While there are a number of troublesome trends in the video game industry (as many of you have noted in the Mass Effect 3 DLC discussion), every now and then someone just gets it right. I think because of the anti-consumer nature of the industry at times, it becomes that much more potent when a company does something on our behalf, or something that goes against the grain.
Today, Sony launched a totally free version of Killzone 3’s multiplayer mode for download on PSN. Yes, Killzone, one of their staple franchises. You can play the game with friends, kill random strangers, and even rank up – although past a certain point you’ll need to pay money for continued experience and trophies. Again, that’s hours of entertainment for the grand total of free ninety-nine.
To me, this is a bold and brilliant move by the company that just a few years back tried to tell us their Heavenly Sword player was worth a staggering fee of $599 with a straight face. This is basically the equivalent of Microsoft announcing that Halo: Reach’s multiplayer was going free to play. Obviously, the business side of this is that Sony hopes that it will encourage gamers to buy DLC packs, maps and so forth, but I think the results will be interesting to watch. A number of MMOs didn’t become profitable until they went free-to-play, so I can only guess that this will have a positive effect for Killzone 3 as well.
What do you guys think of this decision? Would you like to see other companies pull something similar with their big franchises? Go!
I know, I know, this is another gaming industry trash talk article, but bear with me for a minute. Now that Bungie has said good-bye to Halo, Microsoft has taken up the banner, trumping up their upcoming schedule of Halo titles like the Combat Evolved remake this fall and Halo 4 later next year. Since Halo 4 features the return of Master Chief, Microsoft’s Corporate VP Phil Spencer talked with OXM about bringing back the O.G. Spartan and why Halo 4 evokes the spirit of the first Halo. I get that he’s promoting Halo 4, but the way he does it is kind of odd. Have a look at the quote, and see if anything strikes you as unusual.
“The key question for me in managing the studio and the creatives is ‘what is Halo?’, making sure Halo lives up to what I think gamers fell in love with [playing Combat Evolved],” Spencer told OXM at E3 after the new game’s official reveal.
“What does that mean? Playing Master Chief,” he said. “We kind of lost our way a little bit, I’ll say. And that’s why I wanted to make sure that at the unveiling of Halo 4, you knew you were playing Master Chief, that John was back. Because Master Chief is the John Wayne character of that universe, and that’s who you want to play.”
It’s the “we kind of lost our way a little bit” coupled with the fact that Mr. Spencer seems to think that Master Chief is what makes Halo Halo. Now that Bungie has officially parted ways with their old publisher, I think a little bit of resentment is starting to crop up in the 343 Industries office. Saying that Halo lost is way in ODST and Reach was a bit unfair, especially considering that Reach was lauded as the closest the series has ever come to emulating the magic of Halo: Combat Evolved.
I guess you could look at this from a story standpoint, but I just don’t think that gamers care that much about who they’re playing as in Halo, as long as the combat is fun and there’s co-op and multiplayer to boot. What do you guys think? Is Phil Spencer dissing Bungie, or does he geniunly believe that people want the Master Chief back really, really badly?
Recently, I’ve become a little obsessed with Play Arts Kai’s line of Halo: Reach action figures, having bought Emile and scouring the city for the past month for Jun and Noble 6, the other two available figures in the current series. While I haven’t really been that into gaming doodads, purchasing the Orange Knight from Castle Crashers during my trip to PAX Prime and picking up the Halo: Reach Legendary Edition has kind of kindled my interest in collecting various pieces of memorabilia.
My geography has once again put me at a disadvantage as Square Enix only accepts American credit cards, but I’ve tracked down a few distributors and I’m planning on getting the whole set. It’s interesting because before this I thought that buying statues related to gaming was taking my hobby a bit to far, but some of the things you can get are pretty freaking sweet.
Do any of you share my current fixation? Do you have any figures currently, or are you planning on getting some? What’s the farthest you’ve gone to acquire something like this?
One of the biggest criticisms leveraged against Halo: Reach was the astonishingly low quality of the multiplayer maps included in the retail version. The original offerings were either spaces taken from the campaign or Forge World creations and remakes of older maps. Even the Noble Map Pack, released by Bungie on November 30, didn’t measure up to the maps of the previous Halo games, though they were better than the base offerings.
