The year of 2013 has been a busy one; between balancing the last year of my extended stay at University and finally entering the daily grind of the working world, time has gone by much quicker than I would have perhaps preferred. It’s important then to take the time for a brief retrospective, not only to supplement the lazy journalism that comes with the end of the year but because when I stop and think back, it has been another banner year for videogames. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2013
Not content with emptying your wallets less than a month ago during the Autumn sale, Steam have unleashed their festive slashing of prices just in time for you to treat yourself at Christmas.
Same rules apply as always; there will be a new selection of 9 special deals every 24 hours from now up until January 3rd, with four games heavily reduced every eight hours under the ‘Flash Sales’ section. The Community Choice also makes a welcome return, with the Steam userbase choosing every eight hours on which one of three selected games will get a price drop.
Rather than reenact the ridiculous coal giveaway from a couple of years ago when one lucky git got EVERY GAME ON STEAM, the bonus for buying games/voting/crafting badges this year are a selection of items to be used in a number of free-to-play games including DOTA 2, Team Fortress 2 and Warframe.
But on to the important stuff – what’s on discount? For today, I would say the top picks are the long awaited PC version of the very fun Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (£13.39 with all the DLC, playable on 9th Jan), the Brave New World DLC for Civilization V at 50% off, and the pick of the bunch is Bioshock, Bioshock 2 and Bioshock Infinite bundled together for £9.
Happy hunting out there!
I do love the original song by Tears For Fears, but this version has its own creepy vibe that is hard to ignore
For my first VGM Bonus Round feature, I looked at some of my favourite uses of Classical Music in videogames. In this second feature, I want to turn my attention to some of the best uses of Licensed Music in games – that is, music produced for the masses that somehow ends up enriching your gaming experience.
A fitting piece of music can improve a dramatic situation a thousand fold – not only in games, but in TV and film as well. Imagine Pulp Fiction without Dick Dale’s ‘Miserlou’, the lobby scene from The Matrix without the sounds of the Propellerheads, or the introduction to the BBC’s Formula One coverage without that classic bass-line from Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’. Most of the time, music produced specifically for the programme/film/game does the job of setting the scene, but more often than not it’s the strange juxtaposition of hearing a song from the radio suddenly kick in that people remember. Get it right, and you go down in history. Get it wrong, and you have the capacity to ruin your project (remember the use of ‘Hallelujah’ in Watchmen? Yeah….) Continue reading Best VGM Bonus Round – Licensed Music In Video Games
In a game with some lovely music (acapella Beach Boys anyone?), this is amongst my personal highlights
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.
Time for your weekly news update
- Unfortunately, this week starts with some pretty dire news, and it concerns the GAME Group, the company that owns both GAME and Gamestation which are the two biggest game retailers on the high street in the UK. Basically, due to credit problems that have been swirling around GAME in particular for a while, the stores will not be selling any titles from EA during the month of March – meaning they will not be stocking copies of Mass Effect 3, one of the most anticipated games of the year. Anyone who preordered from the stores is being given £5 worth of credit in return. Now as you might be able to guess, this isn’t good – taking the decision is a very bold move on the GAME Group’s behalf, believing that by not cashing in on this short term opportunity they will have the credit to support themselves throughout the rest of the year – but they are missing out on a potentially very large sum of money from not selling titles like Mass Effect 3. You have to wonder if GAME is on the verge of following the likes of Woolworth’s in disappearing from the high street. I personally think that over the last few years they haven’t done themselves much favour by selling second hand games for relatively extortionate prices and not having much new stock around (if your local GAME store is different, I’d very much like to know), but to the same effect the high street really can’t take the hit that the shutdown of these stores would cause. Let’s hope they sort the credit out and then buck up their ideas
- We have a new title announced for the autumn months – Bioshock: Infinite is getting released internationally on 19th October. The game, which has looked pretty damn spectacular from the footage Irrational Games have released since its reveal in 2010, will no doubt be one of the big hitters in what is shaping up to be another incredible Winter season for game releases.
- So the rumours weren’t bollocks after all – Assassins Creed 3 will indeed take place during the American Revolution. Ubisoft very kindly decided to release the boxart today to confirm the rumours, which you can see below. Will the game work with guns and axes rather than bows and blades? Who knows – so long as they don’t pull a ‘Black Ops’ version of history and have you kill George Washington, I don’t really care I guess – Assassins Creed has never really been my cup of tea
- Finally, one of the great Sega Dreamcast games is finally getting its long awaited release on the seventh generation of consoles – it’s not Shenmue. Instead, Jet Set Radio is getting a full HD remake (unlike the likes of Sonic Adventure which were port jobs). The cult graffiti-em-up title, well received first time round for its striking visuals and ace soundtrack, will be arriving on PSN, Xbox Live and PC during the summer.
