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Creativity Abounds in 'Minecraft'

'Minecraft'

4J Studios, Mojang AB

Mojang

Sony PlayStation 3

$20 Download

ESRB rating: E10

Review rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

"Minecraft" on the PC was an unexpected indie game that turned out to be a huge hit, so it's no surprise that the game has been crafted for consoles. This unique software is actually more of a game design tool than an actual game, which is why it's so popular. What I can't understand is why the console version costs nearly the same as the PC version but offers substantially less content.

Every gamer has wanted to create their own game, and "Minecraft" is the perfect tool for the job. There's no story, or even much direction, because it's up to players to create their own worlds using blocks to modify randomly generated levels. It's possible to fabricate whatever the player wants, from houses to forests to plateaus jutting out of the ground and much, much more!

Players are only limited by their imagination. Well, that and the actual build used to create the PSN version. You see, the "new" version is actually an old PC beta version that doesn't offer nearly as much content as the current PC version. The maps are very small, and there is no Creative mode, only Survival. This means players always have to contend with potential enemies, which can limit the time spent on fabricating vast structures. It isn't enough to ruin the game, but anyone who has played the PC version will be disappointed.

Abilities seem limited at first, but as soon as players realize their character's main ability is punching (trees to harvest wood, mines for minerals, etc. ... ), they'll most likely get punch-drunk! These items can be used to craft more useful items and weapons, and part of the fun is discovering what can be made.

A handy new crafting menu, smooth controls and great online multiplayer options help to alleviate the missing components of "Minecraft," and the result is still a fun, engaging experience!

'The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1'

Telltale Games

Telltale Games

Windows PC (PS3, Xbox 360)

$24.99 Download for Entire Season

ESRB rating: Mature

Review rating: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

As a big fan of "The Walking Dead" TV series, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the adventure game. While it doesn't feature the same characters as the TV show, it still tells a great story. Now "The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1 -- All That Remains" has been released, and it sets up another great season of desperate people trying to survive a zombie apocalypse!

For anyone new to this series, it's a classic point-and-click adventure that focuses much more on story and character development than fast-paced action. It has some intense fight scenes, but making moral choices and living with the consequences can be more difficult than battling flesh-eating zombies! Fortunately, the combat found in season 2 is more dynamic than the last season.

Episode 2 begins with Clementine, who is the young girl from the first season, as she goes around alone in a dangerous world. Similar to Carl from the TV series, Clementine has now lost her innocence and has hardened into a true survivor. She encounters a new band of humans, and now she must forge friendships and convince them to accept her as one of the group.

Although many of the decisions I made in season 1 carry over to season 2, I can't help but feel like episode 1 mostly exists to set up the new characters for season 2. As a result, there are only a few important decisions to be made, and the game play seems too linear. For example, when locked in a garage, the story won't advance until I escape. The option to stay put doesn't exist.

Nevertheless, "The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1 All That Remains" retains the strong focus on story and choices that the series is known for.


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