The first BioShock is memorable for a number of reasons: beautiful, haunting environments, some of the nuttiest characters videogames have ever seen, “would you kindly?,” and – oh yeah – some seriously restrictive SecuROM DRM. Fortunately, there are other fish in the sea, and the prospects for one of them – BioShock 2, specifically – are looking up.
“There will be no SecuROM install limits for either the retail or digital editions of BioShock 2, and SecuROM will be used only to verify the game’s executable and check the date. Beyond that, we are only using standard Games for Windows Live non-SSA guidelines, which, per Microsoft, comes with 15 activations (after that, you can reset them with a call to Microsoft.),” community manager Elizabeth Tobey explained on the game’s official website.
Need a better idea of what you’re in for? Think Batman: Arkham Asylum, which keeps the caped crusader’s all-too-important tech from falling into the wrong hands with a very similar DRM setup.
“Feedback like this does not go unheard, and while this might not be the ideal protection for everyone, we will continue to listen and work with you in the future when formulating our DRM plans,” Tobey added.
Baby steps, sure, but they're much appreciated nonetheless.
We’ve known for a while now that 2010 will be the year of our return to Rapture, but beyond that, things have been a bit hazy. No more, though. Today, Take-Two finally spotted the light at the end of the tunnel.
February 9, 2010. That’s the day you’ll be getting your Bathysphere in gear and descending into the madness of Rapture once again, according to a press release we received from Take-Two. Sure, you’ll only find a scrap of paper that says “IOU BioShock 2” under the Christmas tree this year, but at least now we know the wait won't be too painful.
If that’s still too much for you, though, fret not! There’s plenty of other <size descriptor> <family member> related entertainment available to hold you over until Big Daddy, Big Sister, and Little Sister make their February debut. For instance, you could run over to your local Blockbuster and pick up Big Momma’s House 2. We’ve heard great things about that porcine piece of celluloid. Or, we suppose, you could just play BioShock again, but what fun would that be?
“The decision to shift a release date is never an easy one, especially with a product as highly anticipated as BioShock 2. We felt that it was essential to invest the additional time to ensure that this title will deliver what its fans expect and deserve,” said Take-Two CEO Ben Feder.
“As a result, we will now be launching sequels to several of our strongest franchises - including BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption - during the next fiscal year.”
As a result of that result, Take-Two’s 2009 is looking pretty sparse. We’re all for heart-pounding finishes, but Take-Two’s all-or-nothing 2010 plan is just wild. This is like when action heroes fall from great distances, only to fire off their grappling hooks at the last feasible second; sure, you know the hero’s not going to make any sort of craterous impact, but damn, Take-Two, 2010 had better be the best year ever. After all, Spider Man can’t swing by and catch everyone.
And if 2010 doesn't go your way, we imagine a number of your investors will be plumeting from buildings hoping not for someone to catch them, but for death's sweet, concrete flavored embrace.
Last week was just full of surprises. (RIP, all.) Thankfully, though, one shining, heroic force swooped in to save the world from snowballing into complete unpredictability. That final bastion of normalcy – that conqueror of chaos -- was, of course, Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.
The film – which starred explosions, Shia Labeouf, and explosions (but unfortunately, not Shia Labeouf exploding) – defiantly dodged negative reviews, negative word of mouth, and a near-negative Metacritic score to gross $112,000,000 in its opening weekend. Yep – nothing like a vapid, needless summer blockbuster to restore your faith in the world by destroying your faith in humanity. The movie’s success, though? Not surprising in the least. It’s a loud, action-packed film with more carnage than meaningful dialog. It’s simple, easily digested cheese. People eat that stuff up.
But then, no one expected Transformers to tug at our heartstrings and revolutionize storytelling as we know it. That’d just be silly; I mean, it’s a movie about robots fighting. Clearly, all eyes here are focused on the action – no time to roll them at the plot.
So then, how come we often expect tear-jerking, thought-provoking tales from big-budget videogames with premises nearly as dramatically inhospitable as Transformers? Why do we expect triple-A videogames – which, at this point, are quickly sneaking into movie territory in terms of development costs – to mold angry men, gunfire, and shrapnel into spellbinding tales when our prior buying tastes (see, for instance: Transformers) have shown that all we want is a loose thread to hold the action together? Especially when other story genres (you know, anything that's not action) lend themselves far better to interesting plots, untethered by the need for a five-minute shootout every six minutes?
There was something different about this year’s E3. Ok, aside from the 30,000 or so extra people and the occasional, chuckle-inducing swine flu masks strapped to the faces of germophobic show-goers. It was something subtle – invisible, even – but it happened with a great deal of frequency.
It was cheering.
Clapping, laughter, excitement. By and large, at this year’s show, people really, really liked what they saw. This should be a good thing, but in my cranky, cantankerous opinion, it’s not. Why? Because every last cheer, whistle, and imitation air horn blast sounded in raucous approval of the status quo. Another FPS. Another God of War clone. “Our game is a lot like Half-Life, but mixed with Halo,” developers would cheerily exclaim, bathing in the glow of audience members’ beaming smiles.
From me, however, E3’s flood of samey shooters and risk-free sequels elicited only one reaction: a quiet cry of “Down with the hardcore.” Allow me to explain.
As I mentioned earlier, most every big ticket title at this year’s E3 was some sort of rehash, sequel, or clone. Here’s a quick list of particularly obvious offenders: Modern Warfare 2, BioShock 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Halo: ODST, Halo: Reach, Dante’s Inferno, Metal Gear Solid: Rising, Assassin’s Creed 2, Crysis 2, Mass Effect 2, Alpha Protocol, etc, etc, etc. That’s not to say that my fanboy froth isn’t overflowing for many of those games; it is. I came away from E3 jumpy (though that might’ve been the fault of LA’s less-than-friendly neighborhoods) and excited as could be. However, I’m excited for me. Right now. I’m not, however, excited for the future of the gaming industry.