In this world where the ancient art of the PC-exclusive may as well be a dinosaur baking in the shadow of its very own meteor, it's always nice to see someone find massive success on our beloved platform. This time, though, it's more than just chest-thumping, because Amnesia: The Dark Descent developer Frictional Interactive thinks it's time for developers in general to reconsider their stance on PC game development.
“With these figures at hand, we must confess that it gives us new confidence for the PC,” the developer wrote on its official blog while announcing that Amnesia's nearly broken 200,000 in sales. “The sales that we have had (and are having) are more than enough to motivate developing a game with the PC as the main (and even only) platform.”
“Based on what we have seen, the online PC market is just getting bigger and bigger, and we are convinced we are far from the end of this growth. We think that other developers that consider making their game exclusive to a console might want to think again.”
The frighteningly talented horror developer made sure to add, however, that its level of success isn't quite the norm... yet. Frictional then continued: “The market does continue to grow though, and it might not be long before these kinds of numbers are considered perfectly normal.”
What's not perfectly normal, however, is how much you'll wet yourself while playing Amnesia. Seriously, it's that scary. If you've been feeling a little too courageous and capable lately, start up Amnesia, turn off the lights, and melt into a crying child. It's ok; we won't tell. As long as you promise to hold us the whole time.
Let's see, an Activision Blizzard game starring a former side-character called “Ghost”? Hoo boy, we've been down this road before, and it doesn't end well. Ok, cancellation fears concerning a possibly non-existent game aside, a site called thisisxbox.com fired up the old rumor mill, and it hacked up some dust, cobwebs, and a big hint about Infinity Ward's next entry in the Modern Warfare series.
Apparently, it won't be Modern Warfare 3, as originally suspected. Instead, a “source within the industry” told the site that the new game will star everybody's favorite “Gee, I wish I was playing as that guy” Modern Warfare 2 character, Ghost. The story will follow the conspicuously style-conscious soldier up to the events of Modern Warfare and then into his Task Force 141 days as detailed by an already released comic book series. According to the source, areas from both Modern Warfare 1 and 2 will also be revisited, but from different perspectives.
Infinity Ward refused to confirm or deny the rumor, which – in gaming industry speak – often translates to “well, we're not saying 'no'....” But even if you hate the idea with every fiber of your being, Activision's at least making sure you've got approximately marketsaturationfinity optionsto choose from.
Have things seemed... off lately? Well, friends, that's because you're in the Twilight Zone. Don't believe us? Well, how else do you explain the fact that Valve's embodiment of the phrase “large-and-in-charge” is whistling this tune:
"It's a real game changer for us," Valve CEO Gabe Newell said of Sandy Bridge and its integrated graphics core. "This allows for a console like experience on the PC."
He's referring, of course, to the fact that Sandy Bridge could lead to a consistent set of specs for all PCs. In other words, no more futzing around with different graphics configurations. Granted, Sandy Bridge nearly took home gold when we ran it through our obstacle course, but it came up sadly short in the graphics department.
Meanwhile, Newell noted that Portal 2 was actually built from the ground up with a Sandy Bridge processor in mind. Sure, it's not the most graphically intense game ever, but – if you're a fan of fishing around in the nitty gritty guts of your PC – it might be a disturbing sign of things to come.
We'd be lying if we said we saw this one coming. In an attempt to market Fallout: New Vegas to a skeptical Japanese public, Bethesda decided to give Fallout 3 the time travel treatment, resulting in a project that – somewhat ironically – looks older than its target audience. As explained by Bethesda:
“What would Fallout look like if it had been made in 1987 by a Japanese development studio? Our scientists have answered that question, taking over the Japanese Fallout website with an 8-bit version of the Capital Wasteland.”
It's worth noting, however, that the demake's only available in Japanese, so you'll have to wing your way through the Wasteland for now. Or, if this really is just like old times, you could always wait for a horribly translated and borderline racist localization to come along three years from now.
