The Humble Bundle service is one of the best things I’ve come across in gaming in the last year or so – its a website which every now and again will organize a collection of great games, usually from indie developers, and ask contributors to pay what they want for them (a minimum payment of $1 or its equivalent is required). The setup of the bundle then allows you to split your payment between the developers, site maintenance or a chosen charity that the bundle is sponsoring – so, gamers get a great deal, and in the process they get to contribute in some small way to good causes.
I myself have picked up some of the more recent bundles; the fifth bundle (considered by many to be the best) contained the likes of Bastion, Limbo, Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery, while THQ and Telltale Games have also been generous enough to put their games into excellent bundles. This newest bundle, however may well prove to be the most popular yet – its the Humble Origin Bundle!
Yep, EA are offering some of their best games in a move to support not one, but five different charities. The games on offer are Dead Space, Crysis 2, Mirror’s Edge, Medal Of Honor, Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box and Dead Space 3. Pay above the average, and you’ll also get The Sims 3 and Battlefield 3 thrown in for good measure. And if you don’t have Origin installed, then the first five games also come with a key for activation on Steam.
As of writing, with twelve days left to go, the Origin Bundle has already raised over $4 million, a terrific effort by any means. If you want to support charity and get some EA goodness, head to www.humblebundle.com and purchase your bundle now!
Last night, Electronic Arts (EA) held an investor call in which several details of upcoming titles were revealed. Below is a quick list of the most important stuff to note from the meeting:
It seems to have been quite a good year for EA on the financial side of things – say what you want about their money grabbing schemes with stuff like Online Passes, but the output of games last year was solid, and sales from titles such as Battlefield 3 and Star Wars: The Old Republic have led to an overall revenue of $5.4 billion; $1.2 billion of which was purely from digital sources such as Origin, EA’s online distribution service
More importantly for gaming fans, we can look forward to a few more titles in the upcoming months. The latest instalment of Need For Speed is set for release sometime around Christmas as per usual. Given the lacklustre response to The Run, here’s to hoping that we will get another game in the same vein of quality as Hot Pursuit.
Football fans like myself should also be anticipated FIFA 13 in the same time period. Series producer David Rutter has promised an updated player impact engine, better ball control and revamped free kicks amongst the major changes for the latest version of the best football game on the market.
The investor meeting also heavily hinted that there will be a third Dead Space game, widely expected to be under the helm once again of Visceral Games. Expect more details of this game to be released at the upcoming E3 conference.
Finally, we have a more concrete release date for the new SimCity, which I am very much looking forward to. Before yesterday we had to guess when it would arrive in 2013, but now the promise of a release in the final quarter of this fiscal year (January to March for those of us not blessed in the ways of accountancy) means the wait becomes only slightly less unbearable.
Welcome everyone, to the first of what I hope will become an annual event on this blog – my review of the gaming industry in the year that was 2011. On a personal note, it has been a pleasure to have consistently updated this blog throughout the year, and thank you to everyone who has supported it via constructive criticism, or even things as simple as comments and views – I hope to continue in a positive form next year. But alas, the world is bigger than myself, and that is what the focus is in this article.
It wouldn’t be a massive exaggeration to claim that this has been the biggest year for games in ages, certainly since the release of the Nintendo Wii in 2006. The overall calibre of games has been on a notable rise this year, with a handful becoming instant classics, and the industry as a whole has advanced even further to consolidate its place as a genuine rival to the other great entertainment mediums such as film. That is not to say the year has been devoid of mistakes and mess-ups; amongst the success stories, there are a quite a few cock-ups that are well worth mentioning. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2011→
How does one follow up the most profitable week in the gaming industry ever in the UK? Near to £121,000,000 worth of games were sold last week – having six blockbuster games released this week, including The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Assassins Creed: Revelations and Saints Row: The Third, might just be able to make up for it methinks. It has been yet another glorious week for gaming, so let’s go right ahead and delve into the most interesting stories of the week.
So about those enormous sales figures…well, unsurprisingly a lot of that income was made up by Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – a cool £83.1 million to be precise – and the game made over $400 million in just 24 hours across the world following its release, becoming the third game in consecutive years to have the ‘biggest entertainment launch ever’…..following Black Ops ($360 million) and Modern Warfare 2 ($310 million). The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim managed to make up a big chunk of the remaining money, shipping over 7 million units and become the highest played game on Steam, along with Battlefield 3 which continues to sell strong since its release. The releases haven’t been entirely successful however; owners of MW3 discs have been complained of disc read errors on the Xbox 360, and people looking to play Skyrim on the PS3 have found they get crippling lag if a save file goes over 5MB in size. Expect the issues to be resolved soon via patching.
