Know your audience, Microsoft.
We should have known. It's not like it's the first time it's happened. Remember the Xbox 360 reveal on MTV? Over here in Europe they had edited out most of the gameplay and it felt more like a concert with the likes of Snow Patrol and Killers than a proper product reveal. And then there was the Natal Experience thing with ponchos. This time Microsoft followed in Sony's footsteps and apparently they felt all they needed to do was show the console in order to "win" the battle of the reveals.
The truth is Microsoft once again failed to realise who of their millions of Xbox Live users it is that watch these kind of reveals. Not that there's anyone not employed by Microsoft who uses Bing as a search engine and Internet Explorer on their Xbox - but if there was such a person, he or she would not be watching the live stream last night. Core gamers were watching. Longtime fans. Gamers who aren't very interested in watching TV on their shiny new next-gen console. Seriously, watching cable is the first thing you show of when you reveal a next gen console? What were you thinking?
Sure we got Call of Duty: Ghosts. It's likely going to be one hell of a game. Forza 5. Most likely a brilliant racing game. EA Sports - quality stuff. But... is this what Microsoft thinks gets us excited for next gen? A bunch of suits talking about the biggest selling properties of current gen? Quantum Break excluded (and we barely got to see it) - there just wasn't anything during the hour long broadcast to shake our worlds, get us hyped, or even just raise our eyebrows. Hopefully, MS opted to save their revolutionary stuff for E3.
Xbox One looks like the natural extension of everything Microsoft have done with Xbox 360 over the last couple of years at this point. And that leaves this viewer and gamer feeling underwhelmed. Next gen needs to feel like something new, something exciting, something different.
In 2012 Kickstarter and crowdfunding rose to become the new, great hope for smaller independent studios. Campaigns were launched and millions were gained by those with an idea that was easy enough for gamers to appreciate and visualise (nostalgia, spiritual successors, and the likes are naturally easier to grasp).
Now there seems to be a lot less optimism. Chris Taylor expressed his disappointment as the Wildman campaign failed. Asking for $1.1 million for a rather novel (and hard to grasp) concept may seem like asking for too much, but in all honesty I doubt Gas Powered Games have been involved in a smaller production (budget-wise) in the last decade. If Kickstarter becomes a game of "how low can we go?", then it's very doubtful it will allow for the best possible game experiences to out of it.
Campaigns will fail on Kickstarter. Most of them will in fact fail. But for a while there it seemed every high profile developer who went on Kickstarter came out of it with a big bag of cash. Still, most of those bags are significantly smaller than the value of a publisher contract for a similar concept. The upside of this is easy to spot. If you manage to produce a game of high enough quality through this process - the developer comes out of it owning the IP and able to take a much larger cut of the profits when it goes on sale across various channels.
For example, had Project Eternity been signed by your typical game publisher - then Obsidian would have been paid for their work as they completed a set of milestone deliveries. Then as the game went on sale they would likely start getting royalty check once the game had sold a million or more copies.
The difference now is that Obsidian will make a large chunk of money with the first copy sold of Project Eternity on Steam (granted Valve takes a cut, but still, this is a far better scenario). Maybe some developers will have to go to the bank and take out a loan to complete their Kickstarter projects, but there is tremendous upside to owning your own work in the longrun.
So what about the fatigue? Are people growing tired of sending their money to projects on Kickstarter? That's probably true to some extent. We're still doing it, but as there are more projects to choose from and we still have yet to see most of the high profile game release - people are probably holding on to their cash a bit more. But looking at Dreamfall Chapters as a current example - there is certainly possibilities out there for developers who want to create something gamers know they want.
Back from the Land of Sausages
Germany and Cologne gave us another serving of Gamescom, complete with Currywursts, Haxe, Krakauers, Bratwursts, Leberkäse, Blutwurst, and naturally Saurkraut to go with all the meats. Given the tropical heat, and the exhausting appointment schedule it was all I could handle.
The high point of the show was without a doubt Sony's press conference - where a whole range of new and exciting software was showcased - from Tearaway and Killzone Mercenary on PS Vita, to Rain and Puppeteer, Until Dawn and the inspired Wonderbook addition Digg's Nightcrawler.
Much like at E3, Ubisoft impressed with their line up, and Activision brought out a few early looks of games like Walking Dead and Deadpool.
