Tag Archives: EA

A week of Games.

It’s been a funny old week for gamers.

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We’ve lost and regained the loved/hated high street retailer Game in blink of an eye, with its future still uncertain.  Half the branches have been shuttered and the remaining portfolio is been split between the best performing locations of Gamestation and Game, with the business apparently being readied for a subsequent sale – prompting the return of GameStop to these shores?

In Sheffield, for example, we’ve gone from six stores to two – a branch of Game in the Crystal Peaks shopping centre and a Gamestation in the larger, presumably more expensive Meadowhall shopping mall.  What this means for me is that neither are now particularly near me and I’d have to make a special trip to two not-especially-pleasant shopping venues.  I see online and a couple of independent retailers in my future.  The Guardian‘s Keza McDonald has a great piece on Game, the market space now open for indy retailers and what it all means over at their Games blog.

The vultures, of course, have begun to circle…

On another note, embattled publisher THQ announced that they’ll be giving me what I wanted but in a totally roundabout way.  By all accounts, we will see another single-player action game in the “Warhammer 40K” universe but at the cost of their expensive and apparently too unwieldy 40K MMO, which has been shuttered. Developers Relic and Vigil are accordingly reducing headcount by over 100 staff – who would work in an industry that precarious?

Sony’s new console, meanwhile, may be called Orbis rather than PS4, will eschew any attempt to be backwards compatible and will eat any pre-owned disc that you attempt to put inside it’s ravenous, bio-mechanical, terrifying cyber-maw.

Or, if you want to be boring, the new console will lock games to PSN accounts, preventing trade-in and the second-user market which is even now destroying the video game business from within.  But I prefer my version.  It’s more Cyber.

Finally, in news which isn’t actually news to anybody who’s picked up a controller or installed a game to their hard drive in the last decade, EA are in the running for the coveted title of Worst Company In America…

Whatever you’re playing this weekend, you probably want to make sure it isn’t “Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City”…

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Multi-Player? What Multi-Player?

It’s at times like this that I’m glad that I don’t have many online friends.

(And now, a pause – whilst the world’s tiniest violin picks out a plaintive melody…)

Corporate Titans and All-Round Mr Moneybags Electronic Arts have announced that they’re going to switch off the online servers for a number of titles – the likes of “Burnout Revenge” on Xbox 360, “The Godfather 2” on PC/360/PS3 and “Need for Speed: Pro-Street” are all going offline as of April 13th.  I guess you can make a case for this, as the games have either seen multiple iterations since or were not as popular online as the developers and publishers might have hoped for.

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Fair enough.  What’s a bit sketchy is that some of the games – the EA brawler “MMA” and stealth action title “The Saboteur” were marketed with measures like Online Passes, which afford gamers who buy the game as new access to features prohibited to people who buy the game second-hand.  If you pick up the game when it’s used, you have to spend £10 or $10 to buy an online code to unlock content.  Developers and publishers get paid, stores still get to sell second-hand games, gamers get content, everybody goes home happy.

The upshot is that if you bought either of the aforementioned games, had put them on your pile of shame and hoped to go back to do stuff online with them later on, you had best get a move on.

I find it a little cheeky of EA to cry and moan about people buying second-hand titles, and loudly put a strategy in place to reward people for buying new and then take that functionality away – does it really cost that much for engineers to maintain and potentially police online game environments if those games are so sparsely populated online as EA‘s press notice would have us believe?

Does one, perchance, get a refund on the price of an online pass if that access is rescinded?  No?  Thought not.

Only in this hobby would consumers put up with a large part of the product being arbitrarily removed almost without notice – would Stephenie Meyer’s fans be happy if the studio decided that the special effects at the end of the latest “Twilight” flick were a tad ropey, they couldn’t justify the expense in fixing them and just hacked a bit off the movie on streaming services?

The tweens would be even more revolting than usual: Blood on the carpet – anarchy in the streets – cats and dogs, living together!

The moral of this tale is ‘be careful what you buy’ – there might not be as much game there as you thought there was…

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Game not selling “Mass Effect 3” – so, business as usual, then?

Hmm...sketchy...

It would be great to report that UK games retailer Game are on an upward curve, but today’s news that they won’t be stocking “Mass Effect 3” in store doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.  As doesn’t the news that future EA titles won’t be available in store once “SSX” comes out in March.

So, nothing at all to worry about and Game are definitely not in a bad way, at all.  Oh dear…

Game cite unacceptable credit issues with publishers and a desire to improve their currently challenging trading environment, but that really isn’t going to matter to people who’ve pre-ordered the game and now have to go elsewhere to try to get it.

If you’ve had this happen once to a pre-order, are you really likely to go back to the retailer or are you likely to go to Amazon and their ilk for your gaming pre-orders?

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Live action “Mass Effect 3” ad affects massively…

How about Sheffield City Hall for a change, invading alien overlords? Haters...