This past Tuesday marked 10 years since the release of Microsoft’s original Xbox, and indeed the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. They have been celebrating in style (throwing in a free Avatar gift – get it while it lasts), and I hope to produce an editorial soon looking back at 10 years of Microsoft consoles in the industry, and the pivotal games that have helped it become a major player next to Sony and Nintendo
There has been a huge controversy surrounding Super Mario 3D Land this week, after PETA (People For Ethical Treatment Of Animals) criticised the game for its use of the famous Tanooki suit (the Tanuki being a real life dog that is skinned alive for its furs), and retaliated by released a Flash game on their website called ‘Super Tanooki Skin 2D’, where you play as a skinned Tanooki and try and catch Mario who is flying away with your skin. I find it utterly bizarre – for one thing, the flash game is actually quite playable, but why make a game that glorifies the thing you are campaigning against? Weird. PETA have since come out and told Mario fans to chill, but I get the feeling that Nintendo will be pretty pissed off with them
343 Industries have confirmed that Halo 4 will not be appearing on the next generation Xbox, and will be a purely Xbox 360 affair. This comes after rumours have intensified over the last week or two that Microsoft are preparing for the next generation console to be revealed at some point during early 2012.
That’s about it as far as headline news goes for this week. On a personal note, I’ve had another relatively successful week – all my work got handed in amongst furious Skyrim playtime, and I was invited to do a piece on gaming this Winter for the community radio station located on my University campus, Siren FM. It was nothing spectacular, but it was well received, and marks the first time I’ve done radio for years; I’ll try and get the audio off of the sound guys so you can all have a listen. I also managed to win the FIFA 12 Tournament we held at the Lincoln Gaming Society, keeping my good run of fortune with the game going.
Now then, run along young ones, and if you are settling down for a weekend with any new releases (or any game I suppose), I hope you have a blast.
It’s typical isn’t it? On the week when arguably the two biggest games of the year get released, I suddenly realise I have half a dissertation to hand in…the games industry has never heard of University hand-in season have they? Nevertheless, I’ve suspended my study for an hour to cover some of the big news from the week – and there are some corkers this time.
Perhaps inevitably, we start with the first launch of the week – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I don’t need to describe the attention surrounding this game (having already done it previously on the blog and having just taken a glance at every major gaming website going), and I shouldn’t need to tell you that it has sold the proverbial shedload of copies since it got released on Tuesday. As ever, the interesting news comes once people have got their hands on it, and the ravine in opinion has grown even wider this year it seems; critics have been relatively unanimous in their praise for the game hitting an average of 90 on Metacritic (which puts it behind Batman: Arkham City and Gears 3 interestingly enough), but the public opinion is downright hilarious. User reviews have given the game 2.6 out of 10 – now this could be angry trolls raiding the internet, but I have a feeling that some of these negative reviews will be somewhat truthful. Early reports suggest the campaign is once again far too short, and the COD Elite service has had a few technical hiccups. If you have the game (I sure as hell won’t be getting it), what do you make of it?
And of the game that did its best to displace COD from its lofty perch, Battlefield 3? Well, despite a few fiasco’s with its launch, EA will be smiling as it shifted five million copies in its first week on sale to become EA’s fastest selling game ever – and when you consider that roster includes stuff like The Sims and FIFA, its one hell of an achievement. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop Black Ops from being at the top of the Xbox Live charts this week, giving yet more evidence to Black Ops exceptional longevity. Oh yeah, Frank Gibeau (President of EA, and therefore one of the most despised men on the internet) also casually dropped a Battlefield 4 mention this week. Imagine the specs required for that bad boy….
Have you heard of GTA 5? Its this small game that got a debut trailer last week and sent the world into fits of speculation…all joking aside, even a week after the trailer hit the interwebs and after all the minute detailed analysis of the video, GTA 5 is still very much on everyone’s lips. We know that it will be set in San Andreas, but what people do not know is when the game will get released – Take Two have yet to divulge that information, simply listing it tantalisingly as ‘TBA’. I would personally be gobsmacked if it comes out before December next year at least, but Rockstar have been known to work miracles before. Watch this space for any more news
The Legend Of Zelda is having somewhat a news renaissance at the moment – its only a week now until the long awaited Skyward Sword arrives for the Wii, and there have been some intriguing rumours floating about with regards to the future of the franchise on the 3DS. We have had the Ocarina Of Time remade in 3D, and now apparently Shigeru Miyamoto (resident Nintendo genius who created Mario and Zelda) has hinted that Majora’s Mask may also get a 3D remake, and maybe, just maybe, A Link To The Past from the SNES era might also get the treatment. If a remake of Ocarina was printing money, 3D A Link To The Past would be a gold mine – DO IT NOW NINTENDO!!!!!
