Before we hit the headlines, I’d just like to make a personal apology for the lack of articles recently – I’ve been on a lot of overtime at work which has cut into my personal time that I have free for writing, but ultimately it means that in a few weeks time I can celebrate being a small cog in the wheel of a very big project…anyway, THE NEWS!
Headline Of The Week
Looking to follow in the footsteps of online retailer Amazon and their Fire TV micro-console, Google have announced its own set-top box called the Nexus Player.
Focusing on the streaming of video, applications and games from the Google Play service (and with the option to ‘cast’ content from connected devices in a similar method to the Chromecast dongle), the Nexus Player is designed by Asus, features a specially designed Android TV interface and will retail for $99 – the exact same price as the Fire TV. It will also require a separate controller costing $39.99, so it is unlikely to put a dent into the console majority enjoyed by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – however bear in mind this is Google we are talking about, and the sheer brute force of their financial coffers means that any attempt to muscle in on the home console market should at least raise an eyebrow.
The North American release date of the Nexus Player has been penned in for November 3rd, with no European dates yet announced
In Other News
This week’s duel between Microsoft and Sony concerns system updates – the October update for the Xbox One has been rolled out to owners around the world, bringing adjustments to the Snap feature that allows applications to run alongside games, a new system for password resets, the addition of OneGuide television support in 11 countries and most significantly, DLNA and MKV playback support – allowing users to play films and music stored on external devices through the Xbox One.
In response, Sony have outlined more of the functionality that will be introduced to the PS4 with it’s own 2.0 firmware update, now codenamed Masamune; it will introduce a USB Music Player (users will still not be able to store MP3’s locally on the console hard drive), filters for Library content and new background colours. These are in addition to the previously confirmed themes and SharePlay system outlined a few weeks ago at the Toyko Games Show.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection has officially gone gold and will now be launching a couple of days earlier than previously thought in the UK, on November 11th. This now puts it head to head with both Assassins Creed Unity& Rogue as well as the two Sonic Boom titles.
The four game collection, which has Halo 2: Anniversary as its centerpiece, will however require a massive 20GB content update if you want to play multiplayer on the day of release. The Campaign mode for all four games is on disc, with the ten-part Spartan Ops campaign from Halo 4 arriving a bit later in December after some technical upgrades held it back.
Following a highly troubled launch which caused servers to explode under pressure and the scaled back PS Plus version to be delayed indefinitely, Evolution Studios have released a new update for DriveClub. The 1.04 patch allegedly improves server performance, multiplayer functionality and fixes a few other bugs, while extra diagnostic tests have been run to make sure the online environment is held together by more than old chewing gum.
There is still no word on when the PS Plus version of the game or the MyDriveClub mobile app will be released, but the studio has considered compensation for those most badly affected by the server outages after consumers lashed out on social media
Even with a slew of new releases that included NBA 2K15, Skylanders: Trap Team and the much anticipated Alien Isolation, FIFA 15 held firm at the top of the UK Game Sales Chart for the week ending October 11th.
Isolation, developed by the British studio Creative Assembly, had to settle for second ahead of Shadow Of Mordor, Forza Horizon 2 and DriveClub. The only new entry in the Top 40 not to make the first ten spots on the chart was Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition.
Top Ten For Week Ending 11th October 2014 (from GFK/Chart-Track)
1 – FIFA 15 (EA Canada)
2 – Alien: Isolation (Creative Assembly)*
3 – Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor (Monolith)
4 –Forza Horizon 2 (Playground Games)
5 – DriveClub (Evolution Studios)*
6 – Destiny (Bungie)
7 – Skylanders: Trap Team (Toys For Bob)*
8 – NBA 2K15 (Visual Concepts)*
9 – Super Smash Bros for 3DS (Sora Ltd)
10 – Minecraft: Playstation Edition (4J Studios)
(* indicates a new release)
The Pokemon Company, perhaps seeing how well a basic demo of Super Smash Bros for 3DS went down, have released a special demo version of Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire in the UK, allowing people to get hands on with the remakes of the third-generation Game Boy Advance titles. More excitingly however, the director of Pokemon has stated that he has his eyes on another remake that I reckon would go down quite well – Pokemon Snap.
The 1999 N64 title was a departure from the main series in that there was no fighting between monsters; instead players had to take snaps of Pokemon in their natural environment in a on-rails challenge. It was a surprisingly in depth game however, with players having to manipulate the world around them to get shots of the rarest monsters (Moltres for example would burst out of a volcano for a split second in conditions were correct), and Junichi Masuda has appreciated that fans would lap up more:
“As a player I definitely want to play a cool new version of Pokemon Snap, but at the same time I also think if it was just a remake with better graphics I don’t think it would be as interesting as a lot of people are imagining…If someone was to end up developing it they’d have to come up with some cool ideas to really make it a good game for the current generation. If it was just a direct port that would be kind of neat as well, but having new elements is definitely important”
Masuda also pointed out in the same interview that Game Freak did not make the original game which might cause licensing headaches (it was helmed by the geniuses at HAL Laboratory), but one has to think that with the often ignored visual capabilities of the 3DS that a handheld Snap would be a match made in heaven.