A Week in Gaming

A Week in Gaming – Back to Black…Ops

Among other stories this week, an event known as Gamescom also took place, showcasing trailers and announcements concerning some of the most anticipated titles yet to come on multiple platforms. Think of it as a smaller E3, basically. New trailers were unveiled, new titles from familiar developers were announced and we got a look at what we can expect from future titles. I didn’t watch any of the events partly because I wasn’t even aware it was happening until it actually happened but the trailers from many of the titles are available to view on YouTube.

As for this week’s post, once again there will be no section on what I’ve been playing. I’ve decided to remove that feature and bring it back once the summer lull is no more and new titles begin trickling into my collection. Right now I have nothing, not even the recently released Sleeping Dogs which whilst receiving very positive reviews, has completely slipped by me. I’ll most likely pick it up eventually but not yet. I’d appreciate any views on the game, however. I typically find that user reviews give me more of an insight into the game than critical ones. 

News Round-Up

Arkham City: Armoured Edition Wii U box-art is unveiled

You may wonder why something as seemingly insignificant as a piece of box-art has managed to worm its way into this post. I can tell you why; said box-art is so awful that it needed to be discussed. Earlier this week, WB games unveiled the artwork for the upcoming Wii U version of the popular game, as well as new costume designs for both the Dark Knight and Catwoman, who also features in the title.

Sporting the recently confirmed Wii U box-art design, the Armoured Edition artwork also shows Batman sporting some kind of electrical gauntlets which, although blending in with the light blue Wii U header, look absolutely hideous. The gauntlets are a new feature being included with the Wii U release, although the point of their existence has still yet to hit me. Beating the enemies down with your bare hands is a part of what made Arkham City such a fulfilling experience, at least for me. Batman is a strong, powerful man who doesn’t need electricity on his hands to pummel the unintelligent foes populating Arkham City.

Regardless of that, the light blue presence of the box-art does not look very good at all. Arkham City is a moody, depressing game that makes the use of the black and grey colours of the original artwork look all that more significant. The game’s recently released Game of the Year edition also obliterated the artwork by placing intrusive and distracting red text all over the front of the case that almost completely obscured the actual artwork. From looking at this, it seems that Arkham City has yet again been the victim of somebody becoming hyperactive with the bright colours on the front of the box. It’ll stand out on the shelf for sure but it’s still hideous. I may be over-reacting here but a rubbish front cover always has the potential, however small, to give you a negative impression of a game before you’ve even played it. Arkham City is too good of a game for that to happen. 

Source: CVG

Digital version of New Super Mario Bros. 2 more expensive than retail

A while back, Nintendo announced that alongside the traditional release of New Super Mario Bros. 2, the latest Mario title to hit one of their consoles, there would also be a digital release available on the 3DS eShop, marking the first time a 3DS title would be simultaneously released in both physical and digital formats. Earlier this week, and before the game was released a few days ago, Nintendo announced the pricing for both versions of the game and to say they left quite a sting would be an understatement.

As per usual with new 3DS releases, New Super Mario Bros. 2’s physical release was priced at £29.99. However, the digital release came in at £39.99, a big difference for the same game minus the physical attributes, such as the case and cartridge. Its pricing marks the continued trend of digitally released titles, such as those released on the Games on Demand platform of the Xbox 360 and the Playstation Network, costing significantly more than their retail counterparts, despite not having to contend with the actual physical objects involved with the retail releases.

Honestly, I can see no discernible reason why anybody would want to pay more for something they can get for less and have something physical to hold in their hands, as well as return if they didn’t like it or had no further use for it. Granted, the digital version may have been available a day before the retail but as far as I’m concerned, that is not a benefit worthy of a £10 increase. That being said, it’s inevitable that people will still make use of the digital release and thus this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, especially as more and more platforms begin to utilise digital infrastructures to sell games. 

I have no problem with games being sold digitally as well as physically – I’ve even purchased titles from Games on Demand before – but to price them higher than retail is something I cannot get on board with. Logically one would assume that not having to put the game onto a cartridge, put it into a case and create a paper manual would reduce the costs, not increase them by such a large amount. Nintendo most likely don’t want to competitively price the digital releases to compete with the high street stores in case issues arise from that, which is understandable, but it still doesn’t make a more-expensive-for-less purchase any more attractive.

We are continuously seeing debates regarding the future of gaming and how digital infrastructures fit into that but as long as the digital releases are more expensive than the physical, purchasing titles digitally cannot be seen as a worthy alternative. Steam is a good example of how to sell digital copies well. New Super Mario Bros. 2 is not. 

Source: Digital Spy

Black Ops 2 multilayer blowout begins

This year’s biggest and most anticipated title – Black Ops 2 – has this week had its multiplayer mode blown wide open for the masses to peer into. For the last few days, the game has been showcased at Gamescom with daily doses of the multiplayer mode being explored by those attending, which is also available to watch on YouTube or via the Xbox 360 dashboard.

It’s become clear that Treyarch have made some pretty significant changes to the familiar Call of Duty format. For a start, create a class has been overhauled, allowing more freedom to choose what you want and ditch the things you don’t; killstreaks are gone, replaced by ‘score streaks’ that reward positive gameplay, such as flag capturing and objectives; the new eSports mode looks like it’ll work extremely well for those that’ll use it; and overall, there’s an overwhelming sense that they’ve really gone back to the drawing board with Black Ops 2 to try and change things up.

