Console Games Articles
Relic takes a break from RTS to bring us Space Marine, and shows us what it means to be one of the God-Emperor's Finest.
Looking for that perfect piece of hardware or software for a friend or family? Trying to find a game that delivers a great experience that they might not have already? We're bringing some great pieces that we've covered over the course of this year for your shopping list.
An exclusive in-depth look at DICE's much anticipated first-person parkour action game.
VeGiTAX2 takes on the Fanatec Speedster 3 in a head to head battle. Check it out and see how the current top wheel for the Xbox handles.
Console Games News
Microsoft resets the countdown on an all-digital console future
Disclaimer: The opinions and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of Neoseeker.
This afternoon Microsoft made the only decision available to it and backtracked on plans to make the Xbox One the first truly digital next-gen console. In the process it's likely Microsoft shelved a digital rights management system with countless hours of work and huge amounts of money invested in it. Microsoft weighed the numbers, watched preorders, ran test groups of core and casual gamers, read the thousands of memes and comments online and found no other option. Consumers made clear what they wanted, and it wasn't the digital future that the Xbox One was promising.
Why, though? Why weren't consumers ready to make the shift? Look at the PC, which currently remains the leading platform for game sales the world over, and it should be apparent that the shift to digital distribution is already approaching if not already here. After all, Steam doesn't allow trading, they don't allow used game sales, and it's impossible to purchase a game without being online in the first place. Why couldn't Microsoft replicate Steam's success on a console?
Ask any PC gamer what's so special about Steam and they'll pull out a laundry list of features and rewards that Steam provides. From spectacular sales to a huge and easily accessible community at their fingertips, Steam users are invested. Microsoft has comparable assets though, so what's the difference? At the heart of the issue comes one complex yet painfully obvious fact. Really, it's Microsoft's one mistake: trust.
When Steam first launched in 2003 the greater gaming community absolutely hated it. The service was down more than it was up, account management was unnecessarily complex and let's not even talk about the launch of Half-Life 2. It has taken ten years for Steam to reach the position it's in now and despite that I bet if you ask Gabe Newell himself he'd say how tenuous their position is. Consumer trust is a malleable and delicate thing. Steam worked a long time to reach this point, and Valve knows a thing or two about taking its time. Trust was earned with each and every bug fix, each feature added and each sale run. There's nothing more important to a digital platform than constant efforts to retain the trust of its customers.
Now let's look at the position Microsoft currently holds in the market. The Xbox 360 is currently leading the pack in terms of momentum going into the next-generation of consoles. The Xbox Live online community is huge and digital sales, both DLC and full games, are likely ever increasing. There's no better opportunity to aim for the stars, right?
Wrong, because while Microsoft's sales, advertising and Gold subscription numbers are going up consumer trust for Xbox is precarious. Controversies persist on topics such as the growth of advertisements across Xbox 360 menus, the disappearing representation of indie games on the dashboard and the continued question as to why Microsoft's service had a subscription while Sony's didn't -- just to name a few. None of these issues alone are enough to throw gamers into full revolt, but over time a distrust builds -- especially due to Microsoft's half-hearted response to these issues.
Then the Xbox One announcement came. In and of itself the Xbox One announcement was outstanding and every game shown to date looks outstanding. However, in tandem with several of the Xbox One's "features" the tenuous trust that had been built in recent years was dismantled. 24-hour check-ins, complicated ownership and trade-in rules and perhaps more significant than realized, the fact that digitally owned titles from the Xbox 360 would not work be converted to an Xbox One account. Could we trust our digital purchases would be conserved in the future? What happens in a few years when Microsoft closes down Xbox Live on 360? Do we lose our games?
Perhaps if Microsoft had been able to reference an instance where they really showed their strength in digital content management, things might be different, but they couldn't. Everything about the Xbox One is so strikingly different than the 360, there's really nothing Microsoft could say beyond, "trust us." From there, well, we know where things stand now.
What Microsoft has now is an opportunity, albeit a very, very expensive opportunity. With regards to online requirements and disc-based game ownership we're at the same point we were with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, but the Xbox One's technology opens it up to many new opportunities. Digital ownership is alive on these consoles in a way that it never was on the previous generation. All the software Microsoft is shelving today can be dismantled, rebuilt and given new purpose. There's new life for Microsoft's Xbox One and their aspirations for a true digital console.
It won't be easy. Consumers are more distrustful of consoles moving towards a digital future than ever. Yet it's the perfect environment to get things right. My advice to Microsoft? Look to Steam and try to replicate their successes while avoiding their failures, and for heaven's sake start by telling us that every digital game purchased will be supported from now until Microsoft's demise, across all of future Microsoft platforms. That's the foundation you start with, and the heart of Valve's service on Steam.