Interestingly, Halo: Reach’s second map pack, the Defiant Map Pack, was crafted by Certain Affinity, who made the Blastacular Map Pack for Halo 2. The Defiant Map Pack includes two new multiplayer spaces and a Firefight arena, but what makes this particular DLC worth your hard earned space bucks?
It looks like we’re not done with Halo: Reach yet, as 343 Industries just dropped a trailer for the new multiplayer map pack, dubbed the “Defiant Map Pack”. Just like the Noble Map Pack, Defiant features three brand new multiplayer arenas, one specifically built for the Firefight gameplay mode, making this the first ever Firefight DLC. If you thought the Noble pack had some good looking maps, prepare to be amazed as one of the arenas features a Covenant carrier actually glassing the background as you play.
There’s no firm release date for Defiant yet, but the trailer does specify March 2011 as the intended target. What do you guys think of the new maps? Any thoughts on this announcement coming from 343 Industries and not Bungie?
I’m sure it’s happened to all of us: we beat a game, put the disc back in the box and set it back on our shelf, sure that it’s going to gather dust or end up as trade in fodder at GameStop. Yet something stops us from trading it in, and a while later, be it a few weeks or even a couple months, that game is back in your console or on Steam, once again sucking up your time.
Lately for me this game has been Halo: Reach. I started playing it on a whim about a week ago, and I’ve ranked a couple of times and have been investing more now in the Theater mode than ever before. I’ve even come to appreciate the Challenge system more, even after whining about it when I was stuck in the Warrant Officer hump a few months ago.
Has this phenomenon ever happened to you, and for which game? Go!
As a gaming nerd, I’m a big fan of statistics (though not nearly as much as Eddy), so looking at the accumulated kills of Grunts in Halo: Reach is a nice Christmas present from the folks at Bungie. Ever since Halo: Reach dropped back on September 14, the Noble Sixes of the world have been investing a lot of time in the sci-fi shooter, spending about twenty-four thousand years in game and earning nine hundred trillion credits in the process.
Of course, reading stats dry off a page is kind of boring, which is why Bungie whipped up a handy infographic detailing the genocidal, time-wasting nature of Halo players. I’ve posted the whole thing after the jump, so go take a look!
Rooster Teeth is back once again, this time showing us the amazing versatility of Halo: Reach. Forge mode, for those of you unfamiliar with the game, is a level editor of sorts, allowing you to tweak weapon layouts and add pieces of geometry to maps. While you can’t change the base layout of the level, you can add little additions to it, like ramps off of cliffs and floating platforms in the middle of nowhere. This functionality forms the basis of the video that RT put together, which combines Halo: Reach’s malleability with the old fashioned game Horse.
The hosts say it a couple of times in the video, but this just shows the amazing versatility of a game that ostensibly shipped as just a First-Person-Shooter. The fact that you can put away your guns and play home-made games of your own devising within minutes speaks volumes for Bungie’s design.
We all know that most Xbox LIVE users are all about Call of Duty, but I don’t think any of us could have fathomed how deep their collective addiction goes. Since 2007, we have had four, count them four, Call of Duty titles, and they all are being played enough over LIVE to take up a spot each on the Xbox LIVE activity list for the week of November 22.
The Call of Duty game with the lowest placing is the original Modern Warfare at number thirteen. Holding the top two spots are Modern Warfare 2 and the recently released Black Ops. Halo: Reach stays steady at number three, while its predecessor, Halo 3, amazingly comes in above Call of Duty 4 in seventh place. Hit the jump for the full list:
Last night, I fired up Halo: Reach for the first time in several weeks. I think it was something of a coping mechanism, since I know I’m going to be holding out on Call of Duty: Black Ops until around Christmas. It was pretty nuts to see everyone on my friends list in the new CoD, and meanwhile I was playing the classic space marine scenario.
The funny thing is, I had a lot more fun than I expected to, even though I’m itching for Black Ops more than I can say. One of the things I’ve always loved about Halo is the ability to have these isolated little firefights, epic stand-offs between you and one other player that feels separated from the rest of the match. The only reason this is possible is because of the way the game’s health system works. I remember Goldeneye playing much the same way back in the old days.
It seems that as time goes on, more shooters go in a different direction. Like Counter-Strike, the health in CoD pretty much works on the “one shot, one kill” method, which is a big part of what makes it so addictive I think. The ability to respawn and immediately jump back into the fray and rack up more kills has a lot of appeal to it, for a totally different reason than a shooter like Gears of War or Halo.
