooter? Then you can probably expect some instrumental music not far removed from Pirates of the Caribbean or Lord of the Rings. Is it spooky? Then some shrill off-key piano is probably in store. Indeed, BioShock was praised for its haunting melodies, but were they really that different from any other survival horror game?

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Guns of Icarus Online

Guns of Icarus Online takes to the skies with flying airships, class-based fighting, and more gears than you can strap on your boots when you take on this steampunk adventure. But honestly, you had me at airships. You can judge for yourself this week when the game hits PAX East. To find out more about what it take the fight to the fierce skies, I recently got to talk to Muse Games about what you can expect when you get your hands on it as well as the Kickstarter campaign that started it all.

You are not Rambo. In war, you have a job and you need to do that job in conjunction with others around you in order to survive. Muse Games, makers of Guns of Icarus Online, make the sky the limit, but you can only move as far as the guardrails allow. There’s no wondering what you need to do or where you need to go. Keep the ship running and try to stay alive. How you do that is up to you.

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Pax East 2010

Along with heavy coats and spare pens, we're bringing along a few expectations to PAX East 2012. There will be big games to get our hands on, a few new titles we've never seen before, and we're bringing you along for the ride. Before we wake up way too early for that plane to Boston later this week, we first wanted to share with you some of the games we're excited about seeing at this year's big convention.

Jake Gaskill - G4TV.com Previews Editor

It’s that time of year again! And yes, I’m referring to my annual April tradition of doing everything exactly the same way that I do everything for the other 11 months of the year. I have a feeling this year will be especially similar to previous years, so naturally I’m pretty excited. The only major monkey in the proverbial wrench this year is that I will be attending PAX East for the frist time (“frist” is how I misspell “first” during Jake’s Crazy April-Timed Placeholder Name Event).

At the moment, some of the indies I’ll be making a beeline for when we touch in Boston are, in no particular order: Dust: An Elysian Tail (the hand drawn animation looks absolutely stunning), Super Time Force (because it looks bat-crap crazy), Kairo (sort of in that Portal/Dear Esther-ish vein of moody first-person exploration), The Showdown Effect (since the idea of mashing up every 80s/90s action hero flick is just crazy enough to work), and whatever the Twisted Pixel folks have in the hopper, just to name a few.

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Gaming Does April Fools 2012: The Best Pranks, Products, And Jokes From The Gaming Industry

Another year of hilarious gaming-related April Fools Jokes have come and gone. If you were smart enough to avoid the Internet on April 1, 2012 in order to dodge all of the antics of your "pregnant" Facebook friends and other harmless misinformation, we've aggregated all of the gaming-related April Fools Jokes for you right here so you can catch up on the funny.

Gaming Does April Fools 2012: The Best Pranks, Products, And Jokes From The Gaming Industry

ThinkGeek Releases Marshmallow Creeps

What's could be better than explosive sugary goodness? Nothing, according to ThinkGeek, who've created some delicious Marshmallow Creeps from Minecraft. Just in time for Easter, these Creeps deliver, "the awesome sugar-fuelled rush that parents love." Yay! I'll take four.

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Help, Support And Money Wanted For Indie Game: The Movie

Indie Game: The Movie moves from the secluded Sundance film festival to your local theater as they make their way around the country. When I ran into them at GDC this year, I expect this to be a victory lap for them after the amazing reviews from both gamers and non-gamers alike. Little did I know that they were still filming and planning for additional material for the final release of the movie on DVD and digital media.

April 3rd in beautiful Santa Monica, gamers in the greater Los Angeles area (myself included) will finally be able to see for themselves what the fuss is all about. If you don’t have a ticket, I suggest that you pick up one now before this one, like so many of their other screenings, sells out.

For everyone else out there, make sure you visit the movie’s website for more information about screenings and how you can pick up your own copy of the movie.

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MolyJam

MolyJam started out deeply rooted in a joke twitter account, but bloomed this April Fool’s Day with thousands of developers, creators, and video game fanatics from around the globe working for 48 to create games from one man’s wild imagination – Molydeux.

Not to be confused with the flesh and blood esteemed game developer, Peter Molyneux, this fake twitter account took on a life of its own as it mimicked Molyneux's often dream-like descriptions of what video games could be capable of. What if the Kinect could detect the tears coming donw your face and you had to cry to get through a door? What if you only had a short amount of time before the end of the world and you could only hug your loved ones? What if you could inspire thousands of people by asking what games could do instead of saying what they should do?

When I entered NextSpace in downtown Culver City, dozens of teams quickly finished up graphics, pieces of music, and bits of code for their game. Developers spent their weekend with strangers, working on games that started out only as twitter one-liners. To them, Molyjam meant something more than just a joke. It was a chance to make a change in the industry that they loved.

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