People keep asking me about Ryse: Son of Rome. I think everyone has questions because we've heard so many conflicting things about the Xbox One launch title since its announcement. Is it a string of quick time events? How doe...
Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman (later the entirety of DC), Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings -- arguably a majority of the world's largest entertainment properties -- have all been brought to life in videogames after being passed through the adorable LEGO filter by Traveller's Tales. And, well, they've handled each franchise masterfully and created some truly great games with each of them over the years. What could possibly be next?
I can't be the only one who's been dreaming since LEGO Star Wars that we would one day see LEGO Marvel make its videogame debut, but, seeing as Traveller's Tales is a subsidy of Warner Bros., it was seemingly never going to happen. However, by some remarkable turn of events (due to the magic of licensing), here we are with LEGO Marvel Super Heroes.
It's nothing short of a miracle this game was even made, but it's something we can only be happy about.
While Call of Duty is often regarded as the epitome of the annualized, cynically produced, lazily constructed videogame franchise, I've always maintained that both Infinity Ward and Treyarch expended much more effort than they were ever given credit for.
Whether it's the underestimated storytelling prowess of Modern Warfare or the noble efforts to revitalize the COD formula with Black Ops, the overwhelmingly popular series is far more cognizant of its own criticisms than many like to believe.
My defense of the consistent quality of Call of Duty has certainly caught criticism of its own. Indeed, I am lauded as a hypocrite for daring to suggest that Modern Warfare 3 was not objectively, factually, a mediocre game. I still believe that, and I still have respect for Call of Duty as a series. However, I've always been mindful that the gravy train cannot last forever, and as "military shooters" are in 2013 what World War II shooters were in 2008, it's high time Call of Duty underwent another dramatic transformation, the likes of which gave us the original Modern Warfare.
Black Ops II was a step forward in this regard, an earnest attempt to inject fresh life into a flagging idea. By comparison, Ghosts is not only a failure to capitalize on the goodwill Black Ops II earned, it's a disappointing step backward.
Microsoft's new console, the Xbox One, comes out in North American on November 22. That's soon! It will cost $500. That's fair chunk of money! I think it's time we Xbone up on the Xbox One with everything we know about it thus far.
Here's your first factoid. Not everyone at Microsoft appreciates the nickname "Xbone," but Microsoft's Phil Spencer has admitted, "I think it's going to stick." In a move Microsoft likely appreciates even less, parents will hopefully still just call it "a Nintendo."
In case you haven't heard, Metal Gear Solid V will be broken up into two games -- Ground Zeroes, and Phantom Pain. The latter will be the "meat and potatoes" of the package, but with the former (which will take place before Phantom Pain), we now have a ton of new info.
According to Konami, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes will be launching in spring 2014 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. The pricing model is interesting, as Konami is charging $29.99 for a retail version, and $19.99 for a current-gen (PS3, 360) download. The PS4 and Xbox One versions however will yield a $29.99 download price.
Ubisoft hasn't shown any signs of slowing down on annual releases for the series, despite handily finishing its main story arc. Correctly identifying the best innovation of Assassin's Creed III as its naval combat, this latest title incorporates it as the defining feature and centers the narrative around pirate adventure in the early 18th century.
The most fun I've ever had in a Battlefield game was in 2010's Battlefield: Bad Company 2.
That's not to say it's the best title in the series or anything like that, mind you -- just that it arrived at the right time for me and offered a level of environmental destruction I found easy to fall in love with. If I'm allowed to blow open the side of a building and get the jump on an enemy, I'm going to do that. Over and over again. There doesn't even need to be an enemy.
Despite the fact that I'm not nearly as into military first-person shooters as I was even a couple of years ago -- repetitive sequels will do that to you -- Battlefield 4 has already, not even a full week after launch, surpassed my fondest memories of Bad Company 2.
[Update: Official trailer added. Extinction is described as a "1-4 player cooperative game mode featuring a unique blend of fast-paced survival action, FPS base defense, scavenging and class leveling." Get to the chopper.]
I've always found Treyarch's Zombies mode to be a fun bonus for the studio's otherwise fairly serious Call of Duty games and have longed for Infinity Ward to offer something similar in its titles. Seems we may be getting exactly that in Call of Duty: Ghosts if an image of a loading screen for "Extinction" (shown below for the spoiler averse) is to be believed.
Aliens? Yeah, looks like it. There's been an official teaser that matches the design of the creature as well as achievements for Ghosts that reference the mode. Neat. I'd assume we'll hear more from Infinity Ward leading up to launch but, if not, that's only a week off.
[Update: If you're curious about those PlayStation 4 or Xbox One bundles that you pre-ordered GameStop and Amazon have both released a statement detailing what they'll be doing.]
Ubisoft has pushed two of its high-profile titles, Watch Dogs and The Crew, off until its next fiscal year. Watch Dogs was originally slated to help round out this year's annual holiday crush in late November. The Crew never had a formal release date, but was expected in the first quarter of 2014.
Now, both of them are expected sometime after April 1, 2014. With regard to Watch Dogs, the development team said "We struggled with whether we would delay the game. But from the beginning, we have adopted the attitude that we will not compromise on quality. As we got closer to release, as all the pieces of the puzzle were falling into place in our last push before completion, it became clear to us that we needed to take the extra time to polish and fine tune each detail so we can deliver a truly memorable and exceptional experience."
The Watch Dogs news doesn't come as much of a surprise, given that Ubisoft hasn't ramped-up the marketing as one would expect with a game that's set to come out in a month. However, it's quite the blow for people that were looking forward to picking it up alongside an Xbox One or PS4.
