Weekend Short-Takes: 5/3/13

Watch Dogs unleashed in November

Simon Wu:
Saint’s Row 4 in August. GTA V in September. Now Watch Dogs in November. These three games are set to be launched with about a month in between each one. Two titans of the sandbox open-world genre and the new upstart that is trying to challenge it all by being the face of the next generation, showing off not only graphical advances but also by showing the power of a fully living world that you dynamically take advantage of and navigate. Whether the hacking mechanic which is so core to the game’s paradigm works will certainly be a huge question to answer. Given my limited knowledge of this world, and with a limited number of buttons at my disposal, can I really do some of the things that have been demoed? While parkouring away from enemies over streets and rooftops, can I fluidly hack the next light rail train and make a getaway, then immediately hack the pursuers’ phone lines to cover my escape without missing a beat and fumbling in menus for a few minutes? If so, then it can’t come soon enough.

Max Gruber:
I think there’s a new open-world kid on the block named Watch Dogs, who’s stepping up against the big boys GTA V and Saint’s Row IV. From what the trailer showed off, it doesn’t seem to be like L.A. Noire, in the sense that you’re in an open-world environment, yet you’re walking along a narrow tightrope throughout the whole game. It appears that you’ll be doing a lot more activities in Watch Dogs than what was initially shown, which is great. In addition to all that, there’s also the multiplayer that Watch Dogs will have, which feels reminiscent of Demon’s Souls’ multiplayer experience, which is amazing. Also, I'm not sure if Simon or Alex know this, but Watch Dogs is being developed with PC in mind.

Jonathan Tung:
While I am quite interested in Watch_Dogs, I sadly get the feeling that it will be overshadowed by most of the gaming community with the release of Grand Theft Auto V two months earlier. Unless Ubisoft comes up with a much more unique gimmick other than the ability to hack into PDAs and wreck havoc on an entire city using nothing than a cell phone, then consider me out (at least, until the price goes down that is). Other than that, I like what the devs at Ubisoft are going for so far, and I just hope it lives up to it’s hype, unlike Assassin’s Creed III, which simply disappointed me in the end.

John Fenix:
As I mentioned the last time I was on the podcast, I am excited for this game, which explores the possibilities games like the Assassin’s Creed series has done so well with. I admit, that some might sound tedious, but from what it sounds like, it will be interesting to see how you will you the city to your advantage. Now just got save up my money for November.


Alex Miller:
I really want to like this game. It sounds amazing, in a way almost too good to be true. As Simon described above, a complicated escape with a limited number of buttons sounds like a potential exercise in frustration and menu crawling. I could be entirely wrong, in fact in this case I want to be, but I just can’t shake this sinking suspicion that it won’t be as fluid as we all seem to want to believe. Hopefully by releasing in November they can get the Black Friday bump to establish the multiplayer side of the game, but they really need to pull something out of their hat to get people to potentially pass on Saints Row IV or GTA V with their hard earned game buying money. Ubisoft has certainly impressed and shaken things up before, I just hope they can do it again.

 

Going after GameStop’s margins, Nintendo starts selling its own used hardware

Simon Wu:
I recently went in to a GameStop and was confused. In a small (but ever expanding) corner, they were selling some tablets. Not gaming tablets, just regular Android tablets. Equally as unnecessary, they were selling physical cards for DLC packs, which just consisted of a redeem code so you could get it online. While I would never buy either from GameStop, these are two small examples of how they are desperately trying to diversify from just games and consoles. Nintendo is also not doing well, so by getting into the act, they bring the official company backing to a refurbished unit, and not just hope that the teenager in front of you being paid minimum wage isn’t lying or isn’t hiding anything from you.

Max Gruber:
I occasionally go to GameStop to get some things, but other than that, I really don’t go there that much, especially considering there’s a much more convenient Best Buy store close to where I am right now. Given how much of a failure the Wii U has been, it’s not surprising that Nintendo is trying to compete with the used market, specifically GameStop, as mentioned earlier. I saw this inexorable push from Nintendo from a kilometer away. I really think Nintendo is becoming all the more desperate to regain that lost profit from the Wii U, and we all know where this is heading towards: They’ll start to shrink in size, smaller and smaller until there is no one left. As Agatha Christie wrote in one of her most famous novels:
“Three Indian boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one then there were two.
Two Indian boys sitting in the sun;
One got all frizzled up then there was one.
One Indian boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself and then there were none.”