Thinking about these two styles of play, I thought I’d make a poll to see what you guys think. Got a preference?
Having recently downloaded the beta for Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, I was startled to realize that I had forgotten all about it for a few days. Then I thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that the newest entry in Ubisoft’s historical/sci-fi series is suffering from a distinct lack of buzz, especially compared to the frenetic levels of hype that Assassin’s Creed 2 received, all of which were deserved in my opinion. So I started to wonder why people were taking such a lackadaisical approach to this game and it didn’t take long for the answer to sneak up on my and stab my brain: It’s a side story and not a sequel.
These are nothing new to gaming, but with the rise of importance in stories, it’s easy to see how many gamers, myself included, sometimes become frustrated by what seems to be a developer running down the clock until they are ready to finally release a sequel. Doing so can sometimes be dangerous and set a franchise back in terms of popularity, as we will examine now. Even a series without an epic story can suffer a backlash.
I don’t know about you guys, but every time I see a multiplayer trailer for any game I get a little sad, mostly because I know I can never do anything as awesome as what’s depicted. Hit a man-cannon and Spartan Laser a tank? It’s more likely that I’ll get assassinated. Armor lock an oncoming Banshee so it explodes? I’ll probably miss the button by one second and get splattered. All of these feats and more occur in the new trailer for the upcoming DLC for Halo: Reach, the Noble Map Pack.
Now that we’ve seen the maps in action, has anyone had their opinions revised? Apparently you can go outside the field on Anchor 9 and into space, so consider me sold. I’m desperately trying to get the last Achievement for Halo: Reach (Make it Rain) before the DLC comes out and ruins my 100% completion. Everyone here in the same boat, or am I alone in my shame? The Noble Map Pack hits November 30, 2010.
It’s that time again, folks. The time where all of us check in and talk about the games we are playing. Or in my case, the games we wish we were playing. At the moment, I happen to be in the middle of a self-imposed ban of all things gaming until I finish a certain stupid novel I’m writing. But believe me, there are games I wish I could get my hands on.
For one, Fallout: New Vegas unfurls its Sin City makeover this week, and I’m kind of itching to see if Obsidian picks up the mantle from Bethesda in a meaningful way. While at first I was skeptical of the game, all of the material I’ve seen from it lately give me hope, so I’m anxious to get some playing time with it. In addition to that, I would like to play Dead Rising 2 and of course, Halo: Reach. Surprisingly, though, the game I’ve been dying to play most of all over the last few days? Final Fantasy VII. The music has been stuck in my head, and now I just want to relive the magic for some reason. Soon.
Anyway, go ahead and tease me with all of the great games you guys are playing that I’m not. Rub it in my face. Tell me how much fun it is. I won’t cry… much. What are you guys playing? Go!
The most recent of the Halo live action trailers, Deliver Hope for Halo:Reach was a pretty decent affair, featuring a lot of firsts for the commercials such as live action Spartans and Elites, among other things. Microsoft recently put up a behind the scenes video for Deliver Hope that delves into all the work that went into making this trailer a reality:
I always appreciate these kinds of sneak peeks, but seeing a man don Kat’s armor kind of ruined it for me. Also, note how they only show snippets of the Elite costume but never give us a look at the whole thing in motion. Overall, it’s still a pretty cool video showing the making of one of the most elaborate commercials of all time.
On the day the newest entry in the Halo series, Halo: Reach, was released, two sounds were heard: the sound of my mind being blown and the sound of oinking high above your heads, as pigs were surely flying. What caused the pork chops to take flight? I, Anthony, someone who was always “meh” towards the Halo franchise and quite frankly, bewildered by the insane amount of love and devotion gamers bestowed upon the series, had reached gaming nerdvana by way of Reach. Satan shivering in Hell? Check.
My experience with Halo began back in my college days at Florida State, where drunken Halo was a common pasttime at a friend of mine’s apartment. However, owning only a PS2 and a GameCube, I couldn’t play Halo worth a darn and no one was about to give me a second to do something as simple as figure out the reload button, so my early contact with Spartans and Master Chief was filled with cursing and frustration. When that happens, I usually just say, “Meh, that game sucks.”