I’m a bit disappointed with Bioware at the moment, in particular over Mass Effect 3. Following a huge mess-up which resulted in early beta gameplay and story spoilers going onto Xbox Live for a brief period, they have now said that as far as multiplayer goes, there will be no LAN option for PC’s and no split screen co-op for consoles. It’s a bit crap really isn’t it?
Final bit of console news (for now), and it is to say that the Jak & Daxter HD CollectionI mentioned was in the works a while back has been confirmed for PS3 on a German listing site. No news yet on whether it will be an console exclusive, but I would guess it will be as Microsoft hates platformers it seems
Now to the bright lands of PC gaming; and not everything is rosy in World Of Warcraft’s garden at the moment. Despite announcing a rise in profits and getting the new Mists Of Pandaria expansion pack ready for players, 800,000 players have recently left the game. It still leaves the total player base at just over 10 million, but it’s a significant drop, with reports saying that a lot of those came from the East of the world, especiallyChina.
On the other hand, things keep looking up for Minecraft, which recently got its 4,000,000th paid player added to its rank. The indie game has been a remarkable success, and it’s the all the stranger when you consider its still in beta.
And I shall end as I started, with news of a big release. As I write, In twelve and a half hours I will be queuing outside of Gamestation in Lincoln to pick up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Hand on heart, I have not looked forward to a game as much as this since GTA Vice City…and that was near a decade ago. My Friday is going to be very busy indeed with work hand-in’s, but I intend to get a very brief editorial done chronicling my first few hours hands on with the game. And if you are one of the lucky people who have got the game a day early, I hate you very much right now.
I’ll finish off by giving a quick update on what I’m playing at the moment. I have just finished a review of Civilization IV, which will going live not soon after this article, and this week I also purchased a brand new copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, to see what the fuss is about – thus far I’m loving it. Before the end of the year, I have pledged to play through Final Fantasy 6 again with a bunch of people from the Gaming Society, and then I have playthroughs of Ocarina Of Time, Rogue Galaxy and Tales Of Phantasia planned – along with casual games of FIFA and Gears 3 stuck in there for good measure. Good bye social life, I barely knew you.
Some quite interesting nuggets of news have been flying across the interweb in the last few days, with a lot of it focusing on the games you will most probably be playing this coming Winter. Where to start….
Maybe predictably, we kick off with the battle of the heavyweights – Battlefield 3 vs. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, first of all looking at COD. This week marked the Call Of Duty XP event, basically a huge convention dedicated to Activision’s upcoming title. Along with official reveals of multiplayer information like re-designed kill streaks focusing on team play, they also revealed how much the ‘Call Of Duty Elite’ service will cost – £34.99 for a years subscription. This will grant access to the 20 pieces of planned DLC (which will be coming out monthly now instead of in quarterly map packs), and random community videos. The free tier service will offer stat tracking and community features, a bit like Halo Waypoint on the Xbox 360. Now excuse my pessimism, but unless the DLC is hilariously overpriced (which would make getting it in a bundle cheaper), £35 is a bit of a kick in the balls for anyone who was planning on getting it. I mean, consider if you want to get the service for the Xbox 360; that’s £40 for the game, £35 for Elite, and a further £35 for an Xbox Live Gold subscription – £110 overall. Quite simply, that is asking too much of the average consumer.
And on EA’s side of the war, we have confirmation that Battlefield 3 will be shipping on two discs for the Xbox 360. They haven’t confirmed whether it will be a split affair with one disc for multiplayer and one for single player. While disc swapping isn’t a problem, along with the news that Rage will require 22GB of HDD space to install, one wonders whether Microsoft will be able to stretch out their standard 7GB disc for much longer before they need to consider new options…maybe on a new console. One also wonders how much data the Frostbite engine takes up on a disc.
Hideo Kojima confirmed on Twitter recently that Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker will have four player co-op running at 60fps in the MGS HD Collection due this Winter. All the more reason to get what I think will be the surprise hit (in terms of sales at least) of the Christmas period.
