To the casual eye, FIFA 13 is same old same old; to the extent by which I could probably copy and paste my FIFA 12 review and get away with it. Fans of the series will know however that it’s the subtle changes that make FIFA a different experience each year. The last installment was one of the most vigorous changes of the series yet, with the implementation of a whole new defending system and new player physics. FIFA 13 has brought a whole host of new tweaks to the engine this year to ensure that it remains ahead of Pro Evolution Soccer, but it is noticeable that the gap between the two series, which was a vast gaping chasm only two years ago, has shrunk dramatically. After a quite lengthy amount of time playing FIFA 13, I get the feeling that for the first time in years, the series has taken a step back. Continue reading 13th Season Syndrome? – FIFA 13 Review→
We will start with the situation at GAME. Last week, the company filed for administration, and 277 stores around the UK were shut down with immediate effect while over 2,000 people were made redundant. On Sunday, the investment group Opcapita was cleared by several banks in the UK to buy a large portion of the business, thereby removing it from administration and saving 333 stores and roughly 3,000 jobs. The sale gives the struggling business a sense of stability, but now the real test for the GAME group begins – in the next six months, they will need to restore consumer faith in the brand while also fending off against the increased online competition that has arguably led to its initial demise, including Tesco who have now rebranded themselves as ‘the home of gaming in the UK’.
The mystery surrounding Nintendo’s next console, the Wii U, continues to grow this week. First off, it seems we may have a relatively accurate release date, as a internal memo sent by Nintendo to retailers across the world (including Gamestop in America) reveals that the Big N are looking at November 18th 2012 for a release date – which would seem sensible enough considering Nintendo’s affiliation with that time of the year (the last two consoles, the Gamecube and Wii, were released on November 18th 2001 and November 19th 2006 respectively). Perhaps more pressing however is the rumours that the Wii U is not as powerful as the PS3 and Xbox 360 currently are – nevermind the next generation consoles that are invariably in the pipeline for Microsoft and Sony. A spokesman from Nintendo has said:
“We do not focus on technology specs. We understand that people like to dissect graphics and processing power, but the experience of playing will always be more important than raw numbers.”
In no lesser terms, that means Nintendo aren’t denying the claims. So much for the boasts pre-E3 last year that it would be more powerful than the Sun.
In a unprecedented move for football fans, there will not be a standalone Euro Championships game this year – instead, EA (who interestingly enough received an award for ‘Worst Company In America’ this week), announced last week that UEFA Euro 2012 will be a download only expansion pack for FIFA 12. Set for release on April 24th, the expansion will cost £15.99, which is cheaper than the game would have been on disc. In one sense, it’s a very clever move by EA – it means they have to spend less on producing the game, and FIFA 12 has already shifted over 10 million copies so there is a large base to aim at. However, for what is going to essentially be a kit upgrade, £16 is far too much. My advice would be that if you are desperate to replicate the European Championships, simply download the teams that are missing from the Creation Centre in FIFA 12 and just make the tournament on there.
Finally, surprising news from Harmonix – the music genre in gaming isn’t dead! Yesterday, the developers announced their newest creation, Rock Band Blitz, destined to be release this summer on XBLA and PSN. The game seems to have more in common with Harmonix’s PS2 games Amplitude and Frequency than Rock Band, featuring a multi track system where all the instruments in a song can be played…without the need for instruments. It also promises to utilise all previous Rock Band DLC along its own 25 song soundtrack, offering up a ridiculous amount of playability. Check out this trailer to see the intriguing concept in action
New console releases usually lead to a busy week of news, and the last few days have been no different. Alongside the newest handheld in town, there’s also some other issues that have burned their way to the top of the agenda…
So the wait is over – the Playstation Vita is finally available in the UK to purchase. The console was given its official launch at midnight on Tuesday in London, and you can now pick one up from various retailers for about £230 – although as ever, the supermarkets are going to be the best place to pick up a good deal (Asda are doing the standard Wi-Fi version for £197 at the moment). Among the launch titles, from initial reviews it seems like there’s a fair bit of quality amongst the games with Uncharted: Golden Abyss, FIFA 12 and Lumnies getting the high scores. If you have picked up a Vita, please write in the comments – I’d be interested to see what people make of Sony’s latest gamble in the handheld market. I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for sales figures over the coming days to see how the British public have responded to it as well.
