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31/12/2010

One last little opinion piece

So 2010 is coming to a close and we will be ushering in 2011 soon enough. New Year's Eve is upon us and New Year's Day is but a short time away. Hopefully the new year will bring with it a selection of interesting titles, innovations, positive surprises and not too many pitfalls (although they will inevitably happen along the way as well).

All the best to everyone from January onwards. Don't get too down about the VAT increase, other things and changes coming our way next year. Rolling through it is the human way to deal with it after all (something I need to learn more about  and will undoubtedly experience more of in the next few years).

See you in 2011!

An early Happy New Year to one and all

As the title says. Make sure you enjoy it if you are able.

Sending love from York.

Games in the news – why are games still getting so much heat?



OPINION

It seems like a bizarre concept in the modern day. And yet, games as a medium still receive lots of heat when it comes to mainstream media coverage. The attention gathered through debate programmes, one-off special edition shows and newspapers seems not to be much different from the situation 4-5 years ago when the likes of GTA, Bully, Manhunt or pretty much any Rockstar game would receive coverage from tabloids, broadsheets and TV alike in great measure. Of course, one has to consider the agendas of newspapers providing such coverage on titles that are usually renowned multi-million sellers within the first few weeks of release.

A good example to draw upon would be the recent Panorama special, aired on BBC One that cared to highlight the reality and dangers of gaming addiction. The 30-minute special covered players of titles such as World of Warcraft through to the likes of popular modern day console titles as well as the levels of addiction attributed to MMORPGs (massive multiplayer online roleplaying games for the uninitiated) in countries such as Korea (renowned for having some of the best quality broadband internet connections that side of the world).

The producers of the special would have their own agenda when it came to presenting the points they want to make in the programme, otherwise what would be the point in creating the documentary in the first place? Watchers could also take away from the programme what they feel are the key messages presented within, based on the knowledge that they themselves hold to construct a rounded understanding of whether there are underlying issues inherent within gaming addiction or whether it is a cause of habit, much like other daily habits that people conduct in work, socialising and other areas of their lives.

Another example of media taking an axe to the medium was on the Alan Titchmarsh Show which aired a few months back. Although early afternoon shows such as Titchmarsh's cater for a particular audience, it is useful to remember the scenario at the time. Present were Titchmarsh, actress Julie Peasgood, the former editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie and editor of online games website CVG, Tim Ingham.

The points made in the section were as clear as day. Although it wanted to explore if violent videogames were to blame for cases of violent behaviour in children and teens, how could a fair and balanced argument be presented when Tim Ingham was the only one on the panel presenting the stance that officially released titles in the UK on all formats carry age ratings by the BBFC (British Board of Film and Classification)? Mackenzie was more understanding of the matter, explaining that he could not truly judge as to whether said games were solely responsible for inducing violent behaviour in young individuals in each case. He did acknowledge, however, that it was a matter requiring further research to see if there was any substantial validity regarding the connection.

It was somewhat unfortunate, and maybe expected, that Julie Peasgood ignited the fires of sensationalism in the audience by launching full throttle into how the examples she raised of violent titles were definitely responsible for cases of violent behaviour in young children. It should be noted that Peasgood provided a voiceover for a violent video game titled Martian Gothic: Unification back in 2000.

Titchmarsh tried to represent the middle ground but through a few MacGuffins over names of titles such as Call of Duty and the nature of their gameplay, it appeared that he was paying as much attention to information being fed through his earpiece as he was the debate at hand. Can we truly blame a mid-afternoon programme on ITV for wanting to present such a debate in five minutes when in all honesty the matter is more complex than what can be covered in an amount of time you can count on one hand? It would be nice to see a section on the same show someday presenting a positive example of how games have contributed to UK youth's education and development.

A good and slightly whimsical example as a counterpoint might be Charlie Brooker's Gameswipe, a BBC One programme which deals with the medium in a swift but caring fashion, Brooker himself a gamer and not ashamed to talk about it. To take a quote from the man himself on his Twitter page back in March,

"Which is less civilised? Some gunplay in pixel-land, or an unfair one-sided censorship debate before a mooing audience in reality?"

Looking away from wider media, a wise mind and pair of eyes only has to check the sales figures for Nintendo's Wii, Microsoft's Kinect and the Playstation Move as examples of high-selling gaming devices with alternate methods of control and interaction. The Wii Fit balance board and the means of controlling Kinect are great examples of how gaming can have a positive impact in the home, allowing users to keep healthy if used correctly or demonstrate their worst attempt at replicating the dance routines in Dance Central. The Playstation Move shows through compatible titles released since launch how they attempt to bring families together, play party games and rip each other apart when the mum of the family bests her son or daughter on Start the Party.

