System Exclusives: A Way Of The Past

26 06 2015

PastFuture_iStock

I’ve written a lot about system exclusives and how I believe the landscape is changing from what we as gamers have seen in the past. If E3 this year is of any indication, which I believe it is, then we may finally see the shift in philosophy that I’ve seen coming for a few years.

While the advances in technology, production value, and expectation have given us gamers a more immerse experience it has also ballooned budgets on the developer side. A misstep no longer is a small setback but instead could cost the company millions. So why would they exclude a possible section of their customer base by having a title exclusive to one system?

We have seen this portrayed more and more over the past years with titles like Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, Grand Theft Auto and more recently Titanfall losing their exclusivity rights and become multiplatform. It appears developers haven’t been wrong either as you look at the top ten rated games of last year a vast majority of them are multiplatform titles and not exclusives.

This transition has left Sony and Microsoft so starved for exclusive content that instead of titles being a system exclusive we now have timed exclusives like that of the new Tomb Raider game Rise of the Tomb Raider for Microsoft or Sony’s timed exclusive  No Man’s Sky. I saw this coming a long time ago as I wrote about it 6 years ago when I saw system exclusives falling to the waste side.

What will the new landscape look like? Well like I mentioned in a previous post when I revisited this topic 4 years ago, its exclusive content. We have already seen this develop over the past year with Destiny and Batman: Arkham Knight and the exclusive content for PlayStation users or with Dragon Age: Inquisition’s timed DLC for Microsoft users.

Obviously this excludes first party developers but in my eyes this makes these developers even more important in this current landscape of gaming. Sony and Microsoft need to do an even better job of recognizing talented teams to add to their holdings as the games they produce will be a large factor in differentiating themselves from their competition as titles like Uncharted, Halo and even the newer Bloodbourne have proved.

Without these third party exclusives to fall back on I believe Sony and Microsoft beyond looking for quality developers to shore up, or providing exclusive content to their system need something more to further differentiate their platform. These systems are no longer ‘just’ platforms to play games on but an entertainment hub in your living room and if either of these companies want to pull ahead this is where I see the most ground can be made.

I personally turn my PlayStation on more to watch Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video than to play games. Therefore these collaborations with the companies listed above and others such as Hulu Plus, Spotify, NFL, NBA and the recently announced PlayStation Vue will be the future game changers.





….. I Miss You

11 06 2013

I could attempt to make this heartfelt or snarky but really whats the point its not like this will be read by anyone anyway, except by me in a few years as I look back.

Anyways a lot has changed since I last connected with you all, jobs, relationships, … lives. But one thing has remained constant which is my unwavering desire to be a part of this industry in some capacity, to give back or contribute to a community that has given me so much joy. But lets face it I have never been good at expressing my thoughts on paper or creating a persona in order to get attention which it appears must be done in order for success. Instead I’ve always wanted to be me, express my thoughts and be a part of creating something and providing something I can be proud of.

I still hope one day in the future that can be a reality and I can find a way to fit it into my life but with other demands I just don’t see that has a possibility — which is casts a very somber picture of the future.

However whatever the future holds just know that I miss every single one of you that have visited here or have read anything I have done or encouraged me in anyway. I miss interacting with such a wonderful group, thank you!





Diablo 3 Auction Houses – Good or Bad?

15 09 2011

Anybody that has played Diablo 2 for any length of time knows that buying items and gold farming killed the economy in Diablo 2. It was easily available to purchase all of the elite items in Diablo 2 from an outside third party company for relatively cheap. This made for a poor experience for those who did not buy items and combined with other problems completely wrecked the overall economy of the game.

Therefore I can see why many critics and gamers are in upheaval over the recent announcement that Diablo 3 will have an in-game real money auction house. Some are going as far to state that the sanctity of the game is now in question and how this addition will ruin the economy of the game and more specifically their experience will be tainted because users ‘will be allowed to buy the best gear in the game and quickly become an elite player’.

I however believe this is ludicrous and since I am as big of a Diablo fan as any I would like to tell these raging fans to settle down. More specifically let’s get into why I believe this addition won’t be a catastrophic failure and could be a great addition if handled well by Blizzard.