As you'd expect strategy had a stronger presence than at E3 with games like Total War: Rome II, Company of Heroes 2, and Europa Universalis IV leading the way. Surprising then that EA choose this venue for the disappointing decision to turn Command & Conquer: Generals 2 into a free-to-play game.
I'll never look at a sunflower the same.
It's strange how long it took me to succumb to the lure of Plants vs. Zombies, but last week I parted with a sizeable chunk of change for the iPad version, and I have to say it's one of my favourite games so far on iPad.
Plants vs. Zombies is a perfect example of a game design term I recently stumbled on - namely "juice". Juice refers to those extra little design elements that make provoke emotions in the player - whether it's fun stuff, reactive things like sound effects, or just a good flow of new things. Plants vs. Zombie could have been a fairly simple and straight forward tower defence game, but instead it just captures your heart with massive amounts of charm and clever designs. Every new level in adventure mode brought something new and fun to the equation, and I can see myself playing survival mode for quite some time. The small sound effects, the hilarious animations, the notes from the zombies - it all adds up to a tremendous amount of juice.
Anyway, while there are lots of cheap/freemium entertainment on AppStore - sometimes it's well worth it to pay a little extra - and such was the case with Plants vs. Zombies.
Sim City Social...
Yup, I admit it - I got started on Sim City Social on Facebook. Mainly cause I'm dying to play the proper full on Sim City (5) that's due out next year. I know it's not even remotely the same thing, but at least it's got a couple of words in common with that game.
EA have been successful in transforming The Sims into a casual/Facebook phenomenon, and in a way it's poetic justice that Sim City goes the Farmville/Cityville route. The lure of micro-transactions are there, but I don't think I'll ever spend money on this kind of casual experience. I'm happy to grind for a bit, bug my friends on Facebook (hey, if you don't like it, block the app!), and grow my city at a moderate pace.
The experience did get my even more excited about Sim City though and did little to negate my hunger for that game. I'm not sure you will want to be my neighbour in that game, however, as I'm likely to cause one or two "natural" disasters. But in Sim City Social, I play it nice... for the most part.
Nintendo conference reflections...
Today has been a very busy day as you'd expect with E3 kicking off proper. The floor is louder, more crowded and less optimised for those of us who are trying to see as many games as possible than ever before. Yeah, I'm a bit whiny... I know... maybe it's the lack of food, water, or the constant deafening noise level of the EA booth (where I spent 3 hours) that is taking its toll.
Nintendo held their press conference today, and I was amazed at just how muted the audience response was. The crowd at the Nintendo conferences are usually a bit different from the crowds at Sony and Microsoft. There are more fanboys present - maybe a result of the many Nintendo fansites out there, and maybe a conscious effort from Nintendo to create atmosphere. I remember when their conference was held at Kodak Theater and tons of people who sit for hours on the floor as all the seats were taken. This year it felt as if Nintendo cater more towards the audience watching the conference at home on Spike TV or MTV2 and not the fans at Nokia Theater or the hardcore gamers watching the stream. We got brief glimpses of games like New Super Mario Bros. U, and New Super Mario Bros. 2, while the constant promise of more content on e3.nintendo.com made it feel like you were watching an infomercial and that you would be hit with some kind of trojan as soon as you typed in those letters in your browser.
There were stuff to be excited about - Pikmin 3 was expected and very welcome - Mario's many games looked interesting and different enough - and the news of dual game pads was positive. Mass Effect 3 will hopefully signal a much needed addition to the Nintendo library of games with western RPG's.
But... Nintendoland that Nintendo did their best to position as the Wii Sport of Wii U, felt a bit bland, at least from what we saw. I'm sure the gameplay is going to be there, but to say that it is as immediate as playing tennis with Wii Sports is p
E3 - very much alive and kicking
A week or so there was a bit of a tremor in the force as an opinion piece over at Gamesindustry.biz argued that E3 had played out its role and use. It's not a surprising angle to play at - E3 has been struggling in the past - and from a distance there seems to be fewer and fewer revelations each year in Los Angeles.
Next week we will see a new Gears of War, Dead Space 3, the next Splinter Cell (in all likelihood), Quantic Dream's next (hopefully), and a whole host of new Wii U titles. But the middle class of gaming is not using E3 to make announcements anymore. Konami may have revealed the new Castlevania just in time for E3, but Sega and Capcom, along with companies like Warner and 2K Games are focusing on games already announced. They may have surprises at the conferences, but that's hard to know in advance.