It hasn’t been the smoothest of launches for Dead Island. It was released with quite a lot of glitches and people buying the game off of Steam got a build of the game meant for development purposes. The known glitches have been quickly patched by developers Techland, but it hasn’t helped its arrival amongst the media. The game has had mixed reviews amongst the press, basically surmising that Left 4 Dead is a better game overall. A bit of a shame really, considering the potential of that epic trailer that got everyone excited.
Square Enix have finally announced Dragon Quest X – and the headline news here is that is will be an online RPG available exclusively on both the Wii and the Wii U. Compatible with all the standard Wii controllers, it has also been implied that there will be (and I quote from the official mumbo jumbo) a ‘usage fee’. Square Enix have already set out plans for a public beta. No Dragon Quest on a Sony console? Believe me the backlash in Japan will be pretty severe at that.
Intriguing stuff all round as per usual. As a final note, achievement/trophy lists have been revealed for both F1 2011 and Batman: Arkham City – be warned, Arkham City’s list contains story spoilers.
That’s all from me right now, feel free to read around my blog and any comments on improvements are welcome.
It’s typical. I decide to delay the news for one day, and then EA amongst others drop multiple bombs at the GamesCom conference in Germany. Oh well, means I’ve got more to write about – and believe me, this stuff is sehr gut (very good, as the Germans would say). Let’s crack on:
The most pertinent thing to discuss is Battlefield 3, and how it has played a massive trump card today. After announcing the addition of co-op gameplay (which seem to be missions separate from the main storyline retaining all the features of normal gameplay) and demonstrating a mission live to the GamesCom audience, they showed off some frankly unbelievable multiplayer footage: the amount of stuff going on in the video is crazy, featuring your standard gun and run action, but with plenty of tanks and other vehicles to keep you occupied.
After a long summer lull where Zumba Fitness has enjoyed a jaw-dropping eight weeks at the top of the game charts, the games industry explodes this fall in what must be said is the most promising, and certainly one of the most competitive, winter seasons for gaming in many years. There are some absolutely top quality titles coming out, and quite simply in this article I am counting down my Top 20 most eagerly anticipated games for the next few months.
20 – Need For Speed: The Run – 15th November
Once upon a time, Need For Speed was the undisputed king of the Christmas sales list; the two Underground games and the fantastic Most Wanted dominated their respective years, but then the series took a turn for the worse with Carbon, before ProStreet (which I had completely forgotten existed) and Underground performed poorly. Criterion’s reboot last year, Hot Pursuit, was a welcome return to form, and now we have The Run, the first game in the series to include on foot segments. Hopefully it will continue Criterion’s good work. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Top 20 Most Anticipated Games For Winter 2011→
(Breaking news as I write) COUNTER STRIKE IS COMING TO XBOX LIVE ARCADE – yep, you heard me right. The game will be called Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and will feature updated versions of maps that have become synonymous with the game, such as de_dust, as well as new game modes and leaderboards. Coming early 2012. Well, can a 12 year old game ignite Xbox Live like it has the PC world?
I like what Codemasters have been doing with the F1 franchise since they got the license; F1 2010 was an excellent start, F1 2011 looks simply gorgeous, and today they announced a new title in the form of a free to play management simulation. F1 Online will feature all the cars, drivers and tracks from the sport, and will allow you to manage a team throughout an entire season, complete with qualifying and practice sessions, while dealing with all the hidden duties of managing an F1 team, such as conducting research and financing teams. You will also have the opportunity to create your own teams and liveries if the pre set teams aren’t up to your liking. I’m never going to own an F1 team, so this is the next best thing – and it sounds ace. More news on it should be available soon from the GamesCom conference to be held next week.
And speaking of GamesCom, EA have said they will reveal the date that the FIFA 12 demo will be available for download on Xbox 360 and PS3 next week. We usually get details of the soundtrack with the demo as well, so that’s something else to look forward to.
And speaking of EA (see what I did there?), news for those who want to play Battlefield 3 on your PC’s this winter – you have to download EA’s digital distribution service, Origin, if you want to buy the game online. This will come as a great annoyance to those who wanted the game on Steam, easily the most popular digital distributor of games available at this time, as EA are allowing the game on other digital distributors services – just not Valve’s. Obviously you can see why EA have taken this decision, as they want the maximum profit from the game, and this can come through them charging the price rather than Valve (EA’s news pitch cites the limitations for DLC and patches as the main reason for not being on Steam), but I wonder if limiting the audience is wise if they truly want to challenge Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, which will be available through Steam.
