WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 10TH – 16TH MARCH

Headline Of The Week

The Last Of Us was the headline stealer at the 2014 Video Game BAFTA’s in London this week, scooping up five awards including Best Game. Naughty Dog’s survival horror has been the standout performer during the videogame award season, and now it has added gongs for Best Action & Adventure, Audio Achievement, Story and Best Performer (Ashley Johnson as Ellie) to its sizeable trophy cabinet.

Media Molecule’s Vita exclusive Tearaway and Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto V picked up three awards each, with Rockstar also being presented with the BAFTA Fellowship by Hideo Kojima. Elsewhere, Bioshock: Infinite walked away with Best Music, Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons earned Best Game Innovation, and Papers, Please nudged out strong competition to win Best Strategy & Simulation.

If you missed the ceremony on Wednesday which was hosted by comedian Dara O’Briain, then you can catch online via the BAFTA Twitch Page .

In Other News…

Valve has unveiled the first official picture of the redesigned Steam Controller, designed for use with games and the SteamOS. While the new controller maintains the shape of the beta controller along with its circular trackpads, the triangular buttons have been ousted for a more traditional X/Y/B/A button interface along with a button d-pad, a home button and pause & play buttons. Essentially, aside from the trackpads they are keeping it safe with an inverse shaped controller – you can see the new design below.

I can't help but feel that this would be incredibly uncomfortable to hold...

I can’t help but feel that this would be incredibly uncomfortable to hold…

Oddly enough a picture of Amazon’s new media controller was also leaked on the same day; which from first impressions favors function overwhelmingly over style by blatantly copying the successful design of the Xbox 360 controller. Apparently, it will be an optional extra with Amazon’s upcoming media box and will also have functionality with Kindle Fire tablets.

In the first major delay casualty of the year, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been put back to 2015 on all platforms. In an open letter to fans, developers CD Projekt explained that in order to give gamers the product that they want, the much anticipated fantasy RPG would have to resort to some late fine tuning:

“We recently re-examined what we had achieved thus far, and faced a choice about the game’s final release date. The decision we made was difficult, thoroughly considered, and ultimately clear and obvious. We could have released the game towards the end of this year as we had initially planned. Yet we concluded that a few additional months will let us achieve the quality that will satisfy us, the quality gamers expect from us. Consequently, we have set the release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for February 2015”

Bad news for fans of the franchise then, which has gained a more mainstream following after the critical and commercial success of The Witcher 2: Assassin Of Kings. One company who will be happy though are EA; the next instalment in BioWare’s own fantasy series, Dragon Age: Inquisition, should now have an uncontested launch window if it survives any delays.

Star Citizen already holds a world record for the most funding ever received by a crowd funded project, but this week it hit yet another milestone – through the contributions of 405,800+ people, the game has now raised an astonishing $40 MILLLION

Developed by 200 employee-strong Cloud Imperium Games, as a result of meeting the milestone two new star systems will be added to Star Citizen, with the promise of a unique encyclopaedia which actively reflects the actions of players in game being added should funding levels reach $42 million.

As I’ve mentioned previously in these weekly update articles, as more and more funding comes in the pressure on Star Citizen not to balls it up grows ever higher, and I do wonder if soon the developers will cease to ask for more funding to prevent exacerbating the problem. Star Citizen is set for release on PC next year.

I’ll be honest – Japan’s chances of winning the 2014 World Cup being held in Brazil are slim at best. They are far from average, but they lack a cutting edge. Perhaps that is why kit sponsor Adidas have teamed up with Nintendo to feature Pikachu and 10 other Pokemon as the official mascots of the Japanese team at the tournament.

I’m not making this up – the starting eleven are five of the old guard from Red & Blue (Pikachu, Meowth, Charmander, Bulbasaur & Squirtle) joined by fresh blood from the Kalos region of X & Y (Chespin, Fennekin, Froakie, Pancham, Helioptile & Litleo). They’ve even got official artwork and everything.

This begs a simple question - who's the goalkeeper?

This begs a simple question – who’s the goalkeeper?