Surely if games didn't receive this wider recognition and appreciation from the general public and were only a single-player experience, would the mainstream media still be taking such bold steps to prove that games are detrimental to the development of individuals as they grow up, mature, achieve successes and make mistakes like anyone doing anything in their life will do (life is, after all, only perfect with all of its imperfections brought into the equation. Anyone who's watched The Animatrix, for example, can testify that the idea of a 'perfect world' would only bring boredom to the human race in the long run. Or read up on Thomas Edison sometime to see what 'dedication' stands for).

One last point should be considered here. Gaming addiction aside, how much of any existing addiction can be branded 'addiction' and when is it merely a habit that an individual has chosen to adopt and carry out every day, suiting them and bringing them happiness in some form or other? It could be put simply that eating, drinking, smoking, working, watching TV, writing, reading, computer work, cleaning, opening doors and filing are 'addictions' if done regularly enough. They could also equally be referred to as habits as they are carried out frequently, sometimes necessarily, for humans to keep on living.

It is important to remember, like daily activity, that we all place labels on things around us in life to make sense of them and function in society, whether that be as a role model to others, a follower of said role models, a trendsetter, an extrovert, an invert, sociopath or maybe something else unexpected altogether. Let's just try to remember (like I should try to as well) to carry out the important things regularly and fit the 'enjoyable' ones around those where we can, media sensationalism or not.

What do you make of mainstream media's continued interest, and sometimes controversial coverage of games and their influence on youth in the UK? Any thoughts, feel free to post them in the Comments section below.

Bye-bye disc, hello digital? How long before the physical disc becomes obsolete?

Probably one of my last updates before the end of the year, a little opinion piece that will hopefully stimulate some feedback and conversation. Beyond that, expect a Happy New Year greeting come the time.

VS

Opinion

Although not a new phenomenon, games being released in digital format is steadily increasing with the introduction of services such as Xbox Live and PSN. Being able to purchase titles for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network services means that players the world over have received easy access to several indie and officially released titles over the last couple of years, allowing them to play said titles from their hard drives or in the case of PSN, transfer it over to their PSP for play on the go. Does this mean however the death knell for disc-based titles?

From the sounds of what CEO of Take-Two Interactive Strauss Zelnick has said, disc-based titles aren't expected to go anywhere, anytime soon. He sees the medium as a vital asset to the company's business model, allowing them to continue generating consistent profit whilst allowing fans to keep a hard copy of the title in their possession. However, the likes of indie developers such as Hello Games and even large publishers such as Rockstar and SEGA show that digital downloads are becoming more popular than ever, especially given the recent financial climate. The ability for them to publish titles in a format that can cut down on production costs of manuals and cases is an important consideration from a business point of view. It also allows the company to maximise profits from the sale of their games via a download-only based service.

Reading an article on Forbes.com today by columnist Paul Tassi, he predicts that by 2020 physical game media will be gone, digital downloads will take over and stores such as Gamestop and Best Buy will disappear or be non-existent. Users will have accounts that will allow them to access their purchased titles, meaning less worries about a hard drive being wiped. Tassi is probably reflecting on the current situation when casting his predictions on the future of gaming. However, the next ten years will be a good measure of how accurate or not his forecast ends up being when it comes to the games market.

We should also consider how the pre-owned market has affected disc-based sales of titles over the last couple of years. A major bone of contention between publishers and retailers, it can not be denied that they have impacted on the sale of newly-released titles as the economic recession has hit. Although retailers would justify that pre-owned sales are necessary for them to remain competitive in business in general, publishers frown heavily on the pre-owned market, seeing it heavily as A) impacting on new sales, and B) the retailers making profit on previously sold titles.

The argument could be posed that pre-owned sales stimulate interest in future titles from these publishers. Another argument could be that no such approach is taken towards pre-owned sales of CDs, DVDs, books and furniture. Moreover some game titles hold little to no value when they are traded and resold, meaning retailers hold more stock than required when it comes to games on shelves. However, the publishers aren't ones to sit idly by; creating an interesting situation as they need to maintain the work relationship with the large retail chains but have this ongoing issue that creates a continually challenging business situation.