Alex Miller:
Wow, this is something I have not been able to say for quite some time, but smart move Nintendo. I know we often seem to rag on Nintendo, but it is only because they seem to stumble from one missed opportunity into another mistake. Here however they seem to have finally done something right. Handhelds still sell very well and Nintendo still dominates that market. By undercutting Gamestop, they can make a profit on a device twice, and that certainly makes sense to me. I imagine owning the means of production makes it much easier and cheaper to repair these units, and I know I would certainly take Nintendo’s Seal of Approval over a handwritten Gamestop note any day. Well done Nintendo.

John Fenix:
I have to agree with Alex. This is a smart move by Nintendo, especially since most people who bash on Nintendo suffer quite a bit from the nostalgia effect, so giving them the ability to go back to what they want, and making money double the money is a smart business move. It’s maybe not a smart move in innovation, but their latest innovative strategies haven’t panned out. So maybe this money can go toward creating some console-saving titles for the Wii U. At least one can dream.

 

Respawn's new game is next-gen Xbox-exclusive, claims report

Simon Wu:
This is huge. For a while I’ve been wondering where Xbox’s next big exclusive was going to come from. While Halo will continue, it is very much a known quantity, as are Gears of War and Fable. The thing is, this exclusive will just stack on top of the existing multiplayer centric sci-fi shooter Xbox exclusives. I must repeat the fact we have said time and again; most gamers in the younger demographic brackets only have the money for two, maybe three games a year. Meanwhile, the Xbox still lacks a true exclusive answer to games such as Uncharted or Infamous. There is a great potential for infighting amongst the Xbox stable, and I’m not entirely sure it will be productive in nature.

Max Gruber:
For those that don’t know, this is being made by Jason West—former Infinity Ward president, game director, co-CCO and CTO—and Vincent Zampella—former CEO and co-founder of Infinity Ward. They now work with EA, which means one of two things: A) It’s going to be a Call of Duty clone, or B) It’s going to be a Call of Duty clone. Basically, it’s more than likely that Respawn is going to be making a game similar to that of CoD, which is probably a bad thing, given the decline of interest in CoD after Black Ops.  

Jonathan Tung: 
Now that we have a decent idea what Respawn is up to, it appears that Microsoft is planning on utilizing their new Titan game as a means of making a worthy successor to the Halo franchise, especially since Bungie is now in bed with Activision and working on some exclusive stuff for the PlayStation versions of Destiny coming out near the end of the year. Expect it to have at least somewhat of a presence at the Microsoft conference on May 21st.

Alex Miller:
This is something I am truly excited for. Most people don’t know exactly who Respawn are, and thats because they haven’t made any games yet. Under that name anyways. The team at Respawn is essentially all the people that made Call of Duty good. Right, now slow down there with your angry comment, hear me out. Remember, back before Call of Duty was the repetitive whipping boy it is now, there were some really good games with the Call of Duty moniker. Call of Duty 2 was probably one of my favorite launch titles for the Xbox 360. Call of Duty 4 was perhaps the last truly revolutionary game we got from Call of Duty. The studio behind both? Infinity Ward. Ever since the guys now at Respawn broke away from Infinity Ward and Activision, we have seen a definite drop in innovation from the famous shooter series, and as a result all of its various clones as well. Hopefully Respawn can bring some of their brilliance back to the shooter genre.

John Fenix: 
As Simon noted, It’s a little bit of repeat that from the brief info released that it sounds something along the lines of sci-fi shooter, which Halo and Gears of War have filled in pretty well in the Xbox curriculum. Having another one may turn some people off from pushing to grab Microsoft’s next console. I not too enthusiastic about this game, though to be fair I have personally /never been much of a fan of the Call of Duty series. This is also one of the first exclusives that has been announced, and I going to wait and see what happens at Microsoft’s announcement.

examiner.com


Call of Duty teaser site updated: 'the Ghosts are real'

Simon Wu:
We are bringing Black Ops into the realm of Modern Warfare now. After some thought on why the name change and if this potentially shifts the focus away from a general war shooter towards the far more stealth and recon focused missions of Black Ops, I think that Activision wanted to diversify away from the name Modern Warfare before the name hit four or five, to try and create the illusion that they are moving in a new direction. The last few seconds seemed to emphasize the covert squad. That has me wondering about potential new forms of co-op; Spec Ops with a 5 person squad, each person filling an important role to make sure the mission goes smoothly and undetected.

