Busy days abound in magazine land...just not in the U.S. right now (I only have four mags to cover in this installment).

First off, I was delighted to find a store nearby that stocks UK mag PC Zone, so I bought another copy. Very nice, very funny, and (like I said the last time I mentioned it) I wish they'd drop the DVD because I can't justify $15 per issue. Total PC Gaming is still around, too (on issue 8 right now), and it's still consistently high quality.

So is Retro Gamer, which put out Volume 2 of the Retro Gamer Collection recently (I think it's Barnes & Noble exclusive around these parts). At $25 it's pricey, but it's quite a nice compilation of old RG stuff nonetheless and will look tremendously chic on your coffee table, assuming you've cleared out the Dr. Pepper cans and pizza boxes from the surface.

In America, though, not much going on right now besides Future Anime, a one-off anime/poster magazine put out by America's biggest game-mag company that came out of nowhere into stands this week. That's a little off-topic for this column, but here's coverage on the rest of the new US (ok, and one Brit) game mags...

Edge August 2008

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Cover: DC Universe Online

Between the giant cover story featuring a universally-popular pop-culture icon and the eight pages of Cliff Bleszinski talking about himself (not to mention the opening piece on iPhone 3G gaming which was out of date before the date of publication), you might be excused for thinking that this month's Edge is actually a copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly in disguise -- except, you know, larger and covering lots of Brit stuff for some reason.

Not that I am complaining much, because Cliffy is a hunky dreamboat and there's a very neat and compelling story behind DCU Online -- Sony Online Entertainment's Austin studio trying to take what they learned from Star Wars Galaxies (the Edge piece says that "subscriptions are stable and the community is largely happy" with SWG, which seems to contradict all given evidence) and produce a more exciting MMO with this pop-culture license.

For ubernerds the highlight this month is undoubtedly "This is how you make successful games," a retrospective on Segagaga with Tez Okano, the producer (there seems to be some net confusion on his last name, but it's definitely Okano, not Okada). It's a great little piece that portrays the game's creation and the massive changes going on in Sega all around it. Okano is a relentlessly interesting guy, and I wish him luck on Thunder Force VI, which he's working on right now...and speaking of somewhat obscure old devs, there's a similar "reminisce" piece just a few pages later starring John Romero, in which it's revealed that he got married to a Romanian lady he met on the Internet in 2003! Woo!

Game Informer August 2008

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Cover: Wolfenstein

I'd love to devote a column to this topic someday, but am I the only one who occasionally wonders of GI actually uses the same cover every month and is waiting for someone to notice? That's an exaggeration, of course (their GOW2 covers were iconic and exciting), but if I see one more grimy B&W man with a gun looking resolute on the cover of GI, then I'll... I'll... I'll whine about it some more in this column. (Then again, it could be a testament to how "samey" a lot of AAA game projects are these days on a visual basis...)

This is GI's E3 issue, and the Wolf piece inside is very colorful, nicely-designed, and substantial, a departure from previous E3 issue blowouts. Same deal with the runner-up feature on Rock Band 2 (that tiger on the corner of the cover is from that, and remarkably not from Dragon Quest). The feature on Marvel Ultimate Alliance II, on the other hand, looks plain and put together at the last minute possible, complete with that trademark Game Informer double-spacing on the main text to pad out things.

Official Xbox Magazine September 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Fable II

Thanks to some kinda renewal mix-up, I now get discs with my copies of OXM and PC Gamer even though I've only been charged for the "no-disc" edition. Not complaining, but I don't want Future to lose money on my account! This issue kicks off with all kindsa music-game coverage and has a ton of assorted previews before leading up to Kieron Gillen's Fable II piece, which both looks nice and features lots of Peter Molyneux, the only man I have more of a crush on than Cliffy. There's also a studio profile piece on 2K Marin disguised as a Bioshock II preview, and while there's no info for game nerds, there's a lot of very neat stories told within. (Speaking of which, both OXM and GI include pictures of dogs that live in dev studios this month. I went freelance precisely because none of my bosses would let me take a ferret to work -- if only I had a talent for story trees and making milestones! Those progressive Californians are so nice to work for!)

On the minus side, OXM's got another excerpt from a trashy video-game novel this issue (Mass Effect this month), which I really wish they'd knock off because if I wanted a taste of the Mass Effect novel, I'd pick up the thing off the Barnes & Noble shelf -- or, for that matter, the Half Price Books shelf two months from now.

PC Gamer September 2008 (Podcast)

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Cover: Fallout 3

Those fated six words ("details you will not find online") rear their head once more on PC Gamer's cover. I had a chance to play the first two Fallouts a fair bit just recently (they are pretty dated these days but I still love 'em), and now that I can understand most of the lingo getting thrown around this piece, I'm most certainly looking forward to this sucker.

The other big piece this month: a list of 365 free games for the next year (which is no-frills and mostly space-filling text) and a preview of DCU online which is nice but doesn't cover anything Edge missed. This month also feature Yahtzee's last column, which is a shame -- I guess writing the back page for America's only number-one computer games magazine isn't as glamorous as being a net superstar these days.