For several decades now, Lego has been THE toy for young children – a simple set of blocks which can ingeniously fit together into structures limited pretty much only by imagination. Video games featuring the Lego brand have been pretty fun (if not repetitive in nature) as well for the last couple of years, and the Danish brickmakers are now set to barge into the highly lucrative toys-to-life genre with Lego Dimensions, developed by TT Games for PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Wii U.
The game will support figurines and models from multiple franchises including DC Comics, Back To The Future, TheLord Of The Rings & Lego’s own Ninjago franchise. The base game and a starter pack of characters is currently set to cost £90-100 – if you were to pick up all of the extra packs which have been announced, then that figure rises to an eye-watering £350!
The Skylanders and Disney Infinity titles have been huge earners and much demanded Christmas presents over the past few years as kids empty their parent’s wallets to get the latest figurines, and one would imagine that the brand appeal of Lego will allow Warner Bros to make like absolute bandits on Dimensions. For that price though, I think I’ll stick with the bricks… Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 6TH-12TH APRIL→
The Xbox One could potentially have been released without a disc drive following criticism at its second reveal at E3 2013 – that’s according to an interview with Microsoft Studios head honcho Phil Spencer released this week. Speaking in Official Xbox Magazine, Spencer revealed:
“There was a real discussion about whether we should have an optical disc drive in Xbox One or if we could get away with a purely disc-less console, but when you start looking at bandwidth and game size, it does create issues.”
This was in response to overwhelming criticism for the Xbox One’s ‘always online’ requirements which were quickly dropped. Can you imagine the sheer backlash there would have been if this particular u-turn had gone through as well?
In this scenario it appears Microsoft dodged a bullet – the last time a major console manufacturer released a purely digital console was when Sony unveiled the handheld PSPGo; which even by PSP standards flopped. But Spencer’s revelations have ignited the discussion once again of how long it will be until digital retail is the only way forward. Personally, I think the disc will be around for quite a while yet. Continue reading WEEKLY NEWS UPDATE FOR 30TH DECEMBER 2013 – 5TH JANUARY 2014→
World Of Warcraft, or WOW for short, was not the first MMORPG. Many would argue that it’s not the best either. I haven’t played it personally, but even I can see that even now eight years since its initial release, it is still the MMO by which all other MMO’s have to be judged. Entire subcultures have been created around the WOW universe, and it has permeated into popular culture more times than I can remember. Despite a few fluctuations every now and again, the playerbase has consistently stayed near the 10 million mark for years now, an astonishing number for a subscription based gaming service. Few games have ever managed to achieve that sort of popularity or longengivity. Even with threats from the likes of the recently released Star Wars: The Old Republic, World Of Warcraft continues to draw in new players.
16 – HALF LIFE 2 (2004) – VALVE
Did you know that Half Life 2 was the first game released online that required product activation? Oh, you did? Bugger…well how about the fact that it won 39 ‘Game Of The Year’ awards? Oh…you knew that as well? It’s hard to find anything new to say about Half Life 2 that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before; but I’ll have a go.
The key to the success of this game is the Source engine, a new game engine which allowed Valve to produce a game with physics and artificial intelligence that was light years ahead of anything else. The core dynamics from the original Half Life, including the complete lack of cutscenes (everything happens in real time through the eyes of silent protagonist Gordon Freeman) were enhanced with fantastic puzzles using the shape, weight and buoyancy of certain objects, as well as adding new vehicle segements. Half Life 2 also gave the world quite possibly the greatest weapon ever in the form of the Gravity Gun, which could be used to pick up and manipulate objects – suddenly, you could kill enemies by cutting them in half with a saw blade or launching a toilet at them. On top of this, graphics, gunplay, story and setting were all pitch perfect.
It wasn’t just that it was a great game – Half Life 2, with the power of the Source engine behind it led the way for the opening of the Steam distribution service which has drastically altered the way that people purchase games online, and also led to the creation of several other great titles such as Counter Strike: Source, Left 4 Dead and Portal. In my mind, it remains the most influential first person shooter of all time.
It’s typical isn’t it? On the week when arguably the two biggest games of the year get released, I suddenly realise I have half a dissertation to hand in…the games industry has never heard of University hand-in season have they? Nevertheless, I’ve suspended my study for an hour to cover some of the big news from the week – and there are some corkers this time.
