Friday, July 12, 2013

Grand Theft Auto V Gameplay Trailer

Well it's Friday so what happened this week in video game. Oh I don't know, a little something called Grand Theft Auto FIVE! Yes, gameplay footage was shown and my god it looks like it's going to be a game to rule them all, so to speak.
Wow, that should have gotten you excited, are you excited? If you're not, please check your pulse or maybe you're a robot. If you are a robot please leave a comment in the... wait a minute. So yeah, many different video game companies will show you cool stuff in a trailer for their game but not 100% of it will be actually what you're doing. Not the case with anything Rockstar! See the guy base jumping off a mountain, you can do that. See the guy diving into the big blue, yeah you can do that. The implementation of three main characters will also continue to breathe more depth into your gaming experiences. From switching from a suburban mid crisis father to a ghetto hood hommie just trying to get by will create some interesting moments no doubt. Throw in the improvements in combat - which is most likely influenced from Rockstar's outing of RDR and Max Payne 3 - and that little teaser of multiplayer, you've got yourself something that's bright on my radar.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

E3, stick a fork in it.

E3 is done, not so much as the expo is finished forever, but E3 has come and gone. This year has shown us a ton of new information of games, consoles and the industry as a whole. From the unveiling of Xbox One's games to PS4's actual look and price, we've seen a lot. There were a lot of discussions carried out about who won E3. I think it's kind of absurd to have this black and white notion towards the event. On the other hand though we, as human beings, strive for competition and well it's in our DNA with "survival of the fittest" after all. Right off the bat many would call Sony the winner, they've obviously listened to everyone about our doubts with digital DRM, limitations on used games - which is for some the only way they can afford the hobby - and suspicious that under all that power of a system a big fat price will correlate.
The new Xbox One/PS4 controllers

However Sony's big E3 press conference was heavy on the talk and not enough on actual gameplay of the coming next-gen games. On the contrary though Microsoft's E3 press conference was the exact opposite - as previously they stated they'd be bringing part 2 of their Xbox One to E3 focusing on just the games. They showed lots and lots of gameplay footage of next-gen games but never once talked about their perspective moving forward towards a connected digital gaming "utopia". Some would say dystopia, the Kinect ever watching you - what a great time to announce a device like that with the NSA being such a hot topic these days - limiting the consumer's rights to resell their product and having an online check to make sure you're not a gaming pirate.
No seriously, I legally bought this game!

Arrgggghhhh, pirates are awesome though? At least that's what the latest trend from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and what we see with Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. Of course in that sense the damn Empire deserves the justice as they've got it way better off than the common folk, (the British are in a luxurious lifestyle and the common folk are struggling to meet ends meet). Us gamers are the common folk and the big gaming companies are the governing British Empire. It's even comical to listen to the big timers at Microsoft tell people to play a Xbox 360 if you don't have good enough internet for the Xbox One. Ouch, that's kind of harsh.

In a small sense I can see that reasoning, heck in less favored gaming communities people are still playing on PS2s. There was actually one PS2 game shown at E3 this year and can you guess what the title was? Yup, it was the latest edition of FIFA, soccer is the world's sport after all. I think Sony talked to the common folk better off than Microsoft did and that's why they "won E3". What do people want, no limitations, good games and a fair price. Yup Sony announced no DRM and no limitations for the used games market, showed off some next-gen games as well as the price of $399 for the console. Everyone in attendance at Sony's press conference cheered and gave applause. It wasn't until the next day when we found out that Sony had lied to the masses and ironically previously were being adored for it. Sony's letting the DRM and used game situation be put in the hands of 3rd party publishers. Hmm, where have we seen this move before? Sony and Microsoft are fairly similar here, both requiring a membership to play online, both specialize in media other than games (they're both entertainment boxes), and both haven't really told us enough for a reasonable purchasing decision.
As you can see, they're about the same.

With Sony's PS4 price at $399 many were happy with the price point Sony had envisioned for the launch of their next-gen console - especially after their disastrous $599 reveal from their PS3's days. What wasn't talked about was discovered later on - we are the internet after all - with the fact that the Playstation Eye, a tweaked version of the previous Playstation Eye, will not be included with the purchase of the system. Well with a purchase of this new device, that was discussed at Sony's PS4 reveal event earlier this year, retailing at an estimated $60 we now have a PS4 costing $40 less than the Xbox One. That's not as big of a sense as $100 feels is it. It's obvious that Microsoft's Xbox One console, bundled with the new tweaked Kinect as well, helps make up its $499 price tag. The inclusion of this device shows the reassurance to developers that the platform is there, as previously developers could only develop for a limited optional device that probably less than half the Xbox 360 userbase didn't have. Some great games were shown off for the Xbox One but that lingering yeah what about the DRM situation was on everybody's mind. One thing's for sure I think I'll be grabbing a PS3 or WiiU since they'll be cheaper alternatives with a stack of exclusive games - Uncharted sereis, Mario Galaxy series and more - that I have not yet experienced.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Weekend Gaming, ready set GO!