And speaking of Call OF Duty (I’ll stop doing this now…sorry), more news has come about the upcoming ‘Rezurrection’ map pack for Black Ops. The big selling point here of course is that it is a purely all-zombies affair, featuring remakes of four World At War maps and a new proposition, where you fight zombies on the moon. People who bought the Hardened and Prestige copies of Black Ops will get the maps for free, and you also get the Zombies Soundtrack and a dashboard theme thrown into the deal. Not bad at all…if you don’t mind paying for needless remakes. If you didn’t buy the collectors editions it will cost you 1200 MS Points. It will be available on the 23rd August. Check this video for a behind the scenes look at the maps from the guys at Treyarch
Finally, THQ have made some footage of Saints Row: The Third available for people to see. It shows the second mission, where you fight a plane, engage in a freefall where you gun down rival gang members, before culminating in a ridiculous set piece where you hijack a plane which is flying straight for you…as OTT as you’d expect then, The footage is a few weeks old, but the news sites only seem to have got a hold of it these last two days for some strange reason
Now that I have an afternoon free, I’ve decided to do the usual roundup of the most interesting/biggest news in the games industry over the past week or so. There is a fair bit to cover, so I have resorted to the journalist’s old friend, the bullet point list, to get everything concise. Let’s jump in shall we?
Ultimate Marvel Vs Capcom 3 (the super edition of the popular fighter with all the bells and whistles on it) has been announced, and it was swiftly followed by video footage showing four new characters. And then even more swiftly, all 12 new characters were leaked, including the long demanded inclusion of Capcom favourites Nemesis and Phoenix Wright. I have to say that the Marvel side looks a tad weak, surely they have put Venom in there somewhere? Anyway, if Super Street Fighter 4 is anything to go by, expect it to be relatively cheap when it comes out, and if you don’t fancy having all the new characters, I would expect the standard version price to drop like a stone as well.
Activision has confirmed a new game, and it’s a shooter; not Call Of Duty 7, but a Xbox 360 and PS3 version of Goldeneye 007, to be named Goldeneye 007: Reloaded. The game had been previously released on the Wii, but these updates will include HD graphics and a new set of MI6 Ops Missions (*cough cough ITS SPEC OPS FROM MODERN WARFARE 2*). Also expect an updated multiplayer mode to deal with Xbox Live & PSN.
Suda 51, the crazy man behind the likes of Killer 7, has announced his new take on the zombie genre with his game ‘Lollipop Chainsaw’. It will feature a cheerleader riding around a school environment on rollerskates….massacring zombies with a chainsaw. Don’t expect gore and blood however, as Suda wants the game to be ‘pop entertainment’, so zombies will explode in all the colours of the rainbow. Sounds insane. Good.
Catherine, the puzzler-cum-dating simulator from Atlus, will be making its way to European shores after a period of uncertainty over its release. It will be published by Deep Silver in PAL regions.
EA have announced an ‘unprecedented deal’ for FIFA 12, and they have signed it with….Manchester City. The deal means that the players have had the 360 degree camera treatment to get their faces in game (and they look scarily accurate), and City fans will be able to get a look at the new kit exclusively in the game. A few things to note; Tevez isn’t any of the trailers for the news so EA have been wise to the fact he may leave the club, Man City’s players will now be massively overrated in the game (sponsor players always have been), and finally, why Manchester City? Sure they are muchos rich…o, but they aren’t the highest profile team that EA could have got.
And in more football game news, Konami have revealed the new fantastic dynamic (their words, not mine) which will debut in PES 2012: using the right analogue stick, you can control another player while dribbling with the left stick, making attacking easier and more flexible. Good luck to them; I predict it will be a ball-ache to use and will not encourage FIFA fans like myself to make the jump to the other side.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released in America in January 2012, just one month after its release in Japan. An early contender for RPG of the year then, at least before Mass Effect 3 comes out.
Saints Row 3: we knew it was going to be over the top and crazy, and the confirmed voice actors for the game just reinforces this idea. The voice of the leader of the luchadore wrestling gang is none other than Hulk Hogan. This game is going to be ridiculous….brother.
The achievement list for Resident Evil 4 HD has been released. Two things to note on this, first of all that Capcom have not forgotten about it having announced it ages ago, and secondly that the list equals 1000 points, amking it the first Xbox Live Arcade game to have such a total. No word yet on whther this trend will spread or not.
Before I go, I will quickly outline what I hope to do with the blog for the next few weeks or so. Obviously I will keep updating with any news if it comes my way, but as far as reviews go, expect the likes of Crash Team Racing, Final Fantasy 9, Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence and Final Fantasy 13 to be hitting your webpages soon. Cheers for reading.