Spike’s rebooted VGA’s, now inexplicably called VGX, has come and gone, leaving a pungent trail of awkward memories and flat jokes face down on the floor.
Seemingly slapped together in twelve minutes, the formerly televised, now streamed video game awards show ran close to three uninterrupted hours in which a strikingly disinterested Joel McHale lazily mocked gaming culture and industry guests while Game Trailers’ Geoff Keighley apologetically made “He Who Smelt It, Dealt It” faces in between fruitless spurts of holding the broken shards of professionalism together.
So, no, not much has improved over the VGA format. On the upside, there were plenty of neat game announcements and pretty footage of next-gen titles to oogle. I took the liberty of gathering them here.
Tomb Raider Reboot, Rebuilt
Crystal Dynamics, though nearly foiled by an Amazon listing, officially announced a next-gen port of Lara Croft’s 2013 re-imagining. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition is heading to both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 28th.
Owning 4x the resolution of its current-gen incarnation, TR: Def’ also features a remodeled Lara and new effects technology that better simulates realistic, free-flowing hair. Just in case you were curious why the price point still rests at $59.99. Rest assured, you’re paying for a better head of hair (and all the multiplayer DLC you won’t touch).
Telltale Tells Borderlands Tales, Games Up Game of Thrones
A property chewing beast, Telltale added two new universes to its adventure game repertoire.
The first is a percolating collaboration between themselves and Texas-based think-tank Gearbox Software. Telltale’s creating a choice driven spin on the Borderlands mythos in the episodic Tales From the Borderlands. Assets by Gearbox, gameplay by Telltale.
Their next adaptation is recent rumor made titillating fact: the studio is taking on Game of Thrones. Interestingly, the game is confirmed to be based on the HBO series as opposed to the novels, meaning we can expect the visual design and narrative approach to tie-in closely with the show. No solid details to go on besides a projected 2014 release.
See the Universe, All of It in No Man’s Sky
A surprise reveal that genuinely raised everyone’s collective eyebrows impossibly above their hairlines comes from Hello Games, the indie team that brought us Joe Danger.
No Man’s Sky is a sci-fi game that ditches space marines for explorers. Your discoveries will span planets and galaxies. You’ll run into procedurally generated life reacting to organic worlds. The trailer showed us an explorer surveying life from within an ocean, hopping to the shore, jumping in his spaceship, and flying straight through the stratosphere into star craft populated space.
Stars in the distance aren’t merely lighting effects; they’re far reaching celestial bodies within their own solar systems, huge planets revolving around them (planets you can also traverse to). No Man’s Sky is a vastly ambitious next-gen undertaking that, insanely, is being developed by only four people.
And the Rest…
Broken Age [Elijah Wood featurette]
Tim Schafer returns to the adventure game (good time for it; ask Telltale). Brings with him a talented cast (Elijah Wood of Wilfred and only Wilfred fame) and a quirky art style.
Destiny [gameplay trailer]
Bungie has the “shooter” part down pat. Now they’re trying to redefine “epic.” You had me at “Gunfights on the Moon.”
The Division [snowfall trailer]
Gameplay? No, no. You’re obviously more interested in the wondrous engine being utilized to breathe life into a Tom Clancy post-apocalypse… that Tom Clancy didn’t actually write about. Still, impressive effects. Watch as the next-gen further advances the technology we use to realistically deface cop cars.
Dying Light [gameplay trailer]
I loved Dead Island, which is, according to reviews, too much praise for the open-world zombie stomper. This spiritual successor looks to approach the formula with a new, free-running centered bent. It’s zombie carnage, only faster.
Quantum Break [trailer]
I… I don’t know about this at all. I should trust Remedy Games, especially after two rad Payne's and Wake's, but this whole TV-meets-gaming crossover garbage makes me want to shrug hard enough to dislocate a shoulder. “Time is fucking broken!!!” is a premise that could go dangerously camp real bad.
Respawn introduced two new classes of Titan. I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything beyond that — I was in a trance watching hulking, anthropomorphic metal husks decimate ground troops. Which… How am I supposed to enjoy any part of this game not spent in a Titan? This game’s strength could be its metallic Achilles’ Heel.
The Father of Survival Horror Wants to Bring Scary Back
Shinji Mikami, the Japanese game designer heralded as The Father of Survival Horror since unleashing Resident Evil unto the world in 1996, says gamers are too inured against being scared these days.