Let’s first get one thing established, yes, selling and buying of items was a disaster and ruined the economy in Diablo 2 and if auction houses exist in that same environment in Diablo 3 it would most likely ruin that economy as well. However that is not the case we can not assume that the same problems that plagued Diablo 2 will exist in Diablo 3. The main reason it was a problem in Diablo 2 was due to the fact that item duping was so prevalent as was the practice of running bots to MF certain areas in order to rapidly find these high tier items. This resulted in an abundance of these items that ordinarily would have not been in the economy nor would the most casual player ever get a chance to see or find such an item. Basic economics tells us that with the abundance of these elite items the value was lowered making it easily accessible for even the most casual fan to simply purchase these uber elite items either in game or from an outside source whose main goal was to rip off players and make a profit.

It’s fair to say that with the release of StarCraft 2 and the revamped Battle.net that while this may not be impossible these instances will be severely reduced when Diablo 3 is also released. Just by the nature of their scarcity these elite items will always have an intrinsic value that players want to obtain and would pay to get it. So I am an advocate of Blizzard taking over this role rather than have an unreliable third party form around the game whose only interest is profits. These companies that formed around Diablo 2 were a nuisance and a black eye to most of the community and its nice to see that Blizzard saw this eye sore and ensured that the same would not happen to Diablo 3.

I can not see how giving the player the choice to use or not to use real money auction houses will vastly influence the game as long as the scarcity of the items remains the same. Not to mention this will not influence the early adopters anyways as you will not be able to purchase these highly coveted items until much later in the overall economy of the game since players will first have to find these items.

The only way I see it largely influencing the game is during PvP as I can see how it would be frustrating to see a player who has simply purchased all the best gear while you spent hours upon hours looking for items. However that is a choice and a choice that I believe is fair. Not to mention we have no clue whether or not these auction house will be apart of PvP or not. But that leads to my last point if this feature still bothers you then you can also make a choice and choose to have an isolated experience and not play with people or restrict the people you play with to only include those who don’t use real money auction houses.

All in all I refuse to make brash judgments based on an addition to a game that we for one don’t have all of the details for and two that we have yet to see implemented in a real world experience and three condemn the new game based on the problems the previous game had.

I would be curious to know what you think of this announcement and if you think it’s a good or bad idea. Let me know in the comments section below.





Top 10 PSN Games

20 07 2011

PSN Logo

10. Madden NFL Arcade – Electronic Arts

Madden NFL Arcade PSN Screenshot

9. Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light – Crystal Dynamics

Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light PSN Screenshot

8. PixelJunk Monsters – Q-Games

PixelJunk Monsters PSN Screenshot

7. Castle Crashers – The Behemoth

Castle Crashers PSN Screenshot

6. PixelJunk Shooter 2 – Q-Games

PixelJunk Shooter 2 PSN Screenshot

5. Joe Danger – Hello Games

Joe Danger PSN Screenshot

4. DeathSpank – Hothead Games

DeathSpank PSN Screenshot

3. Costume Quest – Double Fine Productions

Costume Quest PSN Screenshot

2. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX – Namco Bandai Games

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX PSN Screenshot

1. Dead Nation – Housemarque

Dead Nation PSN Screenshot





Call of Duty: Black Ops’ Escalation Map Pack Review

15 06 2011

Treyarch has set an industry standard for downloadable content (DLC) in the past with Call of Duty: World at War. They have continued that tradition for their hugely successful follow-up Call of Duty: Black Ops initially with First Strike and now their newest map pack titled Escalation, which released on June 10th 2011 for the PlayStation 3.

Like their previous iterations Escalation features four new multiplayer maps – Stockpile, Convoy, Hotel, and Zoo – along with yet another zombie map/mode called Call of The Dead.

Similar to First Strike Escalation features a wide array of interesting locales which are meant to cater to the varying styles of multiplayer gamers. However it seems Treyarch had decided to focus more on medium to long range skirmishes this time around as all of the maps are large. For instance there is no map like First Strike’s Stadium or even Nuketown where the action is much more focused and hectic.

But what Escalation does provide over First Strike is the level of detail present in the game and their environments. I previously felt the team was getting lethargic with their map design and ideas but it is noticeably better in Escalation in my opinion. This wave of maps have much more detail and the level design is more complex not to mention the interactivity that is present such as the working elevators in Hotel or the storage doors in Stockpile. These elements allow additional tactics to be used in the various game modes resulting in much more variety prolonging your map fatigue.

Of the four Hotel and Zoo will probably take precedence as the fan favorites because of the variety in both design and visuals as well as tons of opportunities for a mixture of long to short range combat. Zoo has striking visual similarities to Modern Warfare 2 Resurgence pack’s Carnival but yet again the overall flow and level layout is superior. If Zoo is comparable to Carnival then Hotel probably closely resembles another Modern Warfare 2 map, Highrise. This is not to say that either Convoy or Stockpile are less interesting, they just feel like the many maps that we have seen before.