Mainly though, just give consumers a reason to trust the Xbox One. As intangible and ephemeral as that statement may seem, it makes all the difference.
Follow Rory on Twitter @bluexy or read his news, reviews and features every day here on Neoseeker.
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No online requirement, disc-based ownership and no region locks
Update: Microsoft's statement is now kind of up. That is, it's up enough to read, even if the site doesn't fully load. In an official statement from Microsoft's Xbox head Don Mattrick titled "Your Feedback Matters" he states they're completely dismantling the Xbox One's used game and online requirement policies. All details below have been confirmed.
However, interestingly, Mattrick adds one detail that was otherwise unsaid before. All Xbox One games will be downloadable day one and these downloadable titles cannot be shared or resold. Whether this is a result of the dismantling of the old online policies or not, well, that's what the consumer wants right now... correct?
Update: Microsoft has just released an official statement regarding the changes to their Xbox One used game and online requirment policies. The site went up and then went down. We're watching for when the link goes back down again. Gar, this is agonizing.
"Update on June 19, 2013: As a result of feedback from the Xbox community, we have changed certain policies for Xbox One reflected in this blog. Some of this information is no longer accurate — please check here for the latest."
Giant Bomb's Patrick Klepek is reporting from multiple anonymous sources that Microsoft has completely reversed its Xbox One policies regarding online requirements and used games. An official statement from Microsoft is rumored to be coming later today. Just days after an E3 where Microsoft took a figurative beating at the hands of Sony and Nintendo, this near unbelievable news marks a stark shift in policy when as recent as yesterday executives were still defending the decisions.
Here are the specific policy changes Microsoft will announce today, according to Klepek's sources:
- Onine Policy: The Xbox One is removing a majority of its online DRM, including the 24-hour check in requirement and console region locking. An internet connection will still be required to setup a console.
- Disk-Based Ownership: All disc-based games will run as they do on the Xbox 360, that is they run from the disc and not a digital account. No restrictions will be implemented on traded or loaned games. No online authentication is required, including for downloaded games which will function both online and offline.
We'll be sending out emails seeking official confirmation, though according to Klepek official word will be coming soon. As soon as we know more, so will you.
Note: Giant Bomb's website has been taken down, but the details above are accurate with reference to his report.
Patents, what would we do without them and the money they make for lawyers?
Nintendo's just provided an update for an ongoing count battle related to their Wii Fit Balance Board and Wii Fit/Wii Fit Plus software. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the lower court's ruling that Nintendo did not infringe upon their patent and that all of Nintendo's attorneys' fees will have to be paid back. That's about $236,000. I'm no lawyer, but I'm betting this probably isn't the end of this. Appeals for appeals and such.
If my cursory research is correct, the original case was decided in March of 2012 when a US District Court judge from Maryland dismissed the patent infringement lawsuit brought about by IA Labs CA, LLC against Nintendo. IA Labs alleged that the Wii Fit Balance Board and the associated game software infringed on its patent (Patent No. 7,121,982).
Normally I'd skipped over this news story, but there's something notable I think is worth mentioning. Wii Fit U was originally planned for release during the Wii U's launch window, which ended in March, but was oddly delayed until December this year. At first I thought it was just Nintendo posturing for a solid holiday season for the Wii U, but actually it could be that they were waiting for this case to wrap up. Or maybe both? Worth thinking about.
Anyway, good on Nintendo for not giving in to patent trolls and winning one for video games. Cheers, Nintendo! Bring on Wii Fit U, I'm getting chubby waiting.
Prey 2's current status is somewhat in limbo. Previously, the game was revealed to be developed by Human Head, developers of the original Prey and the Rune franchise before it, but rumors about the game's cancelation and several reworks are prevalent. Another substantial rumor popped up recently that the game had been handed to Arkane to finish, on the off chance the project is salvageable. For now, however, a cloud of confusion surrounds the project.
To help lend some clarity, VP of PR and Marketing a Prey 2 publisher Bethesda Pete Hines spoke to IGN:
"We appreciate that folks are displeased that we haven’t had any update or any info on Prey 2, but whatever your displeasure is, you can’t even be remotely as unhappy about it as us. We spent years and millions of dollars and a ton of effort trying to help Human Head make a great Prey 2 game. What we said the last time we said anything was that it’s not up to our quality standards.
