Sometimes it’s nice to get some vindication. While I’m not normally one to harp on when I get something right (since it so rarely happens), I would like to point out that the following news is something I’ve been hypothesizing for years — the next XBox is going to focus on TV programming, according to a report from the Verge.
While many of the console makers have been saying for years that they want to make their system of choice into your all-inclusive entertainment box, Microsoft actually seems to be taking a legitimate step in that direction with their plans for the next XBox. Not only will the new system function as a DVR of sorts, it’ll also have HDMI-in for your cable TV.
As you may know, Naughty Dog’s upcoming post-apocalyptic tale The Last of Us stars a pair of main characters: a grizzly, bearded man named Joel, and a teenage girl named Ellie who bears a passing resemblance to Ellen Page. However, as the developers do publicity and interviews in preparation for the game’s upcoming release, it’s becoming more and more clear that Naughty Dog had to fight to keep Ellie in the spotlight. I find that particularly interesting because Ellie is by far the more memorable and striking of the two characters.
For example, in a recent interview with The Escapist, Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann explained that “the research group wasn’t planning on focus-testing female gamers – it’s something we had to specifically request”. This paired with the fact that they also had to insist that Ellie be included on the cover of the game paints the state of game marketing in a particularly dispiriting light. Apparently the going wisdom is that women don’t play videogames, so they shouldn’t focus test them, and men won’t buy games with women on the cover.
One of the many complaints I have with video game journalism is there is no follow-through. A game is announced, followed by rumors, speculation, then a hands-on preview and finally, the long-awaited review. Maybe, just maybe, there will be an interview with the developers or some type of feature written after the game has been released, but rarely does anyone delve deeply into the inner workings of the actual game.
However, there are a few who do and one of them is Jeremy Parish, sole survivor of the many layoffs and closings at 1Up. Jeremy, like many of us, keeps his own blog, Telebunny (http://telebunny.net/toastyblog/) formerly known as Gamespite. In addition to a hefty archive of great game writings, there is a section that I want to shine our spotlight on today: Anatomy of a Game. Anatomy of a game is a careful look at game mechanics and how they relate to the player as given by the designer. I will let Jeremy explain himself:
With the news this morning that the newly announced Batman: Arkham Origins will not be developed by Rocksteady studios, that got me thinking: what licensed franchise should they work on next? I had a brainwave yesterday when I was thinking about Star Wars games not being helmed by LucasArts anymore, and came up with a couple options, including a few more ideas pitched by fellow GamerSushi editor Anthony.
Rocksteady’s trade is in tight melee combat, brilliant world-building and set decoration. They took an overlooked license like Batman and made Arkham City, one of the best games of this generation. With that kind of talent, what other franchise could they work their magic with?
Battlefield might have yielded to Call of Duty when it comes to being the overall king of mutlipayer first-person-shooters, but in my mind, you just can’t beat the crazy action that comes with a typical Battlefield match. Jumping over a tank in a dirt bike and throwing C4 on it, or nailing a helicopter with a well-placed RPG shot: these are things that only happen when a game allows for the type of randomized chaos that Battlefield revels in.
With the recent reveal of Battlefield 4, I thought I’d break down my hopes and fears for the game. While it has been two years since the game proper has come out (or will be by the time 4 drops), the most recent DLC, End Game, just came out. Is it too soon for another Battlefield? What can DICE realistically change in that time? What should they change?
Hey look, a post that’s not about Bioshock Infinite… for now. I actually finished Ken Levine’s masterpiece (and yes, that word is appropriate for Infinite) this weekend, and the game certainly lives up to the hype in terms of what a sheer breathtaking experience it is — even if it’s sometimes lacking in the gameplay department.
One thing that I found disappointing about the game, for all its wonders, was the fact that the game was almost completely on rails. Mighty fine rails, mind you, but still, I’m the kind of guy that likes a hub, or a home base of sorts, where I’m free to weigh my options and pursue them at my leisure.
Welp, time for another Bioshock Infinite post. I’m sure you guys are getting sick of these by now, but I suppose you’ll have to suffer through our praises of this game for just a little longer.
As I already noted on Monday, Bioshock is a gorgeous game. The worldbuilding and the design of Columbia are enough to take your breath away for the first few hours, and everything begs to be explored. But what happens after that? You get sucked into the story, and soon you’re rocketing along faster than skyrails.
Every now and then, I find myself trying to slow everything down, though. Not in a bad way, like the game is moving too quickly. But more in a way that I want to appreciate everything instead of tackling it at a breakneck speed. Certain story games prompt me to blast through them and enjoy the ride no matter where it takes me, but with Infinite I find that I’m trying to pull back just long enough to remember the experience and make it matter more.
So my question for you guys is: when is the last time a game did this for you? Do you try to take your time with games, or just push through them as quickly as possible on your first playthrough? Do you pace yourself? Go!
