Monday, July 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm
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With a heavy heart, I must report that today marks the end of Joystick Division.

[Editor's note: The archives will remain online.]

Longtime readers may have sensed this news was coming. Over the last few months, activity on JD has slowed down as the current crew has prepared to embark on a new adventure. In truth, the fate of this site was sealed months ago, when business realities beyond our control dealt the operations of this site a near-fatal blow. Joystick Division could have closed up shop immediately. But the devoted team of writers working here cared to much to simply let it end and chose to keep working strictly out of love. To everyone on the Joystick Division team who stuck around, you have my eternal gratitude. I must also thank Village Voice Media, who gave us the keys to the site and one hundred percent creative freedom to do whatever we wanted with JD. Business realities may have changed. The support of our parent company never did.

I also need to thank everyone who ever worked with me on this site in the past. The thing that I am most proud of in my time as JD's leader is bringing together the talent that made the site what it was. We've had established writers who have written for some of games journalism's best-known outlets. We've had unknowns who had never written for any outlet before and developed into some of the strongest game writers in the field. Our alumni have written for magazines, gone to work for the biggest game publishers around, found exciting opportunities outside of gaming and much more. Their work at Joystick Division did not get them to those heights. Their own talent and ambition did. I am happy they shared their gifts with me for a time.

Thanks again to all the fine folks at Village Voice Media who helped guide Joystick Division over the years. We couldn't have done it without you. And the biggest thanks of all goes to our readers. It is not hyperbole at all to say that this site literally could not have happened without you. 

There is a chance that an entirely new staff of writers may take over this site, but I would bet against it. As for the current staff, I'm happy to say that most will be making the jump to a new venture lead by JD's own James Hawkins. Please come visit us all at our new gaming site, Bit Creature. There you'll find much of what we were doing at Joystick Division, hopefully taken to even greater heights.

Thank you a thousand times,

Jeremy Zoss

July 16, 2012

Video Games' Best Endings

Friday, July 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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No matter how good a video game is, if the developers don't stick the landing, there's the potential to seriously tarnish an otherwise outstanding experience.

Whether the game is five hours long or requires more of your time than a season of Lost (speaking of bad endings), those final few moments are often what players remember the most. A mediocre game can turn into a well-remembered classic thanks to a solid ending and, conversely, a brilliant adventure can shift gears to lackluster if the pieces don't fall into place nicely by the time the credits roll.

Mass Effect is a good example of the latter. Never mind that the series gave gamers dozens of hours of top quality entertainment over the course of several years. A large, vocal branch of the audience was displeased with how Mass Effect 3 ended and, as a result, argued that the entire series had been ruined because of it. I'm not sure how 15 questionable minutes can overshadow 100 glorious hours, but I gave up on trying to understand mankind a long, long time ago.

I've been thinking about endings a lot this past week which, of course, got me thinking about which video game endings really stick out in my mind for being the best. So as not to speak too vaguely about these titles, I'll go ahead and throw up a giant SPOILER ALERT right now. If you don't want to know about one or more of these endings, just skip that section. Otherwise, let's begin. Or end?...Now I'm confused.

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The Get Outside Guide

Friday, July 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I have a confession to make: I haven't been playing too many games lately.

That's not because of the summer game lull - there have actually been some solid titles as of late. No, it's because of the operative word in the last sentence, "summer." Like I do every year, I made a New Year's resolution that I would get outside more and get more exercise. Every year, I fail to uphold that resolution.

Until this year.

This year, I've been spending a lot of time outside. I've been running, jogging, camping, walking the dogs, working in the garden, etc. This year, my resolution stuck.

It stuck because I approached getting more exercise like a gamer. I found technology to help me work towards my goal, upgraded my gear, and found goals to work towards. Presenting the Joystick Division Get Outside Guide!
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Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection is Off Target [Review]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm
Whether I was escaping from a derailed train overrun with the undead, blasting my way through zombie scientists in a mansion or fighting back hordes of monstrosities in Racoon City, one thought kept running through my mind while playing PlayStation 3's latest light gun compilation, Resident Evil Chronicles HD Collection: I've been here before, but I remember it being a lot more fun.