Do you think disc-based titles will be around for some time yet? Or do you see digital downloads of titles taking over completely from physical-based media entirely in the next ten years? Any thoughts, feel free to throw them in the Comments section below.


27/12/2010

GAMES TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2011

I'm going to make this update brief as it's late in the day and my brother's being hospitable to me as of late. As the title suggests, what follows is a short list of titles I'm looking forward to in 2011. Read on to see what gets me hot under the collar in regards to upcoming releases for what will hopefully be an uplifting year.


Dead Space 2

Following on from ship engineer and protagonist Isaac's main horror outing on the vessel The Ishimura in the first Dead Space, the sequel will see our determined survivor traverse a dig site referred to as The Sprawl, playing home to several necromorphs (the undead menaces in the game) and no doubt new dangers and challenges to endure.

Added features include increased manoeuvrability, a new weapon referred to as a Javelin Gun and the ability to use jet boosters on Isaac's suit to allow him to fly around in anti-gravity. Expect lots of scares, shock value and maybe some twists when Dead Space 2 hits near the end of January 2011.


Marvel vs. Capcom 3

It has been 10 years since the last instalment in the franchise and with unofficial reports of this coming to next gen machines for a while, it was only a matter of time before Capcom made a formal announcement that that latest in the franchise was in the pipeline. This time around players will be graced with cell-shaded 3D over traditional 2D, leaving long-term fans slightly perturbed by the added dimension. However, trailers of the title show the game looking amazingly pretty and stylish in equal measure.

Capcom will not disappoint with the gameplay portion of the game seeing teams of 3 returning, assists, specials, supers, max supers and so on coming around again. Making a return will be the ability to switch characters between supers and changing characters mid-air combo seems like a welcome addition to the franchise.

Old faces Ryu, Chun-Li, Iron Man and Wolverine will be returning to the fray. Joining them will be new faces of the likes of DMC's Dante, SSFIV's Crimson Viper and Biohazard's Wesker together with Marvel's rebellious teen with claws X-23, multi-ability user Super Skrull and omnipotent dark lord Dormammu. The game's looking better with each trailer released and one can only hope MvC3 will keep players warm when it is released near Valentine's Day in mid-February.


Valkyria Chronicles 3

Fans of the franchise were initially upset that their favourite franchise was being taken from the PS3 to its smaller brother, the PSP. One sequel later and we arrive at the third in franchise, looking better than ever and no doubt due to the development team getting used to the portable's hardware.

This time around tells the story of rogue unit Nameless in the game's fictional continent of Galia. Players will get to grips with disgraced former elite soldier Kurt Irving, battlefield survivor and descendant of the Valkyria Riela Marcellis and vengeful Darcsen (the in-game minority), Imuka.

Protagonists take the form of Imperial army faction Calamity Raven who the Nameless unit will cross paths with throughout the game. Old systems from VC1/VC2 make a return, as does the game's graphical style. New to this instalment are Special Points that will initiate character-specific abilities and perks. The demo of the game looks and plays well so hopefully the finished product will live up to high expectations.


Yakuza 4

I'm aware this has been released in Japan already but Western fans are having to sit pretty until April next year. Joining Kazuma this time around will be former homeless man-turned money loaner Shun Akiyama, vengeful police detective Masayoshi Tanimura and former-imprisoned gangster Taiga Saejima. The play area has been expanded, allowing players to roam the rooftops of Kamuro-cho.

Players will also be able to roam the game's back streets (called the Rojiura) and the game's underground which encompasses Kamuro-cho's sewers, parking lot and various shopping arcades. Separate sections of the game will see fans take control of each of the 4 main characters, each harnessing their own fighting styles, before they are brought together to intertwine their stories into one. Be sure to check the game out when it is released with the emergence of Springtime next year.


Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Covered somewhat in this blog already, the next in the Uncharted franchise was announced approximately a week ago to much internet furor. This time around players will see the treasure-hunting Nathan Drake venture across the Ru'bah Khali desert in search of another lucrative treasure.

Joining him will be series' favourite Victor Sullivan (Sully to his fans) together with equal measures of shooting, traversing, automatic weapon pickups, fighting multiple enemies at once and hopefully some exhilarating original set pieces to boot. The game is due in November next year and should shape up to be as worthwhile an entry in the franchise as the previous two entries to date. Let's hope Drake keeps his sharp wit and acerbic tongue whilst he's at it.

Other gaming highlights of 2011 I am looking forward to include Batman: Arkham City, Devil's Third, Duke Nukem Forever, Gears of War 3, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus: The Collection, The Last Guardian and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Let's hope that 2011 proves to be a good year for game releases and also a few (positive) surprises along the way.

