So here we arrive at the second entry in this Week in Gaming series, summarising a week’s worth of noteworthy gaming-related news topics as well as describing my gaming activities for the past seven days. Fortunately, there has not been a lack of news items to talk about from this week, ranging from Sony’s purchase of a cloud-gaming service that offers potential for their future efforts, as well as a new Call of Duty game announced (don’t worry, it’s not Modern Warfare 12 or such) and much more.
So, without further ado, let’s get to it.
Sony acquires cloud-gaming service Gaikai for $380 million.
At the beginning of this week, Sony announced that they had obtained cloud-based gaming source Gaikai for a sum of $380 million, a purchase that had been rumoured to be on the cards since before E3 started back in June. The purchase is said to allow the ability to stream high-end games to ‘a range of internet enabled devices’.
As mentioned, Sony’s acquisition of Gaikai came as no surprise as the rumours of their intent to purchase that or OnLive – the other big player in the cloud-gaming world – had been circulating for some time. As the next generation of home consoles begins to appear in the distance, one focus that seems to be getting mentioned more and more is the concept of the ‘cloud’ and what it can offer to gaming.
A few examples that I have seen since the announcement have been being able to stream game demos rather than wait for their long downloads to finish, and play PS2 and Psone classics over the cloud instead of via disc (considering some PS3s do not have backwards compatibility, that could come in handy). These are not confirmed uses that the service will provide, merely suggestions by the community in how it could be used.
I’ve even seen a suggestion that PS3 players could play demos of PS4 games over the cloud, obviously unrestricted by the higher system requirements the games would have. OnLive provides a similar experience, where you can play games that have high specs on the most low-end of computers, although it’s not without issues. Personally, I believe the cloud could offer something significant to gaming but I’m unconvinced about its ability to replace disc-based media.
To be able to stream such heavy material requires a high-speed internet connection, which in turn requires bandwidth, which is usually restricted to a certain amount during peak hours (at least for a lot of ISPs in the UK). Therefore, cloud-based gaming is already at a disadvantage in that it’s further ahead than the ISPs are in this country, and they don’t look to be catching up anytime soon. Besides, what happens when you lose that connection, or it wavers in speed? Lag, and we all know how big a problem that can be when it kicks in, as well as a complete disconnection from being able to play your games if you have an outage.
Utilising the cloud is a focus that is rapidly becoming more and more apparent in today’s technology-scape. It’s not difficult to see why but in regards to gaming, although it offers much on paper, whether it could actually deliver any of it remains to be seen.
Halo 4 multiplayer will require 8GB for an optimal experience
343 Industries’ Halo 4, which arrives on the Xbox 360 this November, is pretty darned big. Well, the multiplayer is anyway. In order to receive the optimum experience, users are to be recommended that they have 8GB worth of data freed up on their hard drives, meaning that people who are still using the archaic 20gb consoles, or at least haven’t had them drop dead on them yet, will have a huge chunk of their hard drives consumed should they wish to receive the best experience available to them. Users without even that, such as those using the 4GB slim consoles, will either have to purchase a hard drive or an 8GB memory stick, which Microsoft has handily given a recommendation for.
Many articles I have seen on this topic seem to believe that the game will require an 8gb INSTALL, which would seem odd as wouldn’t the data be on the disc already? My interpretation is that the 8GB of space you will need is likely to be for the episodic Spartan Ops content, which 343 have already stated will be ongoing and add significant content to the game and would most likely not be able to fit onto the disc. Perhaps you’ll be able to still play the multiplayer but you will be unable to play the Spartan Ops missions due to not having the space for them, therefore not having the ‘complete experience’.
I don’t know how big of an issue this will be because I would imagine that most people will have the space readily available. Those using the 250GB slim model, such as myself, should have no problem at all accommodating the space. It’s obviously not good for those who purchased the 4GB slim model but they knew what they were buying when they got it, and that was a package that was never designed for storing huge quantities of data, hence the reduced price.
Regardless of the extraordinary memory the game will require, I’m certain that it won’t damage Halo 4’s inevitably huge sales figures come this Fall.
Call of Duty Online announced for Asia
Did someone just say Call of Duty? Activision did, and that they’re partnering with Chinese Internet company Tencent to launch a free-to-play CoD game exclusive to the denizens of China.
The game will utilise a free-to-play model and will be monetized through in-game purchases, such as weapons, perks and gear for your character. The title will also feature an original story that is told via a selection of special missions that take place within the overly familiar Modern Warfare universe.
Call of Duty Online really doesn’t sound particularly exciting, new or interesting and that’s not just because it’s exclusive to China; it’s because it’s Call of Duty and we all know what to expect from it. Also, the prospect of being able to gain an advantage over your enemies by purchasing perks and stronger weapons that they don’t have doesn’t sound like it’ll make for a good sense of balance and fair game among the players. In essence, they’re labelling it a free-to-play game but you’ll need to spend money in order to be able to truly compete. By all means offer character customization options as in-game purchases, as they’re cosmetic changes and add nothing to the actual competitive play, but offering people the chance to make their character stronger and therefore have more of a chance of winning sounds absurd.
But hey, it’s Call of Duty after all so nobody realistically expects balance among the players, right?
Halo 2 Anniversary rumoured to be in development at 343 Industries
Halo: Combat Evolved is available on the 360, as is Halo 3 and Halo 4 come November. But something’s missing. Ah yes, Halo 2. Luckily, 343 Industries, who are still working hard on Halo 4, are rumoured to be developing a Halo 2 Anniversary title, just like they did last year with Combat Evolved, with moderate critical success.
