News

News 28/01/10

This week: Your console is your childrens’ portal to hell, yet more of that beautiful downloadable content and glorious game releases and the Southern Americans’ iPod.

Governments Flaming Consoles

The latest news brought to you by a stream of somewhat subjective and uniformed thought has seen not only the socialist president of Venezuela condemn video games, but also the UK Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith. Two weeks ago Chavez declared on his weekly TV Show “Alo Presidente” that “Those games they call ‘PlayStation’ are poison, some games teach you to kill. They once put my face on a game, ‘you’ve got to find Chavez to kill him.’” (butthurt much?) and that games “promote the need for cigarettes, drugs and alcohol so they can sell them. That’s capitalism, the road to hell”.

Hugo Chavez

Aside from the fact that we can clearly deduce old Hugo is raging Xbox fanboy, I can’t help but think condemning violence in video games is a little hypocritical considering he himself has attempted military coups. What’s more distressing is the attacks on games much closer to home from Duncan Smith. Speaking to The Times, the UK MP claimed “We are driving children to lose their childhood, and some video games are incredibly violent, like Grand Theft Auto. They are meant to be 18 but nobody cares what it says on the label.” Now I certainly advocate improving the ratings system, but this statement is clearly subjective and grossly misinformed – I suppose blaming video games is an easy way to account for the UK’s crime and anti-social behaviour problems, but one must consider that the real problem lies in those vandalising public property and hanging around, sniffing glue in the park, not indoors indulging in some good old GTA. I could go on on for a few more pages discussing my stance on video games being a cause of violence but I’ll simply remind myself that this is a man talking about loss of innocence, who voted for the Iraq war in which many soldiers were actually killed and countless civilians.

Wii, Xbox Live & PSN

It was recently announced, to the relief of many Nintendo fanboys, that Netflix would indeed be coming to the Wii sometime in the Spring, with the usual subscription of $9 a month – however, it will not offer HD videos because of course, the Wii is not capable…let the flame wars commence.

SCEA director of hardware marketing, John Koller, recently stated that expansion of the PSN is “critical” in 2010, and this comes as no surprise given the tight competition between the  next gen console publisher to expand their products into more than just devices to play games on. He promised more original titles and a resurgence of PS1 games, but had nothing to add when asked if Sony planned anything similar to a Games on Demand service like Xbox Live’s – C’mon Sony, keep up now.

And finally Ben Jones of Zipper Interactive claims Xbox Live is more juvenile than PSN. Nonsense! I was discussing how mature Xbox Live was with a gentleman I met on CoD last night, and by guy I mean 10 year old…and by discussing I mean struggling to translate the high pitched screams and racial slurs. Anywho, he went on to say, that as a result the PSN is a better fit for the 256 player MAG. Probably so, but a game of that magnitude needs teamwork, so we’ll have to wait and see whether the game produces the sort of cooperation necessary.

Japan Isn’t Over

Despite Keiji Inafune’s comments at last December’s Tokyo Game Show, according to Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Xbox, “the future is bright” for Japan, as he believes Natal will help leverage and inspire creativity. He emphasised that it’s important that the Japanese developers should seek to be original and not attempt to create the next Call of Duty or Halo (we’ve nothing to worry about on that front, as they’ll be a constant stream shoved down our throats – I’m not complaining). The Japanese games market generated ¥542,640 million in 2009, down 6.9 per cent year-over-year, so one can understand the negativity; but even Inafune, on the Project Natal panel, said “I strongly feel that Project Natal will expand the possibilities of gaming”. So, whether you like it or not, Natal is coming and Microsoft are placing a lot behind it, claiming that 80% of 3rd party developers have Natal titles in development currently.

iPod iPad iPuddy cat

Yesterday, Steve Jobs, with the whole of the hip, polo-neck-weaking Apple corporation behind him, announced and showed off the iPad, Apple’s offering to the Tablet computer market. And thus the usual hype, fanboyism and anti-Appleism swept its way over the internet with claims from ‘revolutionary’ to ‘really big iPhone’. You can get the full details virtually everywhere and here, but the point is it will be able to run iPhone games and apps and EA have gotten in with the cool crowd to cash in.

He looks so proud

Apparently at least 150 titles are in due to be released  for the iPad, and although the titles shown off at the press event, NOVA and Need for Speed: Shift were simply scaled up versions of the iPhone games, they had very little time to produce the titles to demonstrate. Hopefully game developers with a little more time on there hands might be able to offer up something more substantial for the iPad, which clearly has better gaming prospects given its size and power, as Apple would want you to know.

Game & DLC Releases

Mass Effect 2 is out in the US and arrives tomorrow for the UK with all its galactic shenanigans and I hope to have a review up soonish, depending on how long it takes me to savour its’ delights. You can check out the orgasmic, I mean fantastic, trailer here and if that isn’t enough, Greg Zeschuk, co-founder of Bioware has stated that although this Mass Effect series is limited to a trilogy, other incarnations and forms are possible and definitely on the table – lovely jubbly. In slightly smaller, but equally awesome news, Jack Wall, I hear, is returning or rather, has returned as composer for the soundtrack of Mass Effect 2 – happy face.

Assassin’s Creed II: Battle of Forli DLC is out today for just 320MS points – so get stabbing and leaping through it and enjoy the fact that it will be followed up by Bonfire of the Vanities next month! We’re clearly spoiled. Go and check out the trailer here if you should need convincing.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 developer DICE has dropped a whole bunch of crap on the PC community recently, announcing the sequel would neither have a dev console nor private dedicated server support, only officially rented – meaning no mods or custom maps, which is a real shame; Infinity Ward might have suffered a great many less illegal downloads of MW2 had this been announced earlier. Nevertheless, the game looks promising and there’s a new multiplayer mode trailer out, so check it out.

Dragon Age: Origins is receiving yet more DLC next week called Return to Ostagar and Bioware have also announced the expansion, Awakening, will be hitting March 16th, so no shortage of pointy ears and potions. Finally, I’ll leave you with a refreshingly depressing thought – a Tony Hawk’s Ride sequel is already in development. God help us all; see this for reference.



January 28th, 2010
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