2012 – a year that promised much, and will no doubt go down in the textbooks as one of the most interesting years of modern times. The Olympics offered a summer of sporting enjoyment in Britain, a Korean man dancing like a horse became the most popular thing the internet has ever churned out, and the world didn’t end as predicted by ancient calendars running out. Each point to their own a notable landmark I guess.
And so what of the world of videogames? It was an enviable task set for this year by the exploits of 2011; a year where games reached levels of exceptional quality in some cases. 2012 was a horrifically clichéd year in that some things were very good, and some things very poor. Below is my run through the year; I’ve broken away from looking specifically at the big three companies in detail to allow some more room for analysis, and to keep the points a bit shorter for reading purposes. Continue reading Dazcooke’s Video Game Land Review Of 2012
FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 (2012) – SQUARE ENIX
For all intensive purposes, Final Fantasy XIII-2 shouldn’t exist. Final Fantasy XIII was not the new age hit that Square Enix hoped it would be; in fact it did the opposite and split much of the fanbase with its questionable plot and automated battling. The decision to make a direct sequel, tailored more to a Western audience, is questionable at best then. Strangely though, for whatever reason the premise works – XIII-2 is a much better game than the original, but still suffers from quite a few of the problems that made XIII a disappointment. Continue reading Paradoxes, Paradoxes Everywhere – Final Fantasy XIII-2 Review
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.
Good morning everyone; I apologise that I haven’t been able to get much out in terms of news recently as I have been beavering away on my dissertation. Consider this a quick round up of news from the past week or so:
- Have you been looking at the Wii stashed in the corner of your room recently and thought ‘Man…I wish the Wii U would come out soon’? Well fear no more, because Nintendo President Satoru Iwata confirmed that the console will be released in this calendar year. Speaking at an investor meeting, Mr Iwata claimed that the console will be ready to buy in all regions by the time that 2013 rolls around. This is encouraging news for the Big N, who also had to swallow the bad news at the meeting that they will be making a loss this year…of 65 billion Yen (£535 million).
- In other news on the eight generation front, the Marketing Director of Microsoft France has stated in a recent interview not to expect a console reveal from Microsoft this year. He makes the good point that the company has yet to slash the price of a Xbox 360 yet (usually a sure sign that the next gen is on the way), but this is all up against overwhelming feeling that we WILL see a new console at some point this year – possibly with Blu Ray support and ‘six times the power’ of the current console if rumours are to be believed. I maintain my opinion: they have to release at least something in order to not fall behind Nintendo in the race for the next generation of gaming.
- The first big console release of the year, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has been getting a mixed reaction across the board. It seems the general consensus is that it’s a better game than Final Fantasy XIII, but in removing the linearity of that game Square Enix have left behind a sub standard story and retained the auto battle system. It’s all a bit disheartening – I played and quite enjoyed the demo (I like the whole idea of recruiting monsters and giving them hats to wear), but in a strange case of déjà vu, just like with XIII I have been put off a day one purchase. No doubt I will get round to playing it eventually.
- Happy 10th anniversary to Phoenix Wright – the ace attorney who has made court cases fun and made shouting ‘OBJECTION!!!’ in the middle of a busy street an acceptable thing to do…well I exaggerate but you get the point. And to celebrate the birthday, Capcom are making a fifth game in the series, most likely to be an exclusive on the 3DS. Not only that, but the first three games in the series (Ace Attorney, Justice For All & Trials And Tribulations) will all be getting a HD remake for iOS and Android platforms. Early reports suggest that prices may be as low as 1,200 Yen ($15) for all three, which is a bargain considering the originals are quite rare and can be found going for about £30 apiece online at the moment. And that’s not even mentioning the upcoming Phoenix Wright/Professor Layton crossover being developed by the excellent Level 5 for 3DS.
