House of Duty: Frank Underwood Gives You A Call

Ladies and gentlemen….take a gander:

This little gem greeted me this morning as I logged into check how things have been going.

Everyone knows my feelings about Call of Duty. I think the series is excessive, repetitive and just a money-milking cash cow for Activision.

But…

Not everyone knows my feelings…

About Kevin…freakin’…Spacey.

Man-crush.

Spacey is one of my favourite actors and I am pretty excited that they’ve gotten him into a game, even if it is Call of Duty. I suppose only Activision would have the kind of muscle and charm needed to snag someone of his caliber. The fact that he seems to be an exact copy of his character from House of Cards even heightens the appeal.

Despite the explosion exhaustion I tend to feel with CoD, I have to say that their last two or three games have seemed to focus on the notion that the citizenry of any nation doesn’t want the lofty promises that the concept of democracy offers. The grandiose voice-over Spacey gives as the trailer plays follows a similar line to previous titles, that well, here the USA is trying to police the world and maybe the world doesn’t need policing. This is a debate that raged in the majority of my classes at university, particularly because I started my degree courses a month before the 9-11 attacks. So much of humanity’s horrific periods can be attributed to people/nations wanting to “fix” other people/nations. The slave trade, the spread of Christianity, ethnic cleansing in Serbia, Middle East wars based on bringing “democracy” to the world at large…unfortunately, some of these things aren’t broken…so how much longer are certain nations going to continue to try and “fix” them, thus making a pile of enemies along the way?

I’m not saying that Activision’s gone all Bioware on us, with “The More You Know” messages littered throughout their game. But wouldn’t that be nice?

Still though guys! KEVIN SPACEY! Will you be getting CoD: Advanced Warfare?

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The Console That Cried DRM: XBox One No Longer Big Bad Wolfenstein

Bedtime Post!

History is littered with people in power (from politicians to CEOs) recanting, dismissing or straight-up backpedaling like a Dutch biker trying to brake on a downhill slope. Within the corporate world, one of the most famous retractions of a product or feature is the 1985 debacle of ‘New Coke’ by beverage giant Coca Cola Inc. If you were still just a thought in your parents’ minds at that time, let me just say: it was a massive failure.

More like Bad Joke, amirite?

More like Bad Joke, amirite?

There are many other instances of companies excitedly announcing or just launching a product, and then having to eat their words and take it all back once the collective “WTF?” from their target demographic grew too loud to ignore. However, the entire XBox One Campaign, from the leaks to the reveal to the extended introduction at E3 last week, is going to stand out from the crowd, and for all the wrong reasons. This is the first time even non-gamers aired their concerns over a gaming console, mainly because the XBox One’s slightly creepy Kinect usage and connectivity requirements were introduced at a time when Edward Snowden was being equally creepy in his description of NSA surveillance of ordinary citizens around the globe. Aside from the fact that I was both impressed and wary of the Kinect integration and the always-online (at least every 24 hours) features, the message itself of what XBox One can and can’t do has never been clear and that has been Microsoft’s biggest problem since April.

I discussed this in my review post of the Microsoft E3 press conference so I won’t delve too much into it again, but before I continue, let me just reiterate the following:

1. I am not a fan-girl…I just love gaming. Whether it’s on a PC, an XBox, PlayStation, handheld, Nintendo console or coconut shell has no bearing on my love for this industry.

2. I also love Microsoft, as a company and for their products. I also believe that if you love someone/something, you should be able to criticize or support it without fear of being pimp-slapped…on the Internet. Whether you appreciate them or not, the gaming industry needs Microsoft, just as we need Nintendo, Steam, and Sony, and whoever else wants to toss their hat into the ring. Competition is what drives innovation forward; it’s not all tech guys in hoodies and flip-flops. If there is no competition, then the product can stagnate and nobody can complain because there would be no other options available.

Although I had a feeling they would eventually remove these offending features, I wish they had done it before E3. Earlier today Don Mattrick,  President of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, posted a memo to XBox Wire in which he announced that XBox One would no longer:

1. Require an internet connection to play offline XBox One games and the 24-hour connection check-in is now gone as well.

2. Stop gamers from trading, lending, reselling, gifting and renting disc-based games, as would have been the case with the initial policy.

