Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Modern Warfare 3 re-uses assets, internet goes apeshit
November 11, 2011

What do you get when you’re part of the development team that is tasked with pumping out new releases of the best-selling franchise of the generation year-on-year? What do you get when you have three different studios working  and collaborating on individual aspects of a game, another team handling a port, and two different publishers taking care of localisation?  What do you get when half of the key staff from one of those  studios leaves mid-way through a somewhat troubled development? What do you get when, working to a strict, global deadline and under immense pressure, you manage to put out another AAA title in a franchise that’s regarded by many as the pinnacle of its genre?  The answer to those admittedly long-winded questions should be “why, a bloody great big pat on the back, Rory”. Unfortunately, what you actually get is some whining sod moaning about a van.

Horribly, and almost comically, underestimating the sheer amount of work that goes into a top-tier, annual release like Call of Duty, Chris Hawke over at Gamer’s Guide to Life recently put out an admittedly very well-written and humorous article, simultaneously slamming Infinity WardSledgehammer GamesRaven SoftwareTreyarch and Neversoft (seriously, all those studios worked on MW3) for one of the most paltry, insignificant and frivolous ‘offences’ that’s ever been brought to light.

During a trailer for Modern Warfare 3, Chris happened to notice a parked Marley & Griffin van, which, shock and horror and “oh my god won’t somebody think of the children?!”,  also featured in Modern Warfare 2. This, he says, “represents laziness…copy-and-paste design…a lack of ambition and, perhaps most irritatingly, a lack of pride”. Now, let me just start by saying that I don’t particularly have an issue with Chris or his article; it was an amusing read and he did raise a valid point or two. However, to say that re-using a two-year-old asset from a direct prequel to a game in the same series, timeline, setting and canon as itself is, frankly, ridiculous.

I understand some of the points that Chris raises – Activision make hundreds of millions of dollars from the CoD franchise every year, and their competitors at DICE are going balls-to-the-wall to ensure that their latest offering inBattlefield 3 is a huge step up from its predecessor. I understand if he doesn’t agree with the design philosophy inherent in the CoD franchise. I understand if he thinks Bobby Kotick is a bit of a cock. But what I don’t understand is how he can be so vexed about the recycling of an asset that he feels the need to write an article about it, and I know I’m being massively contradictory there.

Despite explaining how he’s lost his faith in Modern Warfare 3 over this pesky vehicle, he goes on to say that he’ll buy the game anyway as it’s ‘unavoidable’ – it’s not, because I’ve managed it. He then goes on to cite Half-Life as a ‘classic’  which, in his view, “went the extra mile to make the best experience humanly possible”, apparently overlooking Valve’s tendency to recycle assets themselves. This is why I can’t take the article seriously.

Enough about poor Chris, though; it wasn’t actually him who particularly cheesed me off, more the discussion that arises around this topic time and time again. At some arbitrary point in time between the releases of Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops, it apparently became cool to slate and slanderise the Call of Duty franchise. I’m by no means saying that Infinity Ward are a perfect developer or that their games are the pinnacle of the industry – I’m more of a Battlefield man, if you must know – but if you make the claim that a re-used van in Modern Warfare 3 is going to hinder your enjoyment of the game in some way, you’re completely and utterly nuts.

Ironically enough, Battlefield 3 has an absolute ton of re-used assets from Bad Company 2, and the ones that were developed specifically for it are copied and pasted all around the different multiplayer maps – take the interior of the buildings in Seine Crossing, for example, or the shipping crates in Kharg Island shamefully ripped from its predecessor. It’s almost unmissable, but does it make the game any less enjoyable? In my opinion, no, absolutely not. In any way. At all.

Besides, maybe Marley & Griffin just has a really big infrastructure.

 – Rory

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The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword file select theme leaked
November 9, 2011

Continuing the barrage of Zelda news, it has come to my attention that the Main Menu/File Select/Fairy Fountain (yadda, yadda, yadda) theme that will be featured in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has been leaked, and it’s positively beautiful.