- If ever you needed convincing that Street Fighter X Tekken will be better on the PS3 than the Xbox 360, this week we got news that confirmed it – the PS3 and PS Vita versions of the game will be getting two exclusive characters, in the form of Mega Man and Pac Man.
- The Witcher 2, the RPG that got some serious acclaim on the PC last year, has a confirmed release date for Xbox 360 – it will be arriving on April 17th 2012.
- Finally, news from the realm of digital downloads – we learnt this week what the most popular titles were on both PSN and Xbox Live for 2012. On PSN, an old favourite took the crown as Tetris was the most downloaded game ahead of the HD remake of Resident Evil 4, while the god simulator From Dust shifted 375,000 units on Xbox Live to be the best selling title ahead of the still very-popular Castle Crashers.
A few shameless plugs to make before I head off – you may have noticed my new feature on the blog showcasing some of my favourite Video Game Music; all the tracks are split into individuals posts if you go to the ‘Best VGM’ link at the top of the page. Finally, I recently did a pilot pod-cast with Callum Loughlin, a good friend of mine from Lincoln University, where we talked about video games for about two hours. If you have time to burn, you can listen to the fruits of our labours for free by downloading the pod-cast from ITunes via this link.
ITS CHRISTMAS!!!!….or it may as well be, considering the amount of decorations popping up around the city right now. Yes, 23 days before the Lord Christ celebrates his 2011th birthday, Lincoln has decided to get into the festive mood – call me a traditionalist, but I don’t think it should really be celebrated until the 12 days beforehand….but whatever. With Christmas coming up, it also brings with it the busiest time of the year for the game industry, and as a result I have some news to bring you from the past week.
- The virtual sales on Black Friday may not have been the best we have ever seen, but physical sales of games and consoles went through the roof last week. Nintendo were able to report that both The Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D Land shifted over 500,000 copies apiece in the last week alone, making them the fastest selling Zelda and portable Mario titles ever. The 3DS also benefitted greatly from the arrival of the Italian plumber onto the system, tripling the sales of the previous week and meaning that despite its troubled year, it is still on to beat the first year figures of the Nintendo DS. Microsoft were also beneficiaries of the Black Friday spirit, shifting 960,000 Xbox 360 consoles and 750,000 Kinect’s to have their biggest sales week ever. A happy Thanksgiving indeed then for both parties
- Ah Skyrim, how you continue to captivate people – and unfortunately for Bethesda, recent news has not been kind. After several reports of crippling lag on the PS3, they released a patch this week which seems to have solved the problem for some users, but has also brought some new unintended hilarious glitches, such as dragons flying backwards. It’s not been all bad though – Skyrim has been the third most played game on Xbox Live recently (behind Modern Warfare 3 and Black Ops, which will no doubt be there until the end of time), and has the distinct honour of becoming the first Western game to ever get a perfect 40/40 mark from Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu – who are kind of similar to Edge Magazine in that perfect scores don’t get handed out too often. As far as a personal report goes, I’m about 40 hours in on my Xbox 360 version, and haven’t encountered a single problem as of yet.
- You may remember if you were brave enough to buy a 3DS before the price drops that Nintendo were going to reward you with a bunch of free games. The NES titles have already been released, but the promised GBA titles, including Mario Kart: Super Circuit and Metroid Fusion, still have yet to come through. Nintendo this week dismissed a report that the games have been pushed back to February 2012, claiming that they are still on course to bring them out before the festive period. More news on this soon.
- The next instalment in the Resident Evil series may well be heading to the Far East– two CV’s were spotted by eagle eye journalists this week claiming that Resident Evil 6 will feature Chinese versions of the undead hordes. It wouldn’t be a great surprise, as the series has explored Spain in Resident Evil 4 and Africa in Resident Evil 5 – watch this space I guess.
