News 25/5/10: “What the dickens happened at the end of Lost?” edition


Now that I’ve expressed my repressed dismay on the subject of TV’s most eminent cop-out finale, we can get on with some interesting tid-bits of news to let our palettes savour. I’ve been deep in my childhood wild west fantasies for the last few days, which Read Dead: Redemption allows me to indulge, so I should have a review up for that in the next few days, and as you may have noticed, it’s causing quite stir with shortages on PS3, fulfilled expectations of high sales numbers and even Irish newspapers protesting against its loveable Irish drunk. Anywho, I felt it necessary to put something up here while I prepare my review so here’s some information with which you may temporarily satisfy your never ending hunger.



With the year’s biggest trade show just around the corner, rumours concerning large announcements at E3 are flittering about interwebs unchecked. So to get our heads straight and prepared for this maelstrom of promised-filled gaming news, I’ve decided to roundup what we know, and what we don’t have a clue about.


So out with big guns first: It was rumoured last week, by MCV that, the PSP 2 would make it’s debut appearance at this year’s E3, but after some digging from the likes of VG247, supposedly reliable sources reveal that they are “99%” sure that it isn’t setup for an E3 reveal, but it is supposed to have 3G capabilities, 2 cameras and a very powerful processor. Word on the street, or rather behind closed developer’s studio doors, is that it’s actually due for an early 2011 launch, as games are currently being developed in the UK as we speak. Either way, it’ll be certainly interesting to see what the fat cats at E3 have to say.



Also in the journalists’ sights is Capcom, who according to a recent episode of Weekend Confirmed podcast, have a “bombshell” to drop at E3, and speculation points to either a reboot of a classic franchise that will utilise Project Natal or Devil May Cry 5. Personally, I’m crossing my trembling fingers for the former, as Capcom has some truly fantastic franchises in the cupboard, and lets face it, Devil May Cry 4 failed miserably, so I’ve not got high hopes for that white haired buffoon for a 5th outing.


To add to the hype, EEDAR boss Jesse Divnich, in an interview with Game Informer, predicted that Rockstar would be at least teasing GTA V at E3, for a possible release in 2011. He also noted that it’s unlikely any exclusivity deals would be drawn up this time round because Microsoft’s attempt’s with GTA IV wasn’t particularly successful, and there are other franchises in the market now standing as tall if not taller than GTA, thus an exclusive deal with for the PS3 or Xbox 360 would do much less to affect hardware sales. Although this leans towards dubious and seems to be complete speculation, it’d be foolish to ignore such a man’s predictions, so stay tuned for Grand Theft Auto: Glasgow.


On The DL

Some believe these digital downloads are the entire future of games, while others call bullshit, but either way, developers of all shapes and sizes are keen to sate your appetite for their franchises with extra content, so here’s what’s worth looking forward to spending your so-easily disposable income on.


Firstly, the ever-dependable Bioware, via Casey Hudson told us that the alleged “Star Wars of this generation” Mass Effect series would bridge the story gap between 2 and 3 through downloadable missions. We’ve not really seen anyone use DLC as an instrument to advance narrative in any meaningful way, so as long as Bioware continue to deliver the goods at a reasonable price, we may witness the very evolution of the way DLC is to be handled. The Overlord DLC, including an entire new planet for you to prance around in your space boots on, is heading for Xbox Live in June.



Also very much on my radar, or should I say in my torchlight, is the sharp implement-filled Alan Wake, which is to receive its first DLC July 27th, “The Signal”, cutting Remedy’s development time record by about 500%, with promise of a second instalment on the way, named “The Writer”, thanks to an opportunistic screenshot of a glitch in the Alan Wake online store. Turn all your lights on and keep looking behind you for my exceedingly, but fashionably, late review in the next few weeks.


Finally the folks, at least the few left, over at Infinity Ward have announced and detailed the second map pack for Modern Warfare 2, Resurgence, at the same price with the same distribution of maps, headed deployment on June 3rd. Resurgence includes Vacant and Strike from CoD 4, and three new maps by the names of Trailer Park, Carnival and Fuel.



CoD: Black Ops

Now MW2 is all well and good, but most would agree that it’s starting to loose its edge, and along with all the drama concerning Activision, it’s very nice to see Treyarch, the underdog of the Call of Duty licensing deal, produce something pretty kick ass, with the announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops. The trailer below, put simply, is thunder-fucking awesome, and of course, although we must be rational and remember it’s just a trailer, it seems like Treyarch are doing their best to capitalise on all the bad press over Modern Warfare 2. To put salt on the wound Black Ops will have dedicated servers, an issue which caused a debacle back when it was announced this would not be the case for MW2. It appears Treyarch are putting a lot of effort into a brand new multiplayer class system, new vehicles and even a streamlined matchmaking system amongst other things. More info to be thrown our way in due course; Call of Duty: Black Ops launches on November 9th.