3. Be region locked, which, let me tell you, is a MASSIVE relief to everyone, everywhere.

The entire memo reeked of “kicking rocks now” and “aw shucks”-ness (<— not a word), and this is why I wish they had done this before E3. It was so obvious that they HAD to pull these features back, because the uproar had started even before the reveal event in April. It would have been monumentally more potent to have Mattrick walk onto that E3 stage and say “Guys, you’ve been talking, we’ve been listening. As of right now, XBox One will no longer require” and then proceed with the laundry list of anti-gamer features that were now being retracted. The emotional impact would have been a lot greater with that more personal ‘mea culpa,’ though I think that they had to see the pre-order numbers to really get it through their heads that this memo was practically written for them in April.

Disastrous communications strategy aside, I am happy that Microsoft saw the light and shifted gears on their policy, if only because it would have been a shame to see the console that redefined gaming sink like the Titanic; slowly. There are still those who will nitpick over the Kinect integration, which I honestly don’t mind but maybe that’s because I enjoy sitting on my couch and commanding my console to do stuff.

XBox, Bing: Apology Memo Template.

XBox, Bing: Apology Memo Template.

You have to hand it to the gamers that power this industry, though. Despite the fact that some commentary was downright disrespectful in its vulgarity, for the most part you saw serious, thought-out posts and queries from concerned gamers the world over. I believe that had the backlash been primarily of the “OMG ur mom suxx” variety (and had those dismal pre-order numbers not been readily available), Microsoft may have actually tried to push ahead with this policy strategy, thus inevitably leading to a PlayStation monopoly. This, contrary to popular belief, would be bad for the gaming industry.

So what are your thoughts on this latest installment of Real Executives of Next-Gen Gaming? Has this about-face by Microsoft made you reconsider your pre-order decisions with regards to next-gen consoles? Or are you still put off by the price (which, to be fair, is not that bad considering the Kinect is included)? Do you think Microsoft’s Marketing & Communications Division is currently crying in a corner somewhere? Sound off.

XBox One Announced, Rejoice!

My people…the next generation XBox has come forth, and tomorrow shall dawn a brighter day, for it is grand and it is…black! Behold: XBox One.

Better Than A Little Black Dress.

Better Than A Little Black Dress.

For anyone raising an eyebrow at the enthusiastic announcement of the pretty basic name, the logic behind the simplistic moniker became glaringly clear as the fast-paced presentation went on. And fast-paced it was. We literally blitzed through this event, which had a significantly more upbeat tempo than Sony’s early-2013 event announcing the PlayStation 4. XBox One is aiming to be just that: your one-stop shop for gaming, social connectivity, and audio-visual entertainment. I could hardly live-tweet as fast as they kept throwing stuff at us, and I know that this is due to the fact that Microsoft is holding back the bulk of its “OMG WOW” factors for E3. And since that’s going to be a tweetin’ bloggin’ extravaganza, I’ll try to keep this post short, focusing on the points that both excited and depressed me:

THRILLS

The Future Is Now: Voice Control

When Yusef Mehdi, Senior VP of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business line, said “XBox On” and the screen behind him came to life, I could but utter one word: Finally. Sometimes I stare at my Kinect in disgust because I can’t just turn on my XBox with a simple voice command. I know it’s not Kinect’s fault, but I have issues with misplaced frustration. XBox One aims to alleviate the stress I direct at Kinect by making it possible to turn the console on with just an utterance of “XBox On.” Laziness Level: Expert.

Fifteen Exclusives, Eight New IPs

I don’t even have to go into how great this is, especially with the promise of eight new franchises delivered for XBox One. I’m particularly excited about Remedy’s preview of Quantum Break. Fresh new content is the injection the industry needs, and after the usual suspects being rolled out at Sony’s press-con, I’m happy XBox has locked up some original product for their next-gen offering.

A scene from Remedy's Quantum Break.

A scene from Remedy’s Quantum Break.