Yesterday marked the point where I finished all my work for this semester…and you know what that means right? Plenty of free time until January to play games of course! Today I will be marking the great occasion with a quick roundup of important news from the past week. So as usual, prepare for the bullet points:
- This weekend marks the start of the annual VGA awards hosted by Spike TV. It’s normally a pretty big event – for example, the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Skyrim got their first outings there last year. So what have we got to look forward to for this year? Well, Bioware and Epic Games are looking to announce new titles, Hideo Kojima is poised to give more information on the long awaited Metal Gear Solid: Rising, and we will learn more on the likes of the next Tony Hawk title, Mass Effect 3 and Bioshock Infinite amongst other things. Well worth watching then; coverage starts in the morning at 1pm in Britain
- After a slight delay, Microsoft managed to roll out the latest Xbox dashboard earlier this week. Designed with Kinect integration in mind, it has received mixed reviews, with more than a fair share of consumers (myself included) complaining that it has become far too dominated by adverts and much more awkward to navigate – for example, why on earth would you swap the disc eject button from X to Y? Completely pointless. And we have to wait even longer in Britain before you get the good stuff like Youtube and the BBC Iplayer. At least it works I suppose.
- The Wii is five years old this Christmas, and to celebrate (and no doubt increase the exposure of the console for its last Christmas as Nintendo’s premier console), the Official Nintendo Magazine has published a Top Ten List of the best games on the Wii, as voted for by readers of the magazine. It’s a pretty damn strong list, with a winner that you perhaps wouldn’t expect – click here for the full list. And in a week where lists have been popping up all over the place, IGN has produced another intriguing Top 100 list – the best moments in video games, which you can check out here.
- A few eagerly anticipated Japanese games now have confirmed release dates for Europe – Deep Silver’s simulation cum puzzler Catherine will finally arrive on February 10th, while the last of the games requested by Operation Rainfall earlier this year, Mistwalker’s The Last Story, will arrive a bit later on February 24th.
- Finally, if you are one of these trendy types who prefer Apple products, you can now purchase the legendary Chrono Trigger off of ITunes. Well worth a tenner methinks
That’s my take of some of the more interesting stories of the week. Aside from the news, I have had quite an interesting week. For example, I bought a pre-owned DS with Pokemon White the other day, making it my first Nintendo console that I have actually bought rather than been given, and meaning that after many years away from the franchise, I have finally got back into Pokemon. I’m not finding the game to have the same thrill as Red & Blue gave me over a decade ago, but its not a bad game nevertheless. I have also started up again in Skyrim, this time playing through as a Dark Elf. I might actually get round to completing more than 30% of the plot before getting distracted this time around. And as a fan of Japanese animation, I am looking forward to the upcoming fortnight of Studio Ghibli films being shown on Film 4. This Christmas period is shaping up quite nicely.
Hope you have a good week ahead of you all.
I haven’t really updated the blog much on news from the gaming world in the past week or so, and so today I’m going to do a quick update on three games that really impressed me at E3 this year.
First off is Far Cry 3, Ubisoft Montreal’s gorgeous looking jungle based shooter. The headline news this week from the developers is that Far Cry 3 is going to be over 10 times the size of its predecessor, Far Cry 2. Now I would just like to point out at this moment that Far Cry 2 was bloody huge; over 50km of game area, and it took an age to get around due to the rather poor driving mechanic mixed with the respawning checkpoint guards. I have no doubt that Ubisoft can make a world that big; it’s just whether or not they can make a big world interesting. Take a leaf of out Just Cause 2’s book and feature something which allows me to get around a massive area with ease, and then I’ll consider putting my money to it.
The second game to discuss is another Ubisoft title, this time being Driver: San Francisco. The Driver franchise for a long time has been known for its lack of licensed cars (preferring instead generic looking muscle cars and the like), but for this instalment you will be able to get your mitts on quite a large range of licensed cars; 120 to be precise. And it’s not like in Gran Turismo or Forza where a lot of the cars are humdrum everyday models; Ubisoft have got the cream of the crop. There are Aston Martin’s, Corvette’s, Hummer’s, Lamborghini’s and all sorts of exotica. They have also included some quintessential cars from driving films, like the Gran Torino that Starsky and Hutch used, and Bullitt’s 1968 Ford Mustang. Being able to recreate that chase from Bullitt through the hills of San Francisco may be just too good to ignore. So long as this version of the city isn’t the Milton Keynes inspired version from the original Driver, this game should be ace. For the full list, check this post from Xbox360Achievements.org.
And finally, Bioshock Infinite. Felt by many journalists to be the star of E3, the public weren’t actually shown that much during the live coverage of the show. Game Trailers have finally made the full 15 minute demo available for everyone to watch. I’m guilty of using superlatives far too often, but the video footage is simply incredible. The city of Columbiais both beautiful and terrifying, and the action on show is absolutely non-stop and pulsating; the ride on the skylines are worthy of inducing vertigo. It seems that Irrational Games are on to yet another winner here. You can watch the video from Game Trailers here (Apologies for the incessant adverts, but it is so worth it for the demo).
Check out the rest of my blog, and I’ll be back soon with more news and reviews.