Last week’s revelation that EA had acquired the exclusive rights from Disney to develop new Star Wars games was only the first drop in what is likely to be a slow trickle as new information slowly comes to light. Today, our Bothan spies have returned with more news regarding EA’s intentions towards the fabled franchise.
As reported last week, Bioware, DICE and Visceral are the 3 EA studios being granted first crack at the galaxy far, far away. Of those 3 though, it appears DICE is the flyboy who gets to go into the garbage chute first. EA just opened DICE LA (no, my caps lock is not stuck) in, you guessed it, Los Angeles. The studio will be “a key cog” in its Star Wars plans and is located very close to Activision, with a clear purpose:
For a game I haven’t even played yet, I’m a bit obsessed with Monaco. My backlog is preventing me from springing into a new game just yet, but soon I hope to be plunging the depths of Monaco’s heist-based, co-op driven goodness. With friends, of course.
One of the more fascinating things I’ve read about the game recently has to do with its community design. The creator of the game, Andy Schatz, faced an interesting challenge — how do you promote good behavior from your online community? While most online games do excel with a bit of proper teamwork, co-op based multiplayer always has a bit of a risk. Once players stop working together, the game breaks down. That’s why most games offer a bit of a chance for players to become a lone wolf, running and gunning as they see fit, with no care of what their team is doing. So how did Schatz address this issue in a way that few have accomplished before?
We’ve talked at length about the mystical, nebulous “next generation” here quite a bit recently, and it only makes sense — new machines are dropping on us left and right, with the next XBox reveal to take place just one week from today. And while we’ve already spoken about what we think is most important in the next generation, I thought we’d revisit that topic in a more practical approach.
While I’ve been saying that I won’t partake in the next generation for some time, there are admittedly a few sticking points that could make me change my mind. I love the IPs that Microsoft has at its disposal. But I love the gamer-centric approach that Sony is taking with the PlayStation 4. As always, the right games at the right time can do wonders, but right now I still want to see what these machines cost, and what their long-term plans are. And then of course there’s the Wii U… which… yeah.
So let’s vote and talk about the next generation consoles in the comments. Go!
If you took a Diablo-style game, made it a free-to-play MMO and then skinned it with the Marvel Universe, what you’d end up with is Marvel Heroes, Gazillion Entertainment’s foray into the F2P market.
Marvel Heroes had an open Beta weekend on Steam these past few days, and despite a few problems with connecting to the game servers and some interesting bugs, I had a great time. The game allows you to pick one of the Avengers to start (the movie line-up, not the current comic book roster) and Gazillion kindly gives you a couple thousand credits of in-game currency to buy another hero or one of the many alternate costumes for sale.
I ended up picking Iron Man as my avatar and I found that the game has a nice difficulty progression to complement the array of cool powers that become available to you. Once my friends were able to connect we ended up romping around for a couple hours tackling quests that had us fighting a host of Marvel super-villains from the infamous (Doctor Octopus) to the obscure (Grim Reaper). The individual loot spawns fairly frequently and more often than not I was looking at an upgrade. In a new twist on selling trash to a vendor, you can give shop NPCs your unwanted gear instead of selling it, allowing them to “level up” and carry better gear.
The above Ode to Garry’s Mod is a hilarious, silly and kind of moving tribute to one of the goofiest games in existence. Just watching it made me think of all the hours I’ve spent in the Source engine’s multiple iterations, from Garry’s Mod to Left4Dead and Counter-Strike. Without Garry’s Mod, we dudes at Smooth Few Films would have been unable to produce some of The Leet World’s stupider effects. It’s hard not to be grateful for that engine, and all the time I’ve spent exploring it for glitches, physics and lighting experiments.
So it got me thinking: what gaming experiences are you guys thankful for? From multiplayer to singleplayer, what experiences do you feel went beyond a hobby to something that actually played a big part in your life? Beyond Garry’s Mod, I’d have to say Mass Effect inspired my imagination more than almost any game in the last few years, and Halo gifted me with a way to stay in touch with all of my long distance friends.
What about you guys? What gaming experiences are you thankful for?
After Disney shut down LucasArts, we were all left wondering why would pick up the Star Wars torch and bring new games to the market. Turns out we didn’t have to wait long because earlier this week, Disney announced that Electronic Arts has acquired the exclusive license to make core Star Wars games. Disney will retain the rights to make social and casual games for Star Wars.
EA wasted no time in announcing that DICE, BioWare and Visceral will start making Star Wars titles, presumably due to coincide with the new movies starting 2015. Here’s what EA Labels President Frank Gibeau had to say about this deal:
“Every developer dreams of creating games for the Star Wars universe. Three of our top studios will fulfill that dream, crafting epic adventures for Star Wars fans. The new experiences we create may borrow from films, but the games will be entirely original with all new stories and gameplay.”
So there you go guys, it looks like we’ll be getting Star Wars titles that aren’t just movie tie-ins, but three unique products that have their own story-line and characters. What do you guys think about this? Anyone want to take my bet that Visceral will end up with Star Wars 1313? Go!