More importantly though, there is no contender stepping up to try and challenge E3 as the main event on the gaming calendar. Sure, there are lots of great shows, Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show, PAX, all serve their purpose and GDC is a wonderful event in its own right - but none of these demand the attention and mainstream focus that E3 in Los Angeles enjoys. This is the Premier League of video games, and the others struggling further down in the Championship.
Could E3 potentially be replaced with publisher organised events that are streamed live an expansion of the press conferences of today? Possibly. But let's not forget that the industry needs an event like E3 - it spurs interest and it's the only place where the entire industry is represented (more or less).
E3 2012 is going to be my 8th straight E3 reporting from LA. I've been through the highs (2005) and the lows (2007 in Santa Monica), and there is currently nothing to indicate any decline as far as this year goes. Our schedules are full of interesting appointments and interviews, and as usual I'm forced to turn down exciting appointments as there is simply not enough time.
That said, E3 is far from perfect. There used to be two full days of press conferences and pre-show events with the actual show running from Wednesday through Friday. It was a bit more relaxed, and more press conferences/events prior to the show is the best way of actually getting to see all the major games - the showfloor, and behind closed doors sessions - simply take up too much time for one journalist to cover all the essential games on display. Another alternative would be to have the show run an extra day, but I'm sure there are cost issues with doing that.
E3 is the most important event on my calendar, it may not be the most enjoyable one, but I don't see it going anymore anytime soon. The Santa Monica experiment still leaves a sour taste in ESA's mouth.
My badges of honour from E3 2011.
Sonic killed Alex Kidd
There was a time before Sonic. A time when Alex Kidd was the face of Sega (possibly with a little help from Wonderboy). Sega pre-Sonic was even more eclectic than the Sega we knew during the Saturn and Dreamcast eras. The Alex Kidd games are devoid of anything resembling commonality, and the hero looks very different in the various games he appeared in during his shortlived reign as Sega mascot.
He first appeared in the platformer Alex Kidd in Miracle World (1986), and then starred in Alex Kidd Lost Stars, Alex Kidd BMX Trial (Japan only, Paddle Controller), Alex Kidd High-Tech World (only released in Western market as this was a completely different title in Japan). After these appearances on Master System, he made his lone appearance on Mega Drive with Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle (1989). His final game was on the Master System, Alex Kidd in Shinobi World (1990).
After that Sonic pretty much retired him, until he was seen this generation in Sega's All-Star tennis and racing titles.
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle was one of the first game I owned on my Mega Drive. It's a strange platformer with very short levels and lots of paper, rock, scissors duels. Afterall, it's played out on Planet Paperock.
I recently picked up Sega Mega Drive Collection (PSP) for my PS Vita, and started playing it again. The higher tempo of the music and action (NTSC version) put me off a bit at first, and I would hardly put this in the classics category, but it's still a fun little game with lots of secrets to find and a healthy dose of quirky encounters. It's fairly unforgiving as most platformers at the time, and some of the vehicles are hard to control. Especially the classic pedicopter that requires you to tap a button to keep it in the air, but you can't keep it in the air for long anyway, the bike is far more useful in most levels.
Since Alex Kidd dies from touching any enemy (when not kicking or punching) them, there is a nice risk/reward system in place for trying to reach bonus items or things off the beaten path. When you're in the zone playing this game it's really enjoyable, but when you're not you're going to swear a lot. To the tune of "Jan Ken Poo".
Anyway, I'd love for Sega to resurrect Alex Kidd with a PSN/XBLA title. I think it's long overdue and there are lots of concepts found in his games that could be expanded upon if the right developer got their hands on it.
Call of Duty fading?
There was a bit of commotion a few days ago as analysts pointed to slowing sales of Modern Warfare 3 compared to its predecessor Black Ops. While 4.2 per cent down doesn't seem like much, it was the fact that Modern Warfare 3 only sold half of what Black Ops did in its respective March that had people reacting.
The general consensus seems to be that casuals are abandoning the franchise for other means of entertainment and as a result the "legs" of the game suffer.
I think it's safe to say that many analysts have anticipated this moment for a while now, and perhaps they are a bit too early with judgements.