It's Friday and all that means is start the weekend, what game or games are you playing this weekend?! For me I'm going to continue to blaze through the tricky streets and cliff adjacent tracks in Codemaster's GRiD 2. There's so many things that can go wrong while racing; an opponent runs into you, you oversteer right into a cliff face, you mess up that last corner before the finish line, mess up a corner on a perfect lap, etc etc. Good thing there's flashback, a feature that Codemaster's introduced into the racing genre with the first GRiD five years ago. Yeah, it's kind of a staple in the racing genre now as other competing games allow you to undo that horrific crash which has probably lessened many frustrated gamers out there - I know it's helped me out. I might pick up and play some Halo 4 matches as it seems 343 Studios has tweaked the weapons to feel a bit more competitive. It's nice that that community is still staying strong. Yes community, flashbacks, weekend, I'm getting at E3 and you'll soon see why.
Well or you could drive too close to a cliff.

It's the weekend yet all I can think about is next week. It's funny, it seems the days before E3 always go slower while E3 rushes by in one quicker than normal week. On Monday we're going to see keynote events from Microsoft which will show off their Xbox One intended games, Sony which will show the games - oh man I can't wait to see some Destiny gameplay - and more importantly their system, and the next day Nintendo will have their Nintendo Direct - the first year Nintendo will not actually have a press event - which people will be able to download on Nintendo products. You wonder if after all three go ahead and show their stuff - don't forget EA & Ubisoft will show as well - if anyone company would be willing to use a flashback to undo what they just did. I'm predicting this will be Microsoft as they've just revealed some astounding limitations that their Xbox One will have in regards to its consumer (the paying one too).

Of course the second to best thing about E3 is the gaming community that follows after it. The discussions while it's taking place, the viral videos many will link, and of course the aftermath where everyone talks about who won E3. We have a competitive nature towards everything, it's not just racing. Someone has to win it, someone has to be the one to cross the finish line before everyone else. It's always fun to see who's going to bring the goods at these things. I'm hoping we'll see some real innovation here, this year it's all about the consoles entering the market. Not only will there be the Xbox One, Sony PS4 but also the Ouya, possibility of a Steambox reveal and we just learned Mad Catz wants in on the console market with the project M.O.J.O.. That's a bit severe in my mind, this happened last time when the Sega Saturn tried to join the mix with the N64 and PS1 and it didn't go well for an overcrowded market.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

E3 is fast approaching!

If you ask anyone who plays games, probably a majority of them will say yeah they get excited when E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, rolls around every year. To the hardcore gamers this is like the Superbowl of the video game industry. To many of the mass audience that plays games but doesn't wade through gaming forums E3 is a week of gaming news and trailers that help define what's coming. Well E3 is less than a week away and many sites already have "This is what I want to see at E3" so I'll just cover it in general.

This year's E3 should be a good one specifically due to the big two Sony and Microsoft going to show off their very new next-gen consoles to a global audience. Everyone is watching, even people that don't focus heavily on games, let's be honest these consoles are two computers that let you do about anything on them. Surf the internet, - check - watch streaming TV and movies, - check - keep in contact with your friends -check. Microsoft caught a lot of flak targeting their first - as they claim their big press event & console reveal is segmented into two parts - segment on all of what the general public is probably interested in. Now at E3 we're supposed to get the second segment, the games!

Oh man and they've promised a lot with 15 titles upcoming for the Xbox One with 8 of which are new IPs. There will be many many games shown off at E3 this year but many are interested to see what one two punch Microsoft comes out with swinging. Why should people be bothered to upgrade their gaming console if they're quite content with what they have right now. The main thing it looks like that will influence this decision is the ever connected gaming world where players will experience persistent worlds. Many people on the PC front are already putting up their arms in shrugging fashion noting they can do that already on their computers. True, but I think it's now going to become a global invasion to every player on this planet. As the years go by and we all get more connected we're going to find ourselves immersed in a social gaming environment which I feel will only strengthen this beloved hobby of many.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Something New, Yet Familiar.

Something new, it's what keeps things going, it's what keeps things fresh and it often at times goes hands in hand with a concept that's been around for a while. For this instance it's the norm that becomes the standard, the mediocre, the uninspired that always has the chance to suffocate great originality  I recently finally watched the remake movie X-Men: First Class. Being an avid fan of the previous X-Men movies I was actually fairly excited about a remake of such a classic story that originated from flipped panels of intricate artwork. I was also sort of put off that they were already making yet another X-Men movie. With the days of the next Wolverine or The Hulk movies, it can be quite tiring - and usually people loose interest in the content matter. Assassin's Creed comes to mind (slow the heck down Ubisoft, you're killing your own creation).