Live-Action Halo Series With Steven Spielberg

The only two words that matter in that headline are Steven and Spielberg. I was kind of confused as to Nancy Tellum’s presence, but started to piece it together when she introduced 343 Industries’ Bonnie Ross. Anyone who followed the Halo 4 hype juggernaut watched at least one episode of the web series ‘Forward Unto Dawn.’ I appreciated the way that the story of FUD wove into the actual Halo 4 plot, and so I thought they might be announcing another web series to prep us for an upcoming Halo title. I did not even contemplate the possibility of a live-action series, much less think about the involvement of someone like Steven Spielberg. Needless to say, I’m excited to see what they can create. Forward Unto Dawn was really the best marketing tool I’d seen a game employ in a long time, and the Halo universe stretches beyond just the games, as Ross correctly stated at the beginning of her presentation. Now if only BioWare and EA would take note for Mass Effect…

EA: FIFA, NBA, Madden and…UFC

Far be it for me to say that UFC has no place among the likes of FIFA, Madden and the NBA, but I say, bravo to EA for diversifying their offering. To even be marketed alongside those three heavy-hitters is an accomplishment, and I’m looking forward to seeing the real star of those games, the new EA Sports Ignite engine, shine through on the new XBox One hardware.

Better Hardware, Better Kinect…Better You

One of my gripes, and that of many others, regarding Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement was the complete and utter lack of hardware present. The only tangible item available was the controller, which was nicely innovative in its own right, but not enough to really sate the blood-thirsty masses. Then yesterday, Sony does what any good marketing department would do, and “blindsides” Microsoft’s event today with a sneak peek of their console…which really just amounted to a strobe-light effect while various bits of it flashed across the screen. I put blindsides in quotation marks because it seemed as though Microsoft (and anyone with a brain, really) had anticipated Sony’s sucker punch, as all through their event today, every presenter seemed to walk with an added spring in their step, as if to say “We got this, ya’ll.”

The XBox One is sleek and, for lack of  a better word, sexy. I really hate using that word and I dislike when marketing professionals use it, but there really is no other word I could use to describe the console, the new controller and the new Kinect unit. The improvements made to the Kinect, which were necessary considering the level of multitasking the XBox One boasts, are a blessing. Also: Skype group calling. Thank you.

CHILLS

Live TV, ESPN Sports connectivity

Of course, any launch event has one or two moments where you cringe a bit and shake your head, as if to say “why would you wear that to a cocktail reception?” I only had two of these moments with the XBox One launch; this is one of them. The industry had already speculated that this console, much like Sony’s PS4, would focus on the entertainment factor as being more integral to the device’s abilities than the gaming factor. I wasn’t surprised to see Microsoft bust out the live TV functionality, and the ESPN Sports connectivity possibilities. The integration of fantasy play had my US friends chomping at the bit.

But for myself, and those gamers who do not live in North America, all that you heard from us was a collective groan. While my brother-from-another-mother in Brooklyn is enjoying switching between a Skype call with me and a live NFL match on his XBox One, I’ll be once again lamenting the fact that European XBox Live subscribers pay the same amount of money as North American subscribers for maybe 30% of the functionality that our American and Canadian counterparts receive. I understand completely the reasoning behind the lack of TV content, and truthfully, Pathe Thuis (movie-streaming service from the theater chain here) is now available on XBox 360, but there is still plenty that we do not have access to, while still paying the same price.

No Price Point

Okay, so I’m nitpicking. But I was really hoping to have a ballpark figure around which to build my plan to give up food, social interaction and possibly electricity. Twitter blew up when they didn’t mention a release date and I really have to say, this argument is getting old. We should all know by now how “the game” is played. I don’t think we’ve ever gotten a release date before E3, unless of course your name is Nintendo. So let’s stop that little bit of nitpicking. A price point, however, is something I think you should be able to hint at…simply to give everyone a chance to prepare their wallets for the Special Victims Unit case its about to become.

THE BOTTOM LINE

XBox One’s spec-sheet reads like this:

– an 8-core CPU.

– 8 GB of RAM.

– 500 GB hard drive.

– USB 3.0.

– Blu-ray drive (Finally! Am I right?).

– Integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi (also finally).

– Thousands more servers to handle online play, and dedicated DVR capabilities for game-capture.

– A new 1080p Kinect camera that detects the slightest movement of your wrist, as well as your heartbeat. Hopefully if you overdo it on Nike Training With Kinect, it will also call 911 for you.

– After the event, Microsoft confirmed that XBox One was NOT going to feature always-online DRM, and everywhere, gamers and retailers sighed in collective relief.

