What happened to the simple days of our youth, when we had no idea that a new game was coming out until we saw an advertisement on TV or accidentally stumbled across the actual title on store shelves? In the age of information overload (which I’ve written about here before), such an occurrence is less and less likely to happen.
It’s funny thinking back to my anticipation level for titles over the years as I’ve grown up. It started with magazine subscriptions and previews and eventually worked its way up to disc-based demos, kiosks and ultimately the Internet. Nowadays, it’s getting much more difficult to ignore all of the media associated with the games we’re dying to play. No matter where you look, there’s some kind of data bombardment, beckoning you to pre-order from this or that store, trying to get you to buy the ultra mega editions and watch every last 10 second non-game footage teaser trailer.
What happened to simplicity? That’s what Kotaku writer Kirk Hamilton (or Eddy’s boyfriend, as Nick refers to him) asks in a hilarious piece which looks at buying a book versus buying a video game. In it, he lampoons pre-order bonuses, betas, previews and everything else under the sun.
It’s great stuff, and really makes one wonder about just how far we’ve come. Although you could also wonder just how much gaming sites contribute to all this madness. Just a thought. What do you guys think about all this? Do you think video game purchasing has become needlessly complex? Go!
My insider sources tell me: pretty good. Actually, I don’t have any insider sources, I just go by wild reports I read on the Internet. And we all know how trustworthy those things can be.
The much ballyhooed sequel to the critically acclaimed Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (our first S review, if you’ll recall) drops into eager PS3 disc drives next week after months of hype regarding both the single player and multiplayer outings. After such a successful release, Uncharted 3 represents a huge challenge for Naughty Dog, especially in a day and age where everyone expects to be wowed with each new title.
As far as the reviews go, it seems that Naughty Dog has certainly risen to the occasion. You can obviously judge that for yourselves from the following reviews, but so far it sounds to me that while Uncharted 3 is more of the same, what it offers is a really great experience with tons of content.
It’s worth noting that the last link to Eurogamer is to a more “controversial” (I use that in scare quotes facetiously) review, where the writer blasphemed against all things holy by giving Uncharted 3 the dreaded 8 (or hate) out of 10. His reasoning: The game is great fun, but takes away too much control from the player. Definitely a criticism worth noting as that’s not some people’s cup of tea, but I don’t mind the occasional experience that does that, especially when they do it so darn well. Just thought it was worth mentioning.
So, who else is ready to do some deceiving of their own with Nathan Drake next week? Go!
Confession time, gents and ladies. Playing Batman: Arkham City makes me feel like a kid again, and I don’t really care who knows it. As of right now, it’s my game of the year. I’ll tell you why in a moment.
But first, there’s something you may have already guessed about me, but I thought I should confess that as well: sometimes I can be a bit of a cynic. I always try to look at the brighter side of things, but in this day and age, the overwhelming cynical voice of the Internet can be a bit of a bog that all of us get stuck in. Especially when it comes to gaming.
I can’t think of a bigger rivalry in FPS gaming right now than the one brewing between Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3, each game vying for the crown of “shooter king”. Call of Duty seems confident that people will want it more because it’s Call of Duty, but Battlefield has been making a strong case for itself. Both games recently dropped their respective campaign-focused launch trailers, so we’re going to have a poll to see which one comes out on top. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3′s launch trailer first, then Battlefield after the jump.
Personally, I can’t wait for this new expansion and getting to play the campaign and try all the new units, even if the Terran stuff looks kind of silly to me. I mean, the transforming Hellion is cool, but the Warhound looks like a Gobot. What do you guys think of the Heart of the Swarm trailer? What about the other BlizzCon news?
Oh, Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. You look like a fairly interesting take on the Zelda universe, complete with a sky diving Link, imaginative monsters and some of that fancy Nintendo art design that has made your series famous. But you seem to have some confusion regarding your control scheme.
