Gray. Dingy darkness as far as the eye can see. The sky is gray. The mountains are gray. Even the snow looks as though Mick Jagger tried painting it black and got bored half-way through. A gruff voice struggles to be heard through a radio, practically clawing its way out of the speakers. “I'm in position! I won't be able to hold it for long!” Helicopters swoop in as orchestral music swells in the background. This should be big. This should be epic. But it isn't, because you're a gamer, and you've been here a million times before. Oh, and here's the kicker: the thing I just described? It's the sequel to a colorful, over-the-top snowboarding game.
Announced during last weekend's Spike TV's Videogame Awards (a whole other can filled with equal parts worms and disgrace), SSX: Deadly Descents is pretty much everything that's wrong with big-name, triple-A game development these days. It's gray! It's edgy! It's realistic! It's... so damn boring that I'm going to stop describing it for fear of falling asleep mid-sentence. Most depressing, however, is the fact that it's certainly not alone. The grand majority of big-budget mega-games – almost regardless of genre – seem to be pandering exclusively to the testosterone-fueled manly man who thinks Michael Bay's filmography is the height of human achievement.
Creativity may not be dead, but it's whistling an all-too-merry tune while digging its own grave. Call of Duty: Black Ops, Medal of Honor, Killzone, Gears of War, Resistance, Halo: Reach -- what do they all have in common? They're the same stinkin' game! But their wide variety of three whole character stereotypes, two level patterns, and one color palette is where the money's at, and when budgets are this over-inflated, one wrong move will make the bubble burst. The bottom line? Caution. No unnecessary risks. Applying the same old formulas to new products over and over and over and over and, well, you get the point.
But hey, there's a silver lining here – and a big one at that. Find out what it is after the break!
The story of Max Payne is a grim one indeed. No, no, not the actual character (although we're sure any man whose face is stuck in that kind of perma-grimace can't be all sunshine and butterflies) -- instead, we're talking about the ever-growing yarn trailing behind Max Payne 3's development cycle. Originally scheduled to launch late in 2009, the game's since endured delay after delay, and all the while gamers have scarcely seen hide nor hair of its development progress.
Most damning of all, however, is the fact that Take-Two's most recent release schedule – which even listed games scheduled for calendar year 2012 – didn't contain Max Payne 3 in any form. Developer Rockstar Games, however, quickly claimed that rumors of Max Payne's death have been greatly exaggerated.
"We're still working hard on Max, and we'll have more news in the coming months," a company rep told Kotaku.
Last time we saw Max Payne 3, it was set to discard the franchise's old noir trappings in favor of a thick coat of grit. Picking up 12 years after Max Payne 2 left off, the game touted a “more world-weary and cynical” version of Max working private security for a wealthy family in Brazil. More often than not, however, publicity blackouts like the one Max Payne 3's been under since shortly after it was announced are signs of a major overhaul, so who knows what kind of story it's aiming to tell at this point?
Here's hoping Rockstar sees fit to tell us sooner rather than later. We're all for gratuitous slow-mo, but this is getting a little ridiculous.
We consider ourselves to be fairly complex individuals driven by an unfathomably intricate system of wants and needs – including the desire to succeed, chocolate, and chocolate – but it seems Eidos Montreal's solved our psychological puzzle. Simply mash together one storied franchise, one incredibly promising trailer and one unexpected delay, and – presto! – crushing depression.
Citing “harsh market feedback” on recent titles, publisher Square Enix has decided to push Deus Ex: Human Revolution into its next fiscal year, which means the cyberpunk shooter won't hit cyber-shelves until April 2011 at the absolute earliest.
Odds are, this stems from Final Fantasy XIV's cringe-inducing bellyflop of a landing and the publisher's fear of a repeat performance. There, especially, “harsh” is an understatement, and its developers are in a state of disaster control so intense you'd think the game recently suffered a Godzilla attack (which, incidentally, would make it so much better).
So basically, we can't blame Square Enix for delaying Deus Ex. Plus, there's no such thing as too much polish. But even in the face of such evidence, we can't squelch our inner five-year-old's screams of “I want it now!”
You won't be hearing any “humbugs” from Wolfire Games and the gang behind the Humble Indie Bundle this year. Even after pirates pillaged the first Humble Indie Bundle to hell and back, a second's set sail to absolutely massive success. Already outpacing the first, Bundle numero dos made over $500,000 in a single day.
For those in need of a refresher, here's how it works: you buy a gaggle of games – specifically Braid, Cortex Command, Machinarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans this time around – and then set the price. Only willing to part with a single penny in exchange for five fantastic games? Be our guest. Oh, but then you'll have to deal with the guilt.
See, you also get to choose how your money is split among four recipients: indie devs, the bundle's organizers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Child's Play Charity. Fortunately, the Christmas spirit seems to be alive and well with gamers so far, including none other than Minecraft creator Notch, who's leading the charge with $2000 donated.