And Finally…

I’ll leave you with this completely unrelated video, which I can justify posting, purely because it’s so gut-wrenchingly hilarious. Curtains please.



May 24th, 2010
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Weekly News Round-Up 23/3/10

I’m a tad behind on the latest news since my last full article about GDC ’10, which had a record breaking 18,000 attendees, having had a recent power outage, but fear not! The gaming goodness is now here and fit for consumption!

Heavy Rain's DLC features Madison Paige

On the DL

A number of released and unreleased games are getting the DLC treatment – it seems it’s the only way forward for any half-worthy franchise. Peter Johansson, lead designer on Just Cause 2 announced forthcoming DLC, following the game’s release on March 23rd, yet he insisted the content already existent in the game is, to say the least, extensive, he qualified this, in an interview with Eurogamer, by bragging he’d completed only 60% of the game, but had racked up 55 hours. Modern Warfare 2 is getting it’s first “stimulus package” to cure sufferers of Mapathy on March 30th for Xbox Live, at a whopping 1200MS – unfortunately healthcare insurance doesn’t cover this one. The map pack includes Crash and Overgrown from CoD4 so you can relive the glory days/nights! And to top it off, a double XP system will be put in place the following weekend April 2nd – 5th. Dragon Age: Origins has a new expansion out titled Awakening and Bioware teased, that in theory, they could release infinite DLC packs like this. Finally, Quantic Dream’s interactive depression title, Heavy Rain, is receiving its first DLC, named The Taxidermist. The content revolves around Madison Paige, and acts as a short prequel story for the character.


Gaming Blues

Unfortunately the recession is still rearing its ugly head and indeed, backhand, as the recent weeks have seen a number of layoffs – our thoughts go out to them. Rebellion, perhaps most famous for its recent Alien Vs Predator, handed pink slips to around 20 of its staff in Oxford, UK and IGN has reportedly also, been forced to let a number of its junior members ago, despite recent financial success for the media company. However there is one man we’re not sorry to see the back of , Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, famous in the Australian gaming community for his refusal to allow a R18+ game certificate, and vehement battle against video games. Fortunately the over-sensitive Atkinson has stepped down.


360 Degrees worth of Xbox-ness

Microsoft are always looking for ways to fiddle with Xbox and thereby make more cash and occasionally, genuinely improve our experience, so here are a few rumours/updates. According to a report by Joystiq, the 360 will be receiving a firmware update this spring. The document they claim to have a hold of states “USB Mass Storage Device Support on the Xbox 360” so be sure to check back here for updates on that. In addition, Microsoft are releasing a 250GB standalone 360 HDD, as advertised on the Xbox Dashboard.

Send off your 360 with dignity

A patent, filed by Microsoft back in 2008, for a streamlined DLC system for Xbox Live, has now been approved. The system apparently lets you download available content without having to leave your game lobby, so you can jump in with friends even if you don’t have the content prior to joining the lobby. Presumably this will be pushed out the doors fairly quick now the patent’s approved. Also, the Xbox Live Marketplace release schedule for the next week or so has been revealed and is here.

Finally, Daniel Ek of Spotify, the music service, reportedly told SXSW goers that he’d like to see Spotify on the 360. Granted this is not news, really, or even a rumour – but I signifies that there’s a good chance of this becoming a reality. Ek said that he wants to make music like water, and though personally I’m not keen on it being sole reason the human race and life exists on earth, but you get his meaning.


DRM Woes

Steam UK is now without the friendly Italian assassin we know and love, as a number of Ubisoft’s main titles that use the much-maligned DRM software, including Assassin’s Creed 2, have been removed. Despite speculations that this decision was taken by Valve due to the controversial DRM, and Gabe Newell’s stance on the subject, Ubisoft told VG247 that it has “nothing to do” with the DRM issues and is simply a business decision, that only applies to the UK.

Command & Conquer 4: Tiberium Wars was released last week, and it was proudly announced it had, in fact, no DRM – fantastic you’re thinking, however it does require an Internet connection to play at all times. It’s a shame to see any franchise follow in the steps of Ubisoft, as this software is damaging to the market; pirating is a problem, but other large companies like Valve manage to get along alright – in fact if every company could be something like Valve we’d live in a better, albeit quirky world.

