Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five of our writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, the Game Rant team discusses the epic release of Gears of War 3, the trend in beta testing, the potential of video game board games, the terrible reality of overpriced DLC and the return of Counter-Strike multiplayer.

Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.

Jeff Schille

Setting The Bar

Though Madden NFL is the traditional starting shot for the Fall games season, the showdown of Fall blockbusters kicked off this week with the release of Gears of War 3. It has to be said: right out of the gate, Epic Games has set the bar astoundingly high.

By my estimation, the major players for the rest of the year are Uncharted 3: Drake’s DeceptionBatman: Arkham CityElder Scrolls V: SkyrimModern Warfare 3Battlefield 3, and (maybe) Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. (Yes, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword will be huge, but it’s not really in competition with those other games.)

We expect UnchartedArkham City, and Skyrim to deliver engrossing campaigns. Modern Warfare and Battlefield may well dominate the online multiplayer charts for months after they release. But, as pointed out in Game Rant’s Gears of War 3 reviewGears 3 really is the whole package. Excellent campaign, stellar online multiplayer. It looks, sounds, and plays every bit as good as you’ve heard. For once, the first AAA game of the Fall may also be the best game of the year — though I can’t wait to check out the competition.

Vivasvat Kaul

Low Tech Variation

When I wrote up the story about Metal Gear Solid being transformed into a Risk board game I was filled with a childish glee. What if other video game franchises were turned into board games?

Metal Gear Solid could be turned into a customizable card game like Magic the Gathering with resource management and creature costs. You can summon Solid Snake only if you have enough Psych to do so. But he won’t have a weapon by default, and you need Drebin points to unlock and equip the Rail Gun. Meanwhile, your opponent is facing you down with 2 Metal Gear Rays and Crying Wolf equipped with a PSG1.

Uncharted 3 could be turned into an adventure game with a DM and role players. It could have a rule book akin to something like Vampire the Masquerade with dice rolls and character sheets. You want to cast ‘Creepy Crawler’? Roll a d20 and apply a penalty for using your off-hand. Hmmm… perhaps I’ve said too much. I’ll call my attorney and the patent office and then get back to you guys with a prototype.

Anthony Taormina

Testing 1,2,3

It seems like over the years, as competitive multiplayer titles began to grow in popularity, that the number of beta opportunities available to gamers has grown exponentially. While getting a chance to contribute towards making one of you most anticipated games, like Diablo 3 or Battlefield 3, is an intriguing proposition it makes one wonder where the line between beta and demo begins.

With Battlefield 3 rolling out a beta only a mere month before it releases — realistically preventing any grand changes from being made immediately — most gamers will look at the opportunity as getting to play Battlefield 3 earlier, not contributing towards making the game better. Sure the developers will always reap the benefits of a beta, Epic Games could certainly have used one for Gears of War 2, but how do the players look at it? Has the alpha testing stage become the new beta testing stage and has the beta test become more of a demo?

Jacob Siegal

Time to Play A Gun Game

Online PC gaming has never been my primarily mode for multiplayer fun – Except for Counter-Strike: Source. The euphoria a rookie player feels after taking out an all-star player on Dust 2 is not one many other games can elicit in gamers. The announcement of Global Offensive has sparked the excitement of the computer gaming world, and the most recent addition, Arsenal Mode, should have PC gamers attempting to hibernate until early 2012.

Gun Game has consumed countless hours of Counter-Strike players’ lives. Arsenal Mode is sure to do the same, especially after the popularity of Black Ops‘ gun game mode. The thrill of throwing the grenade at just the right time or stabbing a player holding a machine gun will never get old. The competition is just too addictive.

With the original creator of Gun Game on board, this is sure to be one of the most popular game types in CS:GO when it releases. Valve knows how to polish and perfect these mods, so by the time we get hands-on with Global Offensive, we might be playing the most definitive version of Gun Game ever created.

Robert Keyes

DLC stands for Downloadable Cozen

I love when that game I’ve been waiting so long for comes out and I feel okay with shelling out $60 to get it on day one. I love that feeling of putting it into the PC or console and finally playing it.

I hate when I have to pay $60 for a game and in order to play it, I have to pay a monthly fee to use the console (see: Xbox Live Gold) and game I already paid for with the internet I pay for, all powered by my utility bill which I also pay for.

I really hate it when I pay $60 for a game and then have to pay more money to get all of the content that was produced during development. This is the story of all modern triple-A console games and it’s never been as bad as what we just saw from Gears of War 3 and the $45 worth of… weapon textures that players can “optionally” purchase or the $30 DLC season pass which is not only available for Gears 3 but Forza Motorsport 4 as well (and many more titles to come).

You can argue semantics and how DLC is “optional” or not, but in reality, the price of games have just gone up again if you want the whole package.

What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments, on Twitter @GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant.

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