- Finally, news which delights me personally – Final Fantasy VII, one of the most celebrated and despised games of all time, will NOT be getting a HD remake – according to Yoshinori Kitase at least. The producer of Final Fantasy XIII and its upcoming sequel, Final Fantasy XIII-2, has come out this week to say that it would take far too much effort as ‘the actual game volume’ of FF7 would be too big to properly realise in a remake and that it would take nearly ten times the effort to make than a new game. So…what he is actually saying is that the modern games are inferior and not as fulfilling as games that were released 14 years ago? Way to diss the project Kitase
And that is your lot for the week, enjoy your weekend – and don’t go opening too many windows on your Advent calendars…
It’s time for another quick update of the biggest news from the game industry, and this week we have hack’s, leaks, and the worst kept secret in gaming to look at, amongst other things:
- We start with Sony, who have been hit with another batch of rotten luck – because PSN has been hacked again. Even against ridiculous odds, it seems that a group of hackers managed to compromise several thousands of accounts before being locked out by Sony. Credit card details have not been compromised by this hack it seems, which is a relief for those who purchase regularly from PSN. Still, even though this latest event is small fry compared to the debacle of earlier this year, the system (which only last month was proclaimed to be ‘more secure and stronger than ever’ by the CEO) is being compromised again. Stop dropping the ball Sony – do your utter best to keep hackers out of the system
- Leaks in the industry seem to be commonplace now, and the latest game to have its innards spilt out is The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. The game map has been released across the internet (which looks bloody huge and actually fits in perfectly with the geography of the Cyrodiil map from Oblivion), and someone else has managed to put up a few images of the manual. If nothing else, it confirms my expectations that the game will be massive, and I will have something to read while the disc installs. Good stuff all round
- And so about that badly kept secret – Mass Effect 3 is indeed getting multiplayer. Following recent rumours in magazines, Bioware ended the speculation once and for all this week by confirming on its Twitter account that there is a multiplayer component, along with co-op missions. Does the Mass Effect series really need multiplayer? In my opinion, the two games released thus far have been perfectly comfortable as single player instalments, and the addition of multiplayer makes me think that ME3 will be more action orientated than ever, and that it will be even further away from the RPG elements that attracted me to the series in the first place. But I’m just a humble amateur games reviewer, what do I know
- Twisted Pixel, the studio behind the excellent ‘Splosion Man and The Maw, have been acquired by Microsoft Studios for an undisclosed fee. A wise move on Microsoft’s behalf, because Twisted Pixel are one of the best indie developers around at the moment in my opinion
- It’s hard to believe that it has been ten years now since the release of GTA3 – a game which turned the sandbox genre on its head. Recently Rockstar announced that it has plans for the tenth anniversary of the game, and surprisingly (given the trend with older games at the moment) it’s NOT a HD remake. Instead, GTA3 will be heading to mobile devices for the first time on October 22nd.
- Just as I was writing up this article, I came across a new video for Final Fantasy XIII-2, and it might be of interest for those who felt jaded by the first game (you can read my views on the game via my review) – because the new trailer shows a lot of promise for the game. There are open cities full of people, and even some new distractions like gambling on Chocobo races. There is also the chance to get a better look at the enemy of the piece, as well as finding out why Lightning is in new armour for this game.
- And finally, I leave you with some footage of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. Even though I do not own a PS3, I can’t help but be drawn in by this game, and the desert village showed off in the latest video is nothing short of sublime – put the quality to 720p on the link and see just how good it looks. Please Naughty Dog, go back and save Crash Bandicoot when you are done with Uncharted…
I reckon I have had enough hands-on time with FIFA 12 now to get a decent review written up (or in other words, I have played it far too much since its release), so I will hopefully submit that sometime over the weekend. Sadly my dissertation does come first, so please bear with me –any and all support for the blog is very much welcomed.
The Tokyo Games Show has been taking place over the last few days, and as one might expect, most of the big news has come from Japan’s two big hitters in the industry, Sony and Nintendo. With a lot of the focus being on the respective handheld consoles the two companies have on sale, this could be an interesting read fro those who like gaming on the go.