All of the different maps provide their own challenges and strengths. However once a player gets use to these maps they can develop their own tactics and easily learn how to play to the maps strengths while overcoming the challenges. Even though these maps may be focused on larger range combat each map presents a multitude of opportunities for every type of player from the sniper to the run and gunner. These new maps also visually look better than previous maps and besides Stockpile are not just the dingy gray and browns we are use to but actually have a lot of bright visuals that again add to the appeal.

But that’s not all Treyarch also released a map for the ever popular zombie mode yet this time with a unique twist. The player controls one of four actors – Sarah Michelle Gellar, Robert Englund, Danny Trejo, or Michael Rooker – who are on the set of George Romero’s latest movie that is being filmed near an ominous shipwreck in the snowy wastelands of Siberia. Of course a real undead outbreak occurs infesting George Romero forcing the all-star cast to band together and drive back wave upon wave of zombies while an angry undead Romero follows them around.

Call of The Dead uses this unique twist in the same vain as the bonus presidential map that is unlocked in the main game. Besides this Call of The Dead introduces new perks and guns as well as loads of extras and unlocks that the Call of Duty zombie faithful crave. But at it’s base it is the same core gameplay we all have come to enjoy.

Let’s be frank, these maps don’t bring with them any new mechanics only interesting changes of scenery meant to prolong an already enjoyable experience. Not to sell these maps short, they are visually pleasing and well constructed with a variety of terrain that offers the player multiple options during a firefight. Much less the zombie map is one of if not the best the series has to offer and capable of stealing countless hours. But if you have already moved past Black Ops then this most likely will not rekindle your dwindling flame.

However if you are one of the millions upon millions of fans who helped contribute to Black Ops extraordinary sales numbers and still crave more then Escalation; including the time sink that is Call of The Dead, is well worth the experience.

Are you going to pick up the Escalation map pack? Maybe you already have, if so what are your thoughts?





Modern Warfare 3 Announcement Trailer

4 06 2011

Not surprisingly Activision has revealed that a Call of Duty title will be released this November. The title will be Modern Warfare 3 a sequel to 2009’s hit Modern Warfare 2 developed by Infinity Ward which is now a shell of their former self. However this time around they will receive help from newly formed Sledgehammer Games as well as Raven Software in some aspect or another. It’s difficult to say if this co-development will affect the overall quality of the game, especially since Infinity Ward was widely considered the better of the two Call of Duty developers.

Although if the following trailer has anything to say about it then Modern Warfare 3 still looks to be an action packed thrill ride that will be enjoyed by many, including myself.

Check it out for yourselves…

Modern Warfare 3 will be releasing November 8th 2011 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC systems. You can pre-order from Amazon.com by clicking here.

Tell us what you think of the trailer or your thoughts on Modern Warfare 3 in general in the comments below.





inFamous 2 Beast Trailer Revealed

2 06 2011

One of my most anticipated titles for this year, inFamous 2, is just around the corner. I adored the original especially the ending which set the stage for a stellar sequel and so far from the trailers I have seen it does not seem to disappoint. These trailers revealed Cole’s new powers and locations among other things but what about the Beast and which Cole was destined to fight since the original inFamous? While we have seen glimpses of what appears to be the Beast we don’t truly know what we are up against, until now. In the newest trailer, which you can see below, we are given an indication of what Cole is up against and the type of destruction this Beast can cause.

See for yourselves …

Look for inFamous 2 on shelves June 7th 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3. Also stay tuned for a review of inFamous 2 right here at Beyond The D-Pad as I suspect I will be playing quite a lot.

Are you excited to play inFamous 2 or is there another title you are highly anticipating? Let us know in the comments section below.





109 Year Sentence Upheld in PlayStation Slaying

27 05 2011

A local Superior Court judge, Gary Orozco, recently upheld his previous life sentence ruling regarding a slaying over a PlayStation 2. Jonquel Brooks, then 19, was initially sentenced to 109 years to life in prison for shooting and killing Brant Daniels while wounding two others in a dispute over a stolen PlayStation 2 in May of 2007.

The incident initially brought national attention since it occurred just weeks after the Virginia Tech massacre where a student gunned down 32 fellow students and 1 professor before taking his own life.

The confrontation started when Brant Daniels, a supposed friend of Jonquel Brooks, along with three other friends Roderick Buycks Jr, Drew Pfeiff and Kodi Shiflett confronted Brooks at his University Village apartments accusing him of stealing Buycks PlayStation 2.

