G’day folks, hope you have all had an enjoyable start to 2012. Here’s a quick update of the more interesting stories form the start of the New Year.
The Christmas period has been a very successful time for Nintendo, certainly in its homeland of Japan. Last month they shifted 1,492,931 units of the 3DS in Japan, which broke records for the highest monthly hardware sales recorded in the country. This is a stark contrast to sales of the PS Vita, which similar to the 3DS has had a tough start to its life – only selling 402,704 units since its launch, which is below the anticipated numbers. It’s only taken a year, but the 3DS seems to be picking up steam now.
Speaking of Steam, its been pretty good numbers coming from Valve’s digital service in 2011. Year by year unit sales have improved by over 100% for the seventh straight year in a row, and they had 5 million concurrent users for the first time in late December, no doubt fuelled by the brilliant sales that were on offer. The big cheese of Valve, Gabe Newell, has promised there will be more free to play games next year as Steam continues to go onwards and upwards.
The good news continues in PC land for Star Wars: The Old Republic. It has already seen a steady growth in player base since its release late in December, and the enormous game has now been recognised by the Guinness Book Of Records for having the ‘Largest Entertainment Voice Over Project’ ever. With over 200,000 lines of dialogue recorded, its not hard to see why.
Are we going to see Pokemon Grey this year? It certainly seems that way at this moment in time. Several Japanese publications have been dropping hints that a new game will be on the way, and that inkeeping with traditional format it will be an update to the existing games of the generation, Black & White, with more of a focus on one of the legendary Pokemon in the story – in this case, most likely it will be the ice dragon Kyurem. A domain name was registered for the game last year, but the Pokemon Company have been tight lipped on the issue. The main issue is whether or not it will be exclusive to the 3DS or not; more news on this when it arrives.
And to finish with, we take a quick look back at 2011 – specifically, the most played games on Xbox Live for the year. It’s a depressingly solid set of statistics to back up the notion that gaming has become too orientated towards first person shooters, with the Call Of Duty franchise dominating the list. Black Ops took 1st prize, Modern Warfare 3 popped into 2nd, and Modern Warfare 2 took 3rd, while the original Modern Warfare is astonishingly high at 14th (not bad for a game released over four years ago). Another surprise is that Halo 3 still holds firm in 16th place. The full top 20 is listed below.
1. Call Of Duty: Black Ops
2. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
3. Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
4. Halo: Reach
5. Battlefield 3
6. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
7. Gears of War 3
8. FIFA 12
9. FIFA 11
10. Madden NFL 12
11. GTA IV
12. NBA 2K11
13. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
14. Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
15. Battlefield 3 Beta
16. Halo 3
17. Gears Of War 2
18. Forza Motorsport 4
19. Red Dead Redemption
20. Call Of Duty: World At War
Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days for my review of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and feel free to browse all the other content I have to offer on the blog. Happy reading 🙂
About a month ago, Codemasters released the latest instalment of the Formula One video game franchise, in the form of F1 2011. Happily (as a fan of both Codemasters and the sport itself) it has been pretty well received, making it one of the better F1 games. And upon reading about its success, I looked up at the shelf in my room where I hold all of my old games, and took down the copy of one of my absolute favourite games of all time: Formula One – the original instalment for the Playstation, and a game that despite being released in 1996 is still enthralling to play today. Continue reading ‘And It’s GO GO GO!!!!’ – Formula 1 Review→
In 1968, the film Bullitt was released in America. There was a plot about something in it, but no one remembers that – instead, you mention the film to anyone and the first thing they will remember is the legendary car chase scene. Weighing in at 10 minutes and taking place in the hills of San Francisco, it was longer than any chase scene that had gone before it, and has been revered ever since as the greatest chase scene of them all. What makes it special, is that it defines the word ‘cool’ – Steve McQueen, burning rubber and speeding through the city in his green Mustang is quite the memorable sight. Sadly, even if you went out and bought a muscle car, you couldn’t replicate what happens in the film…because of traffic. And the law. When Reflections Interactive released Driver in 1999 however, it represented a chance to finally live out the dreams that had been inspired by all the great car chases we were treated to in the 60’s and 70’s; big open 3D cities where you were the man in the muscle car and where you could stick it to the police whenever you wanted. The question is then, did Driver fulfil its promise? Continue reading The Game For Steve McQueen – Driver Review→