- It was Nintendo who had their conference first, so I’ll start with them. It seems that the Big N are very keen to drive on with the recent rise of sales for the 3DS, following price cuts around the world, and address the lack of quality titles currently available for the system. Before the conference they confirmed Mario Tennis 3DS (which will make use of gyro controls), Monster Hunter 4 and a co-op Fire Emblem 3DS game, while during the actual conference Square Enix announced a new 3DS RPG (bizarrely called Bravery Default Flying Fairy…). Nintendo also revealed a new pink colour job for the 3DS – clearly designed to attract more female gamers methinks.
- The big news as far as the hardware itself is confirmed is that the second analogue stick add-on is indeed real. The controversial add-on will be released in Japanon the 10thDecember for 1,500 yen, and will require one AAA battery to work…and a 3DS to attach it to. Not all of the titles that have already been released will be compatible with the add on though. Smooth moves Nintendo. You’ll also finally be able to record videos in 3D following a system update due this November.
- Nintendo also released a smattering of new information for titles already confirmed for the 3DS. Amongst the headlines, Metal Mario and Latiku have been confirmed as playable characters in Mario Kart 7, which will also include a first person mode not seen before in the Mario Kart series. Super Mario 3D Land, Paper Mario 3DS and Metal Gear Solid 3DS also got new trailers and gameplay footage. So basically, if you have a 3DS, it will not be until December time that you will really be able to start maximising the full potential of your console.
- And so now onto Sony’s conference. The first big headline is the release date for the PS Vita: December 17th in Japan. The handheld will release with 26 launch titles, including Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, Ridge Racer and Uncharted: Golden Abyss. On top of this, Sony have made the bold promise of having 100 titles available around the launch window. This would make it one of the strongest launches for any console that I can remember. In a disappointing side note, the PS Vita’s battery life will only last for about five hours before it needs recharging. For more details and all the tech specs for the Vita, hit this link.
- And then suddenly out of nowhere – FINAL FANTASY X IS TO GET A HD REMAKE????? Yep, in a move that no-one anticipated, it was revealed that for the 10th anniversary of the game it will be getting the full HD treatment (as quite a few PS2 games are doing nowadays) and will be available on the PS3 and the PS Vita. Not worth buying a PS3 for, but I must say I am jealous. Click here to read my review of the original on the PS2.
- To roundup Sony, they gave out figures of how many PS3’s have been sold worldwide since its release – the answer is 52 million. As a Xbox 360 owner, I find it very interesting to see how markedly the gap between the 360 and PS3 has dropped in terms of sales figures over the last two years – they are both still light years behind the Wii in this generation though in overall sales.
- As I write, Final Fantasy XIII-2 has got its international release dates confirmed: December 15th in Japan, January 31st in America, and February 2ndin Europe. They are also releasing a special edition 320GB PS3 with the game in Japan; no word on whether anyone else will get their hands on it
- Halo Anniversary will be getting a Halo 2 map for its multiplayer mode, and that map is Headlong. It will be renamed ‘Breakneck’, and will get the visual spit and polish that comes with the Halo Reach engine. Could this mean the possibility of more Halo 2 maps in the future for either Anniversary or Reach?
- THQ have revealed a bit more about how you will be able to customise WWE 12 to your own taste. Alongside the traditional creation modes for wrestlers, storylines, finishers and entrances, you can now also create your own arena – so if you want to recreate a vintage WCW or nWo arena, you now can.
- The excellent Red Dead Redemption is to get a Game Of The Year Edition featuring all of the DLC released for the game, set for release on October 14th. If you can’t wait that long, then Take Two have announced that Civilization V will also be getting the GOTY treatment on the 27th September, with a full digital soundtrack and all of the DLC released for the game.
As ever, comments and subscriptions are welcome. Cheers for the continued support, and I will hopefully get round to posting up a review before my University course starts again.