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Challenging the conventional wisdom of innovative games

Blake Snow

Chris Suellentrop -- self-proclaimed casual gamer and columnist for Slate Magazine -- tells why a derivative sci-fi gorefest, Gears of War, is deserving of 2006's best video game of the year award despite some calling it "more of the same." These few choice snippets sum up his reasoning nicely: "Gears of War isn't getting critical acclaim because it's unique or revolutionary. The game will be recognizable to anyone who's picked up a game controller in the past 10 years... Epic Games set out to make Gears of War as the gaming equivalent of a top-notch popcorn movie, and they succeeded. It's a blockbuster, not a revolution."

Are predictable blockbuster movies any less entertaining than fresh, new ones? Maybe... in abundance. But while Nintendo's marketing would have you believe nearly everything must be thrown out the window, Gears is a "gamer's game." You know, the kind most of us grew up on. That's not to say we don't embrace, enjoy, even encourage uncharted territory via Form Batons. But the idea behind discounting a single game's achievements for lack of innovation seems slightly flawed.

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