It’s simply not good enough. We’re not going to just proceed blindly with something that isn’t good enough. We’ve been very specific about why, and we’ve been very specific about the whats. When that gets addressed and changed or whatever, at that point we can give an update. But nobody’s disappointment is greater than ours. We spent a lot of time and money and effort trying to make this thing happen and support folks, but at the same time, you just can’t keep throwing money at it and saying, ‘sure, it’ll eventually work.’ You have to have the discipline to say, ‘it’s not good enough. It’s not hitting the quality bar. Why isn’t it? We’ve been at this for a while, and what we have is not what we talked about.’ So that’s where we are."
Pete continued the trend of stating that tough decisions have to be made and that the quality of the product was not what they expected and hadn't been for some time. Hopefully it's not too far of a stretch for me to assume that Prey 2 has quite possibly been canceled, potentially scrapped altogether.
It's very rare for a PR representative to be so vocal about such a very precarious issue. The cancelation of a project is typically done entirely behind closed doors, protected by an army of PR, "No comment," responses. Hine's reply here is likely a result of the continued discussion online about the future of the project and the incessant questions. This is probably the best response fans of Prey 2 can expect.
What would I take away from this? I wouldn't bet on Human Head being the primary developer behind Prey 2 anymore. Either its been canceled entirely or started anew with a different developer which may or may not be Arkane. I won't speculate on the future of Human Head at all. That's a situation that will make itself apparent when it's ready on its own.
Maybe it's best if everyone forgets about Prey for a while. Prey 2 was initially announced in 2011 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified's narrative-driven DLC detailed, game still two months away from launch
Hearing about DLC before a game's launch is my favorite
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is still about two months away from its August 20 release date on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. That won't stop 2K from detailing the extensive plans for DLC post-launch however. Yes, on top of an all new "Battle Focus" trailer" 2K announced plans for what looks to be several post-launch, narrative-driven DLC packs, the first of which will be Xbox 360 exclusive. We've only learned The Bureau was still in development two month ago!
Don't get me wrong, 2K proved their salt with DLC content with "Minerva's Den" for BioShock 2. They then helped with the development of BioShock Infinite, which will probably have solid DLC, though that's only loosely related. Still, at this point in time I'd love to be hearing more about The Bureau: XCOM Declassified itself, rather than content I may or may not be able to experience depending on my platform choice. I believe this sort of thing is contradictory to their intent, which is to get me excited about the game itself.
In addition to the narrative-driven DLC planned for post-launch, 2K is also making available preorder bonuses of a bonus side-mission named "Codebreakers" along with a Light Plasma Pistol. Many things to consider on top of the $59.99 price tag for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, available starting August 20.
Bluntly states Wii U sales could not have justified exclusivity
Some months later, but still prior to the release of Rayman Legends on any platform, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is opening up on the game's delay on Wii U. Bluntly stated, Guillemot makes clear that a Wii U exclusive Rayman would not sell well enough. He goes on to say that only now is the "quality there" due to the extra development time and that Rayman Legends is now one of the best games Ubisoft has ever done.
Here's Guillemot's full response, as provided by a VentureBeat interview:
"I’d probably participate more in that discussion. What happened was that we saw the Wii U was not going to sell enough of those games. The game is going to be fantastic, and we didn’t want those creators to wind up in a position where even after making a fantastic game, they didn’t sell well enough. We decided that we had to come out on enough machines that players can try it out on any one that they have, and give more time to both improve the game on the Wii U and create versions for the other consoles.
I think it was the right decision for gamers and for the team. My role is to make sure that the team is happy with the quality of the work they do and the reach they can have. The quality is there now, because they had more time. They’ve expanded the possibilities of the game. It’s much bigger content-wise. We have new bosses in key levels and so on. The experience is much more complete. I think it will be one of the best games we’ve ever done.
Sometimes we have to go against the urge to get to market too fast. We have to make sure we give enough time and resources to our creators to they can reach the potential in their games. This time, they were very close to excellence, but not quite there."
While I was expecting Guillemot to make the claim that delaying the Wii U version for a mult-platform release six months later would result in greater sales, I think it's pretty startling for him to say that only now is the game really good. As if the game six months ago, when the game's developers were requesting the game be set free, when previewers were saying it was the second coming of, well, Rayman Origins, were somehow something gamers would have been quite disappointed with. Ehh...
Also, even though I was expecting Guilletmot to make the claim that the game wouldn't sell well enough on Wii U I still think it's horse manure. A great game sells, then when you port it to other platforms it sells doubly because it's both a great game and because it's only been available in limited quantity. The decision to delay reeks of one thing: a business disagreement with Nintendo. Either Ubisoft wanted more money or Nintendo decided not to pay or something similar. You know, the one point Guillemot completely doesn't address in his response.
