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The local B&N decided to get in a few copies of PlayStation Official Magazine UK this week, so I decided to pick up one and see what's up.

PS:OMUK (not to be confused with PlayStation 2 Official Magazine UK, which is also still in operation and comes with a PS2 demo disc) is the only mag in the world, not counting the assorted continental European versions, to include a PlayStation 3 Blu-ray demo disc with each issue. I'm sure Future must've paid Sony quite a lot of money to convince them to put together a disc just for the European marketplace, and it's not a terrible disc either -- this one includes demos of many of the really important PS3 games released so far, including Ridge Racer 7, Resistance, Genji, and so forth. Nothing hugely new (and nothing you can't find on the PSN, really), but then again "official" UK mags love to pack their discs with ancient demos, filling them up as much as possible.

What's the mag look like inside? Well, a lot like how it looks outside, in fact -- extremely light 'n airy, with nothing but white backgrounds, easy-to-read text, and the occasional bit of original clean-line art demonstrating this or that feature of a game. The content is nothing terribly special, although there's a heck of a lot of it: ten pages on Resident Evil 5 (which seems to have all been written based off the old trailer and a lot of clip art), a couple of neat features on assorted topics (Folding@home, of all things, as well as a roundtable discussion of guitar/music party games), and then the usual previews and reviews.

Will I buy it again? Not for $15, no, but compared to -- uh -- the only PlayStation-specific magazine left in the US, this is an extremely high-quality product.

Anyway, let's check out all the mags released in the past fortnight! And God, all these specials! They're driving me to the poorhouse!

Game Informer October 2007

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Cover: Dead Space

All right, what is it with GI's coverlines all being in PR-speak lately? Are you meant to imagine Don LaFontaine speaking the three sentences on the bottom in your mind? 'Cos that's the only guy who can say these lines out loud without sounding silly. The designer also chose a pretty bland cover subject when the art in the feature inside is way better. Arrrgh!

There's nothing all that "renegade" about the team at EA making Dead Space, but the feature on it remains interesting and engaging, even though 80 percent of it is producer GLen Schofield talking about all the things they're going to put into the game by the time it hits stores in a year. It's also nicely supported by a Classic GI piece on the history of survival horror, complete with an interview with RE4's Hiroyuki Kobayashi. The bit on Project Origin is more in-depth if not quite as long, but the highlight as usual is int he front section, which includes an interview with Warren Spector (can't get enough of him) and a timeline behind the creation of Rainbow Six Vegas which is very nicely designed and well worth reading.

PC Gamer November 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Half-Life 2: The Orange Box (The cover is actually a pleasing fluorescent orange in color; cheap scanners choke on colors like these.)

After nine years, Greg Vederman is leaving PCG "to a new job in the tech industry," set to be replaced by executive editor Kristen Salvatore. A lady editing a magazine that, according to their own media kit, has a 97% male readership? Sacrilege! Pish and tish! (Though I will admit, she's a great deal more talented than Stevie Case proved to be.)

The cover being devoted to a review (one that runs five pages and ends with a 94% score, same as BioShock one page later), the main feature is instead devoted to hardware -- to be more exact, why you should upgrade to Vista and DirectX 10. Problem is, it doesn't do a great job of convincing -- in every game they profile, the DX9 and DX10 shots look exactly the bloody same to me, even though the captions are pointing out "flat, spray-painted textures" and "deep and sharply defined shadows" and things. Maybe this is part of the problem? I dunno.

This issue includes a Cellplay mobile-gaming supplement, as well as a weird ad for something called CrossBOARDlogic that's written in broken English and looks like something out of an early-1980s computer mag. I wonder how creator "P Onyszkanycz" came up with the cash to advertise in a magazine like this.

PSM November 2007 (Podcast)

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Cover: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

No Cellplay in PSM (though the subscriber editions of both this and PC Gamer have annoying non-removable advertising covers), but there is a rad Assassin's Creed iron-on transfer!

I'm seeing an effort on PSM's part to do some more original features this month, which I applaud greatly. There's an interview with Everyday Shooter creator Jonathan Mak which is pretty nice, although Game Informer did pretty much the exact same interview with him this month too. There's a "11 PS2 Games You Need to Play (But Haven't)" feature which is pretty obvious, but still fun to read.

Otherwise, not too exciting an issue -- 100 pages, 16 of which are taken up by the Cellplay supplement. Soz.

Ultimate Guild Wars Guide

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Future is going specials-crazy this month, and besides PCXL this is probably the most interesting one. As the cover insinuates but doesn't explicitly mention, this mag is mostly a Guild Wars artbook -- around 50 pages of full-page spread art, with commentary from the concept artists and storyboard guys dotted throughout. Very nice. If the page size were a little bigger, I could almost imagine Edge putting out something like this... except there wouldn't be the 30 pages of extremely text-heavy walkthrough in the back of the book. Ah well, nothing's perfect.

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The other two new Future specials this month aren't of much interest to hardcore folk. PS3 Holiday Buyer's Guide is mostly recycled PSM stuff with some extra gear and movie reviews, and 2008 PlayStation Cheaster's Handbook is straight-on cheats, without so much as a table of contents. Doop de doo.

Game Developer September 2007

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I liked Puzzle Quest a lot, although I never met anyone else who cared to admit it, and reading this postmortem warmed my heart, especially when writer/designer Steve Fawkner claims that the biggest problem the game had was that they ran out of copies to sell within two weeks. Two features up front -- one covering the theory behind save systems in games and another covering Saboteur's unique color-changing systems -- are also easy for laymen to follow and would be perfectly at home in Edge if they were around in the US.

[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.]