"Not much has changed when it comes to instilling terror in the player," Mikami said, talking up Edge Online at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. “But people have got used to the tropes of horror and they know what’s coming next, so in that sense it is harder to make them afraid.”
Shinji and his newly constructed team at Tango Gameworks are sure as shit going to try to rattle your nerves, though. Their vessel is the promising, tensely atmospheric The Evil Within — a new survival horror game steeped in classic scares. According to Mikami, it’s not about reinventing the genre; it’s about digging up its roots and latching on to what worked in the first place.
Constant gunplay, sporadic Quick-Time-Events, mindless action — what’s become routine in modern horror games the likes of Dead Space and, sadly, current Resident Evil installments are being done away with in The Evil Within. Contrary to this generation’s teachings, survival relies on far more than a loaded gun.
"The scariest parts will be when you encounter enemies that cannot be killed with a gun," says Mikami. Instead, you’ll have to use your environment and quick thinking to trap chainsaw swinging freaks lest you’re looking to lose a few feet above your shoulders.
When Bethesda, Tango’s parent company, initially announced the horror title (under the name Zwei), Shinji stated it would be his last directorial effort. A year later and the designer, thankfully, has changed his tune.
“I don’t think I’ll ever completely stop doing creative work,” he said. “We’re a studio that makes things, and that means we need a leader who also makes things. So I don’t think I’ll be taking my hands off the wheel completely. I want to give younger staff the chance to make games – that’s something I’m very passionate about – but I’m not sick of making games or anything. I want to continue in a creative role. That will never change.”
Naughty Dog Founder Calls Nintendo “Irrelevant” in the Console Biz
Mr. Jason Rubin, co-founder of acclaimed studio Naughty Dog as well as the last CEO at the helm of THQ before its public dissolution, recently had some biting remarks for industry titan and household name Nintendo.
A frequent, and outspoken, guest of the Geoff Keighley hosted Bonus Round, conversation on a recent episode gravitated from who will be successful in the new next-gen console race (Sony or Microsoft) to how Nintendo, in Rubin’s opinion, barely qualifies as a contender.
Rubin says both Sony and Microsoft stand to do “extremely well” because “Nintendo has stumbled.” Then he landed this juicy sound byte on the Japanese publisher’s chin: “Nintendo is irrelevant as a hardware manufacturer in the console business right now.”
In a cordial showing of impromptu damage control, Rubin rained praise on the company, calling them a “worldwide treasure” and that no developer alive “will ever be Miyamoto,” as in Shigeru, the living legend responsible for creating almost every A-list first-party franchise in Nintendo’s catalog. Rubin’s singeing comments stem, no doubt, from the year old Wii U’s struggle to place itself in consumer’s living rooms. To add some perspective, IGN noted that the PlayStation 4 outpaced the Wii U’s life-to-date sales in the U.K. over the weekend.
Hearing that, it’s easy to chart the Sega course for Nintendo, in which they burn up their manufacturing business and stick strictly to software, doomed to becoming a third-party publisher in order to keep breathing. For Rubin, that may be the ideal outcome. "It is a crime that we do not play those games on the systems that we have.”
But Nintendo could hardly be called “irrelevant” when it comes to the handheld market, which they have in a damn sleeper hold. The 3DS and its various incarnations are dominating the world, time and time again topping the NPD’s hardware list. Sony’s own bid at handheld success, the PS Vita, has fought to find even remotely the same traction since its launch.
Rubin’s words may sting, but if truth hurts, they sting for a reason. The Wii U left a gaping maw of an opportunity for the competition to seize upon. For now, the console war is between two companies, and despite helping define the home console as we know it today, Nintendo is not one of them.
Even More Mortal Kombat Assassins by Letticia Maer
Some are Assassins, some swear by the Templars. All are superpowered ninjas with a knack for dismemberment.
I featured Letty’s work (when she was Sona?) a while back and since then, this prolific artist has been, well, pretty damn prolific about churning out one of the coolest crossovers in fan art.
Delsin Lights Up Seattle in These New Infamous: Second Son Screens
Sucker Punch may have missed the PS4’s launch, but every new screen and trailer I see for Second Son convinces more that it’ll be worth the wait.
