If there is anything to take out of this week, it’s that we’ve all apparently been lied to. You don’t need to wait until June 9th for all the big E3 announcements, because the likes of Microsoft and Ubisoft have been spilling the beans on projects left, right and centre over the past seven days.
Let’s start with the big news from Microsoft – starting from June 9th in all markets, you will be able to purchase an Xbox One without a Kinect sensor for £349; a price cut of just under £70 from the original RRP. Whereas the Kinect had been placed as ‘an absolutely integral part of the Xbox One experience’ and was originally set to be a mandatory requirement, a dearth of games utilizing the system, negative consumer feedback and the fact that the move now puts Microsoft’s console on a level pricing field to the PlayStation 4 seems to have forced Microsoft’s hand yet again on the console – which has earned a reputation for u-turns in policy.
The other announcements from Microsoft this week also suggest that they are finally in tune with the modern gaming audience; namely the requirement to have an Xbox Live Gold account to use entertainment apps on Xbox 360 and Xbox One is to be dropped in June as well (meaning that services including Netflix which require their own subscription and simpler applications like Internet Explorer or Twitch, free to use on pretty much every other device in the world, are no longer behind a paywall). Consumers will still need a Gold account to get online multiplayer and Games With Gold, but even the latter has received some boosting news – the service will be coming to Xbox One in June, debuting with Max: Curse Of The Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault, while 360 owners will get Dark Souls, Charlie Murder & Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition.
Oh yeah – and Halo 5: Guardians has been confirmed for an Autumn 2015 release.
The question is now then – are you more tempted to pick up an Xbox One?
With Grand Theft Auto V coming out in just mere days, now is the ideal time to offer a quick retrospective look at the last big budget game hailed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread; the well hyped fourth main installment into the series released five years ago. Around the time of its launch, you couldn’t move for the sheer amount of praise that was heaped upon GTA IV by the gaming press – anything less than 10 out of 10 seemed to be sacrilege. I remember thinking at the time after playing IV that these scores were perhaps overrating the experience a bit, and time has done little to change my opinion. While GTA IV remains to this day a stunning feat of technical ability, it lacks that special something that made Vice City and San Andreas the must-have games of their day. Continue reading The Last Attempt At The ‘Biggest GTA Ever’ – Grand Theft Auto IV Review→
Rockstar Games recently announced in and amongst the insane fuss over GTA V that Vice City, one of the coolest and best games ever created in my humble opinion, would be heading to portable devices before the end of the year. However, at that time they feigned to tell us when they would be released – well now we know. On December 6th, you can carry the essence of the 1980’s in your pocket for the sum of $4.99
Rockstar have said that the game “brings the full experience of GTA: Vice City to mobile devices, with native high-resolution graphics and several enhancements unique to the iOS and Android platforms”. These include “updated character models and lighting effects, new and more precise firing and targeting options, a fully customizable control layout and native support for Retina display devices”.
Just a quick update this week on three bit of news to come out of the industry:
All the evidence in the world pointed to it, and earlier this week we got a crystal clear confirmation – Grand Theft Auto 5 is indeed real and will be coming out sometime in the future. Given the gigantic success of the franchise since its jump to the world of 3D environments in 2001, and in particular the critical acclaim of GTA 4 in 2008, you would have thought this would be a no-brainer for Rockstar Games, but they are famously good at keeping their cards close to their chest. All eyes will be on the Rockstar website on November 2nd, as this is when we will get out first glimpse of GTA 5 in the form of an official trailer. In the meantime, all we can do is twiddle out thumbs and observe the only picture of the game released – and it’s the logo. The dollar wrapped around the Roman Numeral gives a bit of weight to the theory that for this instalment, Rockstar may make the jump to the real world and focus on the current economic climate, maybe in Los Angeles. I for one am horrified at the idea; Grand Theft Auto has always been at its peak by offering ridiculous action and a scathing commentary on real life. Also, please please please don’t do Liberty City again – give me more Vice City and ill slap my money down right now for a copy.
