Every year, the video game industry is rocked by a handful of events. Or more specifically, a handful of games that become events in and of themselves. No, I don’t mean blockbuster game releases (although the Modern Warfare 3 drama was something to behold in 2011), but rather games that become a story themselves, the release of which affects the trends and discussions of the entire industry as a whole.
In a new feature, MCV takes a look at 7 Games that Shaped 2012, where study the games that most affected the marketplace. The focus of this list is pretty interesting: Borderlands 2 proving that retail is still a powerful force, Double Fine and Kickstarter changing the way a number of indie games (and a few AA titles) are produced and released, and the quality tipping point of small, downloadable games with titles like Journey and Walking Dead. Each of these things has played a huge role in 2012 in terms of shaping the industry, and I’m curious to see what it means in the future.
Although some of the stuff on the list doesn’t quite apply to those of us in the States — like Mass Effect 3 and the collapse of GAME — Mass Effect 3 is still just as notable this year because of how it affected the discussion of art and the consumer. It’s one of the more memorable times we’ve seen a creator change a product after its release in order to cater to what consumers wanted from it.
So, what do you guys think the biggest game stories of 2012 were? What other games affected the industry this year? Go!
As excellent as Mass Effect 2′s Lair of the Shadow Broker was, BioWare might have shot themselves in the foot when it comes to post-release DLC. While it would be unrealistic to expect that every piece of Mass Effect DLC would be up to the same standards, it kind of laid the implication that any quests given to the player outside of the main game would advance the story, or at least fill in some background information.
To BioWare’s credit, Mass Effect 3: Leviathan did dredge up a more fleshed-out history of the Reapers, but the newest effort for Mass Effect 3 DLC, Omega, doesn’t add anything new to the story, or change your perception of the established characters you’ll be interacting with.
Shepard is contacted by Aria T’Loak, the Pirate Queen of the space station Omega, to help her take her throne back from Cerberus, who threw her out before the main campaign of Mass Effect 3. Because of Aria’s dislike of your squadmates, you’re going in without any familiar faces from the Normandy. I’ve never bought into the character of Aria as much as BioWare seems to want me to, and being saddled with her for a couple hours just demonstrates how one dimensional she is. While the end of the Omega campaign has her softening a bit, for most of the time she grunts and threatens her way through dialogue sections, being so predictable that a new character, Nyreen the female turian, calls her on it. It doesn’t help that the voice actress behind Aria, Carrie-Anne Moss, sounds like she’s collecting a paycheck for most of her lines, only occasionally dipping into having any emotion besides bored anger.
When Halo: Reach launched, the future of the Halo games became rather uncertain. Sure, we knew that Microsoft had formed 343 Industries to shepherd the series now that Bungie was moving on from the games that made them famous, but there were still doubts as to whether 343i had the chops to take over. Their first video game effort didn’t come until 2011 with the re-release of Halo: Combat Evolved. While it was a nice update to this classic game, it was still just standing on the shoulders of giants.
Leading up to Halo 4 you could kind of sense the uncertainty surrounding it. An unproven studio with Microsoft’s most valuable franchise making a game that promised to uphold everything Halo stood for? 343i was in a tricky position, because if they played it too close to Bungie’s territory they’d be looked down on and if their Halo was wildly different, the backlash would have been immense. They needed to strike a balance between making a Halo game while at the same time moving it in an entirely new direction. Now that the game is finally out, have they become the Reclaimers to Bungie’s Forerunners?
If you’ve listened to the most recent podcast, then you’ll know that Assassin’s Creed 3 left one of the worst tastes in my mouth in recent gaming history. Not only did the game fall short of previous titles — it was flat out bad, something I rarely even say about a game I played all the way through.
From the controls to the story to the overall bugginess of the title, Assassin’s Creed 3 was a failure on multiple levels, and I pretty much have no qualms about saying that. It was an active step back from the excellence of Brotherhood, and even the good-but-problematic Revelations. The one redeeming spot in the game’s 10 hours or so that I spent with it would have to be the naval battles, which were an absolute joy — even more so when you consider how frustrating everything around them happened to be.