All the best for 2011 and let me know what you think of what's in store for gaming next year, or what you would like to see, in the Comments section below.

24/12/2010

What happened to local multiplayer?



OPINION

Something came into my head recently. No, not what day of the week it was or what I'm going to have for dinner. The idea that came to me recently was, what happened to local multiplayer? Anyone remember the days where playing multiplayer meant going around to your friend's place, picking up a controller and giving something like Street Fighter or FIFA a thorough playing for an hour or two?

Call it an old-fashioned way of looking at things but with high-speed broadband connections, friends in far-reaching places of the world and online multiplayer included in titles such as Call of Duty, Uncharted 2, Gears of War and their brethren, the idea of sharing the same screen and complaining that your avatar is too small for your eyes to comprehend appear to be slowly becoming a thing of the past (at least as far as the more powerful machines on the market appear to be concerned).

The Wii, however, does seem to hold up a valiant candle against onliine-only multiplayer with titles such as Wii Sports, Wii Play, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Mario Kart Wii showing that you can still have fun with friends and a Wiimote or two.

Let's not forget the wireless ad-hoc play offered by portable machines such as the DS and PSP (remember those?) Although admittedly not as popular in the West as its native Japan, ad-hoc play on games such as Monster Hunter prove popular for PSP fans, allowing up to four players at once and collaborative monster-hunting a plenty.

That, or competing on Mario Kart with other DS owners in order to take the top spot is firm reassurance that local multiplayer still has a beating heart. It may just have to remain on an internet-free portable device to be the case.

What are your thoughts on local and online multiplayer in the modern day? And do you enjoy playing with other people or prefer to play solo when it comes to your gaming time? Any thoughts, feel free to post them down below.

21/12/2010

3DS press conference to be held in New York in mid-January



So Nintendo of America has announced that it will hold a press conference in New York for the upcoming Nintendo 3DS on January 19th 2011. Press invites have been sent out to the relevant outlets and excitement is building as to what details will be revealed regarding the new 3D portable games machine.


We can hope that a firm price and release date is given as the release of the machine in the West is scheduled for sometime in March next year. It is somewhat surprising that Nintendo has not provided these details already though given that the release of the machine is only about three months away. Those eager to play the device are yet to get hands-on with the machine with only those lucky enough to attend E3 (press or otherwise) having had some playtime with the machine and being able to pass their impressions on via word of mouth, magazine coverage or online blogging.

There is no better way to find if a machine will find favour with the general public than to give them some hands-on time with a selection of the titles that will be released with the 3DS at launch. Knowing Nintendo's track record I am confident this is something they do not need to be shy about, nor do they need to make drastic changes to the device if feedback is overly negative.

Can I also submit a personal request and hope for a 3DS version of Advanced Wars whilst we're at it?

What are you hoping to hear when the Nintendo press conference for the 3DS is held on January 19th in New York? And would you like to get some hands-on playtime with the device prior to release if given the opportunity? Any thoughts or contributions you have on the matter, feel free to post them in the Comments section on this here blog.

What will the VAT increase mean for games retail?


OPINION

Hey there Patrick, you're late to the forum aren't you? We were discussing this ever since the increase in VAT got announced...

Okay, okay. I realise that this is not an entirely new issue but I thought I'd write up a short piece as several retailers and indies have made their voices heard regarding the matter and I figured I would contribute my opinion on the impending situation.

So, we all know (with some trepidation) that on January 4th next year the VAT rate is being increased by 2.5% to 20%. This will be spread across everything in the UK and with pending cuts also announced by the government, morale is down and people are on the defensive as they save in order to prepare for the worst case scenario for the upcoming year. But enough about what every breathing person in the UK knows already. What we need to consider are the knock-on effects of the VAT increase.

Distributors are passing on the increased cost price to retailers, meaning that their profit margins will be narrowed even more so than before come next year unless they are willing to increase the RRPs they regularly sell games at. Given the already fierce competition the high street faces from online retail it is understandable why they are reluctant to do so. However, successful businesses need to be able to make money, and if possible, profit. If it sounds like retailers' backs are against the wall, well just look at the quarterly and yearly financials for 09/10 for companies such as GAME and HMV. Those companies' profits are not on the up recently, that's for sure.

