big rigs

Hello again everybody, and thanks for joining me again for TWIG. Twig? Doesn’t really work does it. Well, you just don’t know until you try these things. Anyways, we’ve got a smattering of console news this week, sexism rears it’s ugly head, people don’t like microtransactions, people don’t like EA either but the CEO tells you why you should, a first look at Quantum Break gameplay (is coming soon), the title of worst game ever made may have changed owners and there’s some videos and NAG stuff and whatnot. You’d really be doing yourself (mostly me) a disservice by not having a look.

Console News

The Microsoft marketing team just can’t seem to get it together. After a horrible Xbox One reveal (and some pretty poor subsequent PR), a new promo for the console was this week accused of being sexist.

The idea behind the promo is that it’s a letter written by Microsoft attempting to convince a potential buyer’s significant other that it’s a worthwhile purchase. The letter is customisable, but comes preloaded with some helpful phrases.

Phrases such as, “Not sure if you’ve heard, but Xbox One is now available. That means we can start playing games like Dead Rising 3. I know, I know. You’d rather knit than watch me slay zombies, but hear me out on this. Xbox One is actually for both of us. Seriously.”

Knitting? Really? If you’re going to choose some stereotypically female endeavour, at least make it an interesting one. They’ve since altered it to “do your taxes early”, which is gender neutral, but equally boring.

It boggles my mind that the fallout from something like this can’t be foreseen. But this is the same company that thought it would be a great idea to spend their entire reveal talking about media streaming, so I guess anything is possible.

Personally, I'm just offended by the bad grammar.

Personally, I’m offended by the bad grammar.

While we’re on the subject of the jolly green giant, MS Studios big cheese Phil Spencer said in an interview this week that the company is trying to safely navigate the murky waters of microtransactions.

The microtransaction model has proven itself to be quite the rainmaker, so you can’t blame the more traditional boxed game types to want to get in on some of that free-to-play money mill. And what better way to do that than put it in a not F2P game?

Games such as Forza 5 have been met with a lot of disdain over their microtransactions, but Spencer says Microsoft is trying to “craft the experience better for the gamer”, which means (hopefully) avoiding pay-to-win scenarios.

It’s easy to say something like, ‘I’ll never allow somebody to buy the win of the game, I won’t let them buy victory,’ but that’s kind of a trite answer,” Spencer said. “I’d say, ‘Yeah, I guess I have that line, that [we wouldn’t have] “Pay five bucks and get 1000 achievements” or something stupid like that.’ I’m always pushing against that. But, in reality, that’s not what the gamers are looking for. They’re usually looking for customization and their gameplay style opening up.”

"You wouldn't download a car..."

“You wouldn’t download a car…”

The PS4 launched in Europe this week, and Playstation UK’s Fergal Gara said that he believes this generation of consoles will have a shorter lifecycle than their predecessors.

“It’s probably a sign of the times and how much has changed in seven years, but I think the willingness and the appetite to pick up new technology fast has probably changed quite a bit.”

Seven years was a really impressive run, but in a world where a new iPhone launches every two weeks it’s hard to imagine this generation matching that record.

Sources: CVG, Kotaku, TechRadar

Gaming News

Big Rigs: Over the Road Racing is widely regarded to be the worst game ever made, but it may have some serious competition in Ashes Cricket 2013.

Released last week Friday, the game managed to secure that coveted sub-one Metacritic score before publisher 505 Games announced it would be scrapping the game entirely. Post release.

505 pointed the finger squarely at developer Trickstar Games, which is probably a little unfair. Considering the buggy mess masquerading as a game was delayed back in July, I have no doubt the developer did an absolutely awful job. However, at the end of the day, it was publisher 505 who made the decision to start selling the game to the public in the state it was in.

Take a little responsibility, I say.

If you look at this screenshot carefully, you'll see it doesn't make one damned bit of sense.

If you look at this screenshot carefully, you’ll see it doesn’t make one damned bit of sense.

Speaking of taking responsibility, you may know that EA has been voted Worst Company in America in both 2012 and 2013 – the first company to get the “award” consecutive years.

Executive VP Patrick Soderlund has said they’re definitely not the worst company, but you do “have to sit down and ask yourselves ‘why are people saying these things?’

“We did that and we started to realise that we are doing things that people don’t like,” he continued.

Soderlund concludes, “My goal is to be seen as the best in the business. I want people to recognise us for the games we make rather than anything else.”

It’s a nice sentiment, and to be fair EA have made a lot of progress. However, some of their recent releases have been marred by unnecessary and distracting issues which are more about profit than delivering a great game. Let’s hope they mean what they say about listening to their consumers.

Kickstarter funded PC space MMO Star Citizen continues to pull light years away from its original target of $500,000, hitting the $33 million mark this week. Yowzers.

Gamers clearly have respect for developer pedigree, as the game is being helmed by the creator of Wing Commander, the ‘90s cult legend.

Every million dollars a new ship is added to the game; it’s looking to be a rather sizeable fleet.

star_citizen_screenshot_3

News from Remedy Entertainment, we’ll be getting our first proper look at mysterious title Quantum Break next Saturday, with gameplay footage being shown on VGX.

I’m excited to get a look at it, as I’m a sucker for story-driven games and time-manipulation mechanices in a game of this scale are intriguing to say the least.

Don’t think the studio has forgotten about its other original title, Alan Wake, creative director and lead writer Sam Lake said this week, “We love Wake and we are constantly looking for opportunities and talking about possibilities of what we could do with Wake.

“I would definitely love to do more Wake, but it needs to be something we absolutely feel is the right thing for Wake, and the bar is high enough, and this is really going to be cool, not just doing it at the cost of making something that’s not as top notch as it should be, so time will tell.”

Kudos to them for wanting to do it right, rather than looking at franchise cash-in potential.

Sources: Gamespot, MCVUK, Polygon, CVG, Polygon 

Videos

Some of you lucky buggers have already gotten your hands on a brand spanking new PS4. One of the features of the console is the ability to control it using only your silky smooth voice, and this video shows you exactly how to do that.

As I mentioned earlier, Ashes Cricket 2013 is kind of the worst game ever. With that in mind, you really owe it to yourself to see this train wreck in action. Check out this short clip showing off some of the less traditional fielding teckniques employed by the players.

Killzone Shadow Fall has released to mixed reviews, but does introduce a little innovation into a somewhat stale genre. This new dev diary goes behind the scenes at Guerilla Games.

There’s been a lot of dicussion on how much of an improvement the next-gen consoles are actually showing over their predecessors, but games like Ryse: Son of Rome are giving us a look at what’s possible with the buffed up hardware. This video from CVG compares Assassin’s Creed 4 across the old Xbox 360 and the new Xbox One.

Best of NAG

Indie specialist Delano took another low-budget title for a spin this week, not-quite-shooter Tower Bombarde. There’re even boss fights. Check it out.

For a healthy dose of insanity, watch this video of a man blowing up an Xbox One. A bit of a tragedy in itself, but at least he’s creative about it, and appears to have access to things he shouldn’t.

I pulled on my serious-business cap for my column this week, discussing the problematic and controversial issue of highly sexualised video game characters, and what they might mean for us and the industry.

Finally, we have a console review. Xbox One? PS4? Nope. It’s flown a little under the radar, but this is a console you should definitely check out. The best part is, the games are included.

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