Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss the continuing PSN outage, Rockstar’s ambitious noir title, the importance of Master Chief, hints at the future of the Marvel MMO, and the impending sequel to Warhawk.
Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.
Kiss and Make Up
It’s been a rough week for Sony and its users, what with finding out that a substantial amount of their data has been compromised due to insufficient protection. The worst part is that it took a week before Sony said anything to its users… and that’s just not good business practice. Let’s be honest: in the face of Nintendo’s next console and the start of the new console war, this is not the way to treat fans on your side.
The PSN crash goes much further than a security and stability issue: it’s about accountability. Sony has called the dogs on hacking groups and laid them to blame, while saying they “We sincerely regret any inconvenience or concern this outage has caused.” Sure it’s nice to hear the apology, but an “I’m sorry,” and an impending free goodie doesn’t wipe away the general disconnect that the company has had.
If Sony wants to make it to console number four and make it out of the general slump they have found themselves in, then this is the time to do so. Raise up Kevin Butler, open up Q&A sessions, allow the opportunity to say, “We screwed up.” Show that you’re not afraid to let people see you at your weakest, and your fanbase will thank you because of it.
One Small Step for Crime
With the promotional coverage of L.A. Noire finally ramping up in anticipation of the game’s release, Rockstar’s latest open world game has quickly made its way to the top of my list of most anticipated properties. Right from the start it was clear that Team Bondi was making it their goal to take video games somewhere they had yet to go, with more emphasis on the intellectual aspects of game design than twitch-based actions. Period crime dramas are one genre that games have always struggled with, since the general conventions of game design just don’t fit the higher-level investigating that generally accompanies them.
But now that we know L.A. Noire will be giving players the opportunity to avoid annoying “game” moments and just focus on the drama and actor performances, I couldn’t be more thrilled. I’ve never had a problem with Rockstar’s combat or driving missions in the past, but knowing that the barriers to entry for the game have become so low is a major motivator. It will be nice to have a game that will offer something for everybody, and one I can recommend to friends to see just how much potential for storytelling video games are now possessing. Just imagine, a game that hardcore gamers and movie buffs can both appreciate and love? I sincerely hope that Heavy Rain and L.A. Noire are just the first entries in an entirely new genre.
Hail to the Chief
A job posting for 343 Industries that hinted at new characters being introduced to the Halo franchise has got me to thinking about the appeal of the Halo franchise as it heads into its next title. In the beginning, Halo fans looked to Master Chief as the main source of appeal for the game, and Microsoft responded by emblazoning his iconic Spartan suit on any and all pieces of marketing.
However, now with two (arguably three) titles that have not used the iconic Master Chief, but the combat and revolutionary AI of the series, as their selling point, has the appeal of the Halo games changed? Are gamers looking forward to Halo 4 because it holds the promise of continuing the story of Master Chief or are they simply hoping 343 Industries can deliver an experience on par with what Bungie has delivered for the past decade?
Diablo With Optic Blasts
Marvel held a little press event this week to make some announcements regarding their super secretive Marvel Universe MMO. Alongside confirming Brian Michael Bendis as the game’s head writer, they confirmed that it’ll be free-to-play and will let players play as their favorite superheroes, both aspects unlike DC Universe Online.
What they shied away from entirely were questions about the actual gameplay, visual style and RPG elements, but through a few slip-ups, we know character customization will be a big part of of the game. From little hints here and there from David Brevik (Diablo 1 & 2) and the teams at Gazillion and Secret Identity Studios, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Marvel MMO plays like a Diablo title with a comic book visual style that lets players play as both the good guys and the bad guys, essentially letting them alter major Marvel Comics events. But how many people can play together and what happens when more than one player wishes to play as the same character?
One of the most easily forgotten PlayStation 3 exclusives was the remake of the remake that was Warhawk. Originally released as a digital download-only title, Warhawk had a strange control scheme, no single player campaign to speak of, an extremely competitive fan base, and an unexpectedly difficult learning curve. In other words, it didn’t have a lot going for it.
Now, Lightbox Interactive appears to be taking another stab at the franchise with a more palatable sequel – Starhawk. Rumors have been flying around (no pun intended) for months that the original team was working on a sequel, and now we finally have our first official details. The most important developments are that the game will contain a single player mode, and it will be sold in stores, not on the (currently broken) PSN.
There was a lot of love for Warhawk, so if Lightbox can manage to make the game more appealing to the masses, they could have a major hit on their hands. Hopefully they won’t also be simplifying the control scheme too much, because as challenging as the game is to grasp for a beginner, the long process of mastering the vehicles is half the fun.