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Three's company in video games this year if you consider all the releases this fall with that magic number in the title -- "Battlefield 3," "Modern Warfare 3," "Uncharted 3," and more. But we're generous here at Video Games Plus and we're going to give you four, that's right FOUR different segments of news and reviews, including the latest on MW3, a review of "Super Mario 3D Land" 3DS, a preview of Spike's Video Game Awards and Halo's Living Monument.

MW3 Breaks Records; Elite Service Sputters

While you’re racking up the kills in “Modern Warfare 3,” the game itself continues to slay video game sales records.

The latest in the Call of Duty series has claimed $400 million in sales on the first day and more than 6.5 million units sold in North America and the UK, according to stats cited by Activision. It breaks the one-day sales record set by, you guessed it, “Call of Duty: Black Ops,” which made $360 million on launch day last year. “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” held the record before that with $310 million in 2009.

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick didn’t shy away from making bold proclamations about the status of the Call of Duty cash cow and how it’s exceeded the box office for Star Wars and Lord of the Rings films.
"We believe the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is the biggest entertainment launch of all time in any medium, and we achieved this record with sales from only two territories."

Unfortunately, the MW3 launch didn’t go without some hitches. There were threats of violence from a Denver man upset that a Best Buy didn’t have the game he preordered (Link: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/11/call-of-duty-modern-warfare-3-shootings-threatened.html). The Call of Duty Elite service, which asks gamers to pay an extra subscription fee in order to unlock bonus content and social networking features for MW3, has also been troubled by outages and login problems for most of the first week of service.

“We are having trouble scaling the service to meet demand,” the company said in its post. “Many of you are trying to get in and, unfortunately, you can’t right now. You’re frustrated, we know it, and we know we need to fix it.”

So do it already, guys!

Big Announcements at Spike’s VGAs

Spike TV has announced the nominees for 2011 Game of the Year, but the VGA’s aren’t exactly the Grammys (raise your hand if you remember that “Red Dead Redemption” won last year). Instead, we’re way more excited about the exclusive world premieres and announcements promised during the December 10 show.

According to Spike, Konami game designer Hideo Kojima will reveal “the truth about ‘Metal Gear Solid: Rising’ with a spectacular world premiere,” and a trailer for the sequel to the Xbox mystery thriller “Alan Wake.” If that wasn’t enough, Bioware is blowing the lid off a mystery project that has been teased only with a single screenshot of…well, it appears to be a man being shot out of his exploding jeep in the desert. After Mass Effect and Dragon Age, is Bioware going the post-apocolpytic route? We shall see.

Super Mario 3D Land Review

It doesn’t seem to matter where you put Mario -- in space, in a racing kart, in a tennis game or even in a world made of paper -- because he always seems to succeed no matter what. Such is the case with the iconic plumber’s newest adventure in 3D.

Taking a page from the original Super Mario Bros., there are eight worlds to advance through, each consisting of about four sub levels, and every stage ends with Mario leaping onto a flagpole. There’s plenty of nostalgia as you’ll be battling Goombas in grassy fields, navigating airships, and running under Bowser and hitting a switch to make him fall into hot lava. Also, the much beloved raccoon suit from “Super Mario 3” makes a nice little return to Mario’s closet.

But even if “Super Mario 3D Land” remains filled with the same ol’ jumping and stomping action we’ve seen dozens of times before, the very creative level design and 3D effects manage to make Mario feel fresh again. When jumping from high distances from the clouds, Mario’s descent onto small platforms and cliffs feel even more harrowing than before and there are special levels and rooms where the 3D effect helps you solve certain puzzles.

The controls aren’t as tight as they should be and this isn't the preferred platform choice to play a Mario game on. But besides the imperfect control system, this is everything a Mario game should be, despite what PETA might say about it.

Halo Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Hey Master Chief, you’re beginning to look a lot like, uh, us? Microsoft and 343 Industries recently unveiled a unique present to celebrate Halo’s 10th anniversary called the Halo Living Monument.

Users can upload images that will be placed on various spots of the super armor of a big interactive 3D mosaic of Master Chief. The launch of the Living Monument is meant to tie in to this week’s launch of “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” a digital remastering of the original Halo title released in 2001.

So go ahead Master Chief wannabes and say cheese.

For more from Ryan Smith, follow him on Twitter: @RyanSmithWriter

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