Following a very EA-centric post midweek, here’s a more general roundup of the more interesting stories from this week
Bioshock: Infinite, the eagerly awaited title from Irrational Games, has been pushed back from its initial October release date to February 26th 2013. When commenting on the disappointing delay, creative director Ken Levine has said that the team is aiming to make the game ‘even more extraordinary’ and that the game will not be shown at big events like E3 and Gamescom this year. This isn’t the first time a big game has been delayed from a Winter release date; the original Bioshock was heavily delayed, and just last year Mass Effect 3 was pushed into next years schedule by Bioware. Thing is though, from the outstanding footage released last year, the game looked almost done – either they have found something significantly game breaking that needs to be fixed, or the rumours that multiplayer is being implemented may well be true.
It appears that Microsoft may be working on a version of their Internet Explorer web browser for the Xbox 360 dashboard. According to a source placed within Microsoft, the browser will be fine tuned to operate hand in hand with Kinect, although of course it should also be able to operate with a controller for those of us who don’t want to move to voice recognition just yet. Should the rumours come to fruition, it will mean that the Xbox 360 will finally have internet coverage…years after Sony’s PS3 introduced its own web browser.
It seems that the best was saved until last with the ‘Arcade Next’ initiative – just four mere weeks ago, Trials Evolution broke sales records on Xbox Live Arcade. Now, those records have been overtaken by the console version of Minecraft, which according to creator Markus ‘Notch’ Persson has recouped the development costs within hours of its release. Some have taken issue with Minecraft’s success however, including the creators of the recently released platformer Fez who have accused Notch of getting preferential treatment from Microsoft. I am downloading the trial game as I speak and will see what the fuss is about at long last; it better be bloody good to replace my high opinion of Trials though…
Finally, it’s a special occasion when any item passes 1,000,000,000 sales, and even more so when it’s a game – so praise be for the Angry Birds series which passed that incredible milestone the other day. The bird flinging mobile game has become a public phenomenon since its release, and is the clearest indicator in these times of change in the industry that mobile gaming has firmly set its roots and is here to stay.
Yesterday, Bethesda Studios announced The Elder Scrolls Online, a new MMO which will take place in the world of Tamriel. The game (which has apparently been in development since 2007) will allow you to travel over the enormous world of the Elder Scrolls universe as you engage in a plot that sees various factions fighting for the position of the Emperor. Series traditions such as the Thieves Guild and the Dark Brotherhood are expected to make an appearance, as well as PvP combat between the various factions. No details have been outed yet on what structure the game will take with regards to money (seeing as free to play MMORPG’s have become quite popular as of late, and the likes of Guild Wars 2 will get by on a one time purchase fee). Judging by the screenshots that were released yesterday, it seems we might be seeing this game sooner than some of us might have perhaps expected.
And continuing the Bethesda trend, we have more details on the first piece of DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The DLC will be called ‘Dawnguard’…and that’s all we know. They are keeping very quiet about what the DLC adventures will involve, but some eager eyed players found models for Snow Elf’s amongst other things in a recent update file, suggesting it may deal with the Falmer and their origins.
The ridiculous success of Angry Birds Space continues in emphatic fashion. Developers Rovio this week revealed that the free to download title for Android, iOS, PC and Mac has reached the figure of 50,000,000 downloads in just 35 days…which works out at roughly 17 downloads every second.
Finally, there’s some new game called Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 that has been officially unveiled this week. Its set in the future, has mechanised armies taking on humans, updated zombie modes, blah blah blah…I’m sorry for the scepticism, but have Activision ever heard of giving a series a break? It was perhaps inevitable that the series was going to move into the near distant future (after all, pretty much every historical setpiece since World War Two has now been featured in the franchise), but the series is growing noticeably more tired with every instalment now. Seriously, give the developers a year off, spruce up the engine and the game (and the FPS market as a whole) will be better for it.
Here are the important headlines from the last week in the gaming world:
Where would the news industry be these days without internet leaks? This week we had a bonanza as two games had more news unveiled before their developers intended. First up are Pokemon Black & White 2, which had new details spoiled in Japanese comic CoroCoro. Among the biggest changes (all of which are listed here by the ever useful Bulbapedia) is that two years after the original games, large parts of Unova has been frozen over. There are also two new gym leaders (a Poison and Water gym respectively), a new starting city, and some Pokemon that were previously excluded from the Unova region are now present from the start. The entire game world of Unova also looks like it has been given a pretty serious revamp to prevent accusations of a copy and paste job. The first official trailer for the game was released yesterday in Japan, which you can view via this link.
And the second leak concerns Crysis 3. After an image of a future solider holding a crossbow was released on Origin, EA have come out and confirmed the existence of the game, as well as stating that further details will be released on Monday 16th April. Expect the Crytek game to look outstanding and probably be based in a ruined city once again.
Do you remember Skyrim? You know, the game that came out last November which you may or may not have played to death since? Well, if you have completed the game on Xbox 360 and own a Kinect, you now have reason to go back to it, as this week Bethesda confirmed Kinect support for the title. Set for release around 23rd April, the update will allow Kinect users to operate the game with over 200 voice commands at their disposals, including control over menu navigation, follower commands, and most importantly Dragon Shouts – meaning that everyone’s interpretation of ‘FUS RO DAH’ will actually do something now. Make note however that it won’t be a full update; in order to control movement and fighting you will still need your trusty controller to hand. Bethesda have also remained pretty coy about upcoming DLC for Skyrim, simply maintaining that they are hard at work on new content.
Finally, you know that you have hit the big time in gaming when Shigeru Miyamoto (creator of Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong amongst other things) heaps praise upon your game, and that has been the case this week with Rovio’s stupendously successful Angry Birds series. Miyamoto stated that the bird flinging mobile game is ‘one of those games that I immediately appreciated when I first started playing’; even going to the lengths of stating that he wished he had invented it for the DS. Angry Birds Space, the latest free release, was downloaded over 10,000,000 times in just 3 days after its release last month – who knows, maybe one day the series will hit a billion sales one day.