Modern Warfare 3 sold quicker than Black Ops, and broke its launch records. That seems to suggest that the franchise is still growing its core user base, and it's not impossible that Black Ops 2 will go on to break these records as well. Secondly the analysis seems to completely forget about the fact that Modern Warfare 3 was up against Battlefield 3 and even if it beat BF3 handily, BF3 still must have taken some of the potential customers.
Another angle to this is the dollar angle. With Call of Duty: Elite (1.5 million paying subscribers), and lots of DLC, it is still entirely plausible that even with a 4.2 per cent decline in retail sales, the franchise as a whole may be increasing in value.
All of that said, it may very well be that what we are experiencing now is the peak of Call of Duty, and that it will quickly or slowly decline from here. My money is on a slow decline, this situation cannot be compared to Guitar Hero even if fatigue may be a word that comes into play. And given the economy of Call of Duty it is reasonable to assume that it isn't as vulnerable as the cost heavy licensed structure of the Guitar Hero business.
In anticipation of the Vita
New hardware always excites me, and to be honest since I never really got on the 3DS I feel an urgent need to get my hands on a new handheld. Great timing then that PS Vita is just around the bend, but I must say I'm a bit worried about what I interpret as a lukewarm hype for the device. It has not done as well as expected in Japan (although it really needs a Monster Hunter type success story to truly break through over there), and well, judging from what I hear and read there aren't too many gamers out there who can't wait to buy one at launch.
In many ways the Vita is your dream handheld. Dual analogues, touchscreen and what appears to be a wholehearted and accessible digital strategy... and that brilliant screen that just oozes of quality. And with the line up that is available from day one it's hard to see how you could go wrong... still I have a creeping feeling that the mismanagement and failure of PSP over here is going to come back and haunt Sony. I hope not, but the risk seems great.
Well, business analysis aside I'm happy to say I'm getting a Vita at launch, and most likely I'm going to download Touch My Katamari straight away. I'm also intrigued by Escape Plan. And well, you can never go wrong with Wipeout. The only problem I see is the battery time, hopefully more planes will come equipped with power plugs in every seat in the future...
Events, events, and more events.
It's that time of the year when the marketing machines of game companies start moving in to a higher gear again after the holidays - the result is a lot of events to attend.
I spent last Thursday and Friday in the company of Paradox Interactive as they kicked off the year with their annual convention. Tomorrow, I'm taking a look at EA's free-to-play titles and Friday sees me looking at Mass Effect 3 and Syndicate. In between, I'm visiting a couple of independent developers and Monday has been pegged for a Prototype 2 event.
Lots to do, but lots of fun. Naturally, Mass Effect 3 has me giddy with excitement, but there is a lot more to be excited about during this stacked first quarter.
Events are typically somewhat force feeding us with your typical PR spiel, but sometimes video interviews are a way to get away from that. It's harder to just repeat PR lines when you're asked a question with a camera filming you and a mic shoved in your face. Not that we're trying to unearth any dirty secrets, but getting relaxed and honest answers are often desirable for all parties involved. Anyway, you can look forward to a lot of stuff coming online over the next couple of weeks.
Pictured: Yours truly hunched over his laptop at the Paradox Interactive Convention outside of Stockholm.
Happy new year!
A new year brings with it the opportunity for a fresh start and a chance to review your path in life, or so they say. I don't think you need to get a new calendar to do those things, but fair enough, it's always good to reflect. And I think a week or so off work for the three of us on staff here at Gamereactor UK will provide plenty of new ideas and improved ways of doing things we do day-to-day.
I haven't spent all that much time playing games, but I've probably put another 20 hours or so into Football Manager 2012 and Skyrim over the break. I'm actually thinking of going for a perfect gamerscore with Skyrim, it's not that difficult (albeit time consuming) and hopefully I won't tire of it before it's done.
January also means a lot of planning. On a personal note I'm moving to a larger apartment, but as far as Gamereactor goes it's the perfect time to look over what events to prioritise for this calendar year. As I spend a lot of time making sure GRTV gets the best possible interviews, and the changing winds as events like PAX and Comic-Con grow in importance are being noted. Hopefully, we'll attend both of those events this year. Nothing beats E3, of course, and Gamescom and GDC always provide us will solid amounts of content. How will TGS play out this year? Who knows... we'll have to wait and see.
Anyway, I hope all of your breaks were just as refreshing as mine - and now I just need to shake away those lingering mementos from the new year's eve party and I'll be back to full strength.