Throughout the entire event, a die-hard PlayStation fan friend of mine kept freaking out as they threw out feature after feature. We followed it live with other gamer friends on Facebook; my notifications are now broken. People didn’t even care that the only games really shown were Forza Motorsport, Quantum Break and the world premiere of Call of Duty: Ghosts. The sheer power of the machine outshone whatever actual gameplay may have debuted. It’s safe to say that this event succeeded where Sony’s faltered: the previously non-XBox fans are frothing at the mouth.

E3 is going to be a hell of a lot more interesting this year, my friends.

The PlayStation 4 (Controller) Launch Press Con: Questions, Questions, Everywhere…

Let me start off by saying that I live tweeted the event from its start until about an hour and 45 minutes in, which was quite a feat considering I had to be at work early in the morning. Time differences are not kind. Now that a colleague has talked me off the ledge of breaking my almost year-long coffee ban, let me see if I can recall what I did see and piece together the bits I missed (like the Watch Dogs preview; so pissed I fell asleep before that). There were two buzz words dominating last night’s sometimes shaky experience (for example, nobody applauding after the Killzone Shadowfall demo) and each trendy term applies to different parties: mobile is for PS4 and familiarity is for me.

Mark Cerny, the most enthusiastic speaker there.

Mark Cerny, the most enthusiastic speaker there.

Anyone who stayed up to watch the press conference knows that they didn’t actually show you the console itself, but that’s to be expected. E3 is still a few months away and it wouldn’t be a console war if Sony didn’t do this dog and pony show now to one-up Microsoft. This does not mean that I like it or approve of it, but we’ll get to that eventually. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t surprised at the lack of actual hardware display. Nor was I actually surprised at the early discussion of the PlayStation Vita; as I tweeted, Sony really had no other choice but to offer you Wii-U functionality of porting your game to your Vita in order to make that platform even a tad more appealing. A PS3 fan friend of mine furiously WhatsApped me the same text but with more profanity, which gave me a laugh. But yes…Sony revealed that you can port your in-progress game to your PS Vita in the event your kids or grandmother take over the TV, enabling you to resume play while they watch Yo Gabba Gabba or Price Is Right. What’s more, Sony spent a major chunk of the start of the press conference stressing that yes, gaming has moved beyond the living room and that to enhance the gamer’s experience, they will be supporting connectivity with iOS and Android devices with a second-screen app. Strange…I felt like I was looking at a combination of the Wii-U and the XBox SmartGlass presentation. I honestly believe that the focus on mobile connectivity and the constant emphasis of connecting with your friends via Facebook and UStream, and even giving a friend the possibility to access your game if you’re ‘having a hard time with a particular level’ muddled the presentation a bit and was just meant to pacify the rabid gaming journalists who spent all of 2012 screaming MOBILE at the console developers. I don’t care about being able to use Facebook on my console; I have a phone and a PC for that. Sony doesn’t think that’s enough though, so they put a dedicated Share button on the controller to allow you to record and share game-play videos instantly. That’s about the only cool bit I thought about the whole social connectivity stress point; game-play videos from my friends are always enjoyable.

After showing us the snazzy new dashboard interface (*cough*XBOX*cough*), they then moved on to show off some launch titles, including Killzone: Shadow Fall and Drive Club. The latter looked pretty engaging; the former looked, unfortunately, like more of the same. The one title that caught my eye was Infamous: Second Son, and this is an IP I’ve always meant to play but never got the opportunity. I had an inkling that Bungie would display Destiny at this press conference but yes, I was fast asleep before that came around, so I had to catch up on that via GamesIndustry et al this morning. After Killzone, Drive Club and Infamous, Sony gave the stage to David Cage of Quantic Dream and Media Molecule, respectively. This led to a pretty funny contrast wherein Cage made some e-love to the polygon and MM went on to declare war on said polygon in their presentation. Media Molecule then trotted out the PlayStation Move and displayed some creative activities that the Move now suddenly possesses, thanks to PlayStation 4. I’m just gonna let Regina George respond to that.

Stop trying to make the Move happen. It's not going to happen!

Stop trying to make the Move happen. It’s not going to happen!

I signed off around this time, not thoroughly impressed enough to stay up beyond 2 AM. Let’s just get through a round-up of what we were told:

1. Bungie promised that the PlayStation 4 would receive exclusive Destiny content, which kind of ticked me off but then, it’s not as if XBox doesn’t have these moments as well.