I guess it’s kind of rude of me to keep having this conversation with a video game while ignoring my fellow Sushi-ans, so I’ll clue you in. As you guys all know, Skyward Sword is a game slated for release on the Nintendo Wii, and as such, requires playing the game with a Wii-mote. Unfortunately for southpaws, though, there is no left-handed control scheme, despite earlier reports that it would end up in the game.
Now, I’m not going to bash Nintendo for this, even though it seems like a drastic oversight. Plenty of game companies don’t allow for control schemes that work for everyone. In fact, it’s often a big deal now when video games come packaged with options for handicapped players, like what Modern Warfare 3 is doing.
I guess my big question is why more developers aren’t allowing for these kinds of options in games? One of the biggest advantages to PC gaming in my mind is that you can customize your keyboard to play the game however you want to play it, and it doesn’t make any difference to anybody. I get that there needs to be some kind of standardized way to play, but would it hurt games to have a more customizable experience in that regard?
What do you guys think of this? Fair/foul on Nintendo? Should more games allow for changing the controls as you see fit? Go!
I won’t presume to speak for the gamer population at large, but one of my recent concerns about the trajectory of the video game industry would have to do with the lack of innovation. I try to keep my griping about “shooter fatigue” to a minimum around these parts, simply because at the end of the day, I still like playing shooters, even if I would like something to come along from time to time to mix up the monotony.
But what exactly is the cause behind the predominant trend of shooter saturation over the last few years? Have gamers changed? Have developers changed? Is the idea of a shooter the most immersive form of game design? Hardly, says Saber Interactive CEO Matthew Karch. He believes that out of control budgets for AAA titles are what’s causing the innovation funk. Here’s what the studio head behind Halo: Anniversary had to say on the matter in a recent interview:
Publishers will spend so much money to make a game. It becomes so bloated that you can’t innovate, because if you’re spending $15 million on something, you want to make sure that it’s a safe bet so you can’t take those risks.
Ultimately you end up with the fourth or fifth sequel of a game, which really is a tried and true formula without much innovation… I think there are so many things fundamentally wrong with the way the games industry is run that need to change.
I really think the solution is coming up with ways to give people smaller, more varied experiences for less money. A perfect example is LA Noire. Here’s a game that people like to play for the first couple of hours, then it got repetitive and by the second or third hour they were done with it. So why not give them a two or three hour experience for 10 pounds instead of giving them a £50 game? Why not give them a smaller, bite size experience?
While the studio’s track record doesn’t necessarily help them (Halo: Anniversary isn’t exactly breaking the mold anymore than their previous title Battle Los Angeles), it’s nice to note that some game studio heads are thinking this way. As much as I’m excited about the many sequels that are coming out this year, I can’t help but think that I’d love to see something new.
What do you guys think about the idea of game budgets getting out of hand? Do you think something needs to shift in the gaming industry? Go!
Everyone knows about the recent and heated feud between the Call of Duty and Battlefield franchises, as kicked into high gear by EA. With both of these juggernauts bearing down on each other this Fall season, it’s looked something like Godzilla versus Mothra, the two beasts lumbering into our collective view and ready to do battle.
However, there’s another number three hitting this season, and it doesn’t want to be forgotten: Saint’s Row: The Third. The newest installment of the open world gangster playground from THQ is now on the scene, trolling on both Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3 with this brand new trailer, which also happens to be packed full of win.
Every new bit of media I see about this game ensures that it’s going to be a day one pick up. What about you guys?
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary (Super Gaiden Subsistence) is coming out on November 15, updating the classic Xbox shooter with a shiny coat of new graphics and other bells and whistles. It may surprise you to learn that 343 Industries isn’t just content with bringing Combat Evolved into the modern era; they also found the time to put a few Kinect commands into the game.
It’s not as bad as you’re probably thinking, and the Kinect stuff actually seems pretty harmless. There’s three commands that have been introduced and they are:
Voice Commands: Lets you switch weapons, throw grenades and toggle the graphics overlay without lifting a finger.