Having recently experienced completing the game Bioshock Infinite two days after its release - I was immersed and driven to explore the game's world and story - and having watched the X-Men remake I came to a conclusion, story-telling needs brave and creative ideas to keep an audience entertained. However more on that later though as it seems the remake model is the successful method of the future with as can be seen in the movie and gaming industry.

Just recently I ordered the Collector's Edition of Tomb Raider (2013), the remake that finds Lara Croft finding herself, so to speak. I am eager to jump into the world crafted by the original creators of such an iconic franchise. A lot of new concepts and ideas were brought into the fray for this game including even giving Tomb Raider a multiplayer arena.  This adapts the franchise with the rest of the already connected global audience that play games against or with people online. There's also tons to do within the game with an open world like design set in place to again adapt to the growing popularity of choice. Are you with us or against us, Paragon/Renegade, etc.

Going back to Bioshock Infinite though I had found myself all caught up with the world that I had fallen in love with - metaphorically of course I would never want to live in such places - as previously experienced from the original Bioshock. When people played the first Bioshock it was a vastly new experience, from the world, the characters and even the combat that players carried out in a Utopia city underwater. We learned and discovered about a society that became made with power, so many variations of power might I add. In Bioshock Infinite the story really ramps up and the combat and new imaginative setting really captures own's imagination and sense of play.

After completing Bioshock Infinite and taking a step back from being immersed and living in a world where Nationalism was deemed a norm and revolution was right around the corner, I sat back and really breathed in the fresh new concept the people of Irrational Games had so handily crafted. As to not spoil anything I will just mention that the ending was totally not predicted nor was the city in the floating sky or the affection I would feel for an AI character, Elizabeth. I've played many video games before but never have I felt such a philosophical feeling as I did finishing Bioshock Infinite - Mass Effect 3 was close in this regards only to the state of constantly contemplating the game after weeks of completion.

With X-Men, Bishock and Tomb Raider we see innovation through risk, through daring story-telling and that I believe is what will keep each respected industry going. With next-gen systems coming around the corner one can only be so optimistic that more studios will want to generate more quality work through new ideas and innovation instead of blatant cash ins or sequels that run a series into the ground. It's ok to have a cash in here or there, as I know it's hard to stay afloat as a creative studio these days, but injecting some creativity and moxy into this industry will keep it from stagnating or worse loosing fans in a drawn out war of attrition.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Used Games War

News broke that a next gen system unofficially termed the Xbox 720 - not pictured above - will not allow people with used games to access them. An activation code will be used initially when the consumer puts it into the system and thus eliminating the ability of a second hand exchange since the game's activation code will have already been used. Of course in order to verify this code your system will have to be connected online.

Many however are wondering if this will be a similar concept to DRM techniques seen on the PC market. With this part of the market piracy is rampant due to almost all PCs sold having a burning disc drive device. To contradict this piracy strict DRM has been put in place where the common denominator is you have to be connected online in order to play said game. Often times being thrown back to the main menu when a connection to the authorization server has been lost and initially, when this concept was first used -as it appears to be learned via the mass complaining of gamers that ironically conveyed this outrage through an online connection-, loosing all your progress since your last save.

Rumors about Sony doing something similar with their next gen system unofficially termed the PS4 -again not pictured above - have also arose due to Sony patents found online that talk about a system the tags games for this similar process. See the gist of things here is the system will read the game's tag, similar to the activation codes that Microsoft will implement with their 720, allegedly, but instead not require an online connection as the authorization process is done via the hardware as opposed to an online server. However similarly this will cut the used games market out as a game that's already been tagged with a specific system will not work on another. That's the whole point of this DRM technique.

I modded my original Xbox way back in the day because it didn't allow me to watch movies without going out and buying a remote for movie playback, while this feature was do-able right out of the box as per modders discoveries. If I feel like a company is putting restrictions on the product I purchased then I feel you as a consumer have a right to complain. These companies want to dictate what you can and can not do with their product and will often ban you from live if you're found to be a "cheater". Now obviously this doesn't go so far that you have to get authorities involved because of illegal actions being carried out. Still the ability to play used games, and thus either try out a game you're not sure about -or to save money picking up a used copy, on a console is paramount to many many consumers out there that enjoy the video game industry. Online passes and DLC have been put in place to deter consumers from pawning off their unused games for a little cash or bonuses towards the latest and greatest.

Oh I also highly bet that, just like the online pass, that you'll be able to buy another code with the gracious action of handing over your credit card. I really hope that does not happen, publishers are already getting their cake and eating it too, as the saying goes.