The "new" Bejeweled Blitz
PopCap Games have been making some adjustments to their Bejeweled offerings on AppStore. The old trusted Bejeweled 2 + Blitz has been removed (you can still play it if you've got it), and replaced with Bejeweled (based on Bejeweled 3 with three modes - classic, zen and diamond mine) and the free and micro-transaction based Bejeweled Blitz.
Blitz is a favourite game mode of mine - use crazy multipliers to get the highest possible score in 60 seconds - and the free app is essentially the same version of the game as it was previously. Some tweaks have been made, and for some reason I can't reach stats through the app (maybe it's kept on Facebook or something?!?).
As far as the new Bejeweled goes, I'm not that much into Diamond Mine anymore, even if it is a well crafted game mode. Hopefully, PopCap will bring out some other modes from Bejeweled 3 to AppStore down the line. I'd love to see Lightning for instance.
Games make for great gifts
The headline pretty much says it all. Games make great gifts, and if you're well informed you can pick up great gaming gifts on the cheap this time of year. While, most parents canvass the latest releases for fitting gifts, I'm the uncle who spots one or two older but brilliant games that may very well steal some of the attention away from FIFA, Modern Warfare, Battlefield, Halo and all the usual suspects.
I just picked up Deus Ex: Human Revolution and L.A. Noire for £10 each at Play.com's seasonal sales. Great gifts. And there is more. Got a kid looking for a racing game? Don't go the latest Need for Speed, but rather look for last year's Hot Pursuit - it's a better game and you will find it at a better price. We're at that point of the generation where there's an abundance of great slightly older games available.
But there are also digital gifts. Picking up a few extra copies of games on Steam and gifting them to friends at Christmas is a great way of getting your friends in on multiplayer titles they would otherwise overlook (while at the same time reminding them you care).
There are lots of options, but games are just a perfect fit for the holidays as people have plenty of time to experience them. And giving a game to someone who was expecting something entirely different can also be a great thing (although a bit risky).
Anyway, canvass the online shops for good deals on great games (there are plenty of cheap crap as well, so steer clear of that) - and stock up.
Wheelin' and Dealin'
Got tasked with writing another blog entry today, and quite frankly forced myself into writing about something other than Skyrim. I'm still enjoying that frozen frontier tremendously.
But my other addiction this winter is Sports Interactive's Football Manager 2012. I've managed to keep a lid on my addiction the last couple of seasons, but I'm already closing in on a hundred hours for FM2012. I'm at 38 per cent achievements unlocked, even if I'm not really setting my sights on completing all of those.
Anyway, I'm mainly playing as the manager of my favourite Swedish club AIK - and this is where I've noticed some weaknesses in the concept. Since, the Swedish league is something of a backwater league it is hard to keep players happy even if you're having reasonable success in Europe and you have the money to pay what they feel they deserve. Therefore, I'm pretty much stuck in an eternal loop of constant rebuilding as the stars I've fostered go for a bigger challenge (even if it that means joining a club we just sent out of the Europa League). In a way it is realistic, and the real issue here is that I'm playing the game as if I was the club, not the manager. Having achieved success in a smaller country realistically I should be looking abroad for a bigger club to manage.
It's an interesting dilemma, and one that often hits sandbox type games. How do you present interesting content and challenges to a player who may not be driven by the same motivation as most? The solution in the case of FM2012 is simple - go into the data editor and raise the reputation of your favourite small time club. But that's also cheating...
High score moments
I've recently found that I tend to set high scores in the most unlikely of situations. This is especially true when I'm playing games on the go - particularly on my iPhone.
This weekend I went to Barcelona for a bit of a respite from the dreadful weather up here in the north and a break from the day to day work schedule. I wound up breaking my Fruit Ninja Puss in Boots (licensed games can be good, you know) record, while my girlfriend was trying to get me to answer her questions and I spent 28 (!) minutes in Bejeweled 2's Action mode setting a record while guarding bags at the airport. That record more than doubled my previous high score, by the way. I hadn't played the mode for almost a year, and obviously my addiction to Bejeweled 3 was paying off as my skill when it comes to matching three blocks of the same colour are at an all-time high.
I guess beating high scores is all about getting into that zone - that place where you're really focused on just one thing, and in my case that's often when I'm supposed to pay attention to something else. Perhaps, I'm not alone in this. When do you set your best high scores?
