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Original author: 
Lee Hutchinson

Adrian (adiera1 on DeviantArt)

369 hours.

That's nine 40-hour work weeks of time spent in the Mass Effect universe, according to the combined reports of Steam, Origin, and my creaky old Xbox 360. Eighty-six hours went into the original Mass Effect (three playthroughs), 189 hours into Mass Effect 2 (six playthroughs), and 94 hours into Mass Effect 3 (three playthroughs).

Commander Shepard and his crew—sometimes her crew, but we'll get to that—have done plenty of galaxy saving under my control. They fought aliens, robots, clones, politicians, and reporters. They stood united against enemies vast and unknowably timeless. They have, in the words of James T. Kirk, "been through death and life together."

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Still all concept art at this point, for some reason.
Pity the simulated citizens who will live in SimCity, the reboot of the franchise of the same name, due from the god-game guys at Maxis sometime in 2013. No easy life for them, no appearing as if by magic on the streets of your town and scurrying back and forth between the busy districts of the day. No – instead, life will be a precarious crap-shoot of existential uncertainty, in which no satisfaction, however small, may be taken for granted, and no need may ever be filled in more than momentary fashion. And, as if it need be said, in the game.

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Get your microscope out
If the devil is in the details then EA’s city-running sim, cunningly called Sim City, is writhing on a bed, doing naughty things with a religious symbol and being doused in holy water. Ugh! It just turned its head 360 degrees! It is wickedly detailed, thanks to an engine that shows off exactly what the simulation is up to. A building like a power plant is not just a stack of boxes, but it contains the resources like coal and workers to create electricity. The effects and animations you’ll see on the unit are tied into how the unit simulates what’s going in and what’s coming out, so the pollution spouting from the chimney is represented accurately according to the game’s logic. Clicking in garages into a fire station will make it a more efficient station: a station with a few more garages in the model will actually run according to how you’ve built it. Everything you see is a one-to-one representation of what the simulation is doing. The video is below.
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Okay, here it is: the first Syndicate trailer. Heavy on the dubstep and men in trenchcoats. Gosh, this makes me realise that the original Syndicate came out in the era before there were generally trailers for games.
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Oops.
The latest DICE blog on Battlefield 3 reveals a few bits and pieces about the game, specifically explaining about the new classes. Medic is gone, as they explain: “all the abilities such as medkits and defibrillators typically found on the Medic class are now incorporated into Assault. It makes sense that the class on the frontline will be able to revive fallen team mates, right?” The class that returns is LMG-toting Support, and that also adds another feature to the game: suppressing fire. “When you lay down fire in close vicinity to an enemy, the incoming barrage will show up as a graphical blur effect on his screen to stress him and let him know it’s not safe to pop out from behind cover. Just as importantly, this mechanic also affects his character’s in-game firing accuracy, making him less of a threat by using real world tactics.” You even get XP for this action. I wonder if that will feel “real” enough to work. I hope so, because it could really make suppressive fire a key tool. I’ll be interested to see it in action.

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