WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 10TH – 16TH FEBRUARY

Headline Of The Week

Titanfall has a lot resting on its mecha-shoulders; EA want Respawn Entertainment’s debut first-person shooter to become a firm rival to Call Of Duty and the upcoming Destiny, and Microsoft will be desperate for it to be a system shifter for the Xbox One. Titanfall’s multiplayer-only focus means I’m personally not that interested, but the prior considerations are perhaps the reasons for the great deal of media focus on the closed beta for the game, which is running this weekend from the 14th-17th February.

People have been registering via the Titanfall website this past week, and the individuals lucky enough to have been selected for the beta (running on Xbox One and PC) will have access to three game modes called Attrition (deathmatch), Hardpoint (capture the base) and Last Titan Standing (self-explanatory). Strangely enough the beta will run in the slightly odd resolution of 1408×792 – which presumably will be a big deal to gamers obsessed with graphics.

Titanfall is set for release on PC and Xbox One on March 11th 2014, a few days before other big hitters like Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the PS4 exclusive Infamous: Second Son. The Xbox 360 version (which will presumably sell more given the bigger userbase) has been delayed until 25th March.

In Other News…

Sony is aiming to deliver over one hundred games for the Playstation 4 in 2014, according to a tweet sent during a media summit in Los Angeles.

Alongside the Playstation Now service which would stream older games through a cloud server, Sony want to keep the new releases flowing. The next installment of Infamous is coming next month followed by delayed first party titles such as DriveClub, and indie games including Fez, Rogue Legacy and Oddworld: New & Tasty are also set for release later this year.

In addition Sony also revealed plans for the immediate future of the PS Vita handheld. The PS Vita Slim will be bundled at release with a copy of Borderlands 2 in the United States for a RRP of $199.99, and the formerly PS3 exclusive Sly Cooper Collection & God Of War Collection are getting ported to the Vita on 16th April and 8th May respectively in Europe.

Fresh off picking up ten gongs at the DICE awards, The Last Of Us has picked up ten nominations for the 2014 BAFTA Game Awards.

Hot on its heels is Grand Theft Auto V (developed of course by the predominantly British based Rockstar Games) with nine nominations, and Vita exclusive Tearaway also received a highly commendable eight nominations. Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag, Super Mario 3D World, The Stanley Parable and Papers, Please each received four nominations, as did Bioshock: Infinite which was perhaps surprisingly snubbed for a nod in the ‘Best Game’ category.

The awards will be presented by comedian (and rare celebrity game player) Dara O’Briain in London on the 12th March and will be streamed live online so you can watch at home.

Nintendo aired a forty minute online presentation on Thursday showcasing some of the games that will be released during the Spring period for the Wii U, along with a few other surprises. Most importantly for the short term, Mario Kart 8 is getting released in both the UK and Europe on May 30th (and will feature the Koopalings as racers for the first time in the series), Mario Golf: World Tour will be available for 3DS owners on May 2nd, and in April Game Boy Advance titles including Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga and Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3 will be added to the Wii U Virtual Console.

Looking ahead, there were new trailers for Yoshi’s New Island & Bayonetta 2, and most excitingly a new sneak peak at multiplayer gameplay from Monolith Software’s X project. Finally, the latest addition to the Super Smash Bros roster was revealed to be Little Mac from the classic Punch Out complete with a unique charging ability to launch huge Smash attacks.

Little Mac gives his opinions on the Sonic Boom redesigns...

Little Mac gives his opinions on the Sonic Boom redesigns…

More than two years after it was originally meant to be released, South Park: The Stick Of Truth has gone gold. Obsidian Entertainment’s RPG based on the popular animated comedy has been the subject of numerous delays: original publisher THQ went bust, and after Ubisoft picked up the rights they sent it back to the drawing board for ‘a major overhaul’.

The game will finally be released on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on March 7th. You can place your bets now to see if like every other game which has been in development for such a long time, reviews will be at best average.