If the current situation with major retailers is a tough one, what of that with indie stores? Perhaps at the top of indie chains pyramid is high-street retailer Grainger Games who despite the current climate has expanded its store count and its retail presence. Another retailer, CEX, seems to be surviving in the current volatile climate although whether it is generating profit or breaking even remains to be seen. Many other indie stores and chains are having to fight for what they can get and it is understandable that they are feeling marginalised with the VAT increase. Unlike larger retailers, chain stores or supermarkets, they can't afford to sell at a loss lest they don't have the funds to keep the shop and the business running, let alone retain and maintain customer loyalty.

It has been interesting to observe internet commenters who have voiced their opinions o the matter. It is easy enough for them to say on forums and Comments sections “If you can't make it work, pack up shop and get down the Job Centre like everyone else.” To some people, the continuation of the business is as important as healthy maintenance of the family unit or relationships with friends. A greater understanding of why retailers and indies are highly concerned about the VAT increase is essential to having a more rounded and well-informed view of the current and situation and the next 12 months.

There is also the argument that retailers didn't pass on any of the profits made whilst the VAT rate was reduced to 15% back in 2009. Again, it is necessary to understand the key reasons as to why this was done (mainly to encourage and increase consumer spending together with helping companies return to profit). If the argument being presented is that retailers kept the profits for themselves, well they are businesses after all! It should also be remembered that this was enforced in a period of ongoing economic downturn and decline as well. It is hard to see this argument stand up when the reality around us everyday suggests otherwise.

What are your opinions on the upcoming VAT increase an how it will affect games retail, online an offline? And do you make your game purchases online only or split them between the internet and the high street? Finally, how would you react if game RRPs were increased? Any thoughts, feel free to post them in the Comments down below.

19/12/2010

Uncharted 3 announcement impressions


Sorry for the delay in updating. Experienced some problems with logging into Blogger this week.

So, the trailer for the inevitable 3rd in the Uncharted franchise was unveiled earlier this week, confirming that yes, Drake will return and yes, there will be some desert adventuring  to be had for our death-defying  and daring adventure.
Although the trailer is only brief at 1:30 mins it shows Drake in an arid desert, the wreckage of a crashed freight plane a short distance behind him. He narrates over the top as the trailer plays out, plucking an automatic rifle from a deceased soldier's hand buried deep in the sand. He then walks to the top of a sand dune; surveying the area before declaring “I did this”, possibly suggesting some form of tie-in with the game's subtitle, Drake's Deception.
The trailer then cuts out to fan-favourite Victor Sullivan (Sully to his fanbase) who emerges  from  the shadows, trademark cigar in hand, asking (on behalf of the viewing audience no doubt) “What the Hell does it all mean in English?”
Drake responds, saying “Be careful what you wish for. It might just get you!”. The trailer then cuts back to our intrepid adventurer still surveying the desert, before the trailer cuts away to small snippets of gameplay we can expect in the upcoming game, followed by the Uncharted 3 logo burning into vision and finally a US release date of November 11th 2010 (let's not confuse things by using the American date format now).

You can either check the trailer out down below or if you have PS3 access you can download it from PSN in both SD and HD formats. All I can say right now is “Bring next November  on Sony and Naughty Dog!”
Oh yeah, Merry Christmas and thank you kindly to my followers. Love you all!


As ever, feel free to post any thoughts you have about the trailer and your anticipation for Uncharted 3 in the Comments section below.

Any potential for a fourth competitor in the games market?

The last Saturday before Christmas, Hell has frozen over and the crazy shoppers invade the streets of Leeds once again to purchase their presents in a mad rush for a day that is meant to celebrate the birth of the Holy One. Instead we help inject the struggling economy with a nationwide bout of spending for a short time and retail hopes to gain every last penny and pound from it (I'm not being cynical in the slightest, honest).

So a Merry Christmas to all and please, on Christmas Day, just stay home and put your feet up. Leeds can be quiet for one Saturday of the year for a change, can't it? (So much for wishful thinking...)

Moving on, I'm aware this is not the first time the subject has been raised on the matter but I thought I'd write something to try and stimulate some conversation (and possibly debate) about whether a fourth major competitor could, and should, enter the existing highly, highly competitive games market.


OPINION

Roll back the years by twenty or so. Who do you remember being the main competitors in the video games market? No, not every single one. The main two?...