Analyze Mode: Similar to the Metroid Prime series, you can point your reticle at various objects in the environment and the game will scan the thing in question and add it to your…
Library: This Library is not the one in the game, fortunately, it’s actually an index for all the things you scanned in Analyze Mode and you can leaf through it with gestures. They had to call it the Library, though?
So there’s the list folks and it’s not all that bad. The voice commands are incredibly redundant in my opinion, given that you’ve already got a controller in your hand (and they probably won’t be used in multi) but the Analyze Mode sounds pretty cool. I hope you can still do that one without a Kinect, I mean there’s a few extra buttons on the controller that Halo doesn’t use.
In addition to the reveal of the Kinect features, 343 also dropped the achievements for Halo Anniversary and the list actually looks pretty fun. I’m a big fan of the co-op achievements which use the “bro” puns like “Standard Operating Brocedure” and “Brovershield”. All of the achievements appear to be doable, so don’t be surprised if I end up nabbing all the cheevos on this list.
So, any thoughts on the Kinect commands or the achievements? Still excited for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Super Gaiden Subsistence?
Bam! Pow! Zhom! Those are the sounds that Arkham City is making amongst the circle of reviewers as it enters the scene with one heck of a flourish. The sequel to Rocksteady’s Arkham Asylum certainly sounds promising, and many are praising it as the greatest superhero game ever made. Granted, that’s not saying a lot, but it’s still a lofty and impressive claim.
Overall, Arkham City is garnering loads of positive reviews on the high end of the spectrum. It seems like it improves on Arkham City in every way, and adds the open world play style in a way that doesn’t take away from what made the previous game so much fun. Here’s one of my favorite quotes, from the Wired review:
In fact, it avoids the curse of sequelitis by making a major change to the formula — instead of a Metroid-esque series of interconnected rooms, it’s an open-world city that you can fly across, going from point to point in a matter of seconds. You can play only the missions that are required to advance the storyline, but you’re also constantly tempted with a wide variety of side missions, collectibles and challenges scattered everywhere. It doesn’t feel anything like Metroid anymore, but it sure feels a lot like Crackdown.
So yeah. Call me excited. Here are some other reviews for you to peruse:
EA and StarBreeze’s (the guys behind The Darkness) revival of Syndicate, a sci-fi RTS from the early 90s, was just announced last month with a release date of February 2012. Since the game is seemingly on the fast track to the shelves, the two companies have been hitting hard with the pre-release info and have just put out a new ten-minute gameplay trailer for the title. It shows off the game’s shooting and something called “breaching” which is the act of using the chip in your character’s head to hack electronic systems and manipulate them. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, check out the trailer below:
Some people have been saying that Syndicate bears a close resemblance to the recent Deus Ex game, but other than some superficial stuff I don’t see it. Syndicate looks like it’s way more action-oriented than Deus Ex was, and it doesn’t appear that stealth will really be an option here. So, what did you guys think of the trailer?
Yikes. Yesterday, the Internet was absolutely exploding about the news that Mass Effect 3 has a multiplayer mode. Shocker of all shockers, the instant reaction to this was utter panic, as the Internet is an entirely sensible bunch and not prone to hyperbole.
As a result, Chris Priestly, Bioware’s Community Coordinator, stepped into the Bioware forums to deliver some clarification about just what the Mass Effect 3 multiplayer would look like. It turns out that the game will actually support 4 player co-op missions that are separate from the main campaign. This mode, called Galaxy at War, will put players in control of 4 squad mates (not including Shepard) who can be made up of a variety of powers and races.
The cool thing about Galaxy at War is that it sounds like the progress you make in these co-op missions will affect the single player, in the sense that you’re helping the overall war effort against the Reapers. Whereas in Mass Effect 2, you were grooming 12 people for a suicide mission, in Mass Effect 3, you’re getting the entire galaxy ready for an all-out war. The co-op missions can boost your overall Galactic Readiness level.