Anyway, we've said our bit. This is either the best game-related deal out there or the most mutually beneficial charity you can find. “Humble” might be understating it a bit, seeing as this is one of the greatest ideas out there. So then, wallets (or change purses) at the ready...
It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to figure out that tablet gaming and mobile social networking tend to benefit from the emerging tablet market, but if that was ever in doubt, market research firm New Media Measure has some numbers to throw your way.
According to the research firm's quarterly report, just over half (52 percent) of tablet owners are playing games on their slate. Truth be told, we expected that number to be a little higher, especially considering gaming is the second most popular activity on tablets, only outranked by surfing through cyberspace (58 percent).
Another non-shocker: mobile phone users are spending record time on social networking sites. New Media Measure noted a 12 percent increase in social networking activity since one quarter ago, driven in large part by the number of smartphones in the wild.
In a world full of fast cars, dangerous characters, and other fast cars, someone's bound to get left behind. In the case of Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, that “someone” is unfortunately you, Mr. John Q PC Gaming Aficionado. (Perhaps they were intimidated by your excessively lengthy name?)
“Hey all, unfortunately we will not be releasing Need for Speed Hot Pursuit PDLC for the PC. While we are certainly committed to providing the best possible game experience and ongoing support for our PC community, (as you have already noted) we have a limited amount of resources that makes it so that we are unable to deliver new content to all platforms,” a poster from developer Criterion wrote on the game's official forums.
Fortunately, he also gave some vague (but nonetheless appreciated) assurance, adding that “on the positive side we do have more updates and content on the way for PC players--look for news very soon.”
Azeroth may be in shambles, but we're happy to report that the real-world natural order has been preserved. Which is to say that a new World of Warcraft expansion came out, and people bought it. How many people? All the people.
Within its first 24 hours on shelves, Cataclysm ravaged 3.3 million PCs, soundly trouncing former record-holder -- and previous link in the aforementioned Natural Order -- Wrath of The Lich King's 2.8 million. According to Blizzard, that makes Cataclysm the “fastest-selling PC game of all time.”
So then, that's all for this year, folks. See you next WoW expansion or – God forbid – when another game series shatters the record and, with it, the very fabric of reality.
To call Final Fantasy XIV's launch "disastrous" might be a bit of an understatement. Hell, we may have even gone with “cataclysmic” if another obscure MMO didn't already have the market cornered on that one. The bottom line? FFXIV was near-universally panned by critics and players alike, with everything from maps to tutorials to its entire questing system ranging from half-baked to a slip of paper with the words “IOU” written on it.
At the very least, however, Square Enix recognizes that its flagship MMO probably shouldn't have set sail as soon as it did, so the publisher's decided to take away its subscription fee entirely until the game's in working order.
“To realize this vision, and in doing so, provide our customers with a better game experience, we have assembled our company's top talent and resources. Taking over the role of producer and director is Naoki Yoshida, a passionate individual for whom customer satisfaction has always taken top priority. We also welcome several new leaders handpicked from other projects to work with the existing talent on Final Fantasy XIV,” reads a post on FFXIV's official site.
“We realize time is of the essence and are fully determined to provide our customers with quality service. It is because of this that we ask our customers to be patient until we are able to confidently present them with a concrete plan outlining Final Fantasy XIV's new direction. The free trial period will be extended until that time.”
Some tips to get you started, Square: keep the brief storyline cut-scenes that pop up once every ten levels or so and get rid of everything else. There, now you already have a whole 30 minutes of worthwhile content! Aren't we helpful?
We don't usually post game trailers here at Maximum PC, but every once in a while something comes along and knocks our proverbial socks straight into the sun. The complete Deus Ex: Human Revolution CG trailer fits that description quite nicely. Also, those were our favorite socks. We're pretty much devastated right now.
For the uninitiated, the game stars security guard Adam Jensen and his amazing Swiss army knife robo-arms. Oh, and also the most tear-jerkingly gorgeous dystopian cityscape we've ever seen. Invisible War may have been something of a rude awakening for Deus Ex fans dreaming of a perfect sequel, but we'd be lying if we said our hopes weren't sky-high for Human Revolution. Enough from us, though. Marvel at the trailer below.
Are you the sort that loves to come home, boot up a game like Fallout, Mass Effect, or STALKER and just take a break from the world? Well then, you probably won't like what EA Games label president Frank Gibeau recently saw when he peered into his crystal ball.
“I volunteer you to speak to EA’s studio heads; they’ll tell you the same thing,” he said during an interview with Develop. “They’re very comfortable moving the discussion towards how we make connected gameplay – be it co-operative or multiplayer or online services – as opposed to fire-and-forget, packaged goods only, single-player, 25-hours-and you’re out. I think that model is finished.”
“Online is where the innovation, and the action, is at.”
Fellow introverts of the world, join us in pouring one out for the days when millions of bunny hopping, tea-bagging loudmouths weren't constantly breathing down your neck. Well, don't literally join us. Being around other people makes our skin crawl. But you know what we mean.