Sick of Valentine’s Day and the schmaltzy crap that surrounds it? Aren’t we all – strangely enough, it’s Electronic Arts of all people who are here to save the day. Perhaps in response to the overwhelming negative reviews of the recent iOS port of Dungeon Keeper (better known by its alternative title The Microstranasction Machine), they have taken it upon themselves to cheer you up by offering the original Dungeon Keeper for free this weekend!

Until 10:59AM GMT on Sunday 16th, you can visit GOG.com (who previously teamed up with Black Isle Studios to giveaway the original Fallout games for free before Christmas) and pick up Dungeon Keeper Gold for free or gift it to a friend if you already own it. Cheers guys!

‘Never Trust Gamers’ Story Of The Week

Considering the size and scope of the internet and all the data it holds, tags have become a useful way of homing in on exact pieces of information – I use them in all of my articles to try and draw some traffic from those interested in video games for example. This week in an ongoing attempt to make its service as user friendly as possible, Valve updated the Steam client with a tagging service (in beta) so that users can quickly navigate to games that might interest them; so for example typing in ‘RPG’ will bring up games like Skyrim, or something a bit more specific like ‘Story’ will suggest titles like Bioshock which have earned praise for their narratives. In theory it sounds quick, simple and highly useful.

This system underestimates however how quickly gamers will forget the noble intentions of the project and have some fun instead.

Frankly, the results have been hilarious. Although the expected tags for stuff like ‘Action’, ‘FPS’ and ‘Indie’ are functioning well, there are now sections for ‘crap’ (which every Call Of Duty game has been classified under) and the likes of Woodcutter Simulator 2013 now stand alongside Half Life 2 in the ‘Masterpiece’ section. Amusingly, the tag ‘Nanomachines, Son’ is in the list of most popular tags. Certain games have been the victims of intensive tagging as well; the infamously difficult Dark Souls has been labelled as ‘casual’, and DmC received tags including ‘Shakesperian’ and ‘#TooEdgy4U’. The thing is, according to the FAQ on Steam there is little developers can do to stop their games receiving such tags:

“Tags can be a good indicator of when there is a mismatch between how you perceive your game, and how your game is perceived by customers. Often this is simply because there is some piece of information regarding the game that customers feel is missing from the store page.”

The service may well be altered in the future, but for now if you are bored of your Steam library then searching for inventive tags is a fun game within itself.

There was only one new entry in the charts this week as Fable Anniversary debuted in third place, nearly ten years after the original Fable was released for Xbox.

FIFA 14 meanwhile returned to top spot for the tenth time since it was released, making it only the 11th game in history (and the third installment of everyone’s favourite football simulator) to claim 10 weeks at the top of the UK Game Sales Chart.

Top Ten For Week Ending 8th February 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

2 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

3 – Fable Anniversary (Lionhead Studios)*

4 – Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition (Crystal Dynamics)

5 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

6 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

7 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

8 – Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition (4J Studios)

9 –  Killzone: Shadowfall (Guerrilla Games)

10 – Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (Ubisoft Montreal)

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

Even today, Pokemon Red & Blue is a tremendously fun game to play; the perfect mix of late-90s nostalgia and addictive gameplay. Apart from battles with friends however, Pokemon has been a routinely single player affair. What happens if you try and get 15,000 players to play through the game…at the same time?

The result is TwitchPlaysPokemon – courtesy of one anonymous Australian who has taken the VisualBoy Advance emulation system, fiddled around with some code and created a beautiful monster. If you sign into TwitchTV, you can then enter a command in the text box that runs alongside the stream and take control of the game. With the sheer amount of command inputs per second you may think that it would be impossible for the adventure to get anywhere, but remarkably a near constant group of over 15,000 people have (at the time of writing) started, got a team of six monsters, leveled them up and even defeated the first three gyms…after nearly three days of consistent playtime.

The creator has admitted in an interview with Polygon that they didn’t have any grand plans for the stream and certainly didn’t expect the response to be as enthusiastic as it has been. They have stated that they will leave the game running around the clock, with the intention that the Elite Four will be beaten eventually. If you want to tune in and witness or contribute to the progress of this highly intriguing social project, then the stream is accessible via this link.

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