So, that’s just a few of the details for what actually sounds like a promising mode that doesn’t step on the toes of the Mass Effect universe. I think the big debate moving forward is going to be if this hurts single player in any way, or if this mode is even necessary for what’s already been a great experience. You can certainly read the rest of the FAQ for yourself here.
How do you guys feel about this? Are you freaking out? Excited? Upset? Ready to swear loyalty to Bioware forever? Go!
A week and a bit ago, Anthony posted a mysterious teaser for a Sony trailer which featured a lot of nods to their famous franchises. The full version of the ad had gone up, and it’s rather awesome. I’m not going to spoil it for you guys, so go ahead and watch it.
That was actually really, really cool, the “Super Smash Bros” of commercials, if you will. I bet Microsoft is kicking themselves for not thinking of this first (although their ads have never really focused on the games their system offers, they just assume those will sell). Not only did Sony manage to get pretty good ringers for their characters, they brought in the voice actors, too. There’s some really good attention to detail in this video, and if I was still holding out on a PS3, this would have convinced me. So what did you guys think of the ad? Did it knock your socks off?
Some of you may have heard about the new Mountain Dew Call of Duty promotion giving away in-game Double XP time for buying their products. Stuffing your face with bags of Doritos and washing it down with a can of the green can give you up to 90-plus minuets of in-game double XP. Codes on the products can be entered to give you a rank-up edge in Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3.
Now I don’t know how many of you feel about companies giving in-game goodies for pre-orders or buying the more expensive edition of a game, but this one really takes the cake. Check out the official rules at the link from the top to view the official rules and a table of the time-to-drink ratio.
While 15 minutes of double experience for drinking a 20 oz bottle of Mountain Dew isn’t going to skyrocket you to 15th Prestige, the concept of this promotion is still a giant facepalm to me. With companies like Best Buy and GameStop already doing absurd promotions this new concept seems to be pushing that idea too far. What do you guys think? Is Mountain Dew hitting on a goldmine? Or is this a joke of a promotion? Give me your thoughts!
At first glance, the easiest way to note the changes in gaming from the 80s to now would be in the quality of the visuals. We’ve moved from the jagged mazes of Pac-Man to the jaw-dropping realism of Battlefield 3. And while I’m not one to call myself a graphics dude, this certainly makes me happy in a variety of ways. I remember playing games on the PS1, seeing the cut scenes, and thinking that some day games will look like this. The crazy thing is, we blew that point out of the water as early as last generation in some cases.
But have we hit our graphical peak? And where else can gaming go? CEO of Epic Games Tim Sweeney has some ideas about that:
I really see two major milestones coming up for games in the very long-term future. Number one is achieving movie quality graphics and movie quality pixels on the screen, which mean no flicker in the visuals, no popping artifacts, no bulky character outlines on the screen at all. I see that actually occurring over the next ten years. I expect I’ll be actively programming at the time we’ve achieved full movie-quality graphics because that’s really just a matter of brute force computing power and clever algorithm. We know exactly how to do that.
He goes on to talk about the second major milestone being the human aspects of the game such as AI and other simulations. Perhaps I’m nitpicking a bit here, but it seems interesting that game makers are still so devoted to graphics. Granted, this is Epic we’re talking about, makers of one of the most gorgeous engines in gaming, but it still gives me pause.
The day that we’ve all been waiting for has finally come to pass: after much hemming and hawing and three pre-rendered trailers, BioWare has seen fit to announce the release date for their highly anticipated Star Wars MMO. The Old Republic (TOR) will be brought into being on December 20, 2011 in North America and the 22 in Europe. People who have pre-ordered the game will also be given early access, but there’s no specific time-table for that yet.