If they are in the process of bringing Halo 2 to the Xbox 360, it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world. Halo 2 is the only entry in the franchise that isn’t available on the console, at least not without having to resort to backwards compatibility. Even then, the multiplayer portion was shut down a few years ago. Considering how big the Halo franchise is, it would make sense to have all entries in the series available without having to dig out a dusty old copy from the attic.
The multiplayer would likely not be identical to the game’s original offering, however. 343 would probably do what they did with Combat Evolved Anniversary and have the maps play on the Halo 4 engine. That’s ok but people expecting to be able to play the Halo 2 multiplayer online again shouldn’t get their hopes up., as it’ll be a remake in every sense of the word.
I never played Halo 1 or 2 and I would like to, especially with improved graphics. I would be extremely surprised if this project never saw the light of day, although 343 would do well to avoid fragmenting their user-base by releasing it too close to Halo 4. I doubt we’ll see a release for quite some time, possibly even extending into 2014 and maybe the next Microsoft console, although that would still leave a gap in the trilogy available on the 360 and defeat the purpose of its existence in the first place. However, with Halo 2’s ten year anniversary in 2014, a release date around that period would seem most likely in order to coincide with the event.
Regardless, 343 has to get around to officially confirming it first!
Activision announces a Walking Dead FPS for release in 2013
As Telltale games continues to impress with their take on The Walking Dead universe and the episodic structure which they’ve chosen to use with their game, Activision have pushed past them and announced a Walking Dead first-person-shooter to be released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in 2013.
Telling the story of brothers Merle and Daryl Dixon, and taking place before the events of the TV show, players will be able to use stealth to avoid confrontation with the undead, as well as manage their limited numbers of ammunition and supplies. Players will also come across characters during their travels and it will be up to them to determine their motives and whether they can be trusted or not.
Clearly the creativity at Activision has dwindled in recent years because they’re opting, unsurprisingly, to go for a zombie FPS shoot-em-up that doesn’t sound unlike any other game available out there. I have no doubt that they’ll Call of Duty-fy the whole game to such a degree that it’ll be full of quick-time events, slow-motion sections and last all of five hours, such was the case with Goldeneye Reloaded. I wish I wasn’t so cynical of anything Activision does these days but it’s hard not to be.
It also doesn’t aid matters with the fact that the developers working on the project – Terminal Reality – don’t have a particularly strong history of developing anything that’s actually good. When you pair them with the uncreative think-tank at Activision, you end up with something that doesn’t sound as promising as it should.
The Walking Dead is not about the action and the numerous ways to kill zombies before moving on; it’s about the characters, how they fare in the post-apocalyptic world and how they survive whilst keeping themselves human, so to speak. I don’t have much familiarity with Telltale’s games other than seeing videos online and hearing the opinions of others, but they seem to have captured the essence of what The Walking Dead should be about. Activision and Terminal Reality sound as though they’re going to go in the opposite direction to satisfy those who just want to shoot everything that moves. It’s because of this that I’m doubtful that the game will succeed.
What I’ve Been Playing
My activity on Battlefield 3 has been small this week but I made some use of the double-XP week that has been available to Premium users, as well as a particularly fantastic match that was memorable due to the way the entire team worked as a group to defeat the opposition. Sometimes there are moments in the game when the team works together rather than be fragmented by people wanting to play lone wolf, as it’s those moments when the game shines for how much it promotes teamwork.
I also want to say that the uproar I continue to see regarding the Premium service has prompted me to want to write an article about it. Where I actually write said article is unknown, as I am awaiting a response from a website I applied to write for (fingers crossed!) but my opinions on the matter are strong enough to want to express. Let me just say that I feel that the people who believe Premium represents the first step of the ‘destruction of gaming’ are massively over-exaggerating and, frankly, being foolish.
Left 4 Dead 2
The majority of my gaming activity this week was taken up by a return to Left 4 Dead 2, a game I hadn’t played for well over two years. With the release of the Cold Stream DLC coming later this month, as well as the campaigns from the first game all being included, I felt that going back to Valve’s addictive and frantic zombie co-op shooter was necessary.
I had actually forgotten how immersive and exciting the game actually is. Teaming up with three players online (preferably competent players, not imbeciles) greatly enriches the experience compared to when you play with bots that love to thrust their hips into a witch’s face and walk in front of you as you throw molotov cocktails. It’s unfortunate that so many people in the Left 4 Dead 2 community really don’t know how to play the game properly, making it frustrating when you have to deal with a player who’s decided to play the role of Usain Bolt and sprint ahead, but when you do play with competent players, the game is fantastic.
I also downloaded the most recent DLC – The Sacrifice – and played through that. Returning to the original L4D survivors only served to remind me how dull the second batch are (except for Ellis), and the campaign itself felt very much like a L4D level, with the gloomy atmosphere and dark surroundings.
This brings me to my next point; I’ve always felt that the L4D campaigns are far, far superior to the L4D2 offerings. L4D2 chose to make the environments more open, as well as give them more colour and more ‘sunny’ (as in The Parish) and whilst they’re not dismal failures, that miserable and depressing atmosphere, that contributes to the immersion, wasn’t retained. It’s the main reason why I’m incredibly excited for the L4D campaigns coming to L4D2, as it’ll be like two games in one.
So, that brings this week’s post to a close. As I mentioned previously, I recently applied to write for a gaming website that I am still awaiting a response for. Anybody familiar with me and this blog will be aware of my desire to get into journalism and whilst creating this blog was the first significant step, this will be the second. I may or may not succeed this time but I will continue trying until I do. After all, rejection is a part of life that one must get accustomed to. I’ll let you know what happens when I know.
So, what have you been playing this week? Seen anything in this week’s offering of gaming news that tickled your interest? Hit the comment box below and speak your mind.