Usually we don’t give a lot of attention to Steam Greenlight titles around here, but this one is worth talking about. Papers, Please, a “Dystopian Document Thriller” has been accepted via the Greenlight process and will become a real game in the next while. For those unfimiliar with the game, you play a border guard in the fictional nation of Arstotzka in the early 1980s.
Arstotzka has just finished a war with its neighboring country Kolechia and has recently reopened its borders and it’s up to you to keep up with an increasingly complex series of security checks as hundreds of people try to cross the border. The mechanics of the game are fairly simple: a person hands you documents and you need to check them against certain things to make sure everything is on the up-and-up. You need to be conscious of the issuing date, whether or not the picture matches, if the issuing city actually exists in the issuing country, that kind of thing.
There are things that will trip you up, like a girl who warns you that the man behind her in line is plotting on selling her into slavery, but his papers are in order, so do you let him in or turn him away? You get two notices before the Ministry of Admission starts docking your pay, and you need all the money to keep your extended family warm, fed and healthy.
If you want to try out the Papers, Please Beta, you can check it out on the creator’s website by clicking the highlighted words. I highly recommend it. Have any Sushians played this game?
The big news of the week so far happens to be the semi-bombshell that EA and Disney signed an exclusive deal for Star Wars games yesterday, meaning that EA’s various developing arms will have sole access to the enormous Star Wars universe. While there is some skepticism rightly reserved for allowing the floundering EA to tackle a property that so many love and hold dear, especially after some huge missteps, I think it’s OK to have a little hope here.
When you break it down, what other publishing Goliath in the industry has the number of varied, talented developers in their portfolio that EA does? I can see an argument for Activision, but that’s the only one that even comes close to rivaling the kind of talent of DICE, Bioware, Maxis, Popcap, Criterion and Visceral. So we have reason to feel two ways about this. But for now, let’s dream a little.
So here’s this week’s Pixel Count. Hit up the poll and tell us your thoughts in the comments!
It seems to be the season of the 3DS here at GamerSushi as both Anthony and I are both enjoying Nintendo’s handheld. True, the 3DS did get off to a slow start, but the number of quality games for it are climbing steadily.
One such game is Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, the sequel to the ghost-catching GameCube launch title. Instead of having one mansion to clear, the taller Mario brother now has several homes to go through, each with the sort of hidden collectibles and Boos that you would expect. The new Poltergust 5000 is your tool for battling the ghosts, which functions a lot like the vacuum in the original Luigi’s Mansion (surprise, surprise). You stun ghosts with your flashlight and then proceed to suck them up, holding on for dear life as they try to escape. Unlike the first game, once you’ve got a ghost on the line they can’t break free by themselves; you have to be hit by another ghost or object to lose your grip.
Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon also has an awesome multiplayer component where you and three other ghost-busters can play either Hunter, Rush or Polterpup in ScareScraper. True, having to make story progress to unlock multiplayer is a bit annoying, but Hunter is a ton of fun. You have five minutes to clear a floor of ghosts, so you have to work both independently of each other to cover as much ground as possible, but also together so you can tackle larger groups of enemies. Despite the limited communication options (the D-pad has four pre-determined call-outs and that’s it), Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon manages to deliver in a big way when it comes to co-op.
Has anyone else played Dark Moon? What do you think?
I’ve recently started digging deep into Fire Emblem: Awakening and I’m having a great time so far. It’s taken me a bit to get used to its own special brand of SRPG, but I am starting to understand the mechanics and I’m improving with every battle, which is all you can really ask for. You can’t expect to master a game like this from the outset, otherwise, where is the strategy there?
But with this learning curve comes a danger: perma-death. That’s right, the terrible tragedy of losing one of your favorite characters lurks at every turn. To make matters even more frustrating, the enemy has no such fears. They will rush forward in a suicidal frenzy, knowing with certainty that you will kill them on your next turn, but they pay no heed to their own safety. For them, it’s worth it if they can take down one of your squad. It’s not fair and makes the game even more challenging than it would be normally, but that’s what makes it nerve-wracking.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m getting older, have less time, or because most multiplayer games are feeling pretty homogenous these days, but I’m barely able to dive into multiplayer matches any longer. What used to keep me up long into the morning hours before school or work just feels like a chore. Fighting guys that use the same cheap tactics, using the same abilities or progression trees that started in Modern Warfare — none of these things interest me any longer. Even Halo 4, a game whose multiplayer I loved, only had my attention for a few weeks. It seems like CS:GO is the only multiplayer game I can dive into a few times per month.
If other players must be involved, what I love these days is a good co-op/horde mode. It’s far better to kill with friends than it is to kill your friends (virtually speaking, lest I end up on an FBI watch list). I’ve had my eyes on Monaco for this very reason. Besides the fact that it’s a co-op heist game (which we talked about on a podcast a few months back), I just really want a game that allows me to yell at my friends.
But beyond that, my most beloved thing at the moment is still tried and true single player gaming.