In addition to the launch day, BioWare also dropped The Old Republic’s pricing structure. Every copy of the game will come with a 30 day subscription built in, but anything past that will be subjected to the typical MMO monthly fee. The breakdown goes thusly:
1 Month Subcription: $14.99 (£8.99/€12.99)
3 Month Subscription: $13.99 per month (one-time charge of $41.97/£25.17/€35.97)
6 Month Subscription: $12.99 per month (one-time charge of $77.94/£46.14/€65.94)
So there it is, folks, laid bare for all to see. I’m kind of surprised that TOR is going with a traditional pricing scheme when every other MMO (even World of Warcraft to an extent) is going free to play. Indeed, there’s one MMO I’m looking forward to possibly more that TOR and that’s Firefall which is going to be supported by microtransactions.
I’ll still give TOR a shot anyways, just because I’ve been waiting so long for it, but the subscription might be a deal breaker in the long run. What do you guys think about this news? Excited for TOR? What are your thoughts on the pricing structure?
Typically in gaming, female characters are either total write-offs or just re-writes of male characters but with ridiculous armor that barely covers anything except their privates. I’d all but given up on seeing believable female characters in video games, but this year actually marks the first where I was more impressed by the fairer sex in a game then I was by their masculine counterparts (no homo).
The year started off with Dead Space 2 and its introduction of Ellie Langford, a pilot for the Concordance Extraction Corporation and a survivor of the Necromorph outbreak on Titan Station. While Isaac Clarke was fighting to regain his sanity, Ellie battled the zombified remains of her co-workers (and implied boyfriend) and helped Isaac destroy the Marker and escape the station, all while losing an eye. Ellie didn’t need your help, didn’t need to be saved (again, the eye thing was a minor set-back) and she contributed way more to the story than just jump prancing around in a skimpy outfit. The same goes for Second Lieutenant Mira in this year’s destined to be over-looked Space Marine: she held the Imperial Guard together after the deaths of her superiors and kept them fighting even after the Ultramarines came in to steal the thunder.
Ni No Kuni, the Level-5 RPG that’s being co-created with Studio Ghibli (the wonderful people behind classics like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away), is due for release in Japan later this year and in America early next year. While I’ve only seen a trailer and some art for the game, I was happy to learn that Level-5 brought it to TGS. And as expected, it’s gorgeous.
I know that sometimes we gamers throw around terms like “stunning” and “gorgeous” until they lose all meaning, but I really am impressed by the art and the style of Ni No Kuni. It looks to be one of the PS3′s best-looking games, and that’s certainly saying alot.
Looks like I’ll have one more game to add to the list for 2012. What are your thoughts?
EDIT: You might have to watch two ads to get it to play, but it works. Check it!
A couple of decades ago, if you had asked me what the term “multiplayer” meant, I probably wouldn’t have had an answer. The most “multi” I could get for my gaming dollar was adding my brother into a game of Streets of Rage or the Captain America and the Avengers game for Sega Genesis. In a time where gaming knew a lot of limits, the shared experienced capped out at two players max.
Things were different at the arcade, of course. There, two to four players could race against one another, or four mutants could tackle the coin-op challenges of the classic X-Men arcade cabinet. That was an experience that was fancy, almost futuristic in appearance compared to the tethered wired controllers that got thrown around in frustration over hat tricks in NHL 94.
Gears of War 3 launches today, which means it’s finally upon us. The Gaming Season That Must Not Be Named. I bid all of you my best wishes as you meet the challenges of the next few months headlong. As for me, I’m already looking forward into October. At the risk of sounding like the world’s biggest Battlefield 3 fan site, I thought I’d post a couple of updates I saw floating around the Web this morning.
First: a multiplayer beta for the game starts next week across XBox 360, PS3 and PC. Looks like it’s going to cover the Operation Metro map.
Second: DICE released the minimum and recommended PC specs in order to play their graphically stunning behemoth. Check those out after the jump!