But enough of my ranting about Assassin’s Creed 3. I think one of the reasons I was so thoroughly disgusted by the game, aside from it being kind of crappy, is because of the wasted potential. We were given a new setting, a new character, a chance for resolution with a number of story threads and an actual revolution (pardon the pun) in terms of setting, gameplay elements and the like. And it was all a mess. After Revelations came out last year, I was ready to be done with the AC franchise for awhile, but the promise of AC3 lured me back. I don’t know if I’ll make that mistake again, after seeing all the wasted potential that this game lived up to.
So what about you guys? What’s the biggest recent gaming disappointment you’ve experienced? What’s the biggest disappointment of 2012? What made the game disappointing? Go!
We once again convene our even nerdier Council of Elrond as we return for the 57 episode of The GamerSushi Show. It’s been a few weeks since our last podcast, but when isn’t that the case?
To be fair to us, not a lot has happened between then and now, except for The Walking Dead finishing up its first season, which we cover in the majority of this podcast. In case you’re wondering, we go full spoilers on this one. No holds barred, and all that, so be warned if you’ve yet to finish.
When a game originally starts its life as part of the True Crime series and gets dropped by its publisher in advance of its release, it doesn’t bode that well. Such was the case for Sleeping Dogs, until Square Enix swopped in and scooped up the rights to bring the game to the public, saving United Front’s Hong Kong-based open world game from development hell.
Starring the enigmatic Wei Shen as an undercover police officer infiltrating a local Triad gang, Sleeping Dogs takes the melee combat style popularized by the Batman: Arkham titles and mixes it with some familiar open-world tropes and in a brazen move, refuses to give the player a gun for the first few hours. Sleeping Dogs takes a lot of risks for what should be a safe bet in the video game world. Does the game succeed or is its cover blown?
Poor Bungie just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to their new top-secret Activision published shooter, Destiny. The studio has purposefully gone dark about it since Halo: Reach landed, but the world at large seems determined to foil their plans. While the accidental reveal of Destiny’s release schedule during the Infinity Ward vs Activison trial was an unfortunate side effect, this latest leak stems from a reader who passed the information along to IGN so it’s much more deliberate in nature.
The story of Destiny takes place 700 years from now, with mankind living in the shadow of its Golden Age, surviving in a settlement known as The Last City on planet Earth. A strange alien orb known as The Traveler hangs over Earth in very low orbit, and creatures from beyond the edge of space are trying to wipe humanity off the map. The player takes the role of a “knight”, tasked with pushing back the alien hordes. While some might say that Bungie is going back to the thematic well, Destiny is set to take a more fantastical approach than Halo, aiming to be “fun and accessable” according to the document obtained by IGN and is “designed for your inner seven year old”. While the document doesn’t confirm or deny that Destiny will be an MMO as rumored, it does mention that the game is socially oriented and a large focus is put on exploration with your friends.
Bungie themselves went ahead and confirmed that the Destiny details were correct in a post on their site labeled “Well, that just happened…again” and posted another piece of artwork to go along with it.
What do you guys think of this? Feeling bad for Bungie all over again? What do you think about Destiny’s story?
One game I’ve had my eye on for quite some time has been Far Cry 3, Ubisoft’s latest entry in the series first headed up by Crysis makers Crytek (see a pattern here?). While Fry Cry originally featured a mercenary gaining animalistic powers, Ubisoft’s take on the franchise has been more realistic, almost to the detriment of the game in some cases.
Far Cry 2 was kind of a cult hit: you either loved it or hated it and wanted it to die in a fire. Between an archaic fast-travel system and constantly regenerating enemy outposts, Far Cry 2 was a frustrating experience that still offered a beautiful Savannah setting for you to play around in, or set on fire if you wanted, you just had to work around the game’s myriad roadblocks to do it. With Far Cry 3 coming in just over a week, reviews have been landing ahead of the game and my hype meter is being slowly stoked by reading them. True, Assassin’s Creed 3 received similar glowing reviews in advance of release, so I am being a bit hesitant, but the prospect of hunting animals to turn them into pouches to hold all your loot sounds really appealing to me. Here’s what critics have been saying about Far Cry 3:
Even if I’m trying not to get overexcited, the fact that the reviews are this good and they’re coming out so far in advance means that Ubisoft was feeling pretty good about Far Cry 3. Turns out they were right, and I’m eager to get my hands on it.
Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until Christmas, but I’ll be playing the PC version like a madman over the break. Is Far Cry 3 on anyone else’s radar? Have the reviews drawn you in?