And now for what can only be described as a shit-storm from Bioware regarding DLC content for the upcoming Mass Effect 3. Yesterday, a piece of DLC called ‘From Ashes’ was leaked onto Xbox Live before being swiftly removed. The DLC will allow you to recruit a Prothean to your team (which if you know anything about Mass Effect is a pretty big deal), and will be available as from day one. If you buy the Collectors Edition, you will not get charged for the content. The punchline? It seems that the game isn’t finished, and you will be paying more to actually get the full game. I apologise for being smarky and cynical, but this smells of money grabbing from EA, who took control of the Mass Effect franchise from the second instalment. If this piece of DLC isn’t relevant to the storyline, then I don’t really give a damn – however, the fact that it seems integral to the entire plot of the Mass Effect canon has rightfully made fans angry. Long story short; I’m increasingly worried that we as consumers are being forced to pay more than we should have to for a complete game.
Atlus have confirmed that their arcade based fighter, Persona 4: The Ultimate In Mayonaka Arena, is going to be released in the United States. The 2D fighter, featuring characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4, will be coming to both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 this summer under the slightly more manageable title of Persona 4: Arena. There is no word on a European release thus far, but one would think that Atlus would localise the title as they have done recently with the excellent puzzler Catherine. I’ve been playing through Persona 4 recently after recommendation, and I am quickly finding myself enjoying the Shin Megami Tensei universe as a whole, so I would very much welcome a European release.
The customary update for a FIFA title following the January transfer window is now available for FIFA 12 – it will download automatically if you enter a head to head match. I haven’t got the patch myself so I can comment on any stat changes yet, but at least Paul Scholes have returned to the Manchester United setup.
Borderlands 2 is set for release worldwide on September 21st 2011, as the Winter catalogue of games starts to build up.
Finally, Kojima Productions are beginning a search for people to help make the next Metal Gear Solid title, which we should presume will be Metal Gear Solid 5. Kojima himself recently said that he would probably have to make the fifth game – here’s hoping that the game will materialise and that it’s not another spin-off.
That’s your lot for today, feel free to check out my ever expanding Best VGM list from the tab at the top of the page.
The clock has just hit 12:30 here, and I am currently sitting bored of dissertation work in a library. Time to get some news rounded up:
It’s surprising how quickly rumours can be confirmed nowadays – what was mere speculation hours ago has been confirmed as a legitimate project in the form of LittleBigPlanet Karting. Concrete details at the moment are pretty sparse, but it seems like it will be a PS3 only title under the helm of United Front Games (the minds behind ModNation Racing, another PS3 exclusive), and that their may be a Move-compatible wheel being made as well. As much as I don’t wish to be sceptical, it seems like a quick cash in: Mario Kart is undoubtedly the king of the genre, and slapping a karting label on a popular exclusive franchise such as LittleBigPlanet seems a bit lazy. It also disappoints me as it may well mean Naughty Dog will not give us UnKarted….
And in other PS3 news, I’m afraid that PSN is dead….but don’t despair, as the service is simply being renamed as SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) under a new firmware update for the console. Version 4.10 will also look to increase the speed of the internet browser facility that the PS3 offers.
Credit where credit is due – Activision sure know how to print money. They’ve done it on multiple occasions with the Call Of Duty and Guitar Hero franchises, and now it seems we have another cash cow to add to their collection in the form of the Skylander’s series. The toy/game hybrid which involves you buying real life character models to put into the game has been ridiculously successful and all but killed off Spyro The Dragon as a credible character (for which I will NEVER forgive Activision), and there’s now a sequel – Skylander’s Giants. The game will introduce eight new characters and feature forwards compatibility with the characters from the first game. Cool. If you want a proper Spyro game may I recommend the gold old days of Spyro 2 and Spyro 3?
FIFA 12’s reign of terror (or if you are a FIFA fan like me, reign of awesomeness) at the top of the UK Sales Chart is over. The footballing juggernaut has finally been displaced by Final Fantasy XIII-2 which debuted in the charts at the number one spot. The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection also debuted strongly at number two, while Soul Calibur V debuted at a disappointing number five. The rest of the top 10 is made up of the usual suspects, including Battlefield 3, FIFA 12 and Assassins Creed: Revelations.