I can’t deny that Black Ops 2 looks very good to me. In fact, this is probably the first time I’ve been excited about an upcoming Call of Duty release since Modern Warfare 2. The multiplayer, while hugely popular, drastically needed a reboot of sorts and it looks like Black Ops 2 will be providing that. It looks more team-focused, balanced and fresh compared to MW3’s copy and paste job, which is definitely not what I was expecting.

The footage I’ve seen of the multiplayer gives me hope that Black Ops 2 will be the first decent Call of Duty title in a while but I refuse to get too excited. I did that last year and was massively disappointed. Meanwhile, if you want to watch any of the footage, I’ll link to the video of day one at the end of this post and if you would like to watch more, they can be found elsewhere on YouTube or via the Xbox 360 dashboard. 

Source: Guardian

Call of Duty: Declassified makes its Gamescom debut

In keeping with the CoD theme, the Playstation Vita title – Declassified – had its debut trailer and information revealed at Gamescom, ahead of its scheduled November release date. The trailer can be seen here.

The handheld title, exclusive to Sony’s console, will feature a story that will bridge the gap between both Black Ops titles, as well as 4v4 online multiplayer with familiar Call of Duty systems in place, such as create-a-class and prestige levels. It sounds good doesn’t it? That is until you watch the trailer and then Declassified just looks like a port of the first Black Ops minus the polish.

The first noticeable thing about the trailer is obviously the weak graphics. While it remains true that gameplay is what truly matters, the Vita is capable of much prettier looking games than what Declassified appears to be. It looks dated, rough around the edges and rather unimpressive given the hardware it’ll be utilising. Outside of that, the gameplay looks familiar to CoD fans with its snappy frenetic pace and it looks like it’ll make the transition to handheld very well, but the game looks like nothing more than a port of Black Ops.

The reduction of the multiplayer player count to 4v4 is disappointing but depending on whether the map sizes have been reduced to accommodate for it, it may not be a problem in the long-run. The single-player is also said to be designed to be played in short bursts, meaning the inclusion of things like time-trials and survival missions. Personally, that sounds more uninviting than it should and definitely not the right direction as far as I’m concerned, but the MP is going to be the biggest focus here, as is the case with any Call of Duty titles released these days.

If there’s anything the struggling Vita needed, it was an injection of the world’s biggest FPS shooter. Unfortunately, Declassified doesn’t look to be fully utilising the opportunity it has – to be the first ‘full’ Call of Duty experience on a handheld system, and a powerful one at that. I’ve always maintained the mantra that I’ll buy a Vita when there are games available for it that interest me and I’m not convinced that Declassified will be one of them, which is disappointing as I was expecting it to be. Still, the reviews should hopefully tell more closer to release day. 

Source: Kotaku

Sony rules out any price cuts for the Playstation Vita in 2012

Sony’s strong, powerful and impressive Playstation Vita has had somewhat of a bumpy ride since it launched earlier this year. Many put the underwhelming sales figures down to the price of the device and as Sony stated earlier this week, that is unlikely to change during the remainder of this year.

Worldwide studios boss Shuhei Yoshida told Eurogamer that reducing the Vita’s cost right now would be “too early” and that at a certain point in the future, they’d look into reducing the cost of the device. Right now, it seems that their focus is on creating more attractive console bundles and boosting the software available for it, but is it a case of too little too late?

Most of us are familiar with Nintendo’s troubles with the 3DS last year. It experienced disappointing sales and many were quick to label it a failed launch. However, once the price was reduced rather drastically, as well as the game catalogue being improved (both of which happened before the device was a year old), the sales became what they should have been. It rose from the ashes, so to speak, and it continues to sell well across the world even to this day. A price point that many considered too high and an underwhelming collection of games available were arguably the factors that were dragging the console down. 

The same could be said for the Vita. A Wi-Fi-only version of the console can be bought for £197.99 on Amazon, which to me sounds a little too high. Perhaps it wouldn’t if there were more interesting games available for it. That being said, it’s the memory cards that are outrageously over-priced. A simple 16gb card will set you back £33.14, which is way too much than it should be. If you bought a console, you’d need a memory card and most likely a game to play and you’d be around £250 lighter once you were finished, even more so if you opted for the 3G model. Spending that on a device that has a questionable future is not something anybody is bound to take lightly, unless they have money growing on trees of course.

I’ve never used a Vita before but I’ve always said that I would have no problem buying one once there was a reason to do so. Aside from Uncharted, there are no other games on the device at present that would make the purchase worthwhile. Once the catalogue has increased, the price may look more attractive. Until that happens, I doubt the Vita’s sales are going to improve, no matter how many bundles Sony creates. 

Source: CVG

So, anybody have any views on the news items described above? Any games you’ve picked up this week that you want to talk about, such as New Super Mario Bros 2, Sleeping Dogs or anything else? Use that comment box below. You know you want to!

As mentioned earlier in the post, here is some of the footage from Black Ops 2’s presence at Gamescom. Your opinions on the game, franchise etc. are encouraged. I’d love to hear what you think of it. After all, there are few gaming franchises these days that encourage as much debate/arguments as Call of Duty! 



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