Posted on Saturday, December 7th, 2013 at 1:30 PM by Drew Pontikis
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.