The long awaited 1.4 patch of Skyrim is finally out for PC owners, and will be hitting Xbox Live today as well. Agonisingly for PS3 owners, the release date for that system has not yet been announced – and that’s the one that people will scrutinise as Bethesda have promised in earnest that it will remove the lag problem that has made the game unplayable for many PS3 owners. As for me, I’ll be able to enjoy finally being able to put weapons onto racks again on the Xbox 360 version.
Finally, a quick roundup of the titles that have come on sale this week. On the retail front, you can pick up The Darkness 2 & Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning for Xbox 360 and PS3, while the Jak & Daxter HD Collection is a PS3 exclusive. On the handheld front, Resident Evil Revelations has been released for the 3DS, and on the digital front you can pick up The Simpsons Arcade Game, Shank 2 and Gotham City Impostors.
That’s all the news for this week; before I go I would just like to point you in the direction of my Best Video Game Music series that I am slowly adding to, and towards the link for a weekly podcast I am doing with a good friend of mine, Callum Loughlin. Its free, so why not give it a listen? Otherwise, I wish you all good day.
Just a quick news update this week rather than a fleshed out set of bulletins – I’m sorry there hasn’t been much review wise lately, but I’ve been literally inundated with an assignment, and a mixture of Skyrim & Persona 4 being played simultaneously means I wont be getting any games finished in a hurry. I’ll will improve my efforts in mid December hopefully.
And without further ado, the headlines at 9pm:
It’s Black Friday! You know, that holiday that no-one in Great Britain actually celebrates….but anyway, Black Friday means deals on games, and this year is hasn’t been as good as last year frankly. Whereas stuff like ‘Splosion Man was going for just 80 MSP last year, this year the deals have been kind of crap. But don’t worry, as ever Steam has had a ridiculous sale this week, and if you are quick you might be able to catch the last few deals before Saturday comes around.
Microsoft have been busy this week denying claims in The Sun that Xbox Live has been hacked. To confirm, this does appear to be usual tabloid sensationalist bulls**t, as they are talking about simple phishing scams, and if you are smart with your details (or just use prepaid cards) you won’t be having any problems. On a happier note, we have a confirmed date for the new 360 dashboard update – hook up to Xbox Live on December 6th, and you’ll have the new interface, based on Windows 7 phones, to play with. I don’t really see the need for it, but getting the free stuff like 4OD, Youtube and BBC IPlayer on at long last will be welcome.
Ah Skyrim, how you continue to hold secrets for all of us. Some of the keener eyed players may have noticed a road that leads to seemingly nowhere on the bottom left corner of the map, and this week an intrepid PC gamer used no-clip mode to go through the path, and found himself in familiar areas…yep, Bethesda actually included the landmass of Morrowind and Cyrodill, the areas where the third and fourth Elder Scrolss games took place. The landmass is very low detail, but its inclusion in the game suggests there may well be DLC expansions going into the familiar territory – I would personally love to stomp around Cyrodill again as the Dragonborn.
You may well have forgotten that Minecraft was coming to Xbox Live this Winter, but don’t worry – it will not be coming for Winter. Instead, the enormously successful indie project will be now arriving in Spring 2012 for the Xbox 360 on Xbox Live Arcade. To celebrate, the development team behind the game released this very tongue-in-cheek trailer showing the dynamic action of Minecraft. I may well actually get into this one day; it reminds me of the simple joys of having Lego and building stuff as a kid.
The Versus Booster Pack is now available for Gears Of War 3. If you are unaware, Epic Games very kindly have made the five maps that came with the recent Horde Command Pack free for everyone to download, although you won’t get the benefits of the Command Pack, such as the achievements and Horde upgrades, via the Booster Pack.
Finally, EA Sports have made a new signing, and he just so happens to be the best footballer on the planet – Lionel Messi, former cover star of rival franchise Pro Evolution Soccer, has made the jump for FIFA Street. It’s a shame then as a friend of my pointed out while playing FIFA 12, Messi only has four star skills in that game…I suspect it might get updated come January.
And that’s your lot, I hope you have a pleasant week ahead of you all.
Good day everyone – I’m currently in a library and taking a break from my work; time for a news update on all things gaming methinks.
