Gamer

Good. But revolutionary?

'Assassin's Creed III' takes on the American Revolution

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'Assassin's Creed III'

(Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Xbox 360, PS3, PC Read more »

Overkill

You in danger, girl! Resident Evil 6 has a lot going on.
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Resident Evil 6

(Capcom)

Xbox 360, PS3, PC Read more »

A non-game Gamer review: Astro A50 deadphones

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Guardian video game reviewer Peter Galvin tests out technology designed to enhance the gaming experience. Product was provided for review purposes.

Someone once labeled current gaming headset star Astro Gaming the "Beats of gaming," referring to the enormously successful Beats by Dre product line of consumer headsets. It's a comparison Astro itself seems eager to encourage and, while aligning your company with such a ubiquitous brand name makes sense financially, more discerning audiophiles are quick to point out that most of the cash you shell out for a pair of Beats is for name-brand style rather than for sound.

However, Astro Gaming seems to be looking to the Beats phenomenon more as a guide to positioning itself at the top of the industry for premium gaming headphones. The market isn't exactly teeming with game-specific headsets, so when I say the new Astro A50 (Astro Gaming, $299) headphones are some of the best money can buy in this category it doesn't automatically mean they're mind-blowing. It does suggest that Astro's first big release in three years is conclusively about looking towards the future rather than playing catch-up.

A local San Francisco company, Astro has made a name for itself by selling headsets solely on its own website, and, with the release of the A50, it hopes to expand the web store into a downtown retail space. Gaming is in the process of legitimizing itself for mature players and Astro wants a place in that richer realm, not just for posterity's sake but because we're talking about a market that's growing every day. As the average age of game players rises (currently somewhere between 30 and 35 years old), the industry has seen a rise in gamers and tech enthusiasts with considerably deeper pockets.

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Shoot to thrill

FALL ARTS PREVIEW: Gamer stops, drops, and rolls into fall's fiery pit of video-game releases

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FALL ARTS At some point in the last 30 years game publishers decided that releasing in the summer was financial suicide. Maybe these publishers were under the mistaken impression that everyone is out enjoying the sun and, I don't know, hiking? But as those of us who also enjoy gaming will tell you, you make time for video games.Read more »

Extra points

Link follows the princess through the four-movement Legend of Zelda symphony

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emilysavage@sfbg.com

MUSIC If the triumphant theme to 1986-released video game The Legend of Zelda sends a knowing shiver down your spine; if you've ever spent hours obsessively clicking homemade remixes and covers of the soundtrack on Youtube (oh hey Deadmau5); there's finally a highbrow spot for you among the upper crust: "The Legend of Zelda™: Symphony of the Goddesses Tour" is making its exultant, geeked out way to Davies Symphony Hall this week.Read more »

Gamer: Sony PlayStation Vita top picks (and games to skip)

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Read Peter Galvin's review of the Sony PlayStation Vita in this week's Gamer column.

Most of the Vita's launch games exist to show off what the system can do. Mini games, short races, puzzlers; a lot of this initially sounds like phone gaming. But, even with all of Sony's efforts to ape the success of Apple's app store, don't discount the Vita's sticks and buttons, a fundamental that phone gaming has yet to overcome. Real games have buttons, people.

Little Deviants
This mini-game collection came as a pack-in with early orders of the Vita and seems specifically designed to show off the system's novelties. Think WiiSports, but instead of a remote, you have touch screen games and "augmented reality" that uses the rear camera to allow you to shoot aliens in your house. Each game is fairly one-note and, for all but children, the novelty will grow old fast.

Uncharted: Golden Abyss
For everyone who thinks their phones can play games, play Golden Abyss. While this third-person shooter may stack less favorably against its console brethren, as a handheld title it's simply stunning. An Uncharted adventure with very few concessions, Golden Abyss is closest to a home experience you're likely to get on a handheld. Read more »

Viva la Vita

Quick and slick, the Playstation Vita is tech geek heaven

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GAMER News of the Vita's death in Japan has been greatly exaggerated. Sony's new handheld console arrived on Japanese shores last November, with meager sales compared to 2005's PSP and even fewer than the much-ballyhooed Nintendo 3DS launch last spring. Analysts were quick to point to the 3DS's disappointing launch as the beginning of the end for dedicated handheld systems, and Sony's comparatively low sales had many pundits patting themselves on the back.Read more »

The bottom of the top

YEAR IN GAMER 2011: It's only when you approach the bottom half of a video game critic's top 10 that the real debate begins

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YEAR IN GAMER One of the most exciting release windows in recent memory, this year's fall gaming onslaught is officially behind us. And while most gamers are quick to rank the marquee experiences — battling dragons (The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim), thwarting diabolical clowns (Batman: Arkham City), and riding giant birds in a green tunic (The Legend of Zelda: The Skyward Sword), it's only when you approach the bottom half of a critic's top 10 that the real debate begins.Read more »

The new (open) world order

YEAR IN GAMER 2011: Red Dead Redemption dominated, but Elder Scrolls vs. Skyrim dazzled and Mineshaft's open world was wondrous

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YEAR IN GAMER In 2010, year-end awards were dominated by one game: Red Dead Redemption. Published by Rockstar Games, the title was a sweeping, epic Western in the best American tradition. Using a proprietary game engine, Rockstar stitched together a giant swath of imaginary frontier, a teeming open world that seems to leap straight from the imagination of John Ford or Sergio Leone.Read more »

The Performant: Revenge of the nerds

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Gaiman and Palmer, the Bay Area Science Festival, and a live game of Frogger

Nerd might still be a four-letter word in high school locker rooms (assuming these are still high school locker rooms to be found), but there’s really never been a better time in history to be an adult nerd. No matter if your inclinations lie in language, linux, or the laws of thermodynamics, a nerdish life lived well is truly the best revenge for all those real or imagined slings and arrows of awkward youth.

Epitomizing this truism, geek-elite power couple Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer launched a joint mini-tour across the West Coast entitled simply “An Evening with Neil Gaimna and Amanda Palmer,” which turned out to be exactly that, no more and no less.

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