Max Gruber:
As I mentioned in the last Short-Take, I’ve had zero interest in Carl on Duty. I can just predict that it’s going to be released in late November, will have a massive marketing push, is going to have dozens of DLC in the primer, and the following year is when Activision announces Treyarch’s next Call of Duty game. I can see no physical reason why people would be interested in this, though there are probably still the fanboys that will pick it up because it’s “still the cool thing to do.”

Jonathan Tung:
Now that Activision has officially confirmed the existence of Call of Duty Ghosts (and the announcement date of it’s first live showing coinciding with the Next Gen Xbox Event), I can pretty much assume that Microsoft is going to continue on their long-standing agreement with Activision of providing timed-exclusive DLC to the next generation Xbox platform. From my opinion, it appears that Microsoft might be using this as their key to dominate the market this winter when the next Xbox comes out. However, given the decreased interest in the Call of Duty franchise as of late, and the ever-expanding hype for Destiny, Watch Dogs, and the new GTA game, it’s quite clear that this fall is going to be extremely packed for gamers.

Alex Miller:
Well, at least it isn’t called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 4, because that would have been incredibly confusing. As it stands though all I can really say is: eh. I like the fact that they have changed the name, but if it brings no gameplay changes or innovation with it then it is a wasted gesture. With nothing but an interesting live-action trailer to go on, there isn’t much known about this game. I hope its different, but as it stands Activision needs to convince me this one is different. I haven’t bought a Call of Duty game since MW2, and right now, with the crowded release schedule ahead, I have no plans to change that.

 

GTA V Trailers: Michael. Franklin. Trevor.

Simon Wu:
Rockstar is so good with its marketing, and it has such a stellar reputation from the gaming community that any small tidbits it throws out are ravenously feasted on and celebrated by the gaming public. That’s not to say that Rockstar isn’t well deserving; rather, it’s two main pillars, Red Dead and GTA are heralded as masterpieces of the open world genre. But this year, as mentioned at the top, it is coming out right in between two challengers. Each will present a nuanced flair (or in Saint’s Row’s case, not so much nuance as outright ridiculousness). Ubisoft is banking on the free flowing that characterizes its other main franchises, and Rockstar will try and use this new multiple protagonist system in ways I’m sure we can’t even imagine yet.

Max Gruber:
Having only played GTA: San Andreas and GTA IV, seeing that GTA V will have three different characters you can play as—all of which are probably going to intersect with each other’s plot line like it did in GTA IV—will really expand on the story, especially when you start to understand what happened in the intervening time from another character’s perspective. As controversial as the franchise has been received over the years, people can’t deny that it has a well crafted story with very human characters scattered throughout the franchise. However, this is just a small feature implemented into the game; this isn’t groundbreaking or revolutionary by any stretch of one’s imagination. In addition to that, it’s in direct competition with two similar titles to it, and it’s stuck in between the two: Saint’s Row IV, Deep Silver’s newest addition, and Watch_Dogs, Ubisoft’s torchbearer for the next-gen consoles. I wonder if Watch_Dogs really becomes the more dominant game to be released because it’s being released last, as opposed to being released in the same time—or earlier—as GTA V.

Jonathan Tung:
Ubisoft has to get themselves ready, ‘cause after watching the new trailers for Grand Theft Auto V, I can pretty much conclude that Rockstar has officially hit this title out of the park. Let’s just hope that they can fix the terrible car handling from GTA IV and maybe revert to a similar handling style reminiscent of that from GTA: San Andreas.


Alex Miller:
San Andreas was always the crazier of the the Grand Theft Auto Locations. Between flame throwers, jetpacks, and the general fake Hollywood/L.A. feel it was an awesome place to inhabit. Combine that with the serious nature the series can take if it wants to, and you get the middle ground between Saints Row 4’s wackiness and Watch Dogs serious nature. The trailer released shows both sides of this, with Trevor’s crazy antics, Franklin’s more serious struggles, and Michael stuck somewhere in between. This is my game to look forward to of the fall (well this and Total War: Rome 2 obviously :P)
 


 

The Last of Us ending details leak online

Simon Wu:
This is so unfortunate, because this is a new IP that is trying to get out there. If it were the plot to CoD: Ghosts or even Assassin’s Creed 4 at this point, I would not be nearly as concerned. Existing franchises are very well known quantities, and we all understand with a good degree of certainty what they will entail. This game, however, was supposed to give a new take to zombie survival horror in a compelling format. Naturally, this entails a strong narrative and significant introspection into the interaction between the two characters; exactly what is now known ahead of time. Moreover, the leak of a shooter’s plot and the leak of a horror game’s plot are worlds apart in terms of their significance. The entire idea of the horror genre is dependent on the fact that the player has no idea what could happen next. When he/she does, the horror aspect has a tendency to vanish quickly.

Max Gruber:
As horrible as this seems, and I know Simon And Jonathan have written what they have, there’s an easy solution that requires as little involvement as possible: Don’t read it. It’s the simplest thing imaginable. If you don’t want to spoil yourself of the story, good. If you want to spoil the story, go for it. I may not like your decision, but it’s all up to you.

John Fenix:
I’m going to stand with Max here and just simply avoid reading what comes out. And you can’t tempt me! Nope. Don’t even try it.
Jonathan Tung:
Remember what happened when the entire plot to Modern Warfare 3 got leaked two years ago? Well this is worse: the plot to a HIGHLY-ANTICIPATED third person shooter leaked all because of poor timing and Spoiler-filled labels inside a file that was supposed to be under developer eyes. Regardless, this could hurt sales of the game or could result in the game being delayed in order to change the plot. Or, if we’re lucky, this was probably from one of their earlier builds before they decided to make a brand new ending after realizing how terrible the old one probably was. But then again, It’s 2013: almost everyone is connected and spoilers can get around the web pretty easily, which could make avoiding them even harder.

Alex Miller:
Hopefully this isn’t really the ending, simply because it would be a shame if the end of what I imagine will be a powerful story were to be ruined. Imagine if you knew how The Walking Dead was to end, your interest in protecting Clementine and progressing to the end would probably have waned. I agree with those above who said don’t read it. Its as simple as that: don’t. I know some of us do not have the self control to do this, but believe me, it will be worth it. Experiencing a heart wrenching tale that forces you to make real decisions is so much better than reading the same decisions being made on Wikipedia. Trust us, don’t read it. 

 officialplaystationmagazine.com

Solifluktion's picture

I'm really looking forward to Watch Dogs. But I doubt that I'll be able to run it. Same goes for GTA5 and SR4. I guess I'll have to upgrade my PC or wait for a great deal for a PS3/Xbox360. We'll see.

Whiplash's picture

@Solifluktion

Shouldn't be too difficult to upgrade your rig. What specs are you running?

Solifluktion's picture

Athlon X2 6000+

GTX 260

4GB Ram

 

Upgrading wouldn't exactly be difficult (after all I've always just updated my PCs instead of buying new ones) but I don't really want to spend any money. But I guess I'll have to eventually.

Whiplash's picture

You may have to up your Ram at some point down the line to, maybe, 8 gigs at best.

Solifluktion's picture

Yeah, if I had the money right now I'd replace my mainboard, CPU and Ram. Those are the things that slow my PC down the most. We'll see how many configurations my tower will survive. Right now I think I'm on the 4th or 5th PC in that case.

darthskeletor's picture

I physically don't know which game to get this fall. While I would probably rank Saint's Row lower and GTA higher, Saint's Row looks like it's going to be so ridiculous that i might consider it over other games. And Watchdogs is a completely novel concept that I really want to try because Ubisoft does make great games, and I think that the continuation of the AC series is somewhat necessary while they get Watchdogs off the ground, and they might diversify away or experiment with the series once more when they have another solid franchise. That's my take on the AC 'CoDification'.

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