As much as I love gaming, it’s never been able to elicit a reaction from me other than “I am having fun”. True, most games aren’t designed to be tear-jerkers, but 2012 seems to have bucked this trend and has had a collection of titles that has made me feel something other than elation for my polygonal avatar.
2012 started off strong with Journey, Thatgamecompany’s moving study of companionship and triumph. The end of that game is really well crafted and pulls you and your unknown companion together to overcome the nigh-insurmountable odds you’re facing. I never really thought that co-op, especially co-op with someone I didn’t know, would get to me, but Journey proved me wrong.
That’s not to say that Journey is alone in this, however. Spec Ops: The Line, The Walking Dead and Halo 4 have all given me some pretty hardcore feels. With Spec Ops and The Walking Dead I kind of expected it, seeing as how that was what the talk around those two games was centered on, but actually caring about Chief and Cortana’s story in Halo 4 really surprised me.
Cortana has always been, ironically, the human element of the Halo games, but seeing Master Chief’s resolve falter for just a moment made me remember that, underneath the armor and the genetic conditioning and the implied mental defects, there a real person there. 343 did an excellent job turning the Chief into a sympathetic character, something that the Bungie Halos never really touched on.
Overall I was quite surprised with the narative turnout in 2012. I don’t have high hopes for games, but these four titles really surprised me with their emotional depth. Do you agree that 2012 is a banner year for this? What other games have gotten to you in this way?
With Game Informer’s cover story finally unveiling some concrete details about Grand Theft Auto V, the Internet finally has a reason to talk incessantly about Rockstar’s popular open-world series and we here at GamerSushi are no different. I have stoically ignored all GTA V rumors and discussion until new information was released. However, since that has now happened and we find ourselves in the golden age of GTA V info, I have some thoughts and concerns, as I so often do.
First, as we have mentioned in the past, Grand Theft Auto IV was a disappointment. I know some people swear up and down by it, but as a huge fan of the PS2 trilogy, I didn’t find much to like. The world has bigger and denser, but there just wasn’t much of a reason to explore it anymore. The numerous side activities of previous games were scaled back, leaving you with only a few things to do other than the story missions. Instead, they were replaced by what amounted to taking your friends out on dates, which was fun and unique exactly once. We all got a laugh when we took our perverted cousin Roman to the strip club, but that wasn’t something I was anxious to repeat.
The other minigames were poorly controlled and very tedious. Bowling was kind of interesting, but a single game took forever and the overly long animations had me scrambling to quit as fast as I could. And the only real purpose for this was so you could get bonuses, like Jacob the weapons dealer giving you a discount. Honestly, what kind of black market merchant of death cuts into his bottom line just because someone takes him to a comedy show? It just makes no sense and wasn’t fun.
Greetings, Sushians. I hope this fattiest of holiday weeks finds you well. I’m assuming here that our American Thanksgiving holiday is so important that the rest of the world celebrates it, too. Or at the very least, it should. You can take that as official word from the US that it’s OK for you to celebrate Thanksgiving wherever you are tomorrow. It’s simple, really: eat all the things. And then eat them again.
Anyway, I’ll be celebrating the holiday this week by hanging out with family and playing some games. I’m between jobs right now, so I have a small stretch here where I’m getting to finally play some things that have been on my radar lately. Namely, Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed 3, picking XCOM back up and today, Walking Dead Episode 5. I am super excited about that last one.
So what about you guys? What are you playing this week? What are you eating? Go!
We’re almost back on track with the podcasts as we return with the 56 episode of our illustrious gaming show. In the edition we see the return on Nick, who regales us with the tale of his journey to the International Beard Competition. Or, maybe we just talk about Halo 4, GTA 5 and Assassin’s Creed 3 like a bunch of nerds.
The podcast opens with some Grand Theft Auto 5 talk, including our misgivings about the three playable characters and the changes that Rockstar needs to make to the formula after 4. Halo 4 is, of course, a big topic, with Anthony and I declaring our love for the game with all of its playable modes. We close out the cast with a final dissection of Assassin’s Creed 3 where I expand on my review a little bit.
I don’t think you need to be told what to do at this point, being 56 shows deep, but I’ll remind you anyways because I’m nice: listen to the podcast, rate the podcast, love the podcast. Wanna meet that podcast.
