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I got a bit of free spending money a week or two ago after being paid for some freelance, so I decided to use some of it to complete my collection of 2600. This is no arduous feat, since every issue (dating all the way back to January 1984) is available for purchase on their website.

If you're at all interested in the topic of underground computer activity and its history, I think you should definitely make this (admittedly kinda pricey) purchase. The mag has never been the flashiest, but ever since its inception it's always been about half serious hardware/software issues and half civil disobedience. I can't get enough of its rhetoric, and I hope it'll continue to defy death in the current magazine marketplace.

By the way, the ferret in the picture is one I've been fostering lately. Her name's Princess (blecch), she is almost seven years old, and she'd like to have a home. Why not contact Forever Homes Wanted Ferret Rescue if you're in Houston? I bet she'd be happy to hear if you did.

Anyway, click on to read all about the game magazines of the past couple weeks. This month marks most mags' "E3 issues," which for me are consistently the most boring editions of the year these days (it's all been on the internet for a month, I mean duh magazine editors), so not much commentary from me this time.

PSM October 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Unreal Tournament 3

E3 stuff occupies the front part of this issue, with Unreal Tournament 3 (and, by extension, Unreal Engine 3 as shown on the PS3) taking center stage. PSM undertakes every effort to make it look as lovely as possible, and they generally succeed -- a bit easier just because of how colorful the game is compared to Gears. There are some interviews with Kojima and Ted price in the midsection's news section, and then reviews, and then letters, and that's about it.

But it's the reviews that take center stage -- or, at least, have so far on the net. When there are two first-party PS3 exclusives to review and a Naruto PSP title takes Game of the Month, you know you're gonna find trouble online. And that's just what happens this month, as Randy Nelson calls Lair "an average shooter" and Tom Holoien says that Warhawk "doesn't hold up as the quality game we all wanted it to be" and gives it the same rating another reviewer chooses for Dynasty Warriors: Gundam. Pretty rough, but by everything I've heard, they aren't giving out such criticism just to stir the pot. I can't sait to see the responses in next month's mail.

And I fully expect PSM will hear it from the readers. After all, in this month's "Hot Topic," two of them point out that PSM's August review of The Darkness includes a screenshot from the Xbox 360 version. Oops! As EIC Rob Smith explains, his hands were tied becuase he wanted to show off a certain bit from the game, but since he can't take screenshots from a PS3 (unlike the 360), he had no choice but to use a 360 screengrab. He pledges never to put a 360 screen into PSM again, but I definitely empathize with his pain -- it's such a pain to get very good-looking screenshots of your own from non-Microsoft consoles.

Official Xbox Magazine October 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Halo 3

As usual, PSM is all about the previews and OXM is all about the special features. This time around, as if by magic after I mentioned their lack of coverage a few installments ago, they do a front-page piece on the broken-360 epidemic. It's lovingly-designed, includes quotes from Peter Moore and Shane Kim, and even includes all the warranty-busting tricks the Internet's come up with so far. There's also a small bit on Halo 3 (small compared to EGM's coverage, anyway) which has a few character profiles, the old "7 things you didn't know about game" gambit, and a few other neat bits and bobs.

Otherwise, the brunt of the mag is E3 previews and reviews, and unlike PSM and their dilemma, OXM has no lack of good games to review this month, with XBLA title Undertow getting a 9.0 and Jeff Minter's Space Giraffe getting 2.0, which is the way things should be (Minter's a much better Edge columnist than game designer, it's time to admit to it). There's also a note of apology for the lack of a BioShock review, which I presume means someone got an exclusive on it this month -- but who? The only candidate I can think of is Game Informer, but they aren't the sort to care much about exclusive reviews -- and besides, they already world-exclusive-previewed the game months ago.

The disc has Blue Dragon on it, btw. That's lurvely.

PC Gamer October 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Far Cry 2

Out of all the Future mags, I can always count on PC Gamer to deliver something off the wall for me -- and it delivers this month with a front-end piece on the Championship Gaming Series, a pro game league that has drafts and "combines" and franchises and everything. K-razy.

The mag's Far Cry 2 feature is also a breath of fresh air. For once, the feature is not all enormous screenshots and vague text; it's all unadorned gameplay description with the screens taking second fiddle throughout. Otherwise, it's all reviews, E3 previews, and Richard Garriott discussing why MMORPG combat sucks.

Play September 2007

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Cover: Heavenly Sword

It's worth noting here that Issue 4 of Rocket, Dave Halverson's movie/anime/music media mag, will be the last. After that it'll be replaced with a revival of Geek Monthly, a hiatused gadget/lifestyle mag (kinda like Ziff Davis's failed Sync) that Dave's Fusion Publishing has worked out some kind of distribution agreement with. A 32-page issue of Geek is bundled with the last Rocket -- which, by the way, is only 64 pages long and has virtually no advertising pages. As you'd expect from the title, Geek will resume monthly publication in September.

Play is on much firmer ground, though, and they're still as much Play as they've always been. This Heavenly Sword feature is reportedly the first one to allow for hands-on gameplay. The thing I like the most about Play features is there's no endless droning -- this only devotes a couple pages to the hands-on gameplay, then spends the next few spreads talking to the assorted dev leads about their baby, which is a lot more interesting than getting quotes from anonymous white dudes you've never heard of before.

After that, E3 previews and reviews.

Nintendo Power October 2007

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Cover: Super Mario Galaxy

NP keeps soldiering along without any official update to its fate. This issue is pretty much all-E3 all the time, with Miyamoto's E3 showing of Super Mario Galaxy up front and lots of previews around it. Other pieces are on Battalion Wars 2, Metroid Prime 3 (a little concept-art sampling), and Looney Tunes: Duck Amuck, which I am now officially psyched for thanks to Nintendo Power doing a feature on it.

Admittedly "all-E3" is a bit of an exaggeration -- there's an interview with Toru Iwatani, another with Inafune, and there's also a retro "Classified Info" covering codes for all the Virtual Console games. Cute.

(The perennial "You Found The Ocarina!" advertisement now has some crazy, vaguely Midna-ish visual-kei goth girl hawking the things. It's pretty scary.)

Hardcore Gamer September 2007

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Cover: Legendary: The Box

E3, E3, E3...the main innovation being Legendary's cover apperance over all other options. HGM's zagging where everyone else zigged, plainly, and it's funny the way the feature's written, describing how the crew got more and more enthused about the game as E3 wore on. Otherwise, E3. Did I mention E3?

[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a site for collectors and fans of old video-game and computer magazines. He's also an editor at Newtype USA magazine.]