Monday, October 31, 2011

Threequel is the new sequel

As we dive headfirst into the upcoming release schedule of games, it becomes abundantly clear: there are a lot of games ending with three. Several big franchises of the current generation are hitting the end of the fabled trilogy. Generally after three the story ends, but as evident with the announcement of Halo 4 earlier this year, some franchises are too big to stop there. Is it possible we’ll see the continuation of some of this year’s big releases or will they take on new forms and explore different avenues? Perhaps the end of a franchise marks the beginning of a new one. With fewer heavy-hitters on the calendar, it could leave the door open for the introduction of new IPs next year.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BlizzCon 2011

As of the posting of this, I will be on my way to Anaheim for BlizzCon 2011. This will be my fourth year attending and I still highly recommend it for anyone who plays a Blizzard game or enjoys the social aspect of their games.

This year’s event will mainly revolve around Diablo III, scheduled to release sometime early 2012. Will we see the announcement of an official release date? Maybe, but this year’s BlizzCon won’t solely be about Diablo III. Blizzard will also release more information about the first expansion for StarCraft II, Heart of the Swarm, as Blizzard has already teased a new unit.

It’s also expected that Blizzard will reveal their next expansion for World of Warcraft. Based on previous announcements, Blizzard tends to announce a new expansion for World of Warcraft every two years, with this year falling in line. Rumors have already begun swirling about Mists of Panderia, a trademark Blizzard filed earlier this year, as the name of the expansion.

The entire BlizzCon schedule is available on and available as an app for your smartphone.

If you’re in the area, let me know and we can meet up and chat. Be sure to follow my Twitter feed for news and impressions straight from the event floor.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The on-again off-again saga of multiplayer in Mass Effect 3

First it was rumored, then speculated to be ruled out, then hinted at, and finally today it’s been confirmed. Casey Hudson, executive producer of the Mass Effect series, confirmed via Twitter that Mass Effect 3 would include a co-op multiplayer mode.

Reaction to this announcement has been shaky at best. Some call it another strike against BioWare’s record since the release of Dragon Age II, while others are taking the logical wait-and-see approach.

The worries of most are that by adding a multiplayer mode, the resources that went into multiplayer could have made a better and more polished singleplayer. To that, I point to both Dead Space 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. Both games included a multiplayer mode that was the first for the series, and though neither were engaging gameplay modes that players kept coming back to, I’m not sure that they detracted from the main singleplayer story.

Then again, this is the internet where people will voice their opinion about a game they have not played. More information about co-op multiplayer should be coming in the next few weeks. Mass Effect 3 will hit shelves on March 6, 2012 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Uncharted 3 Multiplayer, Courtesy of Subway

Last week Naughty Dog announced a new promotion with Subway to promote Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception. By purchasing drinks or sandwiches at a Subway restaurant, players can win prizes and play the Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception multiplayer a month before the game releases on November 1. It sounded decent, nothing out of the ordinary for a video game promotion; access to early multiplayer and some prizes. Then I saw this video that was originally posted on the PlayStation Blog.

In-game Subway items, game-enhancing boosters, exclusive weapons, and an in-game taunt to top it all off. There’s so much wrong here I almost don’t know where to start. How would you like to see your enemy wearing a McDonald’s t-shirt in the next Call of Duty game? The gaming culture has repeatedly refused in-game advertising, yet game developers and publishers continue to push the issue. Richard Lewis of Heaven Media pointed out, “When gamers see in-game advertising, they know that it is a source of revenue for the people that have already sold them a product and in general it has been received poorly by most players exposed to it.” The most recent incident of in-game advertising was with Eidos Montreal’s Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A post-release patched enabled ads during the game's loading screens.

The inclusion of game-enhancing boosters and exclusive weapons seem like the worst offenders to me. Player who participate in the promotion and acquire these boosters and weapons will have an advantage, if only for one round for the boosters, against evenly equipped and evenly matched players, created and uneven playing environment. For a mode that relies heavily on balanced gameplay, this concept is atrocious. Remember the uproar surrounding the Physical Warfare pack for Battlefield 3? Fans were upset that pre-order exclusive items were powerful enough to be deemed necessary. Based on the reaction, EA announced that the Physical Warfare pack would be free for everyone some time after release. These boosters and weapons aren’t looking to follow the same path. Ultimately, Naughty Dog and the Uncharted brand will suffer because of it.