After a long wait, the Kickstater-backed iOS title Star Command finally came out today. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, Star Command is sort of a combination of Game Dev Story and FTL where you take control of a spaceship and its crew. There’s permanent crew death as well, so, much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown, prepare to get crushed when your little sprite crewmen die by getting sucked out of the airlock. Here’s the release trailer to get your interest piqued:
Hit the jump to read about the announcement plans for the next-gen Xbox.
You’re probably familiar with the Humble Bundle and its regular offerings of pay-what-you-want games bundles, but they’re not the only bundle in town. Most of the well-known bundle deals are focused on software or games, but there’s also a site called StoryBundle that sells collections of DRM-free ebooks from indie authors. Previous bundles have all been fiction offerings, but the newest bundle focuses entirely on the games industry, including criticism, game history and a scifi novel about alien games. Pay at least $10 to get all ten books, including two from Jordan Mechner, the creator of Prince of Persia and Karateka. You can also choose to donate part of the proceeds to charity.
If you’re at all interested in the history of the industry or game development, this seems like a pretty fantastic deal. I’ve never purchased any of the previous bundles, which were full of indie authors that didn’t appeal to me, but I might pick up this bundle just because it sounds like a pretty wide-ranging collection. For example, one of the books, Killing is Harmless, consists entirely of a long-form critique of Spec Ops: The Line. I’m also really curious to read more about the history of the industry going back to the very beginning. Anyone else thinking about picking up this bundle?
In a perhaps unsurprising move for our litigation-happy society, a disgruntled owner of Aliens: Colonial Marines has joined forces with a lawyer to start a class-action lawsuit against Gearbox and Sega. According to the article over at Polygon, his argument is that “Gearbox and Sega falsely advertised Aliens by showing demos at trade shows like PAX and E3 which didn’t end up being accurate representations of the final product”. Combine that with a review embargo that didn’t lift until the game was released, and anyone who preordered the game or purchased it before reviews were released got burned by what was universally rated a hugely inferior game.
Now, a $60 game purchase hardly seems worth clogging up our legal system with yet another lawsuit, but I do see the logic behind the complaint. Extensive game previews far in advance of the release are standard practice in the industry, as are pre-rendered cinematic trailers that avoid showing any gameplay. Even though the film industry has a reputation for spoiling nearly everything in its trailers, I’d argue that the games industry goes much further and tends to release an even bigger barrage of promotional materials far in advance of game releases. However, what does it mean if we can’t even trust their spoilers? I have a feeling that this isn’t the first time the industry has pulled a bait-and-switch on consumers with faked game footage or exciting cinematic trailers that fail to capture the actual game. Dead Island’s buzz-worthy cinematic trailer comes to mind.
Can you think of any other examples of a major bait-and-switch where a game was hugely different from its previews? Have you ever been burned by a demo or trailer that made a game seem more exciting than the reality? I’m wondering how long it’ll take before we hear about a SimCity class-action lawsuit…
It’s the last day of April and with it comes Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, which is the likely winner of this month’s poll. Before that, let’s look at last’s month poll real fast to see who won: Injustice! The DC Comic fighting game won the hearts and minds of our readers in a somewhat anemic month. Did anyone play Injustice? I tried the demo and found it to be about what I expected, which is a lot like the last Mortal Kombat. Not like that is a bad thing, but I already got my fill of that a few years back.
No, I haven’t finished it. I’m just done with it. After stopping for a month to play Bioshock Infinite (twice) and Tomb Raider, the thought of going back to Ni No Kuni was enough to make my body recoil in revulsion. I wasn’t sure why, but I had a similar feeling when I stopped Ni No Kuni the first time in order to play Dead Space 3. But once I started playing again, I found it surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things. I put 24 hours into it before I took my month-long break.
But just like last time, I decided to throw it back into the old PS3 and see if my sudden aversion to the game would dissipate once I got going again. It didn’t. The moment I started playing I wanted to stop. The first battle I got into was literally the last battle I ever wanted to play in this game, which I think is the crux of the problem. I love the characters, the world and the story, but the battle system, while tolerable for the first 20 or so hours, just suddenly hit a wall for me. I love everything else about this game except for the battle system. I thought back to some of the tedious boss battles I had been through and I knew I didn’t want any part of that again. In the end, they were more of a chore than enjoyable.
One on the unquestioned traditions for gamers is preordering. No one asks if you preordered something but where you preordered it. What bonuses did you get, etc… Amazon, GameStop, Best Buy and even Steam will routinely shower gamers with gifts in order to secure those advance sales. Some of the bonuses, like early access to a shotgun, are dumb extras that aren’t worth the effort. Others, like a free copy of a related game, are enough to make you question your own intelligence if you DON’T preorder the game.
But after the disappointment of Assassin’s Creed 3 and the still-ongoing disaster that is SimCity, my question to you is this: why do you preorder? What drives you to spend money before you can use the item that you bought? Is it the aforementioned bonuses? Is it simply a habit now, ingrained in our buying rituals so much that we don’t even question why we are forking over money before we can confirm the game is actually worth it?