It’s all looking a bit gloomy for Nintendo at the moment – a year marked by a highly disappointing sales for the 3DS, a lack of big hitting titles for the Wii and DS and early scepticism towards the Wii U have all come together to give the Big N a first half loss of a staggering 70.2 BILLION Yen (that’s £578 million for us English folk). Nintendo haven’t made a annual loss in profits for over 30 years now, and it really would be a sign of the economic times if the biggest name in gaming were to hit a downturn as catastrophic as this come April 2012 (Christmas will boost profits, but I doubt it will cover such a huge initial loss).
And finally in another sad bit of news, another game has found itself displaced from the November release schedule – the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection which will now be released on the 3rd February 2012. Logic would dictate that either Konami don’t fancy their chances against the other big hitters in November and have made the decision to bail out, or the game simply wasn’t ready yet. Still it might prove to be a crafty bit of business – at the moment, the only other major challenge in February is from Final Fantasy XIII-2, so it might be able to mop up on those gamers who are burnt out over Christmas.
Cheers for the continued support of the blog, and if anyone is going to the MCM Expo in London tomorrow I hope you have a great time – I can’t go to this one unfortunately due to work constraints (and I’m skint as well – typical student).
I must say that I am feeling pretty good at the moment. My university course has ended for the year, and I managed to survive the Rapture. All of this means that I have managed to spend a bit more time looking at some of the news in the games industry recently. It has been comparatively slow (I get the feeling everyone is waiting for E3 for announcements), but two bits of news have been of interest to me.
The first piece of news regards LA Noire. I wondered in my last news post whether or not it would have what it takes to be one of the games of the year, and it seems Rockstar’s relentless advertising push, combined with some excellent reviews, have done the trick. It topped the All Formats, Xbox 360 and PS3 charts this week (beating outing the likes of Brink and Lego: Pirates Of The Caribbean), and has been touted as the fastest selling new IP ever, certainly since Red Dead Redemption a year ago. Initial reports claim that about 900,000 copies were sold in the Americas in the space of five days, and 250,000 in the UK in roughly two days, with 55% of sales being the 360 version. Very impressive sales figures indeed.
The second bit of news to discuss is the recent leak of FIFA 12 details, in the form of screenshots and a video. The pictures are nothing special, doing the traditional ‘show a player controlling the ball at close range’ thing, but the video, which you can access here, displays a few of the new features, including a much more realistic system of defending where players actually contain the opposition rather than charging straight at them, and a few new examples of the collision system in action, with players flying off at all angles depending on the tackles. Some a bit more official from EA would be welcomed, but at the moment it looks to be coming along swimmingly.
Well that’s your lot for today, have a look around my blog for more reviews and features, and I’ll catch you all later.
UPDATE: It seems that EA has claimed copyright on that video, I apologise but there is nothing that I can do about it as it was an external Youtube video. I will leave the hyperlink in case it becomes available again
RED DEAD REDEMPTION: UNDEAD NIGHTMARE (2010) – ROCKSTAR GAMES
Zombies. It seems the gaming industry cannot get enough of them. Sure, they have been a staple of the horror genre and games like Resident Evil for over a decade now, but mainstream games have never seen the need to include them. All that seemingly has changed in the last few years; since Treyarch introduced ‘Nazi Zombies’ as a game mode in Call Of Duty: World At War, they have been popping up all over the place. Rockstar also decided to jump on the bandwagon, and the fruit of its labour is the Undead Nightmare DLC for the excellent Red Dead Redemption. So, has the trick worked? Continue reading When Zombies Ruled The Wild West – Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare Review→
(First published on Gamepad Magazine, 21st January 2011)
RED DEAD REDEMPTION (2010) – ROCKSTAR
When you come to think of it, the Wild West is the perfect setting for an action game. Just think; shootouts on horseback, duels in the street, John Wayne strutting around in a big hat, you can’t go wrong. Strangely though, the gaming world has never really picked up on it. There have been a few attempts to bring the idea to life, (most notably in Neversoft’s overlooked title GUN), but it is only with the arrival of Red Dead Redemption that the action of the Frontier has been truly recognised. Dubbed as Grand Theft Horse, RDR takes the work that was put into GTA4 and applies it to the Wild West with stunning results. Continue reading The Game For John Wayne – Red Dead Redemption Review→