We do have one partial victory though – in Battlefield: Bad Company 2’s most recent patch, all DRM was dropped from Steam-purchased copies, in DICE’s ever increasing effort to impress the cool kids (and it’s working).


Bad Company Fights Back

So speaking of Bad Company 2, although it’s nothing like Modern Warfare 2, it seems to have pitted itself against it. The first person shooter, having sold 2.3 million units, and topped March sales records in Europe and North America, released a public service announcement video the other day:

In case you missed it, the video pokes fun at Modern Warfare 2’s original video F.A.G.S. PSA, which was pulled after complaints over the obvious. On top of this, DICE plan to release a playlist update for all original owners of the game free of charge (part of Project Ten Dollar) on March 30th in direct (and fierce) competition with Modern Warfare 2’s exorbitant map pack, and plan to release paid DLC in the near future. I thought DICE’s decision to release Bad Company 2 in March when MW2 was beginning to become a tad samey, was a savvy decision, but you’ve got to respect them for going up against the behemoth this month – courage or stupidity? Either way it’ll be interesting to see how the two battle it out.



My beloved BioWare are now busy at work extending Mass Effect 2’s universe and experiences with DLC and after having seen what Greg Zeschuk had to say at GDC, that, as he put it, “It’s [DLC] not like a piece of lunch meat”, but rather part of a long term vision, to extend the lifetime of the game for consumers and publisher alike, after having put so much work into the original game – I’m fairly confident we’ve got some galactic delights in store. First up is Firewalker hitting tomorrow, March 23rd, on the Cerberus Network with the new Hammerhead Tank and 5 accompanying missions, then there’s a character appearance package for Thane, Jack and Garrus on the same day but (unfortunately) for $2 and finally Kasumi’s Stolen Memory on April 6th, for a modest 560MS. Additionally, if you’re interested in some input from BioWare about how Mass Effect 3 will shape up, there are a couple of articles here and here, thanks to VG247, explaining the company’s development and teasing their approach to the final instalment.


For Your Consideration

There are a number of high profile games in development due for release this year or early next year, and GDC brought the chance to get a better idea of how each developer is tackling their game, so here’s some updates and articles, mainly thanks to VG247, again.

–> Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor, EA’s answer to Call of Duty, despite lacking a much-needed “u” in it’s title, is under full-swing development at the moment and apparently has “cool toys” and aims to portray a number of different viewpoints in the Afghanistan war.

–> Killzone 3

Guerrilla Games, creators of Killzone, are convinced they haven’t pushed the PS3 to its limits yet, in terms of graphics, and presumably mean to implement said visuals in Killzone 3 which has been promised by Jack Tretton, though release date rumours range from April to 2011.

–> Halo: Reach

Bungie recently released some details on Halo’s swan song, Halo: Reach, in regards to matchmaking – undoubtedly fans will be obsessing over each scrap of information as we speak, such are that strange breed.

–> Fable 3

Peter Molyneux, aside from other daily activities such as proclaiming the rise of the PC again, praising Quantic Dream and promising the first thing that enters his mind, has recently tweeted that he’s worried about the first 30 minutes of Fable 3 due to a lack of combat. In other Fable 3 news there will be twitter support, episodic content and one last “big” reveal at E3 (I ask to readers, for sanity’s sake to take “big” with a large handful of salt, due to source material).

–> Rockstar

Rockstar co-president Dan Houser, in the most recent issue of GamesTM, stated that developing Red Dead: Redemption has been “challenging”, despite the company’s vast experience. Additionally, speaking to Edge, Rockstar has said that LA Noire is taking a different approach to the usual Rockstar open-world game, relying less on action and more on interaction other subtleties. It’s fantastic to see Rockstar pushing itself, to be original but also build off of it’s unique and unquestionably brilliant sandbox-gaming heritage.

–> Star Wars: The Old Republic

BioWare, regardless of its other strong franchises, are taking on what is clearly it’s biggest undertaking, (its first MMO) Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA aim to secure 2 million subscriptions for the game due to be release in a year’s time, though I suspect, if VG247’s early preview is anything to go by, it’ll be a lot more than that and may rival World of Warcraft. CEO Ray Muzyka, teased that TOR will have some “twists” regarding payments, but added that it will mostly follow the traditional business model of MMORPGs, and the twists will be well integrated into the story and mechanics. With things like micro-payments being a contentious issue for many hardcore MMO players, who makeup a large percentage of the market, BioWare will have to be careful about how they handle this – lets hope their passion for story and great gameplay will makeup for lack of experience in this particular genre.