I hear the odds on Meowth as top scorer are currently somewhere near 1,000,000,000,000,000/1 – a good bet if you ask me

A new application for TwitchTV has finally launched on the Xbox One – just in time to stream all that lovely Titanfall footage (no coincidence at all, eh?).

Whilst Twitch has been available on the PS4 since launch, Microsoft have been working closely with the broadcasters to offer its users an enhanced service that not only allows players to share and submit video content, but to archive content as well. The Xbox One app will also offer something called ‘instant stream imitation’…which is good I guess?

SALES & OFFERS

It’s time for a new Humble Weekly Sale, courtesy of Sega.

Over the next week you can pay what you want for Alpha Protocol, Company Of Heroes, Total War: Rome and Hell Yeah! Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit, while paying above the average will also net you Typing Of The Dead, Binary Domain, Renegade Ops, Medieval II: Total War and TEN classics from the Mega Drive Collection. Spend $15 or more, and you get everything with Total War: Shogun 2 thrown in for good measure.

That’s a awful lot of value; and remember your contributions go to charity, so give generously while picking up a bargain!

To celebrate being awarded the BAFTA Fellowship, Rockstar Games are teaming up with Steam to discount the majority of their titles over the weekend (14th-17th March). You’ll be able to pick up LA Noire or Max Payne 3 with all their respective DLC on the cheap, and the complete Grand Theft Auto Package (Including GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, IV & Episodes From Liberty City) for £8 is an absolute steal.

Finally, GOG.com is going to be running a St Patrick’s Day sale…because they can.

The ‘Luck Of The Irish’ deals allows you to pick five discounted games from a select list (including some great games like Alan Wake, Fez and Hotline Miami) in a bundle of your choosing, or you could take the plunge and ask for a ‘Pot Of Gold’ which will select a random game from the GOG servers for just $2; in theory meaning you could be lucky enough to pick up a newly released game on the cheap. Are the deals stereotypical of Ireland’s cultural festival? Of course – but they are great deals all the same.

South Park: The Stick Of Truth overcame it’s long delay to march to the top of the UK Game Sales Chart this week, ousting Thief from top spot.

While console versions made up the majority of sales, Obsidian’s RPG also knocked Football Manager 2014 off the top of the PC chart – ending a mere 18 week reign.

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

1 – South Park: The Stick Of Truth (Obsidian Entertainment)*

2 – Thief (Eidos Montreal)

3 – Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (Popcap Games)

4 – The Lego Movie Videogame (Traveller’s Tales)

5 – FIFA 14 (EA Canada)

6 – Call Of Duty: Ghosts (Infinity Ward)

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

8 – Battlefield 4 (DICE)

9 –  Lego Marvel Superheroes (Traveller’s Tales)

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

(* signifies a new chart entry)

And Finally…

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest changes to both games and the attitudes of gamers during the seventh generation was the introduction of achievements and trophies on the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively. By having a little message pop up when you perform a particular activity in games, developers wanted to encourage a sense of completion and well…achievement.

Some took this system to heart, putting achievements into their games that were both original and helped to enrich the gameplay experience by making gamers do things outside of the box. Others were lazy, handing out achievements for starting the game or pressing the B button fifty times. In any case, some gamers took it upon themselves to get more GamerScore and Trophies than anyone else, a process which became known as ‘acheivement whoring’. Personally, I never been an advocate of such an approach – sure, I like to finish off the games that I play and mop up what achievements I can, but I wouldn’t ever want to buy games for the express purpose of unlocking achievements. It’s a waste of time and money.

That’s why I find the news that one Xbox 360 owner, Stallion83, this week passed the 1,000,000 GamerScore mark both quite impressive and a little sad. The man has spent eight years of his life attempting to reach the milestone, and chances are he will hold the record for many years to come (his closest rivals have barely earned half of that total). But what has he actually done? That’s eight years in which he might well have enjoyed himself – but think of just how many crap games and arduous tasks he has had to complete to rack up a million points. Is it really worth it? And it brings to the fore the overarching argument on achievements – people happily played games for decades without them; why is there such a focus on them now?

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