Any doubts that one might have had about the desire of games publishers to appeal solely to core gamers are neatly underlined by the new ad for “Mass Effect 3” – the wholly ambiguous and in no way on the chin “Fight” teaser, which you can see here.

Not looking good for the church's new roof fundraiser...

So, small children in the midst of civil unrest, young lovers embracing as the blasts hit and pious folks taking shelter in a church and major American landmarks getting jacked up – all good stuff to use to reach out to the folks who think that games are still like Mario the Hedgehog on the Nintendo Playstation.

Yep, that's a live-action ManShep alright...

One thing’s for damn sure after checking out this advert – you can see where EA are spending your Collector’s Edition cash …

 

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“Star Wars: The Old Republic” release date announced

BioWare and Electronic Arts’ attempt to carve out a chunk of the MMO space, “Star Wars: The Old Republic” now has a release date.

Hmm, your anger betrays your focus, oddly cute Jedi padawan...

Announced during Eurogamer’s London Games Festival, the game is scheduled to debut in the US on December 20th and in Europe on December 22nd.  Each retail copy of the game will ship with a 30 day subscription that can be continued via an array of subscription plans.

Will this game persuade some of the 11.1 monthly subscribers of “World Of Warcraft” to try a new game or will it draw new players to the MMO genre?  Time will tell, but if any property has a universe expansive enough to appeal to a wide variety of players, it’s this one.  Mind you, it’s not the first time we’ve had a “Star Wars” MMO…

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New Video – Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Too near "Mass Effect 3"...too near "Mass Effect 3"...too near "Mass Effect 3"...

Big Huge Games and 38 Studios RPG, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning” is out in February 2012 and Joystiq has a 22 minute walk through video to share with us on this fine Friday.

Customisation is highlighted early on, the fantasy settings are as pleasingly classic you might expect (Hark! A woodland dell!  And gloomy subterranean dungeons!) but the tweaks and idiosyncrasy (somebody’s been playing “Assassin’s Creed”) in some the game play aspects on display have me cautiously optimistic but resolutely ready to pounce on this game firing my +8 arrows of icy snark the minute that I see a crappy internet video.

Yep, still a nerd.

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Modern Warfare 2 – beaten!

I caved in and rented “MW2” after my initial misgivings over a jacked-up price and some more dubious political undercurrents in the story telling.  And? I liked it.

The political undercurrents of the story are just that – in the background and probably not of interest or note to 90% of the audience for the game.  In actuality, this is a Michael Bay movie that you can play and has all of the wit and sophistication that this might imply to you.

It’s a smidgeon of “Red Dawn” (the dastardly Russians are invading the USA!), a pinch of post-“Bourne” spy-fi paranoia (the military/governmental complex will use you and then double-cross you without compunction) and even a direct sampling of Bay’s cinematic high-point, “The Rock” (there’s a shower room breach with SEAL teams pitched against mercs which is clearly a direct homage).  It’s a playable action movie – and that’s enough for me, at this point.

As for the much-discussed (not least here) “No Russian” level – it’s very much out of place.  Whilst I admire that Infinity Ward find it important to provoke a response from the content of this section (a terrorist atrocity which you are complicit in walking through or participating in, with the other, non-player controlled characters committing mass murder in a Moscow airport as you follow or assist them ), I found the eventual game play and the section’s place within the game somewhat at odds.

As I say, it is possible to walk through the section passively, letting the game play itself and watching an airport terminal full of passengers, security guards and staff be indiscriminately murdered (on-screen options allow to skip the section entirely and avoid content which you might regard as troubling).  The very fact that you can skip this section surely robs it of a point in the game – if you can progress without playing it, and if you never have to see it, why is it there?

It’s certainly a provocative level, with something to say about how we as gamers can cheerfully plow through myriad shooters and untold digital carnage and not have it affect us in any major way.  To play “No Russian”, with it’s horrifying violence, funeral Hans Zimmer score and terrorist themes is to be confronted with subject matters and experiences that few similar, AAA games would attempt.  I just wish that Infinity Ward had enough confidence in their audience (or less input from Activision PR and Corporate) and made this section mandatory for the (mostly) adult gamers who should be the demographic for this title.

The story telling could be better – but the gameplay is fairly solid.  If you’ve played “COD 4”, you’ll be comfortable but reasonably challenged, especially if you hop straight into ‘Hardened’ mode, which will up the ante considerably – translation? Your butt will be handed to you, but you’ll never be so frustrated that you’ll want to bail on the experience.

My own crucible in this regard was the Brazilian-set “Favela” level.

Think multiple enemies, on multiple pathways, shooting from every which direction, with better aim than you have, popping up out of nowhere, seemingly impervious to point-blank headshots from shotguns – think “Gaa-aahh-dd!” and other expecterations being emitteed from your humble correspondent every thirty seconds or so, until by the grace of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, I was permitted to trigger a checkpoint and get the hell out of dodge.

Difficult?  I should coco.

Click below for multiplayer madness via the You Tubes

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