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Hello once again NAGians, and thanks for reading This Week In Gaming (or indeed, scrolling past quickly). This week we had a ton of news come out of Microsoft regarding the Xbox One, mostly good, a little bad. Sony was a little more quiet, and Nintendo seems to be licking their wounds somewhere (at least the 3DS is still keeping that ship afloat). Otherwise we have Cliff Bleszinski’s further descent into madness, Zynga’s “corporate restructuring” (read: collapse), GTA V news and Splinter Cell Blacklist‘s swan song in our Videos section (good riddance). All that and more of my unwanted opinions after the jump.

Console News

The Xbox One dominates the news this week, so let’s start things off with some news that isn’t actually news. Xbox Live programming  director Larry Hryb said this week that Microsoft still has no plans to release Xbox One without Kinect.  In his words, Microsofit is “100% all-in on Kinect”.

In other news, the sky is still blue and Duke Nukem Forever is still an awful game.

Despite the fact that you’ll be buying a Kinect whether you want to or not, Microsoft have finally conceded to the tinfoil hat army and allowed the Xbox One to function without it. It’s yet another revision to Xbox One policy that couldn’t possibly be changed, and should be a great relief to naked gamers.

Microsoft did caution that “you won’t be able to use any feature or experience that explicitly uses the sensor.” Thank goodness they cleared that one up, I know I was perplexed.

One feature of actual note Microsoft announced this week was the Xbox One’s ability to power itself down when overheating.

The previous Xbox did not come with this feature.

The previous Xbox did not come with this feature.

The console can detect when it’s getting a little too hot under the collar and adjust accordingly, drawing less power, reducing the required air flow and thus preventing harm to the machine. There’s no word yet on how exactly this will impact the player, but I’m assuming they know enough to not have the console lagging your game every time it gets a little warm.

Moving on to Sony, a games business analyst has predicted that the PS4 will make $1.2 billion every year from PS Plus alone.

This is due to the console maker’s decision to make PS Plus a requirement for multiplayer functionality. This should bring it more in line with Microsoft’s estimated earnings of $1.25 billion in the last year from Xbox Live.

Currently, PS Plus only brings in a paltry $140 million annually.

Sources: VG247, NAG, Arstechnica, EGMNow, CVG

Gaming News

Last month Cliff Bleszinski teased a new IP with a, to be honest, somewhat boring and generic looking image. Bleszinski has released a second teaser image, which looks absolutely nothing like the first. Check it out:

Wut.

Wut.

It looks weird and bad, like an oompa loompa in a referee shirt about to get crushed by an enormous basketball player who’s too busy watching Oscar Pistorius jetpack into the air. I really want to be intrigued by the unrelatedness of the images, but they both just look dumb to me. My money is on a post-apocalyptic world where the rich play jetpack basketball and the poor canoe forlornly around toxic rivers. You heard it here first.

Social gaming company Zynga continues to collapse, with three of the company’s top executives heading for the door.

Ex-Xbox man turned Zynga CEO Don Mattrick says it’s all part of a “restructuring process” which will get the senior leaders closer to the products. Or something. I wonder if he’s starting to regret leaving Microsoft yet?

While we’re on Microsoft, the industry giant has announced that we’ll be getting a first look at a “unique exclusive” during their Gamescom showcase on Tuesday.

The exclusive, of course, will be for the Xbox One, and I’m really hoping it’s not some stupid Kinect game. Perhaps even more exciting is that Respawn Entertainment’s first title, Titanfall, will actually be playable at the event.

They’re not the only one with Gamescom teasers either – Blizzard have set up a new website titled “Reaper of Souls”, which is almost certainly the previously confirmed Diablo 3 expansion. The timing would suggest that we’ll be getting our first look at Gamescom, although I’m not sure anything can resurrect my interest in the game at this point. Except removing the auction house, of course.

Unfortunately, death has already spread it's wings over Diablo 3.

Unfortunately, death has already spread it’s wings over Diablo 3.

With GTA V’s multiplayer portion being released separately at a different date (specifically October 1, two weeks after GTA V), some concerns surfaced that this would be some kind of stand-alone thing that will be paid for separately.

Good news then, Rockstar has confirmed that they have no plans to sell GTA Online separately; it will be bundled with the title. In fact, it “doesn’t require a code, online pass, or anything like that”. Phew.

Can we just agree to leave rape out of games? I know these developers are going for the whole gritty realism thing, but seriously every time it’s this massive scandal and a whole lot of people get really upset and the scene in question gets removed.

Hotline Miami 2 is the latest game with devs stupid enough to put in a rape scene, and to make matters worse it’s preceded by the words “Finish Her!”, like you’re playing Mortal Kombat.

Brutal violence: good. Rape: bad.

Brutal violence: good. Rape: bad.

Needless to say the social networks are abuzz, the author of the preview in which this information was released has said she “feels betrayed” and the whole thing is just a net negative. Leave it out, game developers.

Sources: CVG, GamesIndustry, IGN, Polygon, CVG, PC Gamer

Videos

The time has finally come. This friends, will be my last Splinter Cell Blacklist video. Partly because the game comes out this month, and partly because a man can only take so much. This latest Ubisoft offering shows off “over 100 ways to play” the stealth action title.

Speaking of stealth games, Assassin’s Creed 4 is coming any day now – the beginning of November in fact. This new video shows off some gameplay from the game, while direct Ashraf Ismail talks you through the various stealth takedowns you can use.

Is anyone still playing WoW? Anyway, I’m sure all seven of you will really enjoy this video, which shows off some new Mists of Pandaria content coming with the next patch. Players will be tasked with killing “Siege of Orgimmar –no easy task. This new content comes along with Mists of Pandaria, so if you’ve already made that particular poor investment you at least won’t be asked to make another.

Some of the biggest news this week was the unveiling of the GTA Online multiplayer. If you missed the livestream and/or the highlights, check out this official reveal trailer instead.

Best of NAG

It’s unofficial review week on NAG Online, as this week saw a ton of games being put through their paces for your entertainment.

Game review veteran Rogan Louwrens took Shadowrun Returns for a spin, an RPG with some variations on the standard formula. Also, cyborgs. Find out exactly why Rogan didn’t like the game, but why you might, here.

For another not-quite-an-RPG check out Tarryn van der Byl’s look at Charlie Murder, a punk rock themed indie that is not to be taken lightly. It’s frustrating, it’s unique and you just might love it. Check it out.

Next up is my first pass at a review for NAG, where I dove into nostalgic heaven with Interceptor Entertainment’s remake of a game that could very well be older than some of you reading this – Rise of the Triad. It’s violent, insane and you’re either going to think it’s the best or the worst game you’ve ever played. Find out why there’s no middle ground here.

Madness?

Madness? This. Is. NAZI ISLAND!

Finally we have one of Nintendo’s most under-appreciated franchises, on their most under-appreciated console – Pikmin 3 for the Wii U. The struggling console has been lacking in good first-party titles; could this be enough of a reason to adopt Nintendo’s unwanted orphan? See what Miklós has to say about it here.

Moving away from reviews (but not from shameless self-promotion), my column this week was all about video game addiction. I did some serious soul-searching, and maybe you should too.

Finally, we have one for you rich folk. It’s Wesley Fick’s absolutely excellent System Builder’s Guide, and this time it’s focusing on how the other half live. If your tower has brightly coloured LEDs and a water-cooling system that fits conveniently in the boot of your Ferrari, this is the one for you.