At this time an angry Brooks, who claims self defense, retrieved a gun from his bedroom demanding the Fresno State students to leave before firing shots at the victims hitting Buycks in the neck, Pfeiff in the shoulder and Daniels who later died in the back.

Brooks appealed the initial ruling stating the students ‘premeditated the conflict’ by going to Brooks’ apartment and accusing him of theft. The Appellate justices of the 5th District Court of Appeals ordered the presiding judge to take a closer look at the verdict and gave Judge Orozco three options: a new trial, modify the verdict with a lesser sentence, or let the verdict stand.

Gary Orozco decided to uphold his previous verdict and subsequent sentence of: 25 years to life for 1st degree murder, 25 years for using a gun, 59 years and 4 months for 3 counts of attempted murder totaling 109 years to life. Orozco explained his decision by stating that Brooks elevated the confrontation by coming out of the bedroom with a gun. Also stating that Brooks had ample time to consider his actions since while in the bedroom he called a friend to back him up in case of an altercation.

Before leaving in shackles the now 23 year old Brooks told Judge Orozco he again plans to file an appeal.





MLB 11 The Show Review

22 03 2011

Introduction

For the past few years the MLB The Show franchise has been regarded by most sports fans as the diamond performer of the baseball simulation games. Despite battling repetition, like all sports games, the developer over at Sony San Diego have consistently put out a stellar product each and every year. They hope to duplicate that success this year with numerous upgrades and revisions. the most notable being the addition of analog stick controls to the series.

With that said can MLB 11 The Show continue its current dynasty run at baseball supremacy or will this years installment simply strike out? Continue reading to find.

Single Player

Although I haven’t played a baseball game since Bases Loaded on the NES I am a huge fan of sports in general. The fact that my T.V. is almost exclusively tuned to ESPN and that my SMS tone is the SportsCenter theme should be proof of that. I mention those facts to reiterate that despite being a sports fan I have found that most sports games have become unplayable to the casual fan due to the level of detail and control the player must posses.

While MLB 11 The Show has that minute level of detail and management sports fans enjoy it does not over complicate how it is carried out. For example the new analog pitching gives you much more precision which is vital for success but is also more fluid and immersive than the traditional face button controls. These new analog controls are challenging and realistic but can be mastered with some experience. The pitching controls aren’t the only thing being converted, all of the controls now have an emphasis on analog controls.

While it did personally have a steeper learning curve than pitching I have similar praise for the analog hitting as well. Simply pressing back on the analog stick to transfer your weight back then pressing the stick forward to time your swing with the pitch again just feels more natural than simply pressing a face button. These motions let you feel the pace of the game more intimately resulting in a greater engagement of the game. I did not however enjoy the analog controls for fielding as I found it much easier to keep jumping and diving mapped to the right stick and use the face buttons to control which base to throw to.

That said because each player will have different preferences and strengths you can easily mix and match your analog and button control scheme to fit your play style which is a huge plus. Better yet this customized control scheme will carry over to all game modes including online.

Speaking of game modes The Show is packed full of options and all of the traditional sports game modes are present including exhibition, franchise and season modes. These modes are fairly self explanatory for instance in exhibition you choose your team and play against another player or the CPU whereas in franchise mode you pick an organization and control everything from ticket prices to concession prices. Then obviously in season mode you again choose a team and play through the grueling 162 game season with hopes of playing into October.

The mode this series is best know for however is The Road to the Show which is basically a create a player mode. As you start up you create a player to man any position on the diamond. Once you manually adjust some sliders regarding the type of player you want its off to double A. Here is where you will develop your player through training modes and in-game performance in hopes of making the transition through the minor leagues to one day playing in the big show under the bright lights. The way The Show has chosen to develop a pro seems more sensible and accurate than previous games. As an example instead of just rewarding specific milestones in-game like RBI’s or homeruns you instead get training points based on each at bat. Let’s say you strike out but it took 10 pitches to do so instead of not getting any points like you would before you know will be granted a small amount under the new system since you made the pitcher work. The training modes also seem more purposeful in developing a useful talent. All of this adds up to a much more realistic and enjoyable way to have your player progress than I have previously seen.

A problem I’ve had with other sports titles was establishing a sense of place and time. The stadium or sports complex never felt lively or changed with the flow of the game. The Show was able to fulfill this illusion in multiple ways. First off graphically the game looks amazing but the small details like all 30 stadiums having their real life jumbotrons realistically placed and represented and the stadium specific chants adds an authenticity while also allowing each individual stadium to have a personality all their own. This attention to detail really adds to the level of engagement and realism and is what further sets this game apart from its competition.