...That's right. Nintendo and SEGA. For years they were the two major Japanese companies that went head-to-head, trying to outdo each other with some form of innovation present in their current console or handheld at the time, playing the one-up game against each other and aggressively so. The NES and Master System, the SNES and Megadrive as well as (although not directly comparable in terms of power) the N64 and Saturn and the Gamecube and Dreamcast. For many years gamers knew nothing  else and that was the way it was until Sony and Microsoft came into the market and since then it has (and will never be) the same again.
Flash forward again to the modern day and what do we have? The market is definitely in an interesting state at the moment to say the least. Nintendo seem to have gone the way of Apple and made its hardware, the Wii and DS (and some of its software) accessible to people from all walks of life; from kids to adults to eighty year-old grans who can kick your arse on Wii Sports.

Sony did lose some ground with the launch and slow uptake of the Playstation 3 upon release but has in recent times experienced steady growth and renewed faith among players in difficult market conditions. The partial surprise (or maybe not so much if you break it down) is Microsoft gaining popularity and many an online gamer with the Xbox 360. Although the machine still experiences difficulty selling in territories such as Japan, one only has to remember the immense size and wealth of the Microsoft company to realise that it very much is a company where its money (and game exclusives) certainly talks.

Let's not delude ourselves here. Each of the existing major competitors in the current games market have fought hard and taken their own approaches to gaining, maintaining and increasing market share in a notoriously competitive and difficult industry. Let's also realise that out of the three main competitors, one is a multinational electronics manufacturer and the other the biggest provider of PC operating systems and software around the world. Where possibly could there be the space for a fourth competitor among the big boys then?

Think of Apple's popularity in recent years. Formerly a provider of Mac computers and laptops (Macbooks) to advocates of their brand over regular PCs, they are renowned for their ease of use, editing, creating, designing and all around reliability. They see the rise in popularity of MP3 players and decide to make the market their own with the iPod. “What's the big deal though? It's just another MP3 player!” I can remember friends of mine saying at the time. And yet now the iPod is as synonymous with the MP3 player as Hoover is with vacuum cleaners.

Since then we've had the iPhone, its variants and most recently the iPad. Although Apple's devices are typically expensive compared with other alternatives on the market, their reliability, usefulness and brand image have assured their increasing popularity and advocation by consumers the world over. Moreover, how many independent developers have released titles for the iPhone/iPad in the hopes of making the next hit title on a meagre budget (such as Canabalt or Angry Birds) for a maximum return in revenue? Furthermore, how many of the general public who own some form of Apple product would prefer to buy a game for 50p-£1 and play for 5-10 minutes a day rather than spend anything up to £40-£50 and dedicate hours to a newly purchased title in order to feel their purchase was worth it? Just go ask the owners of iPhones/iPads and you'll quickly find out. 

It would be foolish to forget another potential contender for fourth place among the industry big hitters. Who would have thought that Google would one day supercede Yahoo as the most popular internet search engine? And yet here we are, commonly using Google for many of our day-to-day internet searching needs (if you want to contest that claim you can Google it, of course). Not only successful with search engines, Google has developed an easy to use and speedy web browser with Google Chrome, allowed online users to edit and share documents via Google Docs and has made its search engine and other software available on numerous mobile phones such as HTC-brand models and the android series of handsets.
Besides the current mood in the games market, the majority of the world enduring an economic recession and the possibility of a double-dip occurring next year (think a repeat of the economy's worst in 2009), are there any other major reasons why one of the most successful companies on the planet that is experiencing continual growth should not get its hands further into the gaming market?

It maybe is not so much a question of can Google do so or not but in what way can they enter the market, and more importantly, how can it sustain its presence once it has claimed its place alongside the existing competition? Anyone in their right mind knows in the current climate that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft do not want either Apple, Google or some unexpected contender to be getting a slice of their games market pie if they can help it, ever.

Do you want there to be a fourth competitor in the games market? And do you think there is even any space for another company to have a reasonable market share alongside the main three of Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft? Any thoughts, go ahead and record them in the Comments section below.

13/12/2010

VANQUISH REVIEW


The far future. An era which mankind looks towards in equal measures of hope and trepidation. A future that could hold for him the potential to either rise to the stars or fall into the depths of hell. Had anyone thought the future would instead bring grown men in bio-suits attempting to kick seven shades of good stuff out of their enemies, sliding around on rocket-boosting knees and catching a cheeky smoke, well, it's either highly coincidental or they have been spending time with the latest 3rd-person shooter to come from developer Platinum Games, Vanquish.

12/12/2010

Managing your games time



OPINION


Play for 30 minutes, play for 30 hours, play for 30 days. The degree of time an individual will spend playing games varies based on their choices, commitments and wants. How does an individual manage their time in the unpredictable, challenging and current humdrum of life, the recession and all of the challenges it brings?


Let's cast a brief overview at the choices. Depending on what you believe, you can choose how to act and react in any given situation. Theoretically therefore you can choose to play a game for a matter of mere minutes before you switch it off, like an iPhone game, and call it a day, right?


And yet, when a game is truly absorbing and captivating it hardly ever seems like that is the case. Whether you consciously or subconsciously carry on playing for prolonged periods in lieu of other responsibilities.


But suggesting only this would seem a little rash and ill-informed. For those choices to have an impact, we have to consider an individual's commitments. Generally speaking, a child's commitment is mostly towards their parents and friends, granting them more free roam for gaming time and indulgence.


Becoming teens, they gain the increased capacity for decision-making and responsibility in their life, splitting their gaming time between life, school, romance and other important obligations. Moving into adulthood, commitment to work, family and friends challenge the length of play time individuals can commit to (sometimes if any at all).


Of course, it comes down as much to our self-control as it does the game's ability to keep the player sucked in for prolonged periods of time. There has to be a point where we can put down the controller and say "I'm done", even if we have to say it out aloud to stop ourselves.


How long do you think is reasonable amount of time to play games for on a weekly, or even monthly basis? Feel free to post any thoughts in the comments section below.

11/12/2010

BLAZBLUE: CONTINUUM SHIFT REVIEW


Rebel one, action! Hearing those words, players will know they are in for a clash of weapons and wits as they pick up the controls and join the fray. Its time for another round of fisticuffs with the cast of one of the prettiest looking HD fighters released yet from Japanese developer Arc System Works in recent memory. Only this time around, its married not with the suffix of Calamity Trigger but the smoothly sounding Continuum Shift.

01/12/2010

VALKYRIA CHRONICLES 3 DEMO REVIEW


Previously thought to be a one-off treat for Playstation 3 owners that fused the genres of third-person shooting and strategy into a unique blend of a game, Valkyria Chronicles brought to the medium a highly original, valuable and memorable gameplay experience for many. That the series' subsequent outings changed their format from the PS3 to its' portable brother, the PSP, caused many of the title's fans to be disheartened as they saw their beloved franchise become downsized.

24/11/2010

Thought you'd like to meet Catherine

Persona and Shin Megami Tensei franchise developer Atlus, in their efforts to continue bringing gamers titles with an interesting and alternative slant, are currently developing a title with an unabashed ero feel to the proceedings. One that goes by the very suitable and sublime name of Cateherine.



Why should you be interested in this game? Well, not only is it Atlus' first HD title but it also deals with the concept of the game's main character, Vincent, having nightmares that feel far to real to be merely in his mind. So real, in fact, that those who experience them and die in said nightmares find that this overlaps into real life with several males in their 20s and 30s dying in the real world too.

The game's main protagonist, Vincent

The game sees the player follow Vincent as he meets an attractive young woman with blonde hair in pigtails, a white dress and a very erotically playful nature named Catherine.

The lady on the right (not the dude), is Catherine



Although Vincent is in a relationship with a women carrying a very similar name who works as a mid management level employee in apparel, Katherine, he is lured by Catherine's charms and before he knows it ends waking up in bed with the young temptress after a one night stand.


The game appears to stay true to the tone and mood of previous Atlus titles and hopefully will not disappoint. The game is due for release on the Xbox 360 and PS3 in Japan on February 17th 2010. Will a Western release follow? With the abundance of Atlus fans in the USA and Europe, we can only hope it is a matter of time before Catherine tries to lure us into her aura of attraction.


You can view the trailer of Catherine down below. Make of it what you will.



You can check the official website out for the game HERE.


Thanks, as ever, goes out to Andriasang.


Check back on the blog soon as I intend to do more updates on Catherine leading up to the game's release as it has peaked my interest in the last couple of months.

14/11/2010

BUSY TIMES

Forgive me for not updating the blog much recently but I've been attending a few interviews of late, have one in Manchester next week and obviously have to do what preparation I can in order to give my best at the interview.

I'll try and update in the next few days but until Wednesday it's all systems go. Don't let that put you off visiting all the same.

04/11/2010

Valkyria Chronicles 3 boxart looks the business

Just a very quick update tonight but a box shot of upcoming title Valkyria Chronicles 3 has popped up and looks very nice indeed. Check it out below and post any thoughts you have in the comments section.