Given the huge success of Final Fantasy 7 and Final Fantasy 8 on the Playstation, you could have forgiven Squaresoft for continuing along a futuristic line for the next game in the franchise. However, it was clear from the start of its life that Final Fantasy 9 was going to be a combo breaker for the futuristic formula. Development for the game started before Final Fantasy 8 had even been released, and Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted to make a game that he felt was as close as possible to his original views for what Final Fantasy should be. This meant a return to more medieval settings and a more European flavour than its forbearers. Question is, did this gamble pay off in the end? Continue reading Bringing Classic Fantasy Back In Style – Final Fantasy 9 Review→
I’ll make no excuses; Crash Team Racing is a Mario Kart 64 clone, pure and simple. When the Italian plumber took his karts to the Nintendo 64 in 1997, it set the bar for everything else, and most of the efforts from developers in the two years afterwards (with the notable exception of Diddy Kong Racing) neatly smashed into it. Crash Team Racing differed from all of the other imitators however, and I personally feel that it did the unthinkable and actually surpassed Mario Kart 64, despite borrowing so heavily from it. Now I am aware of the heavy bias I carry into this review (being a massive Crash fan and all), but keep reading and you will hopefully realise why the marsupial fits the kart better than his moustachioed rival. Continue reading The Best Karting Game – Crash Team Racing Review→
SPYRO: YEAR OF THE DRAGON (2000) – INSOMNIAC GAMES
The year 2000 was a funny old time. The threat of the Millennium Bug passed away rapidly, everyone forgot about the Millennium Dome, and it just so happened that a small purple dragon was going to get its third game on the Playstation. Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer was a tremendous success for Insomniac Games, and therefore its follow up would have to be pretty damn good to keep the quality levels high. In a strange twist of fate, 2000 was actually the Year Of The Dragon in China, so Insomniac got lucky with a title name. The rest of the finished product didn’t need luck in the slightest to shine brightly.
Having saved the world of Avalar, the opening of Spyro 3 shows Spyro returning to his home of the Dragon Worlds, where 150 dragon’ eggs are ready to hatch. However, a thief comes through a hole in the ground and steals all the eggs while the dragons are sleeping, and Spyro just misses the chance to catch her. We quickly find out that there is a spiteful Sorceress on the other side of the world who plans to use the magical eggs to restore magic to her world. Fearful for their eggs, the elder dragons decide that only Spyro can fit down the hole and go after the thief, and send him, his trusty dragonfly companion Sparx and Hunter The Cheetah (still as derpy and fantastic as ever) to ‘The Forgotten World’ to retrieve the eggs. Continue reading Playstation Platforming At Its Best – Spyro: Year Of The Dragon Review→
When Ubisoft began their conference on Monday at E3, their lead game was not Assassins Creed, or Far Cry or Ghost Recon. Nope, the honour went to Rayman Origins. Despite the high success of these other franchises, it is Rayman that for a long time has been seen as Ubisoft’s mascot. And with the transition back to classic 2D side scrolling, it got me thinking about the first entry in the series. Rayman was one of the first successful titles for the Playstation, and one of my first purchases for the console. And I can look back on it fondly, because it still remains one of the hardest challenges I have undertaken in gaming. Continue reading The Origins Of Rayman – Rayman Review→
Monday 6th June 2011 marked the start of the biggest gaming event of the year, where the games industry descended on Los Angeles for E3 2011. Four conferences went ahead yesterday, from Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony. Below, is my coverage of the event, and my opinions on the stuff that came up. Strap yourself in, there’s a lot to cover here. Continue reading E3 2011: Summary Of Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft And Sony’s Conferences→
When discussing the simulation racing genre, there is one franchise that towers over the rest: Gran Turismo. There have been many pretenders to the crown, most notably the Forza Motorsport series, but nothing has been able to truly swerve the appeal of Polyphony Digital’s behemoth. Since the release of the original in 1998, the Gran Turismo games have sold over 60 million titles, making it the most successful racing simulation series of all time (Need For Speed holds the record for the most successful racing franchise) and meaning that it is has sold more than franchises like Street Fighter, Halo and even The Legend Of Zelda. I happen to have contributed to its success in a very small way, by buying copies of the first three titles in the series. This article will comprise of my reviews of these games, and a small roundup on where I see the future of the franchise going. Continue reading The Real Driving Simulator? – Gran Turismo 1,2 & 3 Reviews→
SPYRO 2: GATEWAY TO GLIMMER (1999) – INSOMNIAC GAMES
The original Spyro The Dragon was relatively well received when it was released in 1998. What you got for your money was a new protagonist in a much more open 3D world than other titles on the Playstation (especially Crash Bandicoot), crammed full of collectibles and all wrapped up in an enjoyable narrative. There were a few things that brought it down however; a poor camera, laughable bosses and an awkward difficulty curve for younger gamers to name a few. Insomniac Games soon learnt from their mistakes however, and within a year had produced a sequel. With no rivals nearby (Crash was trying his hand at kart racing at the same time), Spyro 2 (called Ripto’s Rage outside of Europe) had the perfect chance to claim the title as the best platformer on the system. Continue reading How The Dragon Beat The Bandicoot – Spyro 2: Gateway To Glimmer Review→