Wow, it's been a while since I last played an Elder Scrolls game. Of course, I spent hours and hours in Oblivion, but I mainly messed around with side missions and got into the Dark Brotherhood, sucked people's blood at night and so on. It's easy to forget the number of systems that make up a game of this magnitude, the economy, the alchemy, crafting, and even if it's been somewhat streamlined, there is still a lot to learn and take in. I found myself reading up on the events of Oblivion in a book found in Skyrim recently, and books are something that can really expand the experience if you're into the world of Elder Scrolls. The history of various lands and races, clues on how to best make use of what nature affords you and much, much more can be gleaned from book shelves or found lying about here and there.
I'm not sure I will ever play Skyrim so much that I'll learn every aspect of the game, for instance I find alchemy a bit tedious even if I understand the benefits from properly mastering the craft. I will probably not take the time to get intimate with each of the many factions either, and I have no hope of completing all the major or minor side quests found throughout Skyrim. In fact, so far I haven't yet seen all that much of Skyrim, but I do know that wandering upon a giant camp could see you flung 50 feet into the air.
Strangely enough I have yet to encounter any real bugs or glitches. Sure, I saw a fox walk straight into a lake and disappear, but that probably happens in nature as well.
At times it feels overwhelming to play Skyrim, that's when I activate the main quest and get on with the dragon slaying and such. I weep for the completionists out there who feel the need to get platinum trophies or a perfect gamer score, with Skyrim it is going to take you a while.
I'm a big fan of the Elder Scrolls series, and enjoyed my stay in Oblivion tremendously. But I'm not sure I factored in just how big of an apartment a big fan of the Elder Scrolls had to have in order to pick up the Collector's Edition of Skyrim. Yikes!
(Oh, and that's my westie Kola dwarfed next to the behemoth of a Collector's Edition)
More isn't always better...
I think it's safe to say that gamers in general are a bit conservative and I'm no exception. Once we've learnt all we need to know about a game, we don't want it to change too much for a sequel - maybe a tweak here and there, new story obviously, but most of it can remain the same, remain what we're used to and already skilled at.
This doesn't mean that we don't appreciate new experiences, not at all, we just don't want something fixed that isn't broken. But change is of course, necessary, or else any game series will slowly grow less and less relevant. It's a balance developers have to strike between innovation and keeping the returning fans happy and comfortable in their new game.
The reason why I'm thinking about this subject is simple and it's Mass Effect 3. My most anticipated game of early 2012.
But the new Galaxy at War mode has me worried - it's not that I don't think a bit of co-op in the Mass Effect universe might be fun. It's just that I'm worried about how it will affect the single player game - and what's even more worrying are the indications that there may be more "outside" factors that will dictate my single player campaign in Mass Effect 3.
Over the last few years we seen an influx of pre-order bonuses, facebook unlockables, beta unlockables, and the likes. And in your typical first person shooter experience, gaining a few perks in multiplayer may not be a big deal. The best players will rise above the pack anyway. But when I'm playing the final chapter of my Mass Effect saga, I don't want to have that experience skewed by me not having the patience of playing a certain amount of Galaxy at War, playing through some boring side story on my iPhone or liking something on Facebook.
It's getting harder and harder to keep track of these things, and normally I don't care. But Mass Effect is important, and I've invested hundreds of hours in my save files from the first two games so far - and I'm sure I'm not the only one concerned.
I'm going to get my hands on Galaxy at War this weekend, something I'm a tiny bit nervous about. I really hope it's good.
Corrupted save files...
It's been a while. But I remember I time when your save files would get routinely corrupted, whether it was because I was cheap and opted for third party storage or whether it was just issued with the software itself I can't remember. But I do remember that feeling, and I got it once again when I returned from Tokyo to pick up where I left off with Marcus and Dom in Gears of War 3.
Now, my colleague Gillen experienced something similar as he tried to import his progress from the review opportunity to his personal Xbox 360, but that's to be expected. That right there is highly volatile shit, that's not really meant for consumers anyway. My experience was something else.
As I came back, Xbox Live prompted me to update Gears of War 3 with what I assume was the day 1 patch. I did, and my save files went corrupted. Almost as if they were meant to. Now, it's not that terrible, I had just gotten a couple of acts into the campaign before I left, but replaying hours of a game when you just want to get on with and finish the fight. It plain sucks.
Oh well, I guess it gives me motivation to hit up a few friends for some co-op action. See ya on Sera!
Do we dare get excited?
