This week host Paul Izod is joined by co-hosts Neil ‘The Noteman’ Chambers and Emma ‘Hawkeye’ Picknell.
On the show this week:
Come join them for a bit of gaming fun.
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As we approach the end of the 2013, I have been taking a look back at the previous twelve months and how the gaming world was shaped. Last week, we looked at the first quarter and saw how Bioshock Infinite blew our minds, Dead Space 3 soiled our underwear and EA became the most popular company in the world with their masterful handling of the Sim City debacle. This week is quarter two, with a couple of big hitters breaking cover into the gaming world, and Microsoft follow Sony’s lead and make their move…
The early half of quarter two saw a couple of games make an appearance to fairly muted response. The eagerly awaited and supposedly spiritual successor to Mirrors Edge Remember Me came to almost complete indifference, ironically being remembered by almost no one. Also failing to make waves was Fuse; as quickly forgotten as it was hotly anticipated, despite its novel take on weaponry and team play.
Things improved for petrol heads as GRID 2 finally made its arrival; providing an alternative to the clinical mastery of Gran Turismo and Forza, and the arcade recklessness of Need For Speed. I must confess that I did get a little bit over excited at the time, finding myself with copies on both the PC and Xbox, and despite following the slightly bizarre and unconventional storyline it was just the kick the genre had been waiting for.
Speaking of a bit of genre kicking, in a month that included new additions of Dead Island (Riptide) and Resident Evil (Revelations – Yes I know it wasn’t technically new but needs must), we were all pleasantly surprised to find a new pretender to the zombie killer throne had arrived in the form of indie spectacular State Of Decay. A true example of how enjoyable and immersive gameplay conquers rough around the edges graphics and occasionally erratic AI, we found ourselves hurtling through the storylines.
Next up was Animal Crossing – New Leaf; presenting us with the opportunity to at least pretend that we like the outside world and are not dark loving, interaction shunning and crispy snack devoted layabouts. With the cutesy diabetes inducing sugar sweetness that characterises some of Nintendo’s most successful titles, gamers flocked in their hundreds for reasons that I’m still yet to fully understand.
Then, casting a shadow over all that went before it, Naughty Dog strode triumphantly onto centre stage, unzipped and showed us goods. The Last Of Us was immediately heralded as one of the greatest of all time, with Playstation fanboys wetting themselves in giddy excitement and their Xbox counterparts pretending they didn’t care before going home and crying. Funny story; I got to go and have a go on The Last Of Us prior to release, and my experience was this – First it broke and I got a blue screen that made the demonstrator appear a little uncomfortable, then I found it buggy and a bit samey. I was immediately ostracised by my Playstation loving friends, the entire gaming community, and dismissed as a jealous Xbox brand loving casualty. Lesson learnt, never have an opinion on anything.
Next up was the hugely anticipated and entirely unpronounceable Ouya console, finally making its appearance after a Kickstarter campaign took the internet by storm. Available for £100, we all so desperately wanted it to be great. It was a beautiful little thing, sitting on your shelf more like a polished ornament than the chuntering hulk that is my early edition 360. Sadly, the fact that we’re all still sitting here hoping that Ouya will be a success is fairly reflective of it’s impact.
Finally, the big one. E3. Thousands made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles to worship at the altars of the big three, and this year they were really bringing the goods. Such was the clamour and excitement surrounding Sony’s announcement of the PS4 we’d all sort of missed the fact that they hadn’t actually shown us the console yet, and Microsoft had promised something special. Lurking under the veil of mystery and anominity was Durango, and we were all salivating at the thought of what might be.
As their devoted public lay prostrate in front of the main stage, Microsoft’s winner of the Most Punchable Face award Don Matrick shined up his boots and dished out a big swinging kick in the nuts to the faithful. Always on Kinect, 24 hour online check-ins, no trade in games, no backwards compatibility; the news kept coming. All the while with Don Matrick’s smug face telling you that you were wrong and this was in fact what you actually wanted. Then he quite literally did that; when asked what people who couldn’t connect to the internet would do, his response was blunt – “We already have a console for them, it’s called the Xbox 360”
Rumours scattered the internet of facial recognition meaning your friends couldn’t play with you, that lending a game to a friend would mean they had to pay almost the full price of the game to be able to play it, and Microsoft’s buddying up with EA following their Sim City successes drove many to despair. Photo’s even emerged of the Xbox One stands at E3 being set up, showing that they actually contained PC’s and not the console that people were supposedly demo-ing. Many took the bizarre step of cancelling their Xbox live subscriptions (a process they were to find surprisingly difficult) and trading in their 360’s, as if it would make any sort of difference what so ever.
Aside from anything else, the thing looked like a Betamax machine.
Sony, in what was perhaps the most satisfying presentation in their history, simply walked onto the stage and said “yeah, you know everything they said they were doing? We’re not doing any of that”. Once the standing ovation had eventually died down, we were treated to the welcome news that Sony would continue to support their older consoles as well as press on with the new one. Unusually, Sony had chosen to restrict Gran Turismo 6, normally a flagship title to the PS3, and the 4 would receive the new and slightly ropey looking title DriveClub. Even more impressively, it was announced that FIFA 14 would be released on PS2, news which was met with bewilderment and a unanimous look of “What? Seriously?!”