–> Sega

The once great Sega are apparently announcing a Natal Project at E3. Its unkown with it will be a new IP or whether they will bring back a much-loved story from the many in the depths of their games history. And Lastly, creators of the upcoming third-person shooter, Vanquish, Platinum Games of Sega, are to make a PS3 version first, before the 360, because the Playstation 3 is untrodden territory for Sega, and thus they want to avoid a “shoddy” port.


Odds & Sods

Every week there are a number of odd bits of news I can’t justify a whole section on nor think of a brilliantly unfunny title for. Try to read the following as TV news headlines with epic music in the background.

  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Microsoft is already developing a Natal 2. [This probably isn’t as surprising as it sounds, if it is true, as it’s most likely internal development that’s taking place all the time at the company’s headquarters – it’s unlikely to stay stagnant just because the Natal’s almost ready.]
  • Game Informer have yet more scoops on the Portal 2 world, now with new characters, including new loveable sentry bots.
  • The movie adaptation of Kane & Lynch is to star none other than Bruce Willis (that sounds about right) and Jamie Foxx (wait, what?), respectively.
  • GameStop will reportedly have shortages of Wiis and PS3s until the summer, according to the company’s Executive VP of merchandising, Tony Bartel.
  • Nintendo have are due to release the 3DS in March next year, to support 3D gaming, with a sharp screen and analogue sticks.
  • Vice President of Epic Games, has confirmed there will be no Gears of War this year, in order to stay out of the way of blockbuster titles and the Natal. [When questioned on the April 2011 rumour he answered, “you’re kidding right?” – take what you will from that]
  • The Playstation 3 is the heaviest console of all time.
March 23rd, 2010
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News 25/2/10

Call of Duty: Nam’?

Well there was speculation and rumours that this year’s inevitable serving of the Call of Duty franchise would be based on that war with most tenuous and controversial of motives, Vietnam, and it seems all but confirmed. A recent LA casting call for Call of Duty-related “voice over/motion capture” for an Activision “video game” and described character, Frank Barnes as being part of an elite Vietnam unit. There appears to be four major characters – a fiercely patriotic veteran, a very physically fit black man, a 30-something white military tactician and a cold, Russian-born, martial arts trained female. So as you can see, the game is already bursting with originality right off the bat; and you can bet your blown off limb that this 7th instalment will be squished to the brim with movie take-offs, clichés and line from any number of Nam epics. Having bashed Treyarch, there’s still a possibility that a further improved multiplayer experience could save the title – I think we can all agree that Infinity Ward’s MW2 just attempted, in many respects, to achieve too much and failed to reconcile and balance all the features. Either way, expect to be flung into a hail of weeping comrades, unnecessary deforestation and hippy-bashing.

CoD 7: Vietnam?

Project 10 Dollar

Sounds cool right? This suave codename actually stands for EA’s new policy to combat loss of sales due to second hand purchases. This directive is the result of a brainstorming session in New York last year headed by EA CEO John Riccitiello and came into effect with Dragon Age and Mass Effect 2, to be used here onward, allowing customers who buy games brand new to benefit from a slew of free content, and charging the thrifty second-handers or anyone late on the scene fairly substantial sums for the DLC. With Dead Space 2, a couple of Need for Speeds and Crysis 2 hitting the shelves this year, along with a promise to provide DLC for every title accordingly, this is a pretty big effort and was no doubt decided upon by Riccitiello ominously looking out on the world from the top of a skyscraper, with his hands behind his back (the name just requires it!). In a climate such as ours now, with the Games Industry increasingly succumbing to the force of recession, I for one admire the strategy – free content for being an enthusiastic gamer? I’ll bite; It’s just another clever use of price discrimination and although some may feel differently, increased first hand purchases can only do the industry good.

Just Be-Cause 2

Square Enix, to the delight of pyromaniacs and Michael bay fans alike, and of course me, released some trailers for Just Cause 2 recently. The series of promos titled Anatomy of a Stunt feature the game’s protagonist, Rico, performing all manner of ridiculous and insane tricks, showing of the improved physics engine. The game boasts in-game video capture as well and is due out in March. I can’t really say anymore, just watch and switch off your brain!

How The West Was Won Made

Red Dead Redemption is shaping up to be a veritable groundbreaker, pushing the boundaries, both literally and figuratively – checkout any of the trailers, and then wipe the salivation off of your keyboard. But, you’d have to have been living under a very heavy, liberal rock to not know Rockstar is no stranger to breaking new ground, whether you believe it best left untrodden or not. In a recent interview with IGN, the co-founder of Rockstar, Dan Houser explained how the simple values of Rockstar made the basis for its hugely successful games, most notably the GTA franchise. With many games in the genre being almost innately described as “like GTA but.” (and usually not up to the same standard) it’ll be interesting to see how Redemption fares, as it’s one of the only games that can proudly and rightly hold the aforementioned description. I’ve no doubt that it will be an achievement of its own though, the voice acting looks phenomenal and the combat looks set to truly capture the intricacies of action which cowboy films made popular.