I don't doubt there were many outstanding reasons for Rayman Legends delay and I also don't doubt the game will still be outstanding -- better than outstanding -- when it's finally release. However, I dislike it when the elephant in the room is ignored and I'm told it's for the better. How about we discuss the elephant and then I get to decide if what happened was for my own betterment or not.
Rayman Legends will be coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii U on September 3 -- same day on all platforms.
It may not have been at E3, but it's in our hearts
One game that unfortunately hadn't progressed enough to be shown at E3, to many gamers' dismay, was Capcom's "Deep Down" (working title). Yoshinori Ono, Producer at Capcom and always excited to share things with fans, decided we deserved a bit more than nothing over the game's absence. This morning he tweeted one of his infamous Blanka shots with the action figure hovering over a television running a demo of Deep Down.
Blanka gets all the fun:
We make steady progress for developing "deep down" on PS4! 着々とdeep down(仮)、開発進行中！ ソロプレイのPS4版が出来てきた。近々お披露目出来るかなぁ〜・・・ http://t.co/aDw1zr6TJt— Yoshinori Ono (@Yoshi_OnoChin) June 19, 2013
Yoshinori Ono, typically a producer only on the Street Fighter Franchise, was the lucky gentleman who unveiled Deep Down at the PlayStation 4 announcement originally. At the time, what we saw was a very exciting tech demo, which may or may not have been real-time. However, with this picture, unless it's a clever subterfuge, we can at least tell Deep Down is a game.
What kind of game? Well, it kind of looks like Dark Souls or Maybe Dragon's Dogma. It's hard to tell at this point! At least it's real, it's still in development, and apparently Capcom is still excited about sharing updates on the game even if all they can really show is something small and teasery. Deep Down will be coming to the PS4... ?
One of the most graphically impressive games on the show floor
The Division knocked everyone on their butt during Ubisoft's E3 2013 press conference. How had Ubisoft managed to keep such a large-scale project secret for so long? In terms of graphical prowess The Division stood amongst The Witcher 3 and only a handful of others. Somehow The Division also managed to capitalize on many of the buzzworthy features headlining the next-generation of consoles -- expansive multiplayer, realtime data display, mobile integration and huge living worlds. That first demo presentation was without a doubt stunning.
However with further consideration I can't help but feel like the entire demo, both during the Ubisoft conference and our show-floor demo , was a bit too smoke and mirrors. The more I thought about what I had watched the more questions I had to ask and the less confidence I held in the game itself. That's not to take anything away from the demo itself, which we can all agree was fantastic. Perhaps it was just a bit too over-produced -- a bit too E3, if you will
We learn in the demo that the world of The Division has come unto graves times. A disease, spread via money on Black Friday, has ended society in the United States as we know it. The player takes on a role as a member of a special force to save what remains -- The Division, naturally.
Starting the demo, the player take on the role of a grizzled soldier in the middle of a city that's obviously gone to hell. Trash is stacked everywhere, broken down cars line the streets, and you almost expect a zombie to leap out from the shadows. Pulling up a menu involved the character looking at a wrist, where a semi-VR scrolling menu lets the player adjust skills or open the map. The map creates another VR experience, where the city is displayed in hologram form on the ground around the player -- straight up city growing out of the street. It's all very immersive and futuristic.
On the map the player is able to see that a police station is under some form of attack, basically an opt-in mission of sorts. However, it's unclear if at this point the game is open-world or we've pre-selected the mission we're on before loading in, that is, just how instanced and customized the experience is. As we progress down the street two players join us, pointing out a potential side-quest in a tunnel, but decide to continue to the station instead.
At the station a firefight begins. Several very impressive features are shown off here, including an x-ray vision to see enemies, the ability to swap skills in real-time, and about a billion really cool graphics and animation touches. For instance, bullet holes actually appear to break glass as opposed to pasting a texture over the top of a window, the character closed an open police door nonchalantly as it passed by, shooting out a tired on a cop car deflated it, and shooting a wooden sign allowed dynamic lighting to shine through.
With a combination of MMO level tactical coordination the group "pulled" the enemies out of the police station and DPSed them down. Heals were used, rolling targeted grenades were used, and the co-op team proved victorious! It was a straight up dungeon battle if I've ever seen one. The team entered the police station, released some police officers who had been caged in their own cells, dynamically scanned some maps on the wall and other evidence spread around the department, and claimed their look from the armory in the back.
Interestingly, the loot can potentially be lost if the team dies before "extraction". As such, they light a flare for extraction and a 90-second PvP battle begins. Again, it's not clear if this is just the natural structure of an instanced mission, if it's possible to go back and do the side-quest they didn't do earlier, or how players are paired up for PvP in the first place What happens to the loot if they die? Is it gone or does the enemy lose it?
