8 Gaming News Tidbits You Better Care About
Why 8? Is anybody else doing 8? No. That’s why.
I also like the aesthetics of the number 8, its the symbol for infinity turned 90 degrees…which is deep…and important?
Eight also rhymes with “great,” which it is.
*sigh* I can’t do this. Just see my first reason…and the fact that doing eight is less work than if I were to do 10.
Will these eight be inherently biased and clearly oriented toward my own interests and my determination of what denotes “cool” in the gaming industry? Absolutely. And you know what, if you don’t like that…read something else on my site. Just don’t leave me.
1. ALICE SEQUEL– Fans of well-loved fairy tales/children’s books metamorphosing into surrealistic nightmare-fueled games rejoice! EA approached American McGee, the creator of Alice, despite his several questionable forays since helming Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece (the innovative but underselling Scrapland and the unequivocally awful Bad Day L.A.) and signed him up for the sequel. For those who didn’t play the original (this was back when I was a PC gamer…between Alice and Grim Fandango my parents must have been quite worried about me) it was downright amazing, and I hope this one comes to consoles.
Granted, I can already spy the people attempting to pin the “fanboy” sign on my back, along with the murmurs that McGee is nothing more than a pretentious, self obsessed designer who happened to get lucky once. Of course, these are the same people that if the Alice sequel does well, will say that the Alice franchise is the only thing McGee is capable of, and that he has no artistic depth. You just can’t win with these sorts of people.
And while we’ve been treated to a scant amount of concept art over the past month or two (see INSANE drawing on the right), we’ve finally got a trailer to work with. Granted, it’s only a teaser, and much of it is just a physician’s narration of Alice’s decline in mental health, once again. But….stop motion…DO WANT! Considering the amazing work that EA Partners has produced in the past year or so, it’s hard not to get excited. Let’s just hope it’s not “late for a very important date” of 2011, lest I end up in a mental ward.
2. SEGA FRANCHISE WHORAGE–Thanks to our friends at Joystiq we’ve recently learned that Sega is back for Round 2 of franchise whorage. Apparently when one cannot make a minutely successful tennis title consisting of a developer’s most popular mascots, one resorts to that of the Karting variety. Honestly guys, aren’t these mid 90′s video game marketing tactics? Have we not reached a point where the consumer, assisted by the Internet, will no longer fall for what is a blatant attempt at “franchise whoring”? *Thinking about intended rhetorical question I just posed* Actually, we use the Internet predominantly for pornography and funny zoo animal videos, and history has shown that games including Sonic will sell, regardless of quality. That being said, if you have a hankerin’ to navigate various vehicles as that psychedelic monkey from Samba de Amigo (I’d look up his name, but I want to make clear how little I care for Sega’s efforts in this case) or those other monkeys from any of the 13,000 iterations of the Super Monkey Ball franchise, set yourself loose. Also, if you buy this game, I will void your “Official Gamer” certificate.
Oh, and Sega, this part is directed at you: DON’T GO TOYING WITH MY OTHERWISE SENSIBLE LOGIC BY BRINGING Shenmue into this. I know you think its fun to “play God” with your franchises, but, to be honest, Shenmue is one of the few good things you’ve got left. Make Shenmue 3. Hell, make Jet Grind Radio 3. Make something that is absent of karts, or hedgehogs brandishing firearms. Seriously.
3. Can Alan Wake Defeat Spoilers?–Perhaps it’s only appropriate to transition from a game I worry will be made despite any amount of protest, to one that I still lose sleep over wondering if it will ever see the light of day. Alan Wake, the Xbox 360 exclusive being developed by Remedy Entertainment (they did the Max Payne game franchise…and had nothing to do with the film) is worried that the ending to their masterpiece of storytelling greatness will be…well…”spoiled”.
How worried, you ask? Worried enough to consider removing the ending from the preview copies, according to Remedy Entertainment’s managing director Matias Myllyrinne. Now, whether or not this will ultimately happen seems to rest in the hands of Microsoft Game Studios, the publisher of Alan Wake. It’s an interesting notion, no doubt, despite the undesirable truth that the internet has erased almost all attempts at keeping anything “under wraps.” However, I’d like Remedy to focus on actually making the game before we get all caught up in just how they’re going to keep some Netdiot from ruining it in a forum. Damn it, people you’ve kept Alan Wake from me since announcing it at E3 in 2005. I hadn’t even started college and Hurricane Katrina had yet to make its horrible presence known. That’s how long its been.
