Sat, May 28, 2011 | 13:46 BST
The Weekly Wrap – Modern Warfare 3, PS3′s successor
Duke Nukem’s finished, but the apocalypse didn’t happen. If that won’t end the world, nothing will. Bask in security after the break with the rest of the week’s biggest news.
Modern Warfare 3 shown in London – shots, impressions
What happened: Activision finally rolled out its annual surefire megahit BFG, showcasing – what else – heavily scripted setpieces, things beginning to blow up, things in the process of blowing up, and things that had recently finished blowing up. Also, missