Week In Review: 6/6/2014 – The Week Before E3, Uncharted, Watch Dogs and Batman
Welcome to the Week in Review, a feature where Dan Oravasaari and Alex Osborn will break down what happened over the last week and discuss what it means to the industry as a whole, and to you the gamer.
Dan: This is one of those things that people have been looking for quite some time now, and thankfully it is finally here. Part of me wishes that Sony had done this earlier in the year, but I think they were simply looking to bundle it with the newer model of the PS Vita – which works out as Borderlands 2 is out now as well and it is a great way to get people started on the handheld. Sadly, I don’t know how well the bundle will do, as it does bump the price up now and with Microsoft dropping Kinect to lower the price of the Xbox One, some gamers might see the $560 price tag as a bit steep, even if it is a great deal.
Alex: I’d be all over this bundle if it was $499, which may happen eventually, but with a price tag over $500, I can’t justify taking the plunge just yet. Maybe when there are a few more games for PlayStation 4 I’ll be tempted to grab the “Ultimate Players Edition”—that is, if it truly is real and coming to North America. Unfortunately, aside from Remote Play and Persona 4 Golden, I can’t imagine I’d make all that much use of Sony’s handheld. I’ve never owned a Vita and have never felt particularly compelled to purchase one. Sony will have to make it even more appealing if the company expects to win me over. Here’s to hoping an exciting game announcement at E3 will do just that.
Alex: As someone who isn’t a huge fan of Media Molecule’s work (as insanely creative as it might be) I can’t say I’m all that disappointed by the news. Something tells me that the team’s next project will make use of both Project Morpheus and Sony’s Move controllers, so at the very least I’m intrigued to see what sort of wacky concept they come up with; however, I can’t see myself investing very much time in it. There’s no doubt we’ll hear from the team at Gamescom, which makes total sense since Media Molecule is based in Europe and Gamescom is a much more European-focused event than E3.
Dan: Sorry Alex, but you are on your own with this one. I absolutely loved what Media Molecule did with LittleBigPlanet, and am really curious to see what they do from here. Tearaway was an interesting title, but I think it was more about the Vita than it was about pushing technology into new and exciting ways and that is what I hope to see from them in the future. Sadly, we will probably have to wait until Gamescom at the earliest, but my guess is that it is behind held off until Project Morpheus gets further along in development.
Dan: Having seen Arkham Knight being played already, the game did look fantastic, but the frame rate for the game was a genuine concern. When I asked the studio’s marketing director about the frame rate when it was first unveiled, he said they were not, so it could be something else. But, what ever the issue is, hopefully the delay will give us a better product, so if that is the case I am still a happy gamer. Too many games come out broken, yet everyone still complains about delays instead of being happy they should be getting a better product.
Alex: This delay doesn’t surprise me in the least, though, I do find it a bit odd that Rocksteady and Warner Bros. somehow thought this would be out by year’s end in the first place. Like you said, Dan, the game is clearly still very rough around the edges, and given its massive scope and scale, it certainly makes sense for Rocksteady to take some extra time and get the game up to the quality that fans of Arkham Asylum and City expect. After all, the studio is hyping Arkham Knight up to be the grand trilogy capper to some of the best superhero games of all time, so they better deliver.
Alex: I must admit, I’m quite delighted to hear that Neil and Bruce are now heading up Uncharted 4. Naughty Dog’s two best games of the last decade are undeniably The Last of Us and Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, both of which these two spearheaded the development of. Coincidence? I think not. While still an amazing game, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception didn’t live up to the expectation set by the prior entry, and I think that has everything to do with the fact that Naughty Dog’s best talent was instead working on The Last of Us. I really hope we get a solid look at this game next week. It just has to be at Sony’s E3 presser, right?
Dan: Yeah, I think at this point we need to see a bit more of Uncharted Next. Microsoft will surely be showing off some more from their flagships, so Sony really needs to have some AAA first party stuff on-hand next week. The fact that Neil and Bruce are on the project does give me hope for another amazing experience, but the fact that they weren’t on-board the whole time does cause me to raise an eyebrow just a little bit. I know planning for these types of projects takes years, and major adjustments can cause significant delays, but this is Naughty Dog and I am sure they will offer something great nonetheless.
Dan: This is a great example of marketing and word of mouth. Watch Dogs was a game that was given a great deal of hype and had a great deal of potential, all of which helped move over 4 million copies in a week. The mixed reviewed caused a great deal of controversy, as so many people thought it was going to be a better game than it turned out to be. Sadly, even I had greater expectations for the title, but even though I wasn’t ultimately disappointed, the game still suffered from moments of mediocrity. Thankfully, Watch Dogs did well enough to warrant it getting a sequel, at least I hope it did, as it will surely benefit from its early growing pains.
Have you played it Alex? If so, did you think it lived up to the hype?
Alex: Nope, I haven’t played it. From what I understand, though, it sounds like the release of Grand Theft Auto V last year basically sucked all the wind out of Watch Dogs’ sails from a critical perspective. That said, it didn’t stop gamers from rushing out to their local retailer to pick up a copy, so that’s good news for Ubisoft. With it being such a commercial success, I’d say it’s safe to say we’ll see a sequel within the next couple of years. Hopefully Watch Dogs 2 ends up being the Assassin’s Creed II to that series.
Murdered: Soul Suspect
Alex: I honestly haven’t been following Murdered all that much, so I don’t really know what to make of the game. It definitely sparked the curiosity of some during E3 last year, thanks to its unique take on the adventure genre, but from what I hear, the end product didn’t really live up to its promise. As such, I don’t intend to play Soul Suspect anytime soon, but I hope that those who have shelled out the $60 to play it for themselves have enjoyed their time with it thus far. Have you given this game a go yet, Dan?
Dan: Yeah, after seeing the game last year at E3, I honestly wasn’t that excited for the game and that hasn’t changed in time. I know we will have a review up soon for the game, so I can see if it really did turn out to be a solid product or not, but from what I have seen so far, I am not expecting much. I am sure some people will like it, but with E3 around the corner I am so focused on other things that it is impossible for me to care too much about story driven content right now.
Dan: This is one of those games that I think will sadly slip under people’s radar. Taking notes from the modernization of player torture from games like Dark Souls, this 2D platformer gives gamers 1001 lives to make it through 100+ levels. Getting past the traps only to have a block fall on your head or a random dart kill you is part of the fun, and is only exemplified by its up to four player couch Co-Op only mechanic. Honestly, this a game I highly recommend and have been waiting to pick up for almost a year.
Alex: It most certainly will slip under the radar of a lot of gamers, which truly is a shame. I love what I’ve seen of 1001 Spikes’ retro art style and punishing old school difficulty, but again (just like with Murdered: Soul Suspect), I can’t say this is the type of game that caters to my sensibilities. That said, I know there are a lot of braver and more determined gamers than myself who welcome the challenge. To all of you folks, I wish you much enjoyment with this sure-fire indie darling and the best of luck!
This is the week before the storm that is E3, so it is difficult to expect much more than the rumor mill going at full speed and for the most part we were right. Besides more news about Battlefield: Hardline and a few other titles that will surely make their way to E3, we find out that one of the most anticipated games of the year is not going to release this year, a beloved studio sits out of this years E3, but we do get a PS4 and Vita bundle and news that Uncharted seems to be fully underway. So, it isn’t a terrible week, but it will be impossible to keep up with what is coming over the next few days.
Overall Score: 5