Perhaps inevitably, we start with the first launch of the week – Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I don’t need to describe the attention surrounding this game (having already done it previously on the blog and having just taken a glance at every major gaming website going), and I shouldn’t need to tell you that it has sold the proverbial shedload of copies since it got released on Tuesday. As ever, the interesting news comes once people have got their hands on it, and the ravine in opinion has grown even wider this year it seems; critics have been relatively unanimous in their praise for the game hitting an average of 90 on Metacritic (which puts it behind Batman: Arkham City and Gears 3 interestingly enough), but the public opinion is downright hilarious. User reviews have given the game 2.6 out of 10 – now this could be angry trolls raiding the internet, but I have a feeling that some of these negative reviews will be somewhat truthful. Early reports suggest the campaign is once again far too short, and the COD Elite service has had a few technical hiccups. If you have the game (I sure as hell won’t be getting it), what do you make of it?
And of the game that did its best to displace COD from its lofty perch, Battlefield 3? Well, despite a few fiasco’s with its launch, EA will be smiling as it shifted five million copies in its first week on sale to become EA’s fastest selling game ever – and when you consider that roster includes stuff like The Sims and FIFA, its one hell of an achievement. Still, it wasn’t enough to stop Black Ops from being at the top of the Xbox Live charts this week, giving yet more evidence to Black Ops exceptional longevity. Oh yeah, Frank Gibeau (President of EA, and therefore one of the most despised men on the internet) also casually dropped a Battlefield 4 mention this week. Imagine the specs required for that bad boy….
Have you heard of GTA 5? Its this small game that got a debut trailer last week and sent the world into fits of speculation…all joking aside, even a week after the trailer hit the interwebs and after all the minute detailed analysis of the video, GTA 5 is still very much on everyone’s lips. We know that it will be set in San Andreas, but what people do not know is when the game will get released – Take Two have yet to divulge that information, simply listing it tantalisingly as ‘TBA’. I would personally be gobsmacked if it comes out before December next year at least, but Rockstar have been known to work miracles before. Watch this space for any more news
The Legend Of Zelda is having somewhat a news renaissance at the moment – its only a week now until the long awaited Skyward Sword arrives for the Wii, and there have been some intriguing rumours floating about with regards to the future of the franchise on the 3DS. We have had the Ocarina Of Time remade in 3D, and now apparently Shigeru Miyamoto (resident Nintendo genius who created Mario and Zelda) has hinted that Majora’s Mask may also get a 3D remake, and maybe, just maybe, A Link To The Past from the SNES era might also get the treatment. If a remake of Ocarina was printing money, 3D A Link To The Past would be a gold mine – DO IT NOW NINTENDO!!!!!
I’m a bit disappointed with Bioware at the moment, in particular over Mass Effect 3. Following a huge mess-up which resulted in early beta gameplay and story spoilers going onto Xbox Live for a brief period, they have now said that as far as multiplayer goes, there will be no LAN option for PC’s and no split screen co-op for consoles. It’s a bit crap really isn’t it?
Final bit of console news (for now), and it is to say that the Jak & Daxter HD CollectionI mentioned was in the works a while back has been confirmed for PS3 on a German listing site. No news yet on whether it will be an console exclusive, but I would guess it will be as Microsoft hates platformers it seems
Now to the bright lands of PC gaming; and not everything is rosy in World Of Warcraft’s garden at the moment. Despite announcing a rise in profits and getting the new Mists Of Pandaria expansion pack ready for players, 800,000 players have recently left the game. It still leaves the total player base at just over 10 million, but it’s a significant drop, with reports saying that a lot of those came from the East of the world, especiallyChina.
On the other hand, things keep looking up for Minecraft, which recently got its 4,000,000th paid player added to its rank. The indie game has been a remarkable success, and it’s the all the stranger when you consider its still in beta.
And I shall end as I started, with news of a big release. As I write, In twelve and a half hours I will be queuing outside of Gamestation in Lincoln to pick up The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Hand on heart, I have not looked forward to a game as much as this since GTA Vice City…and that was near a decade ago. My Friday is going to be very busy indeed with work hand-in’s, but I intend to get a very brief editorial done chronicling my first few hours hands on with the game. And if you are one of the lucky people who have got the game a day early, I hate you very much right now.
I’ll finish off by giving a quick update on what I’m playing at the moment. I have just finished a review of Civilization IV, which will going live not soon after this article, and this week I also purchased a brand new copy of Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4, to see what the fuss is about – thus far I’m loving it. Before the end of the year, I have pledged to play through Final Fantasy 6 again with a bunch of people from the Gaming Society, and then I have playthroughs of Ocarina Of Time, Rogue Galaxy and Tales Of Phantasia planned – along with casual games of FIFA and Gears 3 stuck in there for good measure. Good bye social life, I barely knew you.