Well isn’t this just dandy? Just a couple of weeks after the game is released with a mess of glitches and bugs packed right in, Ubisoft has announced the Thanksgiving patch for Assassin’s Creed 3 which, by the looks of it, will remedy almost every misgiving I had with the game engine wise.
As I outlined in my Assassin’s Creed 3 review, this new game in the series is riddled with almost-game-breaking glitches from things that prevent you from accomplishing optional objectives for full synchronization to a final chase that’s so ridiculously bug-ridden that it’s nigh impossible to complete on the first few tries. The fact that this patch is being handed out half a month after the game has launched means that Ubisoft was more than aware of the problems AC3 players would face, but chose to ship the game anyways.
Just take a look at the laundry list of fixes coming in with the Thanskgiving patch. Almost every mission is getting changed to some degree, and that’s before getting to the stability changes that the Anvil Next engine is getting.
If this is how much the game needed fixing after the day one patch, I can only imagine the state it was sent to discs in. How it ever passed certification is beyond me. Since I’ve given up trying not to editorialize, I feel massively ripped off by Assassin’s Creed 3 in a way that I haven’t been by a video game in a long time. I payed full price for a game Ubisoft knew was broken, without any idea that it would be receiving a patch that would fix most of my grievances. While my problems with the mission design and the story still stand, I think the game would have fared better if I didn’t have to fight a legion of bugs.
What do you guys think about this? Am I right to be this indignant? Who’s still holding on to their copy of Assassin’s Creed 3?
If you’re lacking a subscription to Game Informer, have no fear: with every cover story there’s a million sites on the Internet willing to round up the juicy information for you. Such is the case with Grand Theft Auto 5, which VG247 has been kind enough to do a write-up on.
Rockstar’s next installment in the GTA series will take place in Los Santos, of GTA: San Andreas fame, and will feature three playable characters this time around. Trevor, Franklin and Michael will be availible to switch into almost all the time, each with their own backstory and motivations. They each have unique skills, so for example if you want to fly a plane, Trevor is the only on in the group capable of doing so. While having to jump into specific characters just to fly a plane might get annoying, the fact that you can switch characters on the fly might help ease the pain of doing so.
One of the benefits of having three characters is that there’s always a story mission ready to go. Instead of doing a bunch of side tasks to unlock the next plot quest, you can jump into one of the trio and get going on any of their individual objectives.
Los Santos is also reported to be the biggest open-world in a Rockstar game so far, bigger than Red Dead’s map, Liberty City and the old San Andreas combined. While Rockstar has said that recreating the whole of San Andreas on this scale wouldn’t be feasible, they’re doing their best to make Los Santos and the surrounding area both visually stunning and fun to get around. Expect the melee combat and gunplay to be tuned up this time. With Max Payne 3 showing that Rockstar can actually make a mechanically sound shooter, I’ve got high expectations for GTA 5 in this regard.
So, what do you guys think of Grand Theft Auto 5? Does it sound promising? Are you still burned by GTA IV? Do you think this game would have been better served by waiting for the inevitable next generation of consoles? Will it ever come to PC?
The most appealing aspect of the Assassin’s Creed series is the ability to experience different periods of human history through a sci-fi wrapper. Thanks to the prolonged presence of Renaissance Italy’s Ezio Auditore, the need to travel to a different era was reaching a high. Thankfully for Assassin’s Creed 3, Ubisoft moved the clock up a few hundred years, dropping you in Revolutionary America in the moccasins of Connor Kenway (real name Ratonhnhaké:ton) a half-Mohawk, half-British assassin.
With a new setting, a new engine and the possibility of wrapping up the modern day storyline of Desmond Miles, Assassin’s Creed 3 seemed poised to make the same sort of leap that the series did with Assassin’s Creed 2 back in 2009. Did Ubisoft manage to pull it off, and can Connor replace the venerable Ezio?
We’re a day late on this one, but who can blame us? Halo 4 is finally out, riding a wave of excellent reviews. I beat the campaign on Heroic last night, and I have to say that 343 Industries did a fantastic job. I was a bit worried about how Halo would fare under their stewardship, because new things are always scary, but hot damn did they pull it off.
To start, the game is freaking gorgeous, whether it’s the exquisitely rendered cutscenes or the in-game visuals. This is the best a Halo game has ever looked, and it still manages to feel like Halo despite the new flourishes 343i put on their designs. The voice acting and the story are very strong too, as the Chief and Cortana’s relationship gets fleshed out like never before. I seriously got a little emotional at the end of the game, and I wonder where 343i will take the Reclaimer Trilogy next.
