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Holiday rush

Life in a tropical paradise isn't exactly peaceful in 'Far Cry 3.'

The holiday season is a bittersweet time to be a gamer — and especially a game reviewer. Stars and Stripes gamers had their hands full with all of the AAA goodness we expect for this time of year, but no matter how much holiday cheer you can muster, there’s never enough time to play it all.

First up is “PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale,” a game so addictively good that it just “wouldn’t let go.” This Smash Bros.-style game got extra credit for its extensive cast of Sony favorites and special moves.

Trevor Anderson was less impressed by the latest portable "Spy Hunter" update. “There was a lot of room for a good story to unfold here, and it didn’t. Video games have become an avenue for storytelling, and the fact that anyone would try to pass off this storyline today seems lazy.”

“Halo 4” kept pace with its sky-high expectations and legacy. Despite Bungie jumping ship from the Halo franchise, reviewer Brian Bowers found almost every aspect of this game got a leg up on the last three. “A new developer has brought new weapons, a new world and even a new enemy to the sci-fi shooter series. The graphics are sharper. The story is more intense and personal.”

Lego LOTR makes a ringing entry as it tags along with the debut of the new Hobbit movie. Bowers writes of these Lego games: “The only question is how well developers pulled all this off. This is a very big question after their last effort, a lackluster Batman project that was the first Lego game to feature characters with voices rather than a silent mime-like treatment. Fortunately, TT Games, which developed the game for Warner Bros., accomplished the task with flair and fun.”

If you had to choose a biggest game of the year, "Assassin’s Creed III" would probably fit the bill. Fortunately for gamers and Ubisoft, this year’s budget busting title didn’t disappoint — even if it did take a few liberties with the history of American, well, liberty. “'Assassin’s Creed 3' delivers an exciting adventure, terrific game play and one of the most interesting stories in the franchise.”

Giving ACIII a run for its money is this year’s “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2.” The perennial franchise took to the future, for once, and actually got its act together for a more believable plot. As for the multiplayer, we’ll let the sales figures do the talking.

And pulling a holiday surprise is “Far Cry 3.” Far Cry is a series that didn’t solicit the best reviews from Bowers in the past, but fortunately this title’s “gameplay, characters and story are far superior to those in the predecessor.” Now, if only we weren’t so clueless as to this virtual scavenger hunt business …

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About the Authors


Brian Bowers is Stars and Stripes’ Assistant Managing Editor for Europe and Mideast and one of its video game reviewers. He joined the newspaper in 1992 in Germany, where he worked on the news desk and the city desk. He has a wife and three children, who are always eager to help him test games.


Sam Laney joined Stars and Stripes in 2007 as a copy/layout editor and slowly convinced upper management to support his video game habit. Since then, he’s added game reviews and previews to his list of duties and moved on to the iPad. When he’s not rocking newbies in “Left4Dead2,” he covers PC and Nintendo systems.


Michael S. Darnell joined Stars and Stripes in 2013 as a reporter and quickly annoyed his bosses into allowing him to write about video games in his spare time. He's a PC gamer at heart whose life goals include buildin