But I kept hearing about it over and over and as Halo 2 was released, I felt like a lone wolf left behind by the pack as they all raced to stores at midnight to buy the sequel and play it all night. Then, when Halo 3 was released and Microsoft suddenly channeled the immortal merchandising and marketing soul of George Lucas, my feelings went from surprise to complete annoyance. How dare this franchise get so huge without my approval? And seriously, Gaming Fuel? Who authorized this? Clearly, some moron didn’t get the memo.
Apparently someone at 343 Industries was taking their crazy pills and signed off on Apt. 117, a cartoon about a “normal, average guy who lives with a Halo fanboy.” Sort of like the Odd Couple, but with more man-boobs. Actually, maybe the exact same amount. Anyways, the trailer for this cartoon recently went up, and you can watch it below if you’re so inclined.
If that didn’t excite you then maybe it’s doing its job, as the cartoon is described as purposely underwhelming. I don’t know if I’ve ever invested my time into being specifically disapointed but hey, this might be a new untapped market. Personally, I think a cartoon dedicated to Spartan 1337 would be better, as his short was the only one from Halo: Legends I enjoyed. Apt. 117 will be hitting Halo: Waypoint on X-Box LIVE soon, making it the only time in history that I will consciously stay far, far away from something Halo. Thoughts?
Since I haven’t been playing very many games in the last few days, I thought I’d live vicariously through you guys. Caught up in the middle of a substantial amount of personal writing, I’ve set my gaming aside just a bit. It keeps nipping at my heels, too, but I try and resist as much as possible.
So, if I weren’t writing, here are the games I would be playing: Halo: Reach (Captain Grade 1, bitches), Lego Harry Potter (I refuse to return it until I get an achievement), Breath of Death VII, Dead Rising 2, and Minecraft, although I might cave and check that one out tonight. On my list for the next couple of weeks: Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow.
Now that the release of Halo: Reach is behind us, did you think that we were at the end of the Halo related posts? We’re not out of the woods yet, kiddies, because Microsoft has a bit of news for us. Hot on the heels of Bungie’s super-awesome swan song, Microsoft and 343 Industries (the folks taking over the Halo franchise) have announced that they have a few plans for Master Chief and pals, and the first step is to ramp up the number of Halo releases we’re going to see. Typically, it’s a fairly long length of time between Halo games, about three years, but the success Activsion has had with yearly Call of Duty releases has been a source of inspiration for MS and 343.
Corporate Vice President for Microsoft Game Studios Phil Spencer recently had a little talk with IGN about the future of Halo post-Bungie and what we can look forward to for the next few years. While Mr. Spencer did say that a yearly schedule wasn’t the rule, he did also state the the long delay between releases is detrimental for fans of the series. Out of sight, out of mind, that sort of thing (ignoring the fact that Halo 3 is still charting on the top ten played XBL games to this day, but anyways). Phil went on the explain exactly how their new business model got its roots from Activision and Call of Duty:
It’s been some time, gentlemen and ladies, but we’re back with another episode of the GamerSushi show. Chalk the delay for this one up to a few things. Namely, the update to GamerSushi 2.0, which sidelined Jeff and Nick on the weekends. Also, Halo: Reach which totally ruined my week, and I’m the dude that edits it. So sue me.
In this episode, we talk about a number of things, including PAX 2010, where Mitch gives us a rundown of all the things he saw and experienced. We also chat about a number of issues including cut scenes in games, Mass Effect 2 and Lair of the Shadow Broker, writing in video games and Alan Wake, and how small games companies are killing it with downloads. At the end, we break into one of my favorite podcast discussions we’ve had, piggybacked off of the conversation about S games.
As always, we had one or two issues during the recording, and this issue resulted in Mitch being dropped from the discussion part of the way through. You’ll hear the glitch associated with that a handful of times. Just blame him for using a free headset he won at PAX.
Although I think I’m going to know the answer for the half of the comments on this one, I’m going to roll with it anyway. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve asked what you guys were up to, and now is as good of a time as any.
For me, I’ve been dealing with Mass Effect 2 DLC, which, seriously, Lair of the Shadow Broker is incredible. In addition to that I’ve also been doing a little bit of Lego Harry Potter (yes, really). And most importantly, the title that has sucked away my life for this entire last week: Halo: Reach. Hopefully a review will be coming soon, but I really love the game, and haven’t been this absorbed in one for as long as I can remember. It’s owning my sleep, my interactions with people, everything. Just the way a good gaming binge should.
So what about you guys? What are you playing? And on top of that, who has Reach and would be up for a community play date sometime soon? Go!