At this point some of you are asking, “Just what is Alan Wake about?” That’s something most of us are trying to figure out, but I’ve got the basics right here for ‘ya. A writer by the name of Alan Wake happens to have a bad case of writer’s block, so his wife takes him to a nice little resort town (as least, it seems to be such) and she almost promptly disappears. While trying to find her, he comes to the frightening conclusion that he is living out his latest novel…which is odd, because while he knows its his work, he doesn’t remember writing it. Confused? Me too. But check out the trailer below, and you’ll want this game as bad as I do. Or you might not. Because you suck. Honestly though, I’ve tried to come up with some other reason why you might not want to play this, and the only other thing is that you might have some unsaid embargo against Finnish goods (Remedy is a Scandinavian developer). Here’s hoping they Finnish this game on….god, I can’t bring myself to finish this awful pun.
#4 Wii Problems Galore?–Well, at least it can’t be said anymore than Nintendo is in a state of self-denial. Last Friday Nintendo publicly announced that annual sales have dropped 34.5 percent over the previous year. This, of course, has come on the coattails of a literal non-stop barrage of third party reports suggesting that the Wii’s once red-hot sales had been put on ice. The Examiner’s talked about it. PC World’s talked about it. (though I think there might be some bias there) Hell, BusinessWeek’s talked about it too. Basically anybody that was forced to “eat crow” when the Wii somehow managed to “take off” has jumped all over this.
“The Wii has stalled,” Iwata (Nintendo’s president) said. “Games of high demand could not be continuously released, and the good mood has chilled.” Two things to note about this quote. First, Iwata tactfully continues my poor hot/cold analogies, so I thank him for that. Secondly, it’s important to slog through the “business speak” and call it for what it is. The man’s basically saying “Our games suck…we get it.” He’s right though. One of the most consistent problems with the Wii has been the lack of quality software. Things don’t look to get much better either. If we look to the fact that most consoles only get one or two games for each prominent Nintendo mascot, the Wii’s “running on E.” Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime Corruption, Super Paper Mario
and so on. The fact that E3 was essentially a retreading of these franchises really spells out how much Nintendo trusts their third-party allies to produce quality work. It also speaks to the quality of software that third-party developers think they can get away with on the Wii. Call it mutually-assured destruction, if you will. You keep making crap, and we’ll see fit that it has a home on our console. Horrible, just horrible. Though, for the record, EA, you’re exempt of this. After frequently punishing the GameCube with some downright horrid ports, you’ve made an excellent effort at providing Wii gamers with games tailored to their system. And no, this is not sarcasm.
#5 Oblivion…the Book?–I know a lot of you have been thinking. “Nick, I really enjoyed The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion…so much to the point that I would want to read a hackish novelization meant to capitalize on my unyielding purchasing of all Oblivion paraphernalia.” Well…good, because in about three weeks THAT book is showing up. At this point I could summarize the plot, or point out to you that Random House has kindly posted the first couple pages for your browsing pleasure, however…
But after having read the Myst novels, I’m not so certain about this whole “let’s write cheap trade paperbacks about video games people enjoy” motif. I mean, will this book be representative of your Oblivion experience? Unless the protagonist is robbing people at a mind-numbing rate, leaving only their loincloths behind, and jumping all over the world in an effort to improve his Athletics skills, it certainly won’t be representative of mine. Hell, it’d take a book that long just to list all of the shit I stole. You?
#6 CoD Controversy–By now all of you have probably heard, but Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is “like, totally” controversial…again. This, of course, is brought to you by the developers that about a month ago went with the “when all else fails, blow up Washington DC” mantra. Here’s a hint, unless your destruction of my nation’s capital involves Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith teaming up to save the human race, the Fallout series, or the War of 1812, just stow it. I get that “any publicity is still publicity,” and having the non-gaming press members trumpeting your exploitation of a post 9-11 vulnerability, is still a “plug” of sorts, but come on. But where was I? Oh, yes. Things have gotten worse. While it’s been a mess of reports over the past day or two, the general gist is this, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!! Apparently, in the first level of MW2, you play as an undercover agent deep within a terrorist cell…who have stormed an airport. I mean, come on, it’s Call of Duty, you aren’t going to engage in an international dialogue on world peace, riddled with Quick Time Events. PRESS X TO ACCUSE IRAN OF UTILIZING URANIUM FOR MILITARY MEANS. Apparently the first couple minutes of the game are quite easy, however…because you’ll be shooting unarmed civilians.