As many of you undoubtedly know, Skyward Sword’s soundtrack is largely orchestrated – a first for the series – and we’ll be hoping that the rest of the score lives up to this cracker. Interestingly, it’s the only piece of music in the game actually composed by Koji Kondo – the man famed for his involvement in the series’ magical tunes. Give it a listen here.

 – Rory

The Legend of Zelda symphony extends into 2012
November 8, 2011

Following the overwhelming success of the live Zelda orchestra performances across the globe, Nintendo have announced that they will be extending the show into the new year. Grandly titled The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses, the tour will travel across the United States, with the first date being held in Dallas on January 10th, 2012. Tickets range from $19 to $115 and are available to purchase here. Members of Club Nintendo will be eligible for 15% discount until November 30th.

Additionally, a 3D video performance of the Legend of Zelda Main Theme will be made available via SpotPass to Nintendo 3DS owners this week. Similar videos are planned for the near future.

Press release.

– Rory

Nintendo ‘willing to invest’ to secure third-party support
July 7, 2011

It’s not a new concept to the industry; Microsoft reportedly paid $50 million for exclusive Grand Theft Auto IV DLC and were even accused of money-hatting Namco in order to secure the exclusivity of Tales of Vesperia, but paying for third-party content is not something that Nintendo has openly admitted to. Similarly, Jack Tretton – President of Sony Computer Entertainment of America – has, in the past, proudly proclaimed that Sony ‘don’t buy exclusivity’, whilst also taking a side swipe at Nintendo, who, in the eyes of Tretton, have a tendency to rely too heavily on first-party production.

While Tretton is world-renowned for talking from his arse, I do believe that particular comment holds some merit. It’s unlikely that Nintendo took his words to heart, but it’s no secret that criticism can be a compelling catalyst for creativity, and Nintendo’s relationships with third-parties have elicited criticisms abound. To what extent you believe their words or not aside, Nintendo have, since the Wii U’s reveal, been promising much-improved third-party support, suggesting they’re willing to learn from, and, more importantly, act upon, their shortcomings.

At a recent shareholders meeting, Satoru Iwata was questioned on the Wii’s frequent software droughts, and if Nintendo had plans in place to prevent a similar situation with the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS:

We think it very important to make several hits from the third-party software publishers within the first year from the release of the platform, while offering Nintendo software seamlessly. In order to achieve this goal, we have shared information about the new hardware with the software publishers earlier than we did previously and built a cooperative structure, and we are developing several titles in collaboration with these publishers. I cannot talk in detail about the names of the titles, or with which publishers we are currently collaborating, because we have not announced this information yet, but what we are aiming for with the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U is, platforms which have much more software and a wider variety of software than the former Nintendo DS or Wii. Therefore, we are thinking of creating an environment where software from other companies will become hits.

Nintendo claims to have shared the hardware specs of the Wii U earlier than usual, but developers such as Bethesda have indicated that they ‘know nothing’ about its capabilities. To me, this is worrying. Huge, Western developers like Bethesda are of the precise ilk that Nintendo should be trying to get on board. Bethesda, BioWare, Infinity Ward, Rockstar, Valve, Crytek – names that core gamers recognise and respect, names that will sell, and names that will promote system sales. I don’t work for Nintendo, I have absolutely zero inside knowledge or sources at Nintendo, and I have never claimed to. In that sense, I also have absolutely no idea who Nintendo is courting and who they’re not, but if a studio as big as Bethesda has been left in the dark, then it doesn’t fill me with confidence.

After the initial excitement and positivity coming from select studios, promises of core IPs like Assassin’s Creed and Battlefield heading to the Wii U were made by developers Ubisoft and EA, respectively, but their relationship with Nintendo was already fairly strong. So, what about those who are seemingly less inclined to develop for Nintendo’s latest console? What kind of Nincentive (sorry) will be offered to them? Money, of course!

