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E3 Snap Judgment: 'Dishonored' is a retro-futuristic action game you must check out

dishonored

The Game: In this genre-mixing first-person action-stealth game, you play Corvo, a bodyguard-turned-assassin who’s seeking revenge after he was framed for murdering the city’s empress. The city in question is called Dunwall, a steampunk metropolis that draws inspiration from 17th-century London but also contains such futuristic elements as policemen patrolling the area on two-story-tall robotic stilts (pictured above). In addition to being highly trained with weapons, Corvo has 10 supernatural powers that were bestowed upon him by a half-god, half-devil figure known as the Outsider. These powers include the ability to “blink” — or quickly teleport — to nearby areas, the ability to take possession of people and animals, and the ability to slow time down. (Available Oct. 9 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.) READ FULL STORY

Which shows are 'exploding' in social media? Do you 'explode' onto social media while you watch TV?

I hope you’re not hurting yourself! A new study (DON’T FALL ASLEEP) suggests that social activity surrounding broadcast prime-time this April topped its level a year earlier by 194 percent. That means a whole lotta people were heading over to The Voice‘s “Sprint Lounge with Christina Milian” instead of heading over to the fridge for a snack.

You can read more about the numbers here, but I’m interested in reactions from those of you who never use social media at all. READ FULL STORY

'The Drive-In': Get the story about Google's latest doodle

From imagination to reality — that’s Google doodler (actual official title!) Mike Dutton’s job.

Dutton has helped create those doodles you see on Google’s home screen — like one honoring Charlie Chaplin to more elaborate moving pictures such as a doodle to honor John Lennon’s 70th birthday.

Today, a new Google doodle premieres honoring the 79th anniversary of the drive-in movie theater. The first drive-in was in New Jersey, but Dutton drew inspiration from drive-ins all over the country. “[All drive-ins] have that sort of retro look,” Dutton says.

READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'Far Cry 3'

Far-Cry-3

The Game: A first-person shooter about an ordinary tourist who’s stranded on a tropical island after a local gang of criminals kidnaps his buddies. It’s up to you to find your friends and confront the gang’s alpha male: a mentally unstable chap named Vaas. (Available on Sept. 4 for Xbox 360, PS3, and PC)

What We Played: The single-player demo shown at Ubisoft’s press conference, where you infiltrate Vaas’ compound, plus an extended version of the four-player co-op mode revealed at Sony’s media briefing.

The Good: The game’s tropical paradise is gorgeous. At the Ubisoft conference, the demo was played at a breakneck speed, making it difficult to appreciate Far Cry 3‘s attention to detail. For instance, when our hero, Jason, is swimming underwater at the start of the demo, you can look all around you and notice the variety of fish, the marine vegetation, and a crashed airplane resting on the ocean floor. READ FULL STORY

E3 Snap Judgment: 'PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale'

Battle-Royal

The Game: Simply put, it’s Super Smash Bros. with Sony characters. Okay, there are some twists, such as the fact that each level mixes material from at least two dissimilar franchises. But really, this is an excuse to invite some friends over and then beat the crap out of each other — the very foundation of college dorm life. (Available this holiday season for PS3 and PS Vita)

What We Played: At a recent pre-E3 event, we extensively tried out the main four-player battle mode with the six initially announced characters — Kratos (God of War), Sweet Tooth (Twisted Metal), Sly Cooper, Mael Radec (Killzone 2), Fat Princess, and PaRappa the Rapper. (Sony announced Monday that Nathan Drake and Big Daddy will also be a part of the game.) We played four different maps: Metropolis (from Ratchet & Clank), Sandover Village (from Jak and Daxter), Dreamscape (from LittleBigPlanet), and Hades (from God of War).

The Good: The fundamental appeal of the Super Smash Bros. series — fast-paced fighting mayhem with your friends — remains intact here. Many of the characters’ Level 3 special powers, like PaRappa’s “death by rap song” execution move or Fat Princess’ Super Fat Chicken, are hilarious. And the levels themselves are cleverly designed. For instance, there’s a LittleBigPlanet map that, halfway through the match, will be interrupted by a Buzz! trivia question. You must navigate your character over to the correct multiple-choice answer and then defend your turf before the timer runs out. READ FULL STORY

E3: Sony puts gamers first with 'The Last of Us,' 'Beyond,' and 'God of War: Ascension,' plus a new 'Harry Potter' project from J.K. Rowling

Whereas Microsoft seemed most concerned with highlighting the Xbox 360’s role as your living-room media thingamajig, Sony emphasized its games (and the PlayStation 3’s exclusive titles) more than anything else at its E3 press briefing Monday night. This resulted in one stunning game demo after another and theoretically positioned the PS3 as the true hardcore gamer’s system, even though the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii both enjoy a significantly larger user base.

We witnessed such PS3 exclusives as Quantic Dream’s intriguing new thriller Beyond, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale, Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for the PS Vita, God of War: Ascension, and The Last of Us (pictured above). And, oh yeah, a new project from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, which showed promise and also stopped the conference dead in its tracks. Here’s what went down at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena: READ FULL STORY

E3 2012 preview: The Wii U, 'Call of Duty' goes to the future, and the return of Master Chief and Lara Croft

The Electronic Entertainment Expo: The videogame industry’s annual celebration of innovative button-mashing, finely pixelated storytelling, and more sequels, threequels, and prequels than a Hollywood studio chief could dare to conceive. This year’s E3 doesn’t officially begin until tomorrow, when conference-goers flood into the two massive showroom floors in the downtown Los Angeles Convention Center and embrace the flashy gaming pavilions and bone-melting sub-woofers. But the festivities kick off in earnest today, with press presentations by hardcore gaming rivals Microsoft and Sony, as well as showcases by major gaming publishers EA and Ubisoft.

So what are the biggest titles and stories grabbing our attention heading into this year’s E3? EW’s Darren Franich, Adam B. Vary, and John Young break it down:  READ FULL STORY

'Happy Endings': The reruns are even better!

The Skype Table. Never forget.

Penny should totally date Brian Austin Green for all of season 3, right?

Happy wedding season everyone! Good luck out there.

Read more: ABC renews ‘Happy Endings’

Apple CEO Tim Cook promises 'incredible things,' hints at refined Apple TV

Apple CEO Tim Cook sat down for an interview at the All Things Digital conference yesterday. Without saying anything specific, he spent his 40 minutes on stage responding to pointed questions with detailed-yet-abstract answers, giving the impression that Apple as a company was in a quantum phase of working on everything and nothing at the same time. After noting his excitement for “all the things I cannot talk about today,” he promised the crowd: “The juices are flowing, and we have some incredible things coming out.”

The juice must flow! Zooey Deschanel doesn’t know if it’s raining!

Still, a close reading of Cook’s responses may offer some hint about Apple’s near future. (The interview was not streamed, but All Things D has a full live blog of the event.) READ FULL STORY

Facebook Camera: Just like Instagram, except...well, just like Instagram!

FACEBOOK-CAMERA

Say, remember when Facebook purchased Instagram for one kabillion dollars? Well, in news that is completely unrelated, the beloved social network/high-class stalker-enabling mechanism has announced the impending release of a new photo application called Facebook Camera. Facebook Camera — or FaceCam, as I’ll henceforth call it until Twitter tells me not to — also allows you to add all kinds of exciting filters to your photos. And those filters are not too different from Instagram’s. Mike Isaac at AllThingsD refers to the camera as “Instagram Redux,” which could just be reference to the fact that FaceCam features a wholly unnecessary French plantation scene. READ FULL STORY

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