LucasArts has had a troubled history these past few years, what with the ugly rumors surrounding Battlefront 3 and the Force Unleashed series being canned before the second game even came out. Star Wars 1313, which made a good impression last year at E3, hasn’t really made another big appearance since then, another victim of LucasArt’s internal struggles. Star Wars: First Assault, the digital-based first-person-shooter, has also been cancelled.
Disney has made it clear that this doesn’t mean the end of Star Wars games by any means, just that we won’t see another one developed internally by LucasArts. It’s a sad day for the 150 employees laid off by this move, and we here at GamerSushi hope the land on their feet. That said, having another developer take a stab at the franchise might be just the kick it needs to bring Star Wars video games back into relevance.
What do you guys think about this news? Sad to see LucasArts go? Which studio do you think will pick up Star Wars? Which team would be the best fit for Star Wars 1313 or a new Battlefront?
Gears of War: Judgement was met with an appropriate amount of skepticism when it was announced last year. With the Gears trilogy proper having just wrapped up the October before hand, was it really necessary to give us a prequel?
Epic Games’ subsidiary studio, People Can Fly, took this challenge on and brought their own twist to the Gears formula. Can a competitive scoring mode and gameplay-altering challenges help Gears of War: Judgement feel fresh?
One of the next big releases on the gaming calendar happens to be the release of The Last of Us in May. Developed by Naughty Dog, this game is set to be a new IP for the PlayStation 3, just in time for the end of this console cycle.
The release of the newest Red Band trailer for The Last of Us shows off even more of the story and the world than ever before. In this trailer we see more than just Joel and Ellie, we see communities, other survivors, some of the infected and different locales as well. Early trailers just showed off bits of the overgrown city, so it’s cool to see that the game opens up in a bigger way, with what looks to be a crosscountry trip of sorts.
What do you guys think of the new trailer? While I’m not completely sold on the actual game yet, I do have to say that Naughty Dog’s storytelling abilities are almost unmatched in the industry at the moment, so I’m excited to see what kind of journey they have in store for us. Some of the thematic stuff looks like what the Walking Dead show tries to tackle but constantly fails. Tell us your thoughts in the comments.
Hype. It has been the pitfall of many a game and it can appear at anytime from any number of sources. An amazing trailer, such as Dead Island. A genius auteur, like Hideo Kojima and his Metal Gear Solid series. A storied franchise, like Final Fantasy. All have been the focal point of an intense wave of hype and anticipation and all, at various points, have failed to live up to the near-unattainable level of quality that the gaming masses expected.
The almost-ravenous desire for Bioshock Infinite stems from all three of the sources mentioned above. At E3 in 2010, a clever trailer brought the world’s eye upon the game for the first time. Ken Levine, the man behind the first Bioshock, itself heralded as one of the greatest achievements in gaming, was back with a brand new game, set in a brand new world with promises to blow our minds as thoroughly as Andrew Ryan did in Rapture. Then the reviews started to come in, garnering some of the most lavish praise ever bestowed upon a video game. The hype was out of control. Surely there is no way a game can live up to this kind of fervor. Bioshock Infinite is going to disappoint us just like so many of the ones that came before.
The March Madness is over and what a long, strange trip that month was. From Simcity’s crushing disappointment to the stellar heights of Bioshock Infinite. From the fantastic reboot of Tomb Raider to the prequels of Gears of War: Judgment and God of War: Ascension. March was a month where it could be all things to all people with a little something for everyone.
Well, I hope you got what you wanted in March because odds are that April isn’t going to blow your mind with its offering. Not that there aren’t some gems here, but nothing on the scale of last month. This is more of a specific kind of month, with niche titles that appeal to fans of that sort of thing. See the poll below:
You guys should prepare yourselves, because I’m guessing a lot of our upcoming posts for the next couple of weeks will have to do with Bioshock Infinite in one way or another. Not only is it just a hot commodity right now in terms of gaming news, but the thing is just really damn good.
While we’ve already talked about its design and storytelling on the most recent podcast, one thing that’s stuck out to me as I traverse through Infinite’s floating Americana utopia of Columbia is just how gorgeous of a place it is. Bioshock Infinite might be one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played. I don’t mean that from a graphical fidelity standpoint, but more in terms of the game’s design.
Talk about dreams come true. For anyone that’s known the magic of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or the Star Wars-themed rides at Disney, things are about to get even more amazing. According to Forbes, The Walt Disney Company is set to ink separate deals with several big name publishers to create a video game themed section of Disney World.
At the moment, only the likes of LucasArts, Bethesda, Blizzard, Sega and Ubisoft have signed on, but Walt Disney Imagineering senior director Jonathan Ackley remains hopeful that more will follow suit to be a part of this landmark deal. Said Ackley, former video game designer on the likes of great LucasArts titles like Day of the Tentacle, The Curse of Monkey Island and Full Throttle:
Video games naturally lend themselves to these amazing, interactive experiences. We would love to get some of the big guys on board like Valve, EA, and Activision. There are some cool concepts floating around the offices and hopefully this is a step in the right direction.