2. The PlayStation 4 will come with 8 GB of unified on-board memory, so, hurrah for that.

3. The controller features, as mentioned before, the Share button (for the gamer who Facebooks while gaming) and a touchpad.

4. Launch titles will follow the usual pattern of FPS/Racing/Puzzle…I’m waiting for the RPG/fantasy adventure game to pop out.

5. Blizzard has come down to mingle with the commoners, with Diablo 3 confirmed for both the PS3 and the PS4.

6. Because they’re probably having issues selling them now, Sony has woven the Vita and the Move into the fabric of the PlayStation 4 (making you have to buy a whole new platform to get Wii-U functionality), kind of like that annoying pocket on polo shirts. Seriously…pockets on polo shirts? But I digress…

7. The controller will interact with what is called the PlayStation Eye (aka the XBox Kinect).

8. It’s going to revolutionize the way we do gaming…haha no just kidding, I just really wanted to use that line. Fans of the late series Better Off Ted will know what I’m talking about. Instead of using that awesome line, Sony stressed that the PS4 was going to be epic. EPIC.

And now…the ugly truth of it…

Have you ever had a moment at work when your boss asks you for a presentation or a report, but they don’t exactly state what they want in it? There’s no information provided as to the parameters of the research, the timeline for delivery, the desired content or even the platform they’d prefer for presentation. Isn’t that frustrating? That must have been how the poor marketers behind this press conference must have felt. I can see it now:

Sony Exec, sinisterly twirling his mustache: We’ve got to announce the PS4 months ahead of E3 so we can beat Microsoft to the punch! I need you to draw up enough presentations to stuff between the developers’ speeches.

Sony Marketer: Hey, that’s  great! We’ll get on it right away. All we need are some stock photos of the platform-

Sony Exec, now sipping on some brandy: You can’t have those.

Sony Marketer: Um…okay. Well, we can at least start out with the new logo and maybe the release date flashed underneath at the end of the video. The initial price point can come later, maybe the Group CEO can close off the conference with it!

Sony Exec, back to the mustache: No. You can’t have that either.

Sony Marketer: I…well…okay. What do we have to work with here?

Sony Exec, leaving the room: Not much, actually. Just this controller here. *thunk* And the new logo. It’ll be great, I can feel it! Great work!

Sony Marketer: …..

Yeah, that conversation that totally took place in my head quite succinctly sums up what we didn’t learn at the press conference. And as I said before, I understand why: the ongoing console war between Microsoft and Sony. I leave Nintendo out of that statement because I think they don’t spend half as much time trying to one-up their competitors. There’s also an argument for marketing tactics; if you tease a little bit between now and E3, you remain relevant and that’s the key to success, right? Only it’s gotten boring and frankly, insulting to our intelligence as gamers. As Eric states in his well-written and much more technically insightful post about the press conference, which you can read here, we’re a much more informed and critical market and can clearly recognize when we’re having the marketing wool pulled over our eyes. It’s almost as if Sony has been doing business under a rock and doesn’t realize that teasers don’t have the same effect as they once did. The information is out there and waiting to be consumed…by consumers! The disappointing thing is that it’s usually Sony pulling this stunt. Does it really make sense to continue this ridiculous trend of announcing before Microsoft and wasting a ton of cash on a lukewarm press event to just state the name of the product and show us…a controller? And the Move? The Vita? What now?

This would be more of a war (and less insulting to us) if you just waited for E3 and announced right alongside Microsoft, because that would mean you’d actually have to show us something of substance and give us some actual information. “Leaks” are all well and fine for generating the buzz, so I’m not sure why any company would insist on hosting underwhelming press events scattered between here and E3 to truly make an impression on their target market. This press con played out like an extended leak. It’s not endearing and I’d prefer to see a no-holds-barred slug fest on the E3 stage than be fed tiny morsels that are not filling and beg the question of “Please Sony, may we have some more?”

Sony Marketer: Maybe just the release date…please?

Sony Exec: Yeahhhhh…no.

Sony Marketer: *sigh*

First Look: Bungie’s ‘Destiny’

On Monday, XBox Live’s dashboard fed us a link to a vidoc about Bungie’s  new project, Destiny. The originators of the Halo universe have long been silent about what’s been brewing in their creative cauldrons, so I was excited to learn what Destiny was all about.

