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God of War 3
Sony Computer Entertainment
PS3

"It's like God of War, but ..."

So begins possibly the biggest video game cliché going. That's what happens when you're best at what you do, and when it comes to action games, no one does it better than Sony's premier series. There's but one God of War series.

Absolutely epic in scale, God of War 3 pulls no punches; in fact, if it's not massive, it's not in the game. Series protagonist (er, antagonist?) Kratos begins the game by leading the charge on Mount Olympus with the formerly deposed Titans of Myth. After dramatically disposing of Poseidon, a quick double-cross gets the typically short-tempered Ghost of Sparta even angrier. From here on out, no one is safe, and everyone involved must pay; gods, titans, it doesn't matter — get in Kratos' way, and you will die, and brutally at that. The story's only real hiccup is near the end, when Kratos temporarily and uncharacteristically gains a conscience — after so much slaughter in the series, the sudden scruples don't ring true.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a smoother controlling experience. With so much happening onscreen, it's quite the feat to still feel in control, orchestrating chaos with a few button presses. The level design and puzzles are also top-notch, offering a real challenge without being cheap.

But there are a few issues. For one, the double-jump isn't forgiving, which leads to unnecessary deaths. Also, three of the four weapons available to you are chains with blades on the end. While they may each perform slightly differently, a little variety to the weaponry would've been nice.

With near-perfect gameplay, solid platforming and absolutely boss battles, GOW 3's a pulse-pounder from beginning to end.


Nintendo DSi XL

Looking back at the original Game Boy, man ... that sucker was huge. There are netbooks smaller than that thing ever was. As technology has advanced, each Nintendo itineration was more compact. Lately, as trends suggest, we'll take our tech larger if it offers more functionality. So Nintendo's latest foray into the portable arena, the DSi XL follows suit, and saves our eyes while it's at it.

The first thing you'll notice is the unit's size. Using completely unscientific methods, the DSi XL will cram into a jacket pocket. Portability is limited to bags and purses; in fact, this newest unit may primarily be used in living rooms, making it quite the unportable portable machine.

From a hardware standpoint, The DSi XL uses the same technology as the previous releases, with the two screens almost twice as large. The resolution is unchanged, so certain games look a bit blockier, but it's not much of a downgrade. The larger screens make gameplay a more social experience, also allowing a second person more viewability. The two cameras (one facing the player, and one facing out) also enhance the sociable aspect; pictures are immediately uploadable to Facebook. The camera isn't as good as those in cell phones, but will work in a pinch if you must share that pic. Online capability has been a staple of the DS, and here is no different, though connecting to a wi-fi can be a bit of a hassle. Once you're online though, web browsing is a treat, offering a better view than a smartphone.

The Nintendo DSi XL is clearly made for the more tech-savvy gamer who needs a fix while out. The question is, if you already have one, should you upgrade from the DSi? While the size means it's cumbersome to carry, the larger screens make the added heft worthwhile. Besides, if you've a smartphone, you already know functionality trumps all.

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