I've been a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog ever since I picked up the very first game for my Mega Drive. There was just something about how it looked, how Sonic behaved and moved, that really appealed to my 11-year old self. Flash forward two decades and I'm still a fan of the blue speedster, but even if I enjoyed Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing, there hasn't been a proper main series Sonic title that I would deem good in many years. And I think the numerous directions Sega and Sonic Team have taken him in, have only brought about confusion and ultimately indifference.
That's right. I felt kind of indifferent when Sega teased the upcoming Sonic Generations. Sure it was Green Hill Zone, but Sega was surely going to mock it up somehow. Over the years they have promised to bring back the former glory of Sonic on so many occasions, that it's starting to sound as if they're stuck on repeat. I know, Sonic Colours, is supposed to be a rather good game, and Sonic 4 had its moments, perhaps I was being overly pessimistic (it happens).
But the second Sonic Generations trailer that showed actual gameplay got me excited. This could, if treated right, be the game that Sonic fans have longed for. I just hope that Sonic Team gets the multiple paths level design right. Sonic games were never just about finishing levels, they were always about finishing them as fast as possible, collecting as many rings as possible or finding secret zones and hidden rooms. That's the kind of level design I will look for in both 2D and 3D levels as Sonic Generations arrives later this year. I'm getting my hopes up... again.
GDC done... bring on E3!
The weeks surrounding GDC didn't really bring us much in terms of announcements, yet there must be a tremendous amount of games and news around the corner. It really looks as if E3 will be the battleground of the giants this year. Sony have already revealed NGP, proper name, price, and launch date are expected at E3. Microsoft have kept very quiet about their post Gears of War 3 (Sep 20) plans. Could Xbox 720 be unveiled at E3? It's not too farfetched, but at the very least we're going to see lots of new software announcements. Meanwhile Nintendo's Iwata casually announced Super Mario for 3DS at GDC, but rumours at the Nintendo are preparing to show the successor to the Wii at E3.
To top this off we've got the likely unveiling of Bungie's huge Activision project, the possibility of EA showing what Respawn are up to, and most likely one or two huge surprises. It's almost eerie that Rockstar have been able to hold off announcing GTA V for so long, isn't it? I'm sure there is a lot of negotiating going on with the big boys with regards to exclusive DLC and the likes.
But all of this is what we expect out of E3 and I'm really hoping for some major surprises.
At this point NGP is looking a bit like a fanmade PSP with all kinds of added features without much thought as to how it will advance your experience. I'm sure it will appeal to the same people who are happy with their PS3 thanks to Uncharted, Resistance and Killzone, but I'm not sure it's enough to rival Nintendo's superior grasp of the handheld audience. So what I'm really for from Sony is an idea, a vision of why we should put our faith in NGP. Some kind of new concept that advances handheld gaming.
Getting my cosplay on...
Last weekend a friend of mine turned 25 (a young friend of mine), and to celebrate the occasion she invited a bunch of friends to a masquerade. A nerd themed masquerade. Given that I had my Sonic hat, I went ahead and dressed as my favourite hedgehog. I can't take credit for the make up, but it was a damn fine job I must say.
Anyway, it's Sonic 20th anniversary in 2011 so I figured he deserves a bit of a celebration at some point. Hopefully Sega can whip up something great with the blue whirlwind in 2011. I sure hope so, and there were signs of improvement with Sonic Colours.
Lost in casual bliss...
Summer is hitting Sweden pretty hard... Devastatingly hard some would say. And it just feels wrong to turn on the heat producing Xbox 360 as you're sweating like a pig. Handheld gaming is where it's at when it's hot, and I've been catching up on some iPhone titles lately. From the kick fix of Canabalt, to the bit sized Civilization Revolution, and the absurdly addictive Bejeweled 2. As of late I've spent hours each day trying to best my scores in Blitz and Action, the game modes I enjoy most. I loose track of time playing, and I may have to delete the game from my iPhone soon - it's that addictive.
Meanwhile, my girlfriend has taken control of my Nintendo DS. I foolishly introduced her to Rhythm Paradise (US: Rhythm Heaven), and ever since she has been tapping along the weird tunes of Nintendo's lovely little music title. She's actually obsessing to the degree that she is hunting for "perfect" medals in the various mini games. It's funny to hear her laugh one second and curse the next - perfectly summing up the Rhythm Paradise experience. Entertaining and demanding.