What, no PC?

What, no PC?

Destiny journeys forth from the pre-established reality that humanity has colonized other planets besides Mother Earth, enjoying a sort of second ‘Golden Age’ where the civilization’s progress is suddenly halted by an unknown force. Another mysterious entity, “The Traveler,” is the only reason any humans continue to breathe. Spherical in shape, the Traveler hovers over a struggling human city on Earth, apparently dead after having given itself to save us. Once the space program gets set up again, humanity attempts to check out the situation on their off-world colonies and find that other races have moved in and claimed space…and they’re not keen on sharing. There are guns, aliens, strategic decision-making and of course, the social tie-in with your friends. The vidoc discusses Bungie’s challenge to developing a universe where the player would want to play with his or her friends, preferably for 50+ hours at a time. Bungie has partnered with Activision for Destiny and heralds it as a ‘bold new action game set in a living world’ that will probably redefine the way we play games. There were nice shots of the Bungie office and the orchestra scoring the game, as well as some brief glimpses of gameplay, which seems to progress from an FPS point of view. At the end of the vidoc, an employee says that they never thought Halo was going to be as big as it was,and so now they’ve had to ask themselves ‘What could be bigger than Halo?’ Amazingly, this minute glace at game-play and graphics seems to be enough reason for Bungie to urge you to pre-order Destiny for the XBox 360 or PlayStation 3, with a footnote that it will be coming to next-gen platforms…just not in 2013. So you’d be pre-ordering now and getting it by maybe Spring 2014? Sounds legit…I guess?

Anyway, right as the vidoc started, I had a moment like “that music sounds like Halo, but I’ll bite and see what’s up.” And I won’t lie to you…my first thoughts about the story and first images were “This looks like what the Mass Effect universe would look like, post-Reaper war.” There’s even a piece of concept art available for gawking entitled “Citadel,” which pictures enemies and the human heroes (named Guardians) duking it out on the ground while a large structure hovers above them, its infrastructure obviously compromised.  I lol’ed hard at that.

Lol.

Lol.

And really, doesn’t it sound like a slightly AU Mass Effect? Check it out: Humanity lands among the stars and colonizes other worlds with little to no interference until alien races notice their advancement and administer the proverbial pimp slap, thus sending humanity tumbling down the ladder…once the surviving few claw their way out of the rubble and PTSD, they learn more about these races, one of which, the time-traveling robotic Vex, looks suspiciously like the Prometheans of Halo 4, just minus the orange cybernetic-like glow emanating from their bodies. No? Just me? Okay. You’ve got the ability to customize your Guardian character based on class (Titans, Warlocks, and Hunters) and you’re also able to harness the Traveler’s mysterious power as you take the fight right to the enemy, and do your duty to protect Earth and humanity. Anyway, once I got over that initial feeling of “I’ve played this before” and focused on the remaining bits of the vidoc, I found that I was cautiously optimistic about this title after all.

The concept art is pretty, and it too generates that same familiar feeling in me, with an image of what looks like a female Hunter class Guardian smacking of the Mass Effect Quarian design. You can see IGN’s complete run-through of the concept art for the visual, and also Forbes’ piece on the announcement. You will be able to play with your friends, coordinating with them via a companion app on the iOS platform about in-game activities such as content drops and new missions, which begs the question of whether or not Android users are also allowed to coordinate with friends (no, really…I’m not buying an iPhone  just to experience this game at its full social potential). Destiny, as Bungie has said, is not to be considered an MMO; rather, they’d prefer you use their newly coined terminology of “shared world shooter,” which I have to admit sounds pretty cool.  I mean, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s an MMO but whatever, it’s their project so they can call it what they wish. Bungie’s stated that they will aim to implement distributed servers to help with all that global player traffic; you know, so events don’t unfold a la the Halo: Reach multiplayer experience, which will be a welcome fix for everyone. Bungie’s goal is that players add to the story as Destiny unfolds, teaming up with buddies to reclaim humanity’s lost worlds and uncover the mystery of the Traveler and just why the other races hate us so much. They’ve promised a high level of customization, for both armor and weapons, all of which can be done at The Last City (really, that’s what they’ve called it), which you return to throughout the game for some good old R&R. There is no word on specific character names or voice actors, but they did confirm that the score is co-authored by Paul McCartney…PAUL MCCARTNEY, you guys. That’s about the most exciting thing I’ve read so far. I just need to say again though….I just can’t help feeling as though I’ve played this already:

