WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 17TH – 23RD FEBRUARY

Headline Of The Week

In a shock move that few anticipated, Irrational Games (the developers of the award winning Bioshock Infinite) is to close down as co-founder Ken Levine starts up a new studio at Take Two. In a statement on Irrational Games’ website, Levine said the following:

“Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one … While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers.”

Over 100 staff are expected to lose their jobs with just 15 employees moving to the new project, and the planned closure also puts the future of the Vita port of BioShock (originally announced in 2011) heavily in doubt; a 2K representative has said that the firm had no update on the game.

In Other News…

Of all the games released during the seventh generation of gaming, it is perhaps Street Fighter IV that has kept the most long-lasting appeal…helped no doubt by the fact that there has been an ‘HD SUPERMEGA’ upgrade each year adding tweaks and more characters. Capcom have now teamed up with Virgin Gaming to offer online matches where players duke it out for real fight money.

Virgin have previously supported FIFA and Madden for betting

Virgin have previously supported FIFA and Madden for betting

This undoubtedly might seem a tempting proposition for the more skilled players of the game, but it’s a hell of a palava to get it sorted. You have to challenge another player on the Virgin Gaming website, agree the settings and create a lobby. Once you have had your fight, you then need to go back to the website, upload an image of the result and then wait for your winning to be deposited into your account before repeating the process – a tiresome process for a five minute battle. This system also doesn’t take into consideration the issue of lag, or the variety of opponents that can come out of standard matchmaking.

Currently, Virgin is supporting only the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Super Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition. You also have to be 18 years or older and be living in Europe, America or Australia to participate. Full details can be found on their website.

Two brand new video game documentaries are set to be made available in the coming weeks which might be of interest if you want to have a look at the lives of developers or the crazy world of professional gaming.

First off, Grounded: The Making of The Last Of Us is currently free to watch on Amazon in the US, and Naughty Dog plans to put the documentary up on the PlayStation YouTube channel ‘very soon’ so everyone outside of America can watch it. The second documentary is called Free To Play, and follows the lives of three professional DOTA 2 players competing in the first international tournament. Created internally by Valve, it will be released for free on 19th March on Steam with an advance screening in San Francisco the day before.

The producer of Final Fantasy has admitted that he would like to see future installments of the series, including XV, be released on PC. The original ports of Final Fantasy VII and VIII have recently been added to Steam, and Yoshinori Kitase made the comments when answering questions of whether the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy would have made it to PC’s:

‘We see potential in it and there are lots of regions and countries where PC is very strong. So in terms of our hope of being able to deliver our games to every single country in the world and to as many gamers as possible, yes, we would definitely be interested in pursuing that route in the future.’

In additional news, Square Enix has trademarked ‘Shinra Company’ in Japan for use in video games suggesting another potential spinoff title. Shinra was the monopolistic power company in VII that Cloud and his allies struggle against for the majority of the game.

Following on from Sega’s purchase of Index Holdings last year, the future of popular Japanese developer Atlus has been confirmed. Whereas the company existed as a subsidiary called Index Corporation following the takeover, Sega will rename Index from April 1st to Atlus and Atlus USA and the entire division will support 121 employees. A brand new Index Corporation will be responsible for development and distribution. Business synergy sure is confusing isn’t it?

The excellent Persona 4 has been a lucrative franchise for Atlus

The excellent Persona 4 has been a lucrative franchise for Atlus

The confirmation that Atlus is secure will be welcome news to fans, especially in Japan – Persona 5 has been voted as the most wanted game in the country by gaming magazine Famitsu, beating Mario Kart 8, Final Fantasy XV, Samurai Warriors 4 and Kingdom Hearts III.

The next-gen graphics war has taken centre stage once again this week, with more evidence suggesting that developers are having problems getting the full potential out of the Xbox One. First off, Hideo Kojima confirmed that Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will support 1080p with 60fps on the PS4 compared to 720p on Microsoft’s console, while Square Enix noted that Thief will manage 900p at 30fps on the Xbox One compared to 1080p on the PS4.

What does this all mean? Well unless you have the eyes of a hawk, visually speaking not much will change – but all the same it can be used as continuing good publicity by Sony (alongside superior sales figures of 5.3 million, set to be boosted by the PS4’s imminent release in Japan) that right now they have the best next-generation experience to offer to gamers.

It’s Humble Bundle time again! This week saw the launch of Humble Bundle 11, which has some cracking games on offer; you can pay what you want for Guacamelee, Dust: An Elysian Tail, Giana Sisters: Twisted Dreams and The Swapper, while those paying above the average price will also receive Antichamber and Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine with more unannounced games to come yet. As I write sales have already whizzed past $1,000,000 and the developers of Monaco have stated that sales of their game have now passed half a million due to inclusion in the Bundle. As ever the proceeds will head to charity, so give generously.

If you are still hankering for more deals, then you might also be interested in the current fire sale of Ubisoft titles on Steam running until 24th February. There is up to 75% off some items, and while the majority of games on show are either old/not very good there are still offers to be found on the likes of Far Cry 3, Rayman Origins & Legends and virtually every game with Tom Clancy in the title.

The Lego Movie has been getting rave reviews from everyone (I saw it this weekend and its wonderful!), and the game hasn’t done too shabbily either; The Lego Movie Videogame debuts at top spot in the UK Game Sales Charts this week.

The other new release of the week, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII nabbed third spot and Fable Anniversary dropped down to tenth place.

Top Ten For Week Ending 15th February 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)

1 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveler’s Tales)*

2 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

3 – Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (Square Enix)*

4 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

5 – Grand Theft Auto V (Rockstar North)

6 – Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

7 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

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

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

10 – Fable Anniversary (Lionhead Studios)

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

Driving a car in real life and driving in a video game are two wildly different experiences. Whereas in real life there are plenty of rules to follow in order to avoid getting fined/taxed/killed, most people drive without a care in the world in games because the sensation of driving is so very different through a controller, and because when you are driving pixels rather than bits of metal, if you fail or crash then you lose nothing. It’s safe to say then, that having prodigious skill in Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport doesn’t necessarily translate to a proper piece of tarmac.

Or at least that is the theory which has been crushed by Jadd Mardenborough, a 22 year old from Darlington whose ability on Gran Tursimo 5 has granted him a potential chance to drive for Red Bull Racing – the world championship winning Formula One team. Jadd was the winner of the GT Academy in 2011, a TV competition where the best Gran Turismo players competed against each other before moving to real life races. After winning the tournament, he was selected to race for Nissan in the Dubai 24 Hour Endurance Race where he came third, and has since raced in British GT, Toyota Racing Series and Formula 3. Jadd is now entering GP3; the feeder series for Formula One which Lewis Hamilton amongst others graduated from, and Red Bull have signed him up to their famous young driver development programme which spawned four time world champion Sebastian Vettel…who ironically is a mentor now in Gran Turismo 6.

So there we go – proof that having ability at games can maybe lead to greater things. My top tip? I recommend any potential future lawyers invest heavily into Phoenix Wright.

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