How do we know this? Someone got their hands on the game, leaked it, and Activision’s confirmed his claims. It’s just that simple. This, of course, is the kind of thing that the mainstream press, when it’s taken out of context, tends to have a “field day” of outrage over. I can just see Bill O’Reilly sleeping easy knowing that he’ll have something to be downright infuriated with in the morning, after all, The Christian Science Monitor already has, to some degree. And Activision? They’ll be too busy drowning in Scrooge McDuck’s money vault to notice. It is worth mentioning that Activision has claimed that this level comes with several unskippable warnings, and that the player has the option of not participating in it, if it is their wish. Personally I wonder if these are ex post facto tactics on the part of Activision, but considering that there’s almost no chance the game hasn‘t been manufactured by now, unless a DLC packet called “Don’t Murder Civilians” shows up on Xbox Live in the near future.
Unsurprisingly, opinions have fallen all over the place, though some that were alright with the previous DC shenanigans, have drawn a line, claiming that this “shooting gallery” of the airport variety has crossed it. Brad Rice’s editorial on Destructoid, found here, is well-written and I agree with most of his argument, especially the notion that the violence evinced here is that of a far different sort than that of other games that allow graphic acts of violence towards innocents (GTA IV) In addition, one has to worry whether “intellectual freedom” of ideas or controversy-mongering and monies were the motivating force. Possibly both. Controversy sells, right? I’d say “wait until you’ve played it” to give a full-fledged opinion, but after Activision dropped Ghostbusters, Brutal Legend, and Chronicles of Riddick, I’m not even certain they’ll be getting my money at all.
#7 WoW Creates “Big Trouble In Little China“…Kurt Russell Not Involved…Yet–To those seeking the ultimate weapon in bringing about the downfall of Communist China, look no further than the world’s latest and greatest addiction, World of Warcraft. Granted, turning to addictive substances in order to “quell enemies and promote world dominance” has served America well in the past. Just ask the Native Americans that we stole this great nation from. Apparently China has outlawed foreign investment in its online gaming industry, and that means that Blizzard Entertainment’s wunderkind has got to go.Personally, I figured they’d just modify the game, to make it more suitable for its audience, like they’ve done with other games. Sadly, it looks like the two expansions World of Warcraft: Death of Democracy and World of Warcraft: Lace the American Children’s Toys with Lead Once More, slated for a release next year, will never see the light of day. And neither will most of the political prisoners there. ZING!
#8 Leggo My MMO, Lego!–While this last pic is more of an update than a “brand new” news piece, let it be said that the new Lego Massively Multiplayer Online game is moving along quite well, and looks better and better every time one of those hard working developers at NetDevil manages to drop a few screenshots on the Web. And I know what you’re thinking. “Nick, isn’t this fostering an atmosphere in which activities that used to promote creativity and hand-eye coordination and general entertainment for kids, is being digitally compartmentalized into a sterile and inert computer program, robbing us of its previous benefits as a physical toy?”
First off, you use too many big words. Secondly, this game is not meant for very young children, real Legos are. Very young children chew on computers, Legos, and themselves, and thereby are not interested in computer games. Supposing that you have a “boy genius” on your hands (or want to think your child is “gifted,” like everyone else, because he doesn’t wet the bed anymore) you probably still don’t want him playing MMOs unsupervised. I mean, that is the whole point of video games, right? The role of the “digital babysitter?” I kid, I kid. Thirdly, ever lost the instructions to a Lego set, or worse, come up a couple pieces short of constructing what cannot be described as anything other than a modern work of art? THAT’S why I approve of this game over real legos. That and real legos are “hella” expensive. The game’s scheduled for a 2010 launch, though it has been in the works for quite some time, so I’d take that projection with a grain of salt. And, while we’re sitting around waiting for that, check this out.