We start with a game that has been anticipated for quite some time now – Batman: Arkham City. As I write this article the game has become available on European shores, and if the reviews that have been flying around for it are any indication, it may well be sold out by the end of the day. It currently holds an unbelievable average score of 95 on Metacritic, four points ahead of its nearest competitors this year (in the form of Gears Of War 3, FIFA 12 and the ICO/Shadow Of The Colossus HD Collection) – all the more stunning when you realise that Arkham City is only the third game that Rocksteady Studios have ever produced. It may well be the case however that it soon gets knocked back a peg on the Metacritic scale – early reviews for Uncharted 3 have hinted at 97%, and The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword has earned a ridiculous 98% in a Nintendo publication. Seems I might have to readjust my scoring system again soon to deal with such high figures of praise.
Bioware confirmed via its Twitter account today that Mass Effect 3 will be getting a demo in January 2012, showing off both elements of single and multiplayer action. It will be nice to see how the new multiplayer modes work before committing oneself to the purchase of the full game, and it has been heavily hinted at a beta as well. Considering the recent success of the Battlefield 3 open beta test, EA would be fools not to implement it
The Soul Calibur series is well known for allowing characters from other series into its fighting action – Link turned up in Soul Calibur 2, and Yoda & Darth Vader showed up to kick ass and take names in Soul Calibur 4. And now, Ubisoft have got in on the action by letting Ezio Auditore of the Assassins Creed series make his way into the upcoming Soul Calibur 5. You can watch Ezio pull off some sweet moves in this official trailer video.
A while back, I did a quick and informal review for the Sonic Generations demo that was available for a limited time on both PSN and the Xbox Live Marketplace. Well, now Sega have come back with a new and improved demo, that not only allows you to play as Classic Sonic in the Green Hill Zone again, but offers a new 3D take on the level as well as Modern Sonic rips up the course.
Early sales reports show that FIFA 12 has outsold PES 2012 by a factor of 25 to 1 on a like-for-like opening weekend. How the times have changed…
Guess what PS3 fans? You have ANOTHER HD collection coming your way! Confirming the rumours floating around, the Devil May Cry series is to indeed get the now standard HD update with trophy and achievement support. I guess this is as much to drive up anticipation for the series reboot, DmC, as it is to make profit. And while it will be nice to play DMC3 again (the only one I ever got my hands on), the more collections get confirmed the more I lose my faith that there is a sense of originality currently floating around the industry – the PS2 – (and only God knows how) isn’t even out of production yet, and yet we are getting so many remakes. That said, I would pay good money to have Vice City updated….
Finally, to all those who were perhaps a bit unsatisfied by the storyline in Gears Of War 3, here is some news that might perk you up – the first piece of campaign DLC takes place before the original Gears Of War, and you get to play as General RAAM – you know, the ugly bastard that took so long to kill on Insane mode, with Kryll shields and all. I’m easily impressed, and have to say that this sounds like an ace proposition. ‘RAAM’s Shadow’ will be available exclusively on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 1200 points on December 13th 2011.
That’s your lot for now, and if you have picked up either Arkham City or the newly released Football Manager 2012, I hope you have an enjoyable weekend. I leave you with the 1960’s Batman theme as celebration. NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA NA…….
I have a confession to make – every September, around the end of the month, I suffer from an intense moment of madness. Basically, what I do is pop into my local gaming store, put £40 down on the desk, and demand a copy of the brand new FIFA. Every year I tell myself ‘what’s the point, you happily played the last game for a year, why get essentially an upgrade?’ – over the last four years however, the decision has been a bit easier to stomach each time. FIFA (since its jump to the 7th generation of consoles) has trounced the once mighty Pro Evolution Soccer, and each iteration since FIFA 09 has steadily improved on a very solid recipe. That’s why this September I had no qualms about paying for the latest edition, FIFA 12.