Houser went on to say how the controversy over certain Rockstar games has been misplaced (we’ve all seen the fox news clip where the douche claims the goal is to fuck a prostitute and then kill her) and that though many claim it has only helped the game in terms of publicity, this was not the case, as gamers don’t go out to buy a game solely because it’s controversial, but because it’s a good game – the only thing that’s happened is ignorant media corporations and parents think they know something about it. There’s a lot more about their philosophy of game creation and some interesting points in the full interview, definitely worth a read. Whatever your view on the company and it’s games, there’s no doubt that it is, at the moment, going from strength to strength, and it appears as though Take-Two, Rockstar’s parent company, believe in them as well, having opened a new publishing HQ in Japan, in a time other publishers are laying-off by the bucket-load, set to publish Episodes from Liberty City as its first release.

Console Yourself

No new hardware, or at least consoles in the “near future”; at least that’s the news from EA chief financial officer, Eric brown who, at a recent conference, said he did not expect “a sharp and distinct console transition like we’ve seen in the past”. It seems fairly logical as well – yes, there’s a huge increase in demand for games compared to the last generation, but people are playing any one game for so much longer due to quality, downloadable content and online multiplayer.  Speaking to shareholders, Brown explained that consumers’ needs are fulfilled by today’s current technology, with nothing considerably better than the HD consoles to upgrade to. Although there’s been no word from the major console companies, hardware such project Natal prove their ambitions lie elsewhere. Just as well, as developers, specifically, Remedy (creators of the soon to come Alan Wake), told GI that they’re in no hurry to make the transition to another generation of consoles, although reportedly (ID CEO Todd Hollenshed told VG247) Microsoft are the best position to make the next move, having had their consoles out for a while with all the costs recouped. Personally I’m happy with what we’ve got; the investments made on copious amounts of games warrant a much longer life on this cycle, and as the innovators of the industry have shown with increasingly technologically impressive titles and hardware accessories.

[UPDATE: Jack Tretton, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, stated that he is convinced the PS3 will enjoy a ten year life cycle]

Natal Vs. the Arc

SCEA SVP of PR Rob Dyer has confidently claimed that line-up behind Sony’s Arc will beat out Microsoft’s “PR Barrage”. He said “From Sony’s perspective, rather than go out and do a whole PR barrage to give everybody the ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ news,” said Dyer, “we’re going to show up and have a line-up of products to show people rather than having a lot of great statements to say, ‘This is what’s going to happen.’ This might have some substance if we hadn’t already seen both in working order. Natal is nothing less than groundbreaking if you believe the Microsoft executives or at least, completely original, if you don’t, whereas Sony’s offering seems to just an extension of the Wii’s thang, and possibly worse. Dyer’s argument was that with Natal it means writing games with a whole new codebase to work with the system, but with the Arc you can use the same PS3 code and therefore there will more diversity and innovation. Fair point, but the hardcore gamers who primarily own PS3s and 360s aren’t exactly akin to the idea of motion control anyway, and it they were they’d have a Wii, but where Natal has the edge is in the originality of the whole system. Put it this way, I’m not keen on the whole motion control to start with, so I’m unexcited and unimpressed with the Arc, but at least the Natal’s innovative system has me wondering, and at $25, wanting to give a whirl.

Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg stated a couple of days ago, that they were going to be careful with what they release for the Natal and doesn’t want to dump everything and anything onto the market. So this kinda confirms that there may be less games out for Natal to start with, but will the quality offset this? The Analyst Michael Pachter certainly thinks so, predicting the Natal to outsell Arc 5 to 1. Either way, those legendary developers at Valve are going to be chuffed, as they recently went on record as saying they hope there’ll be more “shitty party games,” and are keen on using the Natal, and possibly Arc (as they recently said they would try to give the PS3 some loving) to make a real impression and “not [to] make shitty games I wouldn’t want to play if I had to use a joystick.”

Despite the codename of Sony’s motion controller being much cooler, the Natal looks to be undeniably superior – all that’s left now is to hope we can incorporate the word “fail” into the Sony controller’s real name, if it isn’t in fact Arc.


Here’s an awesomely terrifying presentation given by Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of entertainment and technology, Jesse Schell, at the DICE summit the other week about the evil genius of the casual games, and more importantly the future as a whole…

February 25th, 2010
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January 28th, 2010
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