Skylanders has had a bit of an odd history. Initially, it launched under the auspices of the Spyro name, and made a very small splash in the market -- so small, that barely anyone knew what it was. Fast forward to six months later, and it was the hottest toy on the shelves, so much so that many retailers couldn't even keep it stocked consistently.
A sequel was greenlit, and the rest was history, as Activision raked in over a billion dollars from the Skylanders franchise alone. It's a massive success, and now, the third iteration is attempting to claim the throne once again, fighting off the juggernaut that is Disney Infinity.
Let's just say it's going to be a very interesting holiday season for videogame toys.
I recently got to play a solid few hours of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag and was able to do whatever I wanted, outside of the select core missions Ubisoft wanted to specifically show off. There was a lot to do, but I wanted to focus specifically the open ocean world and how you'll be interacting with it here.
Why? Because it was easily my favorite new feature for the Assassin's Creed series due to it being something fresh and different. Plus I liked ramming my big ship into tiny little ships because I'm the best pirate ever.
[Update: Microsoft has reached out to the press to deny this report, stating that the original source misinterpreted Mehdi's presentation. According to Microsoft, Mehdi's quote about "bridging worlds and offering that to advertisers" was with regard to platforms such as SmartGlass. It also reiterated that they "have a long-standing commitment to your privacy and will not target ads to you based on any data Kinect collects unless you choose to allow us to do so."]
Remember that time that a Microsoft marketing executive told everyone that the company has no intention of using any data collected from Kinect for anything related to advertising? You shouldn't have to rack your brain; it happened only a few days ago. Well, go ahead and disregard that, because Microsoft's VP of marketing and strategy got up in front of a room full of people, and stated that the company hopes to do that in the future.
As reported by Advertising Age, Yusuf Mehdi held a talk on Saturday morning at the Association of National Advertisers' annual convention that was titled "Winning the Game: Xbox Marketing." In his presentation, he touched on ways in which Xbox One could revolutionize advertising, such as increased production values attributed to imaging technology, taking advantage of the gamification movement, and most importantly, the possibility of making data available for market research.
"We are trying to bridge some of the world between online and offline," Mehdi said. "We have a pretty unique position at Microsoft because of what we do with digital, as well as more and more with television because of Xbox. It's early days, but we're starting to put that together in more of a unifying way, and hopefully at some point we can start to offer that to advertisers broadly," he continued.
There's no real surprise here; we all saw this coming the whole way. It's unfortunate, but it's highly likely. But, the fact that two high-ranking marketing executives directly contradicted each other within a matter of days is just embarrassing. We're at the point where maybe no one in Microsoft's camp should open their mouth unless it's to parrot an official company message.
That Deus Ex: Universe trademark? It's not what it might've sounded like. Eidos Montreal has lifted the lid on its future plans for the franchise, which include multiple games for PC/consoles as well as mobile titles, books, and graphic novels -- that's what Universe is all about.
"The concept behind Deus Ex: Universe is to create an ongoing, expanding and connected game world built across a generation of core games," writes studio head David Anfossi. "It's a commitment on our part to deliver meaningful content that expands the franchise on a regular basis and to deliver a deep conspiracy that will span several connected Deus Ex games, creating a more immersive and richer experience than ever before."
An important first step is a new core game from the team behind Human Revolution. Announced for next-generation consoles and PC, the title is currently in production and you can see the first concept art above. We actually asked for this! "[The artwork] shows trans-humanism segregation, which is a backdrop to our vision for the next Deus Ex," says Anfossi.
"It represents a "ghetto-city' voluntarily built in order to separate the classes. The people in this segregated class have reshaped their environment, nostalgic for their ideal of Cyber Renaissance. This dark and dystopian vision sets the tone for things to come in Deus Ex."
Assassin's Creed IV it truly an open world experience. There's so much to do, a ton of things to explore, and it's all happening in a near seamless sandbox. I had to know just how long it would take a player to 100% the game, and as I feared, I don't have nowhere near the time to please my OCD nature with this one.
I asked Ashraf Ismail, director on Assassin's Creed IV, how long it would take and he told me that "one guy in the office actually did it two weeks ago for the first time. He got a 100% sync, which was mind blowing. This was one of our testers, so imagine he's a tester who knows the game really well. He's been working on the game for a year and a half. From zero to a hundred on one build [of the game], it took him 48/49 hours. The thing is, he knew what he was doing is the crazy part."
Nearly 50 hours for a guy who knows the game like the back of his hand. Wow. For the rest of us that are not as familiar with the game like this tester is, Ashraf estimates that it will take anywhere from 60 to 80 hours to get a 100% sync.
Don't worry though. For the core storyline, it will take you roughly 20 hours to complete that. Still, beyond the story there's all sorts of side missions, the whole open naval combat, all sorts of hidden things to find -- There's a lot, suffice to say. There's even a throwback to Altaïr's ultimate armor from Assassins' Creed II. You'll find a couple of ultimate-like armors that you'll want, and to get them you'll have a bunch of side activities to engage in.
So yeah, 50 to 80 hours. And that's not even factoring how much time you'll invest in the multiplayer, or even the free companion app for mobile devices.
Did you use the Xbox? Remember that interface? Are you laughing? It was pretty bad, as was the first Xbox 360 one. Blades gave way to a mess of boxes, bringing us to the point we're at now. I'm sure you'll agree we're not at a good place now when it comes to Xbox 360's UI.
From what I've seen of the Xbox One interface, it seems that Microsoft has been listening to our gripes. I'd almost call the new one elegant. It's certainly clean and well-thought-out, and not unlike something you'd see on a mobile device.