Please understand that Nintendo is prepared to invest in order to make this a reality.

Problem solved? We shall see…

 – Rory

Source

Grand Theft Auto IV mod looks better than real life
July 6, 2011

Life has its ways of proving us wrong  and altering our perceptions, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Today, it’s for the better. Recently, I was joining in on a discussion on VideoGamer.com – of whose homepage my ugly mug is currently featured – about photorealism in videogames and whether or not they’ll ever be able to convincingly recreate reality. I said no. Well, to elaborate, I argued that, unless we see some major advancements in the way that certain assets are modelled and rendered in the next few years, that developers simply can’t, and won’t, devote the man hours required to meticulously render the inside of a character’s nose, or the individual veins in leaves.

It seems that the community does what the developers can’t. In a move that has made me sorry for opening my big, stupid mouth, I have been stunned by one fan’s work. A community mod for Grand Theft Auto IV  has been released and it’s positively jaw-dropping. The mod uses something referred to as iCEnhancer 1.2, and whilst I’m not entirely sure what kind of technical witchcraft and wizardry is going on behind the scenes in this mod, I do know is that it looks absolutely gorgeous.

Sure, the foliage still looks a bit questionable and it’s still discernibly different from ‘real life’, but it’s mightily impressive; for that level of graphical fidelity to be achievable by technology that’s commercially available today fills me with excitement for the future of videogame verisimilitude.

– Rory

Will GoldenEye be a Wii U launch title?
June 28, 2011

Mary Tuck – Senior Litigation Counsel for Activision – has been caught in the act of registering some new web domain names for the publishing giant. The domains suggest that some sort of follow up to the Wii/Nintendo DS FPS GoldenEye is in the works, and whilst no platforms were mentioned, Nintendo’s next home console seems a shoo-in.

Developed by British studio Eurocom, 2010’s GoldenEye was itself a remake of the N64 classic. A robust Online mode, pointer controls and a reworked narrative – including Daniel Craig as Bond – were enough to squeeze some life out of the old dog, but could the developers really put out a third game based on the same source content?

Should GoldenEye be reloaded, or simply have its magazines discarded onto the cold, hard ground?

 – Rory

Who we want to see in Super Smash Bros. Strife
May 25, 2011

No, fear not; you have not accidentally wandered into the list-littered minefield of Kotaku, fortunately for you. However, it is with a certain sense of disappointment and guilt that I present to you, my readers, a list of sorts. Inevitably, a new Smash Bros. game attracts a ridiculous amount of hype, speculation and sheer fanboy-founded fervour, and we couldn’t help but get the train rolling – in no particular order, here is our character wishlist for the rumoured Super Smash Bros. Strife.

Super Smash Bros. is the industry’s best example of pure, unadulterated fan service, and it all starts with the characters. The game works because it’s a miraculous montage of some of the world’s most recognised faces, mixed with a myriad of lesser-known, but still just-as-loved characters, all united by one common interest – kicking the living daylights out of each other. So, who, other than the 35-man-roster from Brawl, would we like to see occupy all that extra disc space? Remember, variety is the spice of life.

Don’t be fooled by his nerdy demeanour; armed with a positively badass katana beam, a badass hairdo and a pair of badass shades, this Otaku badass means business. Badass business. From the brilliant mind of Suda 51, Travis Touchdown of No More Heroes fame is our number one contender. With an awesome art style, Travis would not only look right at home in the frantic free-for-all that is Super Smash Bros., but he’d also give those other pesky swordsmen a run for their money as well.

Did we mention he’s a total badass? We did? Oh. Okay then.

Another one that fits right into the badass category is Jack from MadWorld. Look at him. He’s smoking a cigarette. In black and white. That’s not only cool in France, people; it’s cool everywhere. Do you know where else it’d be cool? In Super Smash Bros. He’s got a chainsaw strapped to his arm. Even Fred Durst wouldn’t mess with this geezer in fear of having his arse skinned raw. Again, this Capcom creation boasts a unique art style that would add a bit of visual splendour to proceedings – if any more was needed – while also bringing something to the table that the series arguably lacks. Brutality.

