Edge – October 2005

November 1, 2005

Most gaming magazines have titles that make them seem like textbooks for the inept. There’s not a lot of mystery about what you’re going to find in the pages of “PC Gaming” or “Official Xbox Magazine”. Then there’s Edge. The title has a mystique about it. What does Edge cover? Is it an extreme sports mag? A knife aficionado rag? No, in order to understand what Edge deals with you have to look to its subtitle: Videogame Culture.

Indeed, while other publications may claim to cover culture along with games, they lie. They are all liars when compared to Edge. God-damned liars. Edge covers not only the here-and-now of current releases, but the what-will-come, the what-used-to-be, and what should have been.

October’s issue kicks off with coverage of games meetings in Japan and Edinburgh. The Japanese response to the PS3 and 360 is a great mirror for the new consoles in the rest of the world. The seriousness with which Japanese gamers take their hobby means those of us not on that side of the world can get a well-considered opinion by checking in with media from events there. The Edinburgh event, on the other hand, was an attempt to meld gaming industry folks with more traditional media thinkers. That article is quite revealing, because it doesn’t even attempt to coddle the event handlers. There were mistakes, and there should be improvement in the future. Really interesting stuff, and the coverage reminds me a lot of the Games and Learning event I missed out on here in town.

Their short “Hype” articles, previews for upcoming games, are equally unforgiving. “Liberty City Stories might be the most important game released this year [for the PSP] – it could also be the most important game released in the PSP’s entire lifetime – but it’s a curiously unexciting prospect.” The cover story is obviously more forgiving, talking with the id folks about the release of Quake 4, going into a great deal of detail about id’s development process and the creative forces mustered to bring the Quake experience to the Doom engine.

The article that forced me to fork over my hard earned money for an Edge subscription was the one that followed the cover article. Entitled “Building the Perfect Game”, it distills down elements from widely heralded titles across the industry. Combining the open ended gameplay of GTA with the graphics and physics of Half-Life 2, and welding on the hand-to-hand combat of Ninja Gaiden, the article took my mind to happy places that I’d love to see someday. Then, they said the words that made me sigh and reach for my credit card. “So, all of The Perfect Game’s many elements are spelled out across these pages, but what about themes and specifics? In what sort of environment will these play out? For atmosphere think, perhaps, Data East’s SNES classic Shadowrun.”

Following the article that broke my back was a great piece on Cyan Studios and the last chapter in the Myst series. Edge’s thoughtful interview was extremely illuminating, and ironic, considering the open/closed/open status of the studio this past month. Reading this article, and this magazine, gave me a new perspective when I saw X-Play’s review last week; the depth that I’m looking for in perusing these periodicals. “Micro Machines” goes into the world of the miniature classic games-in-a-joystick toys that get sold in mall kiosks and electronics stores across the US. Interesting, especially if you’re looking for an easy way to challenge someone to Joust.

Edge’s reviews are strongly written and for the most part well marked. They’re even presented in a way that makes my writerly heart happy – review scores are simple numbers in a different coloured font at the end of the review, set apart from the text. Words are king in Edge, the way it should be. Regular feature “Time Extend” looks back at Manhunt, ascribing artistic style and merit to the title … marking the only article in this issue I don’t agree with. A making of column talks Bubble Bobble, and one of the back of the mag one-sheet editorials talks about the Naboo riots in Star Wars Galaxies.

I’m completely and totally enamored with Edge. Whether it’s the British sensibility, the high production value, or the top-drawer writing, I’ve fallen head over heels for the top of the industry from across the pond.

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