There’s so many things I want to talk about regarding the campaign, but it would all stray into spoiler city. I’m going to be checking out multiplayer and Spartan Ops tonight, both of which I hear are quite fun.
So what about you guys? Have you been playing Halo 4? Hope to pick it up? Do you have any non-spoiler thoughts on the campaign?
It’s crazy to think that we’re almost a year out from Skyrim’s launch and we’re still getting DLC for it. Bethesda’s long-term commitment to their games this gen have been nothing short of astounding, at least where Xbox 360 and PC users are concerned. That aside, the trailer for the upcoming Dragonborn DLC for the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is out and it features a whole host of new features and areas.
Personally, I haven’t played any of the DLC for Skyrim, but Dragonborn looks like it will be a pretty meaty add-on, so I might consider picking this one up. In reference to the PS3 joke above, how do you PS3 owners feel about how Bethesda is handling the DLC for Skyrim? I hear that Dawnguard doesn’t even have an ETA yet, and who knows how long it will take to get Dragonborn.
What are your thoughts about the DLC? Are you in for more Skyrim?
It’s been a while, but we’re back. In the month since we’ve been gone a lot has happened, such as Disney buying LucasFilm and a whole bunch of games coming out. We managed to cover a lot of it, leading to what has to be our longest cast in a while.
Nick is absent yet again, but you have the regular crew, albeit with a couple of us fighting off coughing fits at several points. Eddy just plain forgets that he can mute himself, so in a couple spots you’ll hear him coughing or chomping on a cough drop. It’s not too bad, but I’ve decided to christen the cast in his honor.
You know how it goes by now, being veterans of our show. Listen, rate and be excellent to each other. We’ll see you soon!
While Halo 4 is a still a few days out, the review embargo for the game lifted in the wee hours of the morning. I remarked on Twitter the other day that removing the embargo for the game so far in advance of its release meant that Microsoft and 343 Industries must have been plenty confident in their product.
Turns out that they have every right to be, because Halo 4 is cleaning house when it comes to reviews. The reviews I’ve read for the game so far have been glowing, and have maxed out my hype meter. I’ve tried to restrain myself, but the critics haven’t been able to and it’s kind of infectious. Here’s a sampling of some of the scores:
So yeah, Halo 4 has apparently ousted Bungie is the minds of the reviewers. While Bungie’s legacy will always remain, I’m happy to see that 343 Industries has managed to carve out their own territory within this well-worn franchise.
The only negative aspect of Halo 4 that I’ve heard about is that some parts of the story might be a bit too complex for people who haven’t read Greg Bear’s Forerunner Trilogy and the plot relies a little too heavily on hidden terminals for backstory. I haven’t read those books myself, but I always enjoy item hunting and as long as the combat is tight, I’ll forgive them this one misstep.
Now that the review scores are out in the wild, how is your excitement for Halo 4 faring? Reaching a fevered pitch? Has it perhaps chipped away at your armored resolve not to get the game?
The world of making indie games is something that’s become a recent fascination for gamers. With wide open platforms and fewer barriers between a game creator and the consumer than ever, it’s certainly appealing for would be game-makers to take a stab at producing their own content.
This summer, one of XBox Live Arcade’s blockbuster releases was a game known as Dust: An Elysian Tail. Dust is a Metroidvania (or Castleroid if you’re nasty) style game with a bit of a cartoony flair, with a really interesting art direction and a wonderful setting. I’ve heard nothing but good things, and the gameplay videos are promising as well.
But the most interesting thing about Dust? It was created, essentially, by just one man, Dean Dodrill. In a fascinating Postmortem feature at Gamasutra, Dean walks through his solo development cycle for Dust, in which he quit his day job, taught himself how to code, built the game’s systems from scratch and struggled to get it out on time. He goes through the ups, the downs, the woes, the prayers, the deadlines and everything else, in what’s probably one of my favorite game articles I’ve ever read.
Seriously, if you’re interested in ever taking a stab at your own game or just admire the people who do, I highly recommend checking out this article. Has anybody played Dust? Anyone out there already dabbling in constructing your own video games? When do we get to play them? Go!