Multiplayer

Due to the amount of skill and dedication to play sports games I was never a huge fan of playing competitively online. Unfortunately MLB 11 The Show provides no incentive to change that. While it technically works besides a few occasions were I ran into lag issues I would have just rather played against a computer or buddy sitting on the couch next to me.

The one bright spot in my eyes for multiplayer was the addition of the unique Challenge of the Week. It’s an interesting incentive to not only perfecting your skills but to compete with friends in a controlled arcade style fashion via online leaderboards. In this mode you are given one free try a week to score as many points as possible in a scenario based event such as Joe Mauer hitting against CC Sabathia. Each week winners are awarded real-life prizes like authentic signed jerseys. If your not happy with your first score you can play an unlimited amount of times at a cost of $0.25 per attempt. Hopefully this mode can breathe some life in an otherwise stale online mode.

Overall

The baseball game genre has taken some big strides since Bases Loaded and MLB 11 The Show appears to be the pinnacle so far in that aspect. The new analog controls provide precision and depth but are not impossible to use for the newcomer. The Show also provides an abundance of different modes that can please each type of fan with a compelling, engrossing and custom fit baseball fantasy that is unmatched in any sports game to date.

The MLB season doesn’t officially start until March 31st but don’t tell Sony San Diego that as MLB 11 The Show is the closest replication to Americas favorite past time as you can buy. If your a fan of baseball or sports games altogether then I believe The Show is a game you should definitely pick up even if you have been away from the genre for awhile like myself. Play Ball!

MLB 11 The Show for the PlayStation 3 was provided to me for reviewing purposes by Sony Computer Entertainment. I played through an entire 162 game season as the Texas Rangers and ended up making the playoffs. I also subsequently played a handful of games online and competed in the Challenge of the Week while obtaining 8 of the available 36 trophies. MLB 11 The Show was developed by SCE San Diego and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and was released on March 8th 2011 exclusively for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 systems.

To read about our stance on the review process click here for more answers. Find all of other reviews here; better yet bookmark that section so you won’t miss any of our future reviews as well. If you would like other information to be included in the reviews give us some feedback and let us know, or if you would like us to review a specific title drop us a line we welcome and encourage your feedback. Enjoy!





inFamous 2: Details & Release Date Revealed

18 03 2011

Sucker Punch and their 2 year secret

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is just that, a conference for game developers, however each year we continue to see more and more game announcements and this year was no different. One of the more exciting announcements for me personally was in regards to one of my highly anticipated games of this year, inFamous 2.

Those that have followed me for very long know that I enjoy a good open world role playing game in the likes of Fallout 3 and that I absolutely adored the 2009 blockbuster hit inFamous. Therefore I was already looking forward to this title and not much more needed to be done or said in order for me to pre-order the game.

Sucker Punch however was holding on to one final knockout punch that they unleashed at GDC which is that inFamous 2 will feature user generated content. This user generated content will grant inFamous 2 players the ability to use the open world city, New Marais, Sucker Punch created as a foundation to create an endless amount of new missions then share them with the PlayStation community.

Creators will have access to the same set of characters, props and creatures via an accessible and robust editor – think Little Big Planet or ModNation Racers – that the developers had access to. Players can also easily test their missions within this seamless editor and eventually upload their level with a tagging feature again similar to Little Big Planet.

Once uploaded these user generated levels will show up in the world just like regular story missions. These missions can be sorted in game by highest rating, most played or even to show only those highlighted by Sucker Punch themselves. If you are not interested in a world filled with user generated story markers you can even filter all of the user generated levels to not show at all.

inFamous 2 Release Date

So if you are like me and are now eagerly awaiting the release date then you are in luck since Sucker Punch recently announced a release date, June 7th 2011, as well. A Hero Edition was also announced and will be available for $99.99. The Hero Edition includes the following:

  • Detailed 8.5″ Cole Statue
  • Replica Cole Sling Pack
  • inFamous DC Mini Comic
  • Collector’s Edition Soundtrack
  • inFamous 2 Super Voucher: Includes all pre-order bonuses and in-game content

Honestly June 7th can not come soon enough and I have already pre-ordered the Hero Edition despite not being much of a collector’s edition fan. I suggest you do the same as I have no doubt this will be a quality title that I for one will ultimately enjoy.

What are your thoughts on these announcements and inFamous 2 in general? Let me know in the comments below.