Never one to jump on the Killzone bandwagon and having had a Best Buy demo of Knack guarantee I’ll never play that particle-happy abomination again, I’m at a severe loss for first-party-my-console-pick-was-the-righteous-pick titles. Though technically marvelous, I don’t feel like I’m beholden to the power of the next-gen when I play Call of Duty of Black Flag.
It’s up to Infamous to swoop in and save the day. Or, at the absolute least, kick the day’s ass. Second Son charges into retail on March 21st, 2014 (a gamer is two things: either gaming or waiting).
Is Game of Thrones Receiving the Telltale Treatment?
In the last few years Telltale Games has made a name for itself by accomplishing the impossible: Creating worthwhile licensed games.
Plowing through a rough start — Back to the Future: The Game was an enjoyable if hollow experience while their adaptation of Jurassic Park tried its very best to make you fucking hate Jurassic Park — Telltale has nailed their formula down to a science, churning out catch-you-off-guard critical hits such as The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead: Season One.
If IGN’s sources are on the money, it now seems the Californian studio wants to travel to Westeros, adapting George R.R. Martin’s eloquently scribed, punishingly brutal high fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire, into a new adventure game (more than probably, anyway).
Well, they might be. Or they might be adapting the inescapably popular HBO series, Game of Thrones, into an adventure game. At this stage, and without an official title, it’s unclear how much influence the new game will draw from the television series, if at all. If The Walking Dead is any indicator, Game of Thrones: The Game (my stupid tentative title for it) may present a wholly new story set in the universe of the original fiction — in this case, George R.R. Martin’s vision of Westeros, including the hulking super throne illustrated above.
Telltale’s official statement on the matter is that it has no official statement on the matter. It’s not like their plate isn’t full as is, either. Currently, their team is headlong into development for both The Wolf Among Us - Episode Two and the second, majorly awaited season of The Walking Dead: The Game. Still, the notion of marrying Martin’s engaging character and too-good-to-pull-away storytelling work with Telltale’s immersive, panic inducing “Choose Or Die” gameplay has me seriously anxious.
But if Winter is truly coming, given Telltale’s schedule, we’ve got a while before first snow.
Just testing the share function on my PS4, folks. If you see this, I guess it’s safe to say it works.
Lookit this fancy ass future where I can rip gameplay videos with the press of a button… If I wanted to share the video only on Facebook. And so long as the last fifteen minutes was, by chance, interesting since you seemingly can’t edit captured footage. Okay, so the future needs some work.
Anywho, experimentation led to me recording some Resogun gameplay. Watch as I destroy an entire planet to save eight featureless, helpless, neon green humans (there were ten but, uh, fate struck them pretty hard).
Doom Co-Creator Leaves id Software for Good
John Carmack, one of the original fab four that founded id Software, has resigned from the company after clocking in 22 years of service.
An outspoken supporter of the Oculus Rift — do a Google image search for “John Carmack” to view hundreds of pictures of the man shoving the virtual reality headset in people’s faces, his own included — it was previously announced Carmack would assume the role of chief technical officer at Oculus VR. Bethesda Softworks, id’s parent company since 2009, was quick to assure the public that Johnny Boy would still remain on board as a technical adviser.
Given the headline, that obviously fell through. Taking to the internet’s megaphone, Twitter, Carmack explained in earnest that “it just didn’t work out.”
"Probably for the best," he wrote, "as the divided focus was challenging."
Alongside industry personality John Romero, Carmack created Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Quake. In other words, some of the most influential video games to ever hit the market, and instrumental in forming the FPS genre as we know it today (sans all the recent military games; unless the military is downplaying the amount of demons, nazis, and nazi-demons it fights on a routine basis).
Presently, John is exiting the studio he founded amid development on the long gestating Doom 4 — a title first announced in 2008. Production on the sequel is said to have run into several hang-up’s, not least of which was a forced rebuild of the entire game and concept once the original build was deemed wholly unsatisfactory (while leaked assets for the game looked promising as hell, apropos to Hell finally being unleashed on Earth, internal sources say the game just wasn’t very Doom).
In a statement from id Software, the studio reports that Carmack’s exit will not negatively affect current projects, his work on the id Tech 5 engine and related technology already having been completed. “We are fortunate to have a brilliant group of programmers at id who worked with John and will carry on id’s tradition of making great games with cutting-edge technology. As colleagues of John for many years, we wish him well.”