Good night.

01/11/2010

New SSFIV costumes video

Hey there folks. I'm aware that I haven't updated the blog for quite a while but I've been A) mega busy and B) away in Basingstoke for this weekend. Still, better to update late than never.

Below you'll find a video for the first pack of costumes that have been made a available for Super Street Fighter IV which include new alternate costumes for Dudley, Makoto, Guy, Deejay and Hakan. Be sure to check them out below and feel free to leave any comments on what you think of them or what future costumes you'd like to see.




08/10/2010

Valkyria Chronicles 3 character info. comes-a-fightin'

New information has been revealed in Japanese games magaizine Famitsu recently that detail some of the characters from the game's squads, Nameless and Calamity Raven.

The game takes place in 1935, the same year as the first Valkyria Chronicles in the neutral nation of Galia. Players will command Gallian Army squad 422, referred to as the "Nameless" due to its members being referred to by number only.

The three main characters in the squad are Kurt Irving, an officer who graduated at the top of his class at the Lanseal Royal Military Academy but an unexplained event caused him to be redeployed to the Nameless squad. He endeavours to restore his former honour.


Joining him is Riela Marcellis, a descendant of the Valkyria who can wield the lance and shield those of Valkyria heritage are notorious for. She is referred to as the "god of death" as she was the sole survivor of her former squad due to her Valkyria powers and consequently sent to the Nameless squad.


We are also introduced to Imuka, a Darcsen who's village was wiped out by the Valkyria and is out for revenge. Although she is renowned for her ability in battle she is also known to ignore the orders of her superiors.


The squad leader of Nameless, Ramsey Kurou, is also detailed as an army man who feels no loyalty to hisupper ranks, enjoys alcohol and women but still has renowned ability as  battle strategist.

 Three of the commanding officers from the unit Calamity Raven, the Antagonists of the game, were also introduced. These include Dahau, the group's leader who desires to separate from the Darcsen race who were believed to have destroyed much of the game's re-imagining of Europe in the past.


He is joined by Lydia Agute who is an aide to Dahau but shows no loyalty towards her superior. She also appears to be observing Dahau and Calamity Raven, potentially becoming a double-crosser later in the game.


The final member of Calamity Raven to be introduced is Zig, a Darcsen who is an admirer of Dahau who is inexperienced but is valiant and has strong determination.


Valkyria Chronicles 3 is due for release in Japan in January 2011. Expect a Western release not too long after and keep on checking the blog for updates on the game leading up to its Japanes release.

A demo of the game should be available sometime in November and I hope to pick up a copy of the game when it comes out early next year. I'll write up some impressions when I've given it a decent amount of my time.

In the meantime, if you're desperate for a continuous Valkyria Chronicles 3 fix you could do no worse than check out the official Valkyria Chronicles 3 website.

Thanks Andriasang!

29/09/2010

Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition is looking interesting

The newest trailer has been released for the upcoming 3DS version of Super Street Fighter IV and shows a couple of interesting features to be included in the title. Be sure to check out what's to be included in the game down below.

28/09/2010

One Piece returns to readers, everyone is giddy

Not normally what I post about but it's no secret among fans that I'm a big fan of the manga One Piece. It's also no secret that the manga went on a 4-week break recently, partly so the author could get some rest but also due to the story moving into its 2nd stage, often referred to as The New World (Shin Sekai for the dedicated folks).

The manga returns this week and spoilers have popped up around the internet. I wont go crazy here but you should be able to see below how the crew are looking after a 2-year break in the storyline:



Looking god Strawhat Pirates. Here's to the author and illustrator Eiichiro Oda giving us readers many more interesting stories, adventure, characters and fighting for the next few years to come.

Going to Basingstoke, gonna have a good time

So I'm going to see a friend I haven't seen for a while in Basingstoke this weekend which should be fun as he tends to get a stack of game promos through the work that he does. May get to try out some of the newer releases first-hand and see if there is anything worth picking up in the next few months.

I might also be fortunate enough to go to Eurogamer Expo although I hear that tickets have already sold out for the event. Oh well, if I go I'll be sure to do a write-up on this here blog.

Will keep you posted.

19/09/2010

More footage of Yun and Yang in SSFIV: Arcade Edition

Loads of videos are emergingin showing footage of Yun and Yang in SSFIV: Arcade Edition. Check a couple out down below which show some of the tricks the twins will bring to the roster:





Someone please bring SSFIV: Arcade Edition to the UK!