Did we mention he’s got a chainsaw strapped to his arm? We did? Oh. Okay then.

She’s a Goddess, she’s a wolf and she’s from Okami. Enough said. What? You want more? Tough crowd. Well then, apart from being another aesthetically gorgeous piece from that artistic bunch at Capcom, Amaterasu is at once a gentle and caring soul, a benevolent Goddess and, most importantly, a fearsome warrior. With her inclusion, she would present the opportunity for a genuinely beautiful and creative stage, and some of the best music ever burned to disc.

Did we mention she’s a Goddess? We did? Oh. Okay then.

Another one for fans of brilliant videogame music; Blob, from THQ’s 2008 quirky Wii platformer de Blob, may, at first glance, appear to simply be a blob of paint. Look deeper though, and you’ll find tha-. Okay, no, he really is just a conscious, sentient blob of mastic composition, but he’s still a pretty awesome chap. He has the ability to change the physical appearance – namely, the colour – of anything he touches, which could make for some pretty cool-looking effects.

Did we mention he’s a blob of paint? We did? Well then, I appear to be suffering from some form of anterograde amnesia.

Another character from Capcom, another character from an AAA game – that is, Aesthetically and Artistically Awesome. With this little guy, the clue is in the name. Would you really want to battle against Mega Man? Really? For those of you who are out of the loop, ‘Mega’ falls somewhere between ‘Super’ and ‘Uber’ in the Official Adjectives Rankings 2011. Do you understand what that means? It means Mega Man is more of a badass than Superman. If that isn’t reason enough, then frankly, you’re batshit insane.

That about wraps it up for characters. In hindsight, I guess I’m just a sucker for some quality art design, but after all, Super Smash Bros. is definitely a clash of wildly varying styles, so shaking it up a bit further surely can’t hurt.

And no, we don’t want Cloud fucking Strife.

– Rory

Sonic Generations confirmed for Nintendo 3DS™
May 25, 2011

It’s official – the rumoured portable version of SEGA’s latest Sonic outing is live and kicking. Sonic Generations will be heading to the Nintendo 3DS system before the end of the year, according to the latest issue of Nintendo Power. The ‘anniversary event 20 years in the making’ promises to provide the perfect blend of old-school and nu-skool Sonic platforming. It’s unclear whether the 3DS version will be akin to its console counterparts or some kind of spin-off, but we’re willing to bet it’s the former.

The dude with the ‘tude will be dashing onto your screens in 3D at the end of the year.

– Rory

Watch the first Modern Warfare 3 gameplay trailer
May 24, 2011

Infinity Ward just posted up your first glimpse at Modern Warfare 3. Luckily for them, all the countries in the trailer just so happen to have an ‘E’ in their name somewhere, which they have oh-so-cleverly exploited, using the titular 3 as that ever-popular vowel/entactogenic drug.

The trailer ominously ends with the logo ‘WW3’ before the former ‘W’ flips on its head, to its final resting place – MW3. It’s coming this year and it’s going to own your soul. Spooky stuff.

– Rory

Director of Resident Evil films has never actually played any of the games
May 18, 2011

In a recent interview, zombie-slaying Milla Jovovich let slip that hubby Paul Anderson, the director of the Resident Evil films, has never actually played the source material that his films are based on. Instead, he watches walkthroughs performed by “professional video game players”.

“They play the games for weeks and give Paul the footage. So he’s literally watching days of the most awesome Resident Evil players out there to get inspiration for the next installment of the franchise.”

Well, that’s better than nothing I guess, and there could be a barrier here in that Anderson might not be familiar with actually playing videogames. But seriously, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever watched the Resident Evil films; they feel completely detached from the games, almost like a separate franchise.

– Rory