I'll admit, most of my questions are simple and readily answered by a developer I'm sure. Point is the impression I got from The Division demo is that if they took one misstep, if they tried to go towards an ajar car door from the wrong direction, if they looked at the map in an enclosed space instead of an open area, then things would either look bad or straight up just break. It was 100% scripted step to step to step and that worries me.
I want to trust that The Division is a game exactly like what was presented in their demo, as opposed to a very expensive 7 minutes of gameplay designed specifically to excite the E3 audience. Unfortunately, we know that this isn't always the case due to our experiences with E3 in the past. Consider me positive but skeptical until we see more of The Division in the future.
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Did you know Mario is red? That means he is not Luigi
If there's one question that's been in my head since Nintendo announced the New Super Luigi U DLC/expansion for New Super Mario Bros. U, it's: "What's the difference?" Sure, I know Luigi is green and Mario is red, but what really sets the two brothers apart? Does Luigi like reggae, but Mario's more of a trance/drum and bass kind of guy? Luckily Nintendo's got my back, releasing a trailer detailing the differences Luigi brings to the game in an all new trailer
Finally we get the nitty gritty differences between Mario and Luigi. Here are the highlights of the trailer:
- Luigi jumps higher than Mario!
- Luigi jumps further than Mario!
- Luigi slides further than Mario!
- You've only got 100 seconds to finish each course!
- Play as Nabbit in multiplayer!
- Nabbit doesn't take damage, so he's great for beginners!
- 80+ demanding, redesigned courses!
Why, this doesn't answer any of my questions at all! I already knew Luigi did all of those things from previous Mario games like Super Mario Bros. 2. This is a controversy if I've ever heard of one. Talk about false advertising. You'll be hearing from me, Nintendo!
There, now that I've regained my composure, it's pretty easy to tell that New Super Luigi U looks like a great time. Shortening the timer in particular will make every single map more exciting and fast, plus with Luigi's ability to jump higher and further it should make for some exciting new speed running opportunities. And err, yeah, Nabbit for noobs is sort of a cool idea too.
New Super Luigi U will be available as DLC for New Super Mario Bros. U starting June 20, but will also be available as a standalone game on July 26.
Yikes, that was quick! I was just writing up a news post on a leak for Call of Duty: Black Ops II's next map pack "Vengeance" when it was officially confirmed via Activision. Did they have someone watching the internet with their hand hovering over a giant red button? "News has leaked, everyone! Launch the trailer!" Launching July 2, "Vengeance" will include four new multiplayer maps, in addition to a new zombies map, too.
Here's what will be included in the Call of Duty: Black Ops II "Vengeance" map pack, officially:
- Multiplayer Maps
- Zombies Map
- Zombies Weapon
- Ray Gun Mark II
As always, the Call of Duty: Black Ops II "Vengeance" DLC will be exclusive to Xbox Live at launch. Usually the DLC will come to PC and PS3 about a month later, but you never know these days. Seemed to be the case with "Uprising" however.
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is currently available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. Check out the video below for a quick preview of each map in the upcoming "Vengeance" DLC.
- Microsoft officially canceling Xbox One online and used game policies across the board 
- Super Smash Bros launching next year, Mega Man, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer confirmed as new brawlers 
- Deadpool's harem introduced, adds Rogue, Domino and Psylocke to the cast so he can call them hot 
- The War Z becomes Infestation: Survivor Stories citing trademark conflicts, game otherwise unaffected 
- Microsoft's One Mistake: Pressing reset on the Xbox One's aspirations of a digital future 
- Nintendo wins appeal over Wii Fit Balance Board patent litigation, probably not over 
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified's narrative-driven DLC detailed, game still two months away from launch 
- Microsoft's Mattrick defends Xbox One's $499 price, says it delivers "thousands of dollars of value" 
- PlayStation E3 live coverage teaser promises showcases of over 40 PS4, PS3 and PS Vita games 
- Nintendo Direct @ E3 2013 Live Blog: Will Mario steal Luigi's spotlight? 
- Xbox @ E3 2013 Live Blog: Xbox One, Dead Rising 3, Titanfall, the next Halo, and more 
- Super Smash Bros launching next year, Mega Man, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer confirmed as new brawlers 
- Ubisoft E3 2013 Live Blog: Assassin's Creed, Watch Dogs, Splinter Cell & more 
- "The Download: EA 2013" Live Blog: Will Star Wars show up to EA's E3 2013 press conference?