With the 2007 edition of the Game Developers Conference now coming to an end I though I would put up some final thought on the show. In many ways this GDC may be a sign of things to come in many different ways for the industry.
Sony's Keynote Speech
The Playstation 3 has taken a beating in many circles for what was determined to be a lackluster launch combined with the easing of demand for the console just after the holidays. While Sony still has a long road ahead of it, it took some postive steps in the right direction on Wednesday with its keynote presenation by Sony Playstation VP Phil Harrison. The demo of LittleBigPlanet from developer Media Molecule was easily the highlight of GDC, showing off the sandbox properties of the game to create whole new worlds with just a few clicks. It's a game that also couldn't be made for Nintendo's Wii console due to the high amount of phyics and graphics displayed in the demo. In short, this game has the makings to be Sony's version of The Sims; a game that can be embraced by the masses, even those folks who don't play games.
I was less than excited about the prospect of Playstation Home, the 3D avatar world that Sony is developing for the PS3 console. It's clear that Sony wants some of the media attention that Linden Labs has generated for Second Life, an online avatar world that in my view has gotten way too much attention from the mainstream media compared to the amount of its real users (now estimated to be around 300,000 or less worldwide and only 40,000 or so who actually pay for the service). Thankfully Sony plans to offer Playstation Home for free which means that it will have a lot of users but the idea creating a virtual home for your virtual character to collect virtual stuff and watch virtual videos on your virtual TV is just not appealing to me at all at this stage. I have a real life and quite frankly unless I'm using super powered to defeat the bad guys no virtual world is going to be as enticing to me as sitting on my real couch to watch a real movie.
At least Sony is moving in the right direction with its trophies, their version of Microsoft's Achievements for Xbox 360 games. Being able to attain goals, both easy and hard, is something that is one of the big attractions for Xbox 360 players. In truth I think Sony has an even better solution with their trophies; they certainly look a lot better than some number listing and the game artists can be creative with making their designs. It's too bad that we will have to wait until close to a year after the PS3 launch for this feature but it's better late than never.
Nintendo's Keynote Speech
Shigeru Miyamoto made his first GDC keynote speech in eight years on Thursday and it certainly was...different. Basically Miyamoto tried to convey the idea that if more games were made that pleased his wife, the entire industry would be a better place. It's certainly true that expanding the video game market to attract non-gamers is a good idea but quite frankly Miyamoto made some not-so-gentle slams against companies like Rockstar and Microsoft for games like the Halo and Grand Theft Auto series. He said that the industry's reputation went down as sales of those games went up. I don't believe that the industry's reputation took as much of a beating as he thinks. It's true that certain Florida lawyers have gotten a lot of media attention to attack games but all of those attacks are completely unwarranted. What happened was that as games began getting made for an older audience some people who believe all games should be made for kids decided to try to make a case that these games were going to affect kids, even if they were clearly not made for that audience.
In watching Miyamoto make his address, I really got the feeling that games made for an older audience exclusively were not for him. He wants more games like Nintendogs and Big Brain Academy. There's nothing wrong with these kinds of games at all but if that's all that were available I don't think I would still be a gamer who is nearing the age of 40. There were no real new announcements from Nintendo during the keynote but they did show some new footage of Super Mario Galaxy. It looks like a cool game but it's hard for me to get too excited about it because, well, it's another Mario game. Let's face it, Mario is used a lot in Nintendo's games (something that even Miyamoto seemed to agree with in his speech) and while the Nintendo fanboys and fangirls will be happy it's going to take a lot for me to get excited about it. Hopefully Nintendo will prove me wrong.
The Rest Of GDC
With E3 now an invite only event and pushed back to July GDC has now become the last major show for a ton of people to see new and cool games and game technologies for several months. Lots of publishers, from Sony to EA to Nintendo to Microsoft to smaller publishers like NCSoft, CDV and more, gathered at GDC to show off their upcoming games to the press. It's still not quite the big single showcase that the old E3 was but there was still plenty to write about. GDC's move to San Francisco's Moscone Center is a postive move; the show took up nearly all three buildings along with a couple of side hotels. I'll still miss the intimacy of San Jose but it's clear that GDC needed to make this move.
Overall GDC was a long but ultimately fun time and while the show is still aimed quarely at game developers rather than the general consumer press it was a fountain of new news about the industry. I will certainly be back again in mid-February for the 2008 edition.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Hear that? It's the sound of the largest computer chip manufacturer in the world churning out new processors to power your gaming rig. This week, Intel is launching their next generation of Core CPUs, code-named Ivy Bridge. Like last year's Sandy Bridge chips, they're low-power, quad-core powerhouses that also feature integrated graphics processors. Want to find out more? Maybe check out a whole bunch of performance benchmarks on both the CPU and graphics sides of things? Well you can, in today's review!
Intel Z77 Chipset & DZ77GA-70K Motherboard Overview
Looking forward to those new Ivy Bridge CPUs? In anticipation of their release later this month, Intel has already unveiled the new Series 7 chipsets designed especially to take advantage of what will be the 3rd-generation of Core processors. In today's article, we take a look at the architecture of the enthusiast variant, the Z77, and how it's used in the Intel Desktop Extreme DZ77GA-70K motherboard. Even if you're not particularly interested in the motherboard itself, you'll probably want to see some of the new features that come along with it, so read on!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!