While previous non-spin-off entries in DICE's massive, far-from-passive war shooter series have understandably stuck to their PC roots, it appears that times have changed. After all, we're talking about a console generation that can produce 256-player FPSes here, so it only makes sense that DICE wouldn't hesitate to spread the wealth. Fear not, however, longtime Battlefield supporters, as the developer certainly hasn't forgotten about you.
“It will not be exclusive,” tweeted Battlefield 3 lead designer David Goldfarb. “We are putting special effort into the PC version, even for us, it's extraordinary.”
If DICE's track record with games like Battlefield Bad Company 2 is any indication, Goldfarb's promises aren't just empty words. Now then, if we could just get him to give us something other than words – maybe some screenshots, details, or a quick video of him running around with his arms in the air, pretending to be one of the game's airplanes. At this point, we'll take anything!
This year, I'm trying to do something different with game of the year awards. You can find a full explanation in part one, but the gist is this: I'm eschewing a list – because, let's face it, you've already skimmed 10,000 top-10s – in favor of writing about how these games affected their players and the specific moment that made me realize how great each game really was. Needless to say, SPOILER WARNING. Today's topic? BioWare's latest space odyssey, Mass Effect 2.
As much as I love my job, I have to admit that there's one major downside. After years of nitpicking games until their every naked flaw is flapping freely in the breeze, it's become rather difficult to separate work from play. Instead of seeing a giant battle brimming with earth-shaking violence, heartbreaking tragedy, and inspiring camaraderie, I see a highly scripted scene that'll go completely haywire if I even inch my pinky toe off the beaten path. Most people watch the puppet show; I look for the strings.
Every once in a while, though, a rare game comes along that's able to shatter my cold cynicism and spirit me away so thoroughly that – for a few magical moments – I forget I'm just some guy staring blanky at a monitor in a dimly lit room. Mass Effect 2, perhaps moreso than anything else in recent years, managed to be that game.
This year, I'm trying to do something different with game of the year awards. You can find a full explanation in part one, but the gist is this: I'm eschewing a list – because, let's face it, you've already skimmed 10,000 top-10s – in favor of writing about how these games affected their players and the specific moment that made me realize how great each game really was. Needless to say, SPOILER WARNING. Now then, on with today's pick: Fallout: New Vegas.
I've seen some stuff, man. I've seen some stuff. Fallout: New Vegas is about as variety packed as videogame worlds come, fully capable of evoking every major emotion in the book: happiness, sadness, anger, “OH SH** DEATHCLAW” – you name it. Most impressive, though, is the game's masterful ability to manipulate players' curiosity like a big red button with the words “Do Not Press” printed on it.
It's like you're some kind of post-apocalyptic private eye. Why is this office full of bloodthirsty robots? What's a lush green forest doing in this underground vault? Uh, how is Elvis still alive? Each of the game's many, many, many areas hooks you with questions before carefully reeling you in with a slow stream of incomplete answers. You have to put all the pieces together and get the full picture, though. It's this compulsive, almost overwhelming urge. If curiosity killed the cat, then Fallout – perhaps fittingly – is a WMD.
But there are “typical” (read: not typical at all) New Vegas adventures, and then there's the time the game truly, profoundly, “so much for sleeping tonight” disturbed me.
Lists, lists, lists. It seems like everyone throws together an obligatory “Game of the Year” list this time of year, because, well, everyone else is doing it. So we get all-encompassing, “comprehensive” rundowns that are immediately accused of leaving out Big-Name Game 127. It's all about "non-biased journalism," writers and readers alike clamor. But I don't think that's what game of the year should be. It's subjective. It's special. There can't be a unanimous game of the year because different games appeal to different people in different ways. A monolithic, "objective" game of the year spits in the face of creativity and - as a result - the fine folks who've striven to make it possible. If games are - in any way - art, then we can't reduce them to numbers and arbitrary rankings. And so, I present an experiment. I'm going to explain precisely why my favorite games of the past year are my favorites, and the precise moment in each game that made me realize just how important they were to me personally. I hope you enjoy each entry, and of course, feel free to contribute your own favorites as well. Lastly, as a general rule, SPOILERS AHEAD.