There was a shocking amount of things to talk about this week on The GamerSushi Show, with what might be the most high-profile game release of the year hitting this week. BioShock Infinite takes up a good chunk of the cast, along with the latest entry in Gears of War series (which is actually pretty fun).
For news, we break down the trailers that came out this week at GDC and the fact that Square Enix’s CEO stepped down. It’s a righteous cast, and we hope you enjoy! You know what to do: listen, rate and we’ll see you next time!
0:00 – 3:51 Intro
3:52 – 18:12 BioShock Infinite
18:13 – 24:59 Gears of War: Judgement
25:00 – 30:56 Counter-Strike: GO and Mass Effect on PC
30:57 – 40:44 Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada Steps Down
40:45 – 53:36 Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
53:37 – 1:01:41 Battlefield 4
1:01:42 – 1:04:47 Outro
There are two types of franchises in video games: the ones like Final Fantasy, where each game is a completely separate world with new characters and new experiences and the ones like Mass Effect where there is a continuing narrative that flows from game to game. These two aren’t the only franchises that are like this of course, but they are two of my favorite and I think they best represent the example I am trying to make. So I wanted to ask the GamerSushi Universe which type you prefer.
Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. With Final Fantasy’s template, you know every time that you are getting something radically different from the previous game. Sure, certain themes and elements will be the same, but it’s kind of exciting to get immersed (or annoyed) by a whole new world with new characters to fall in love (or hate) with. Not to mention new gameplay ideas and mechanics that seem revolutionary compared to the previous entry. Far Cry 3 is a great example of this. There is a downside to this, though: as we saw with Final Fantasy VII, sometimes the game is so popular that deviating from that story will only irritate its legion of fans. Final Fantasy VIII is all but forgotten by Square Enix these days. It was only years later that they thought to capitalize of FF VII’s success, but by then it was too late.
In an era where ever game is so self-serious, it’s kind of refreshing to see a title that basks in whimsy. Level 5 and Studio Ghibli’s Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is such a game. It fairly oozes with clever environment design and goofy, pun-filled dialogue.
Traditionally, I don’t truck with JRPGs. Not because I actively dislike them, or anything, but they never really clicked with me. That said, Ni no Kuni is an experience that wrapped itself around me like a warm blanket and drew me in. Let’s get down to specifics, though, shall we?
The company is suspected to sustain losses of 10 billion Yen (or $105 million) and as such, Square plans to do a major restructuring of key areas of its corporate layout. Part of the reason that Square is in such trouble is the lower than expected sales of Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider. This is wild considering that both Hitman and Tomb Raider sold more than three million units a piece, but both came in under their forecasted sales targets. Square expected their North American and European sales to hit 14.9 million copies across all three games by now, so they are a good deal under that target.
What do you guys think about this? Is it wild that Square Enix needed to sell 14.9 million copies of these games to stay afloat? What do you think will happen to Square down the line? More Final Fantasy games more often? Will they ditch Western development completely?
GDC is going on this week, and apparently Konami and EA were bursting at the seams to announce their games and couldn’t wait for E3 to roll around. Both Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain (a combination of the previously announced Ground Zeroes and, of course, The Phantom Pain) and Battlefield 4 were revealed with accompanying trailers. Metal Gear Solid 5 is just below, with Battlefield 4 after the jump.
Remember Milo and Kate, the infamous tech demo from the original Kinect announcement? You can be sure that everyone who worked at Lionhead under Peter Molyneux does. Over at Polygon, Matt Leone has a fascinating in-depth article about the long development history and DNA of the project. It turns out that Milo has roots in a failed project called Dmitri that began all the way back in 2001. Milo is still a sore subject at Lionhead, so a lot of the quotes are off the record, but the article is definitely still worth a read if you’re interested in some of the behind-the-scenes goings on at a game developer.
Molyneux definitely has a long, strange history in game development; in the early years, before Lionhead and Microsoft, it seemed like he could do no wrong. I never played Black and White or any of his early games like Populous, but I remember people raving about them at the time. At Lionhead, Molyneux became known for games like Fable, which over-promised and under-delivered but still sold well enough to produce sequels. That tendency towards over-promising weird, ambitious gameplay mechanics eventually became the inspiration for parody. However, I do think there is something admirable in Molyneux’s desire to find new ways to approach games; I just get the impression that never meshed very well with the business concerns of a large corporation like Microsoft or with the realities of the modern-day console development cycle.
Have any of you ever played Molyneux’s early work? Are you looking forward to whatever crazy idea he comes up with next? Let us know in the comments!