E3 also gave us a look at Battlefield 4, Call of Duty Ghosts, Dead Rising 3 and a variety of other exciting new titles, but there was only one thought on everyone’s mind – Microsoft had really dropped a turd.
Next week we check out quarter 3; with some furious backtracking, eagerly awaited releases and possibly the current generations finest hour, it’ll be waiting for you same time same place.
Good old Square-Enix, always ready with some new Final Fantasy news for me to make an article about. Yes, I’m at it again – this week there have been two welcome announcements on the Final Fantasy forefront, one of which hints at even more good news on the horizon.
Imitation is the sincerest way… to land yourself in hot water thanks to the highly litigious nature of our modern society. But despite what Disney’s pitbulls have to say nearly all forms of media and entertainment live by recycling, reusing, and rehashing whatever proved to be profitable. This is dreadfully apparent in our beloved video game world if you look at the mountains of shovelware out there. But stealing someone elses idea isn’t necessarily a sign that something will suck, in fact many great games have been made just reinterpreting someone else. The Legend of Zelda games seem to stand alone in their action/adventure/rpg whatever you classify them as but lets not forget that there have been 3 imitators who in my opinion gave Zelda a run for its money. So here they are!
As another year has passed and space year 2013 draws to a close, its that time of year when the Zero1gaming team set the fireplace going at Z1G towers, draw up the armchairs and debate their picks for 2013 Game Of The Year.
These discussions always start out with good natured debate, but rabidly degenerate in angry arguments and, finally, to fisticuffs, with many a noogie and nipple-tweak exchanged. Its not unheard of for the odd elbow drop to be thrown around too!
So, after the dust settled, the raw steaks applied to black eyes and the teeth picked up from the floor, the team Z1G picks for Game Of The Year can be revealed:
Paul Izod – Tomb Raider
Yes, yes, following my almost carnal review of Bioshock: Infinite, back in March, I probably should pick that. But I can’t look past Tomb Raider based on one factor: its the game I had most fun with all year, bar none. No other game this year made me keep coming back over and over, a game that captured that addictive magic where I’d gladly forgoe basic human needs just for more play time. Its that feeling that made me fall in love with gaming all those years ago and Tomb Raider brought that back for me and that’s why it’s my 2013 Game Of The Year.
Ed Prosser – Bioshock: Infinite
For me, game of the year was Bioshock Infinite. A Triple-A first-person shooter (and a sequel no less) which succeeded in blending engaging gameplay and narrative themes and ideas with a great visual aesthetic and good characterisation thanks to stellar voice acting from Troy Baker (The Last of Us) as Booker DeWitt and Courtnee Draper as mcguffin Elizabeth. The plot does an adequate job of keeping the show on the road, with minimal missteps and is paced well enough to keep you playing through till the end. All in all, a cracking body of work which, if you’re interested in games at all, you really should play.
Drew Pontikis- Payday 2
As infuriating as it is brilliant, Payday 2 if nothing else has certainly been the most addictive game of 2013. With hype reaching astronomical levels prior to launch, it immediately sold out across the country and gamers immersed themselves in a world of cooperative gameplay that is rarely available. Whilst many bemoaned the lack of level variation, the IQ bereft AI and the drill (oh God that drill!), people were as hooked on breaking into safes and meth labs as they were obsessed with collecting masks. Great fun all round, if you can get a copy.
Joseph Butler-Hartley - Bioshock: Infinite
My favourite games leave me pondering long after they finish, and all these months later I’m still attempting to unravel Bioshock Infinite. Painfully human yet cosmically surreal, the narrative and the characters will dig their claws into you and not let you go. To back up the story, the gameplay is incredibly entertaining and varied, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had with a first-person shooter in a long time. Visually, it’s the most amazing game I’ve ever played, and I’d rate the first hour of game play as possibly the best hour I’ve had with a controller in my hand
Oliver Smith – Grand Theft Auto V
As I have been furiously convincing myself for several years, bigger is not always better. But every once in a blue moon, an offering of grand proportions manages to counter that argument with a mass of content that’s also laced with quality – Grand Theft Auto V is the pinnacle of such a concept. As expertly crafted as it is enormous, this mountain of content is one of the greatest digitised efforts ever committed to disc. A trio of expertly realised characters tearing through the greatest game-world ever made, make this criminally inexcusable game the satire-rich GTA that before now only dreams could conjure.
Kimmo Kuppe: The Wonderful 101
I’ll admit my blood oath to Platinum games contributed to this as my choice, but I did actually have some criteria for this choice. I didn’t want to pick a game that was a reboot, sequel, prequel, remake, or otherwise part of an already established franchise. I wanted something brand new. I also wanted to pick something that felt like a GAME in that it was a challenge and it had some replay value and some real improvement of skill. This disqualified a pretty big chunk of the expected GOTYs since lately games with zero gameplay but movie-quality story telling get all the props. The Wonderful 101 which came out for the troubled Nintendo WiiU fits my demands perfectly. Blending the action heavy deep combat Platinum is known for with a Super Sentai/Super Hero setting with unique controls that really utilize the WiiU gamepad, The Wonderful 101 should be required buying for anyone who already has a WiiU or is planning on getting one. And remember: The “1″ in the Wonderful 101…. is you.
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