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ENTERTAINMENT
March 12, 2010 | By Erika Schickel
Gabrielle Burton was a fledgling poet at the 1972 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference when she was stopped by the writer William Lederer. He told her he had dreamed she would write a book about people surviving without eating each other. When Burton asked him what he meant, he cryptically replied: "Most people survive by eating each other. You're going to write a book that shows a better way." That set the stage for what would become Burton's obsession with Tamsen Donner, the matriarch of the Donner family, in whose name one of the darkest chapters in American history is written.
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ENTERTAINMENT
March 7, 2010 | By Alex Pham and Ben Fritz
When a video game captures an award, does anybody really notice? The answer was made painfully obvious last month at the game industry's equivalent of the Oscars. "A lot of big names," the show host Jay Mohr said as he scanned the room, "are not here tonight." The line, thrown out at the opening of the Interactive Achievement Awards, got a chuckle from a crowd of several hundred of the industry's top game developers, who were used to toiling in relative obscurity. Game sales, at more than $45 billion a year globally, have far eclipsed movie box office receipts, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
ENTERTAINMENT
February 26, 2010 | By Pete Metzger
If you're a hard-core fan of the God of War series but just can't wait until the next installment is released in March, then you're in luck, my friend. Rush out today and buy Dante's Inferno . God of War rip-offs don't get any more blatant than this one. Everything about it is like GOW, in a nearly comical way: the red and white accents on the god-like main character, the giant shiny weapons he swings around, the epic boss battles, the blatant nudity, the third-person view with woeful lack of camera control, even the button tapping cut-screen final-kill moves.
BUSINESS
February 9, 2010 | By Alex Pham
Shares of Electronic Arts Inc. plunged more than 8% in after-hours trading Monday following the video game company's release of its third-quarter results and lowering of earnings projections as the game industry continues to struggle with the economic downturn. The Redwood City, Calif., publisher of Madden NFL, Mass Effect and the Sims titles posted a 25% revenue drop to $1.2 billion in the quarter that ended Dec. 31, down from $1.7 billion a year earlier. Its net loss for the quarter narrowed to $82 million, or 25 cents a share, compared with a $654-million loss, or $2 a share, a year earlier.
BUSINESS
February 9, 2010 | By Ben Fritz and Alex Pham
The future of the video game business is playing out very differently on two sides of Los Angeles. In Westwood, nearly 200 people recently lost their jobs when Pandemic Studios, the maker of Saboteur and other gritty video games, shut its doors. But 12 miles east, at Nexon Corp.'s U.S. division, bustling staffers are upbeat as they prepare to double the size of their workforce. The South Korean publisher best known for its lighthearted game MapleStory saw sales climb 12% in 2009.
ENTERTAINMENT
January 30, 2010
Shadow Tag A Novel Louise Erdrich Harper: 258 pp., $25.99
ENTERTAINMENT
January 29, 2010 | By Pete Metzger
Even though Army of Two: The 40th Day improves on its predecessor in nearly every way, this action war game won't make anyone put down Modern Warfare 2 any time soon. In the first outing, released in 2008, the great concept of playing as part of a tandem of mercenaries out to get rich by killing enemies was ruined by the lousy artificial intelligence your partner had. Any place you wanted to be, he would stand, ratcheting up the frustration levels. Add that to a forgettable story and mediocre controls and you wonder why the game was such a success and a sequel was even considered.
BUSINESS
January 15, 2010 | By Alex Pham and Ben Fritz
The video game industry eked out a 4% sales gain in the U.S. last month, rising to $5.32 billion as shoppers snapped up nearly 2.8 million copies each of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and New Super Mario Bros. Wii. But the uptick in the crucial holiday shopping month couldn't counter an otherwise bleak 2009, which saw sales of video games, consoles and accessories total $19.66 billion, down 8% from 2008, market research firm NPD Group said. December capped a stomach-churning year for the game industry, during which retail sales fell in eight of the 12 months, leading several major publishers to cut costs and workers.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 29, 2009 | By Pete Metzger
With 2009 drawing to a close, we thought it was important to put down our PS3 controller -- and stop playing Modern Warfare 2's brilliant online multi-player mode -- just long enough to reflect on the best games we played over the year. Though it's probably physically impossible to play every game that came out, of the titles we tried, here are our top 10: No. 10: Assassin's Creed II Renaissance Italy is the star of Assassin's Creed II, complete with ornate structures full of ledges, railings, windowsills and protruding bricks.
ENTERTAINMENT
December 19, 2009 | By Pete Metzger
The World War II-era action-adventure game The Saboteur may feature plenty of curvy burlesque dancers, but it doesn't quite measure up. Its open-world gameplay and "go anywhere on a nice big map" features aren't as well done as in Grand Theft Auto. The wall climbing and "free-running" across rooftops aren't nearly as good as in the Assassin's Creed series (see the review below). Even the plot, cut screens and controls aren't as good as in most games. But despite its lack of originality, The Saboteur includes a couple of key elements that make an effort to set it apart from its predecessors.
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