*cough*Ghost*cough*

*cough*Ghost*cough*

So, what are your thoughts? Will you be getting Halo: Commander Shepard Meets Master Chief Who Was Transformed Into A Guardian After The Reaper/First Contact War aka Destiny? I might…as additional details unfold. I just think it’s crazy to ask players to pre-order it without something as compelling as a release date attached. Then again, this is a part-Activision production here, so maybe once E3 is out of the way, we’ll see some indication of a date dropped.

And with that in mind, if you’re unable to watch Sony’s press conference today for what is assumed to be the next-gen PlayStation announcement, feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be live-tweeting it as it unfolds. I’m staying up way beyond my bedtime for this, so humour me and follow. 🙂

Until next time.

 

 

 

Porta-Gaming: NVIDIA Pushes Some Buttons

Good morning folks!

It’s another Monday, another week, and it’s fifty shades of grey here in Amsterdam today. On to brighter news!

NVIDIA busted this baby out at CES last night, and I’m glad to be awake to read about it:

 

My precious....

My precious….

 

Ah, portable gaming.

2012 saw a lot of chatter referring to the death of the console gaming experience, with countless gaming journalists focusing their attention on the rise of mobile gaming, giving particular accolades to the smartphone/tablet/phablet gaming arena. Personally, if the extent of your gaming experience is Angry Birds or Temple Run, I know a couple people who would take issue with you referring to yourself as a gamer. But with EA dropping FIFA 13 onto tablets, as well as earlier releases for Call of Duty, the lines have gotten relatively blurry. I haven’t been one for portable gaming devices since the Nintendo DS first popped onto the scene. I’d owned every Nintendo handheld before that, and I’d tinkered around with a friend’s PSP not too long after it launched. I didn’t buy one, nor did I expand my DS collection to the 3DS, the DS-XL and so forth because for a minute there Nintendo started to look like Apple, with new DS iterations popping out faster than iPhones. The PlayStation Vita looked cool enough, but the severely short list of games available upon release for the bloody device just made it unappealing (the price didn’t help matters).

That gorgeous beauty above might pique my interest, though. That’s NVIDIA’s Project Shield, which the company pimp-slapped the gaming industry with late yesterday evening. It’s a portable gaming device that boasts NVIDIA’s Tegra-4 processor, a 5-inch retinal multi-touch display, and wifi connectivity, all powered by Android Jelly Bean. Jigga what? I have to admit, I’m pretty excited to see what it can do. Console-level controls on a handheld? Yes, please. The fact that it runs with the Tegra-4 processor is enticing enough. NVIDIA previewed it at last night’s press conference with several console and Android-specific games, including Arma Tactics and of course, the hot topic of the month, Assassin’s Creed 3. A free-running Connor and naval battles, all in the palms of my hands? Yes, please. They also showed off the device’s ability to port directly to your TV, via the HDMI jack, located right next to the micro-SD card slot.

What’s awesome about SHIELD is that it has literally surprised everyone in both the console and mobile gaming industry. Did no one see this coming? Between the Wii-U and Microsoft SmartGlass, the idea of interacting with your TV via a secondary device, gaming or otherwise, isn’t something so far-fetched that we couldn’t have anticipated the rest of the pack getting behind. I know, I know…I suppose the surprise is in the fact that it’s coming from NVIDIA. It’s refreshing that we anticipated just another slew of improvements to existing products and instead get sucker-punched by this bit of what I’m sure people will soon be branding disruptive tech (and rightfully so). Look out XBox! It’s on like Donkey Kong now, my friend. Remember the plethora of “we need a new console” articles that flooded the Internet after E3? They’re about to be dusted off and rehashed.

 

For the good of the Earth.

For the good of the Earth.

 

NVIDIA plans to release their Jelly Bean-run project in the second quarter of 2013, which just makes the fact that they released all those pretty specs without an actual price indication all the more intriguing. For now, the super-curious can sign up for news alerts via the company’s promotional website, which you can handily find here.

Until next time.