Now, I'm not talking about the setting or the games themselves. Chornicles HD combines Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles and Darkside Chronicles into a single package, giving them the HD treatment, trophy support and the ability to play with a DualShock or Move controller. Originally for the Nintendo Wii, I never got around to playing either of these games when they were originally released. And even though the stories are pulled directly from previous Resident Evil games, my feelings of "been there, done that" did not stem from the rehashed narrative.

But with the run-and-blast antics of the House of the Dead series on one side of the light gun spectrum and the story-driven Dead Space: Extraction on the other side, Resident Evil Chronicles fell somewhere in the middle; providing neither the over-the-top fun of House or the methodically paced perfection of Dead Space.

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Return to Skyrim in Dawnguard [Review]

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 10:00 am

It has been months since I last set foot in the snowy land of Skyrim, a land where I adventured for countless hours. In my time there, I saved the world from dragons, became the most powerful mage in the land, lead a group of assassins and even became a werewolf. Like many who ventured to Skyrim, I did nearly all there was to do. And when no more thrills remained, I left.

But now the Dawnguard calls adventurers back to Skyrim to face a deadly threat: a vampire uprising.

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2008 Provides A Challenge; 2012 Looks Back Fondly

Monday, July 9, 2012 at 1:00 pm


A challenge is always welcome when it comes to video games. Regardless of what I am playing, I like being tested, learning the mechanics, and perfecting my reactions to them. I like learning what I'm doing so I can be better at it. What I don't enjoy is a game that tests my patience, as opposed to one that encourages me to improve my skills. This was my problem with Spelunky, a recent addition to the XBox Live Arcade collection that has garnered a lot of praise. The game has its appeal, but unless you're a masochist, and have nothing else to do, I would have a hard time recommending that you play it.

I see message boards complaining about handholding in games, how difficulty is too easy, how developers are only reaching out to casual fans, not the hardcore elite gamer. I've seen enough complaints about how people don't want a real challenge in how they play, they just want to gun through to the next level. By making a game 'easy', players feel bored and unchallenged. A bored gamer is not a pretty sight for anybody.

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Mobile Gaming Doesn't Compare to Portable Consoles

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 2:32 pm
After years of kicking, screaming and doing anything within my power to avoid upgrading to a smart phone, I finally took the plunge recently and got myself one of these newfangled devices. Being the person I am, however, what I was most interested in was how this bad boy would stack up as a gaming machine.

Over the past several years I've heard many games journos herald the end of portable gaming, stating that mobile was the wave of the future and, with a smart phone in your pocket, who needs a dedicated gaming device as well?

Keeping in mind that I've only been at this smart phone gaming for a week, I'd like to go on the record as saying that I couldn't disagree more. Yes, mobile gaming is on the rise and is absolutely here to stay but, when it comes to gaming on the go, nothing I've played compares to the experiences offered by Sony or Nintendo's portable devices.

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Win a Copy of Spec Ops: The Line!

Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

How are you enjoying your holiday week? Hopefully you've got an extra long weekend out of the Wednesday holiday. You know what goes well with long weekends? Free games! We've got a few copies of Spec Ops: The Line to give away for Xbox 360, and we're going to make it really, really easy for you. Here's how you enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post on how you game patriotically.
2. Make sure your comment has a way to contact you. It can be email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. If we can't contact you, you're disqualified.
3. Wait until Monday morning when we announce the winner.

That's it! Good luck!

Spec Ops: The Line [Review]

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm
The first dead person I saw fell out of a busted up car. He wore bloody US military fatigues and landed in the middle of the road that led us from the outskirts of Dubai to the heart of the city. My team and I took turns inspecting him.

"Body looks fresh."
"Even worse, he's 33rd." He was a soldier that had gone missing.
"Who did this?"
"Probably the same people been ghostin' us."

And soon those same people arrived and began shooting their guns at the three of us standing there.

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Happy 4th of July

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 at 10:00 am

Happy Independence Day everyone. We'll be taking the day off, but we'll be back tomorrow with a contest for you. Stay tuned to win a copy of Spec Ops: The Line. Until then, celebrate July 4th in the way you see fit.