The original BioShock was thought-provoking, philosophical, and prone to painting in broad, all-encompassing strokes. It brazenly put its Big Daddy-sized foot down and made a far-reaching statement on both videogames and the nature of humanity. It also pitted you against an evil statue man in its final battle.
Sure, the game wasn't perfect, but its goals were undeniably admirable. Still though, it was missing something. Hard as I tried, I couldn't really feel for a sealed-up tin can full of snooty geniuses or their debatably sane dictator. Enter BioShock 2. It aimed a lot closer to home, and unlike its predecessor, it hit its mark dead-on. At least, for me it did. Although, I imagine that – in this age of extreme familial dysfunction – it very well may have played a pitch perfect solo on your heartstrings as well.
Remember that whole kerfuffle between Activision and former Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella? Yeah, well, it never ended. Also, it's done being a “kerfuffle.” When this much money and bad blood is on the table, we're legally required to call it by a name that packs a much larger punch. Yep, this one's been upgraded to a good old-fashioned gorilla manly man biceps cagefight squabble.
Not only has Activision finally put a price on its lawsuit, it's also taken aim at another alleged conspirator: fellow corporate King Kong Electronic Arts.
"Electronic Arts conspired with two former senior Activision executives, West and Zampella (the 'executives') to derail Activision's Call of Duty franchise, disrupt its Infinity Ward development studio, and inflict serious harm on the company," read Activision's motion to amend its countersuit.
The rabbit hole, however, runs even deeper if Activision's to be believed. Apparently, West and Zampella attended a private meeting in EA CEO John Ricitiello's house in order to devise a plan to wriggle out of their legally binding contracts – which still had two years left on them before expiration.
The publisher is also accusing its former Call of Duty dream team of purposefully stepping on fellow COD dev Treyarch's toes and continuing to “possess Activision confidential information long after they left which makes it likely that West and/or Zampella have misused and/or will continue to misuse valuable Activision intellectual property and trade secrets, including computer code, now that they have left Activision."
And finally, the big, ugly, slobber-knocking kicker: In addition to demanding $400 million, Activision wants the court to “prevent Electronic Arts and the former executives from benefiting from their illegal conduct." In other words, the publisher's spawn-camping Respawn Studios.
Joystiq has kindly posted the entire court document if you'd like to practically taste random flecks of dirt from all the mudslinging. Needless to say, it's a doozy.
Families eagerly gathering in celebration. Kids tossing and turning in their beds as sheer excitement overwhelms their very beings. Groups of people going door-to-door, merrily singing out of sheer joy. So, why all the build up? What could possibly inspire such fervent glee? That's right: the Steam Holiday Sale.
Ok, there might be some other stuff involved too, but how can you not feel the need to erect some form of decorative tree at the prospect of Battlefield Bad Company 2 for $6.79 or Super Meat Boy for $3.75? Oh, and let's not forget Fallout 3 and all its expansions for the irksomely non-round (but still great!) price of $20.09. Also irresistibly tempting: every Oddworld game for a total of $12.49.
And those are only today's deals. As with all things involving Valve and penny-pinching, the Holiday Sale's a multi-day affair, so you might want to make a detour to your PC on your way to see what's under the tree. And even if you miss a day, there's a mountain of obscenely buyable bundles that'll be around for the duration. How does every Valve game ever for $49.99 sound to you? What about eight of the best indie titles out there for only $19.99?
So yeah, Valve may not be the reason for the season, but you won't see us complaining. Also, an incredibly rare celestial event's technically occurring on the same day as the beginning of Valve's sales extravaganza. Kind of like how the Holiday Sale's eclipsing everything else. Ok, we'll stop.