Now as a general rule of thumb, I do not write full reviews for football games, but I have spent so much time on the game recently that it would be a shame to give it a short excerpt and call it a day. FIFA 12 can be initially a massive headache even for the most experienced players, but once you learn to play the game and respect the new changes, it rewards you will possibly the best footballing experience one can get on a console, and one that I cant see being matched for quite a while. Continue reading The Beautiful Game At Its Best – FIFA 12 Review→
Hello everyone! Yep, that’s right – I’m back and writing blog stuff. I’ve been pretty busy recently what with university starting up again for the third year, the new Games Society starting up as well (a great success thus far), and general housekeeping with friends and such. I’ve not posted for about two weeks, and there has been so much news pass me by that I’m not even going to bother trying to wrap absolutely everything up. Instead, here are the headlines that have caught my eye recently:
In the short space of a few days, there have been several big hitters be released across all platforms. These include Rage, Dark Souls, and Forza Motorsport 4. All of them have been receiving pretty high reviews, and the difficultly of course now is which ones to pick for purchase. It also seems that early reviews for Batman: Arkham City are overwhelmingly positive as well. Seems my student loan came just in time…
Microsoft have finally gotten round to unveiling all the entertainment links they promised at this years E3 – and the list of partners they have is pretty damn impressive. For people here in the United Kingdom, we will be getting the likes of BBC Iplayer, 4OD, Channel 5, Lovefilm and Youtube on our Xbox dashboards in the coming months, and they will be free for both Silver and Gold members. Of course, the PS3 has had these services for quite a while now, so Microsoft is playing catch-up. For a few list of who is getting what, check Major Nelson’s page here.
EA Sports must be feeling incredibly smug right now, because FIFA 12 is selling like hotcakes. In has shifted 3.2 million copies in its first week across all platforms, making it by far the biggest launch of this year thus far, and also the biggest launch for a sports title ever. It also now holds a new record in the UK for being the third biggest launch in history, behind Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops. I have had quite a bit of hands on time with it over the last week, and will be posting up my own review on it very soon.
On the DLC front, all of you who have kept a hold of your copies of Portal 2 will be happy this week as the ‘Peer Review’ content is now available. It is free to download and will take up 1.37 GB of HDD space, promising new co-op challenges and more GLaDOS. There has also been an announcement for Gears Of War 3 DLC in the form of the Horde Command pack, which will offer new fortifications and weapon skins.
The achievement list for The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim has been leaked. If you are a glutton for punishment, then click here for the full list. Without giving much away, it is structured more like Fallout 3’s list than that of Oblivion.
It appears that we may be getting yet another HD collection, this time from Naughty Dog in the form of a Jak & Daxter HD Collection. Details are very sketchy at the moment, but given just how many games recently are getting the HD treatment (Halo, Metal Gear Solid 2 & 3, God Of War, Ico & Shadow Of The Colossus, Zone Of The Enders, Final Fantasy X etc.) it wouldn’t surprise me at all. Still, this is one remake I would welcome as I never got round to playing the series when they originally came out (being a Ratchet & Clank fan instead). And while you are at it Naughty Dog, remaster Crash Bandicoot 1, 2, 3 and Crash Team Racing please. Then you can have all of my money.
Finally, today we were informed of the sad death of Steve Jobs, the co founder of Apple. I’m not one for Apple products personally, and would associate him more fondly with the rise of Pixar, but there is no doubt that mobile gaming has been on the rise for years especially on products like the IPhone and IPad, and he deserves a hell of a lot of credit for its success. The lineage goes back even further with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984, allowing Apple to get in on the gaming industry in the first place. R.I.P Mr Jobs.
And that’s your news roundup for the moment. Don’t despair, as in the next few days I will be posting up my Gears Of War 3 review, and will get down to writing up my opinions on FIFA 12 as well. It’s good to be back.
Here’s an interesting fact for you: if you pop along to Xbox.com and view the best selling items on the Marketplace of all time, you will not find the likes of Halo 3 or Modern Warfare in the top spot. Or in second, or even third. The top three spots are locked out by the FIFA franchise, because so many people get the demos when they come out. And now, its that time of the year again when football fans spend ages looking at their download percentage to go past 99%: the demo for FIFA 12 is now available for all on Xbox Live. I’ve had a few hours with the demo, and the following is my conclusions of the latest instalment in the series. Continue reading FIFA 12 Demo Review→
Courtesy of Xbox360achievements.org, I can bring to you today the full list of acheivements/trophies for EA’s upcoming FIFA 12. The shocking thing this year is that mercifully, they’ve left out most of the stupid, glitchy and time consuming efforts (such as win 100 games online), in favour of a much more balanced list, which amongst other things requires to to nutmeg an opponent, engage in some transfer deadline day activity and beat your friends online. There are quite a few listed for Ultimate Team mode as well, which dissapoints me a bit because I have never really engaged with Ultimate Team mode. Maybe I’ll give it a go this year if you get more coins from a victory.