But it's time to get back to what I usually play, and I've just started what has been described as the sleeper hit of the summer - Singularity, and then it's on to the indie delights of Limbo.
I would like to think that I have a great sense of humour. Others tend to disagree. That said I'm terrible at April's Fools - not that I fall for them, I just don't come up with good ones. Physical pain seldom makes for a good April's fool for instance.
Here at Gamereactor we cheated (cause we're lazy bastards) and used our Danish colleagues' "World of Duty" leak - it's funny cause it will probably come true in some way or another if Kotick has it his way. And why wouldn't he?
Oh well, next year I vow to come up with something better than a lifetime supply of free games for anyone who puts their genitals on their laptop and slams it shut... Hopefully.
While portable gaming has more and more portable over the years, nothing beats a good book when it comes to portability in my view. No batteries to think of, light may vary, no stylus to keep track of, cartridges to remember, etc. Plus you can still read a book with ice cream on your fingers.
So I thought I'd catch up on some reading this summer. Makes me look a bit more sophisticated than when I doodle on my DS or focus on my PSP, and hopefully it will sharpen my language a bit to your benefit.
I'm a bit of a science fiction (sci-fi from here on) nerd. Not fantasy, just sci-fi. In fact just recently I got a bit shunned in a conversation as I hadn't read the Harry Potter books (though I have seen a few of the movies). There are so many books I would like to have read before I take on seven books a some boy and a school for wizards.
And eventhough I may cause me some social awkwardness (in some circles at least), I'm not budging. Afterall, I refused to see Titantic (and still haven't seen the whole movie) - these mass psychosis phenomenons have no effect on me (unless its Star Wars, of course). So this summer I've been reading up a bit on post-911 America (In the Eagle's shadow), but I have now started a less serious, but perhaps more enlightening reading project. Catching up on sci-fi classics I should have read a long time ago.
First off I read Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. I had only Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep before (the novel that laid the foundation for Blade Runner), but after reading the Man in the High Castle I know I'm going to have to read more of his stories. A very inspired story of an alternative 1962 where Germany and Japan had won the war and America was under foreign rule. Many memorable characters stood out, and the clash of cultures is ever present. The book within the book device and the ending that left me wide awake unable to sleep as I tried to figure out what it really meant. I'm sure there are some fancy answers out there, but to me it was about making you think about the truths you take for granted. A valuable lesson, intentional or not.
The next book I read was Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles. I was interested in it from a description I got, however the plot description I heard prior to reading it was incorrect. It had led me to believe there was one big overriding plot, but instead The Martian Chronicles, just gives you a bunch of accounts of what took place as humanity reach its closest neighbour. It was written back in 1950, something that colours every page with the fear of atomic war, the safe family life of suburbia, but it also touches on censorship and big brother. It had me both laughing and thinking, and that's about as good a compliment I can pay any book.
The book left me with a lot of unanswered questions about the Martians and about the fate of Earth. Another classic you should try and seek out if you haven't read it already.
What's next then? Well, I was thinking of picking something else by Dick, maybe a collection of short stories. Then I've been meaning to read The Mars Trilogy, perhaps Solaris or A Clockwork Orange (I enjoyed the movies) or Gateway. There still summer left...
- Kickstarter fatigue?
- Back from the Land of Sausages
- I'll never look at a sunflower the same.
- Sim City Social...
- Nintendo conference reflections...
- E3 - very much alive and kicking
- Sonic killed Alex Kidd
- Call of Duty fading?
- In anticipation of the Vita
- Events, events, and more events.
- Happy new year!
- The "new" Bejeweled Blitz
- Games make for great gifts
- Wheelin' and Dealin'
- High score moments
- Officially overwhelmed
- Simply obscene...
- More isn't always better...
- Corrupted save files...
- Do we dare get excited?
- GDC done... bring on E3!
- Getting my cosplay on...
- Lost in casual bliss...
- April's Fools...
- Sci-fi classics
- Gaming in the summertime
- Disc read error... [PS3]
- On Dark Athena... and E3
- My thoughts on The Pirate Bay
- Back from San Francisco
- At Game Developer's Conference...
- Swedish Award gossip
- Risk and rewards of Resident Evil 5
- A visit to Massive Entertainment
- What a gamer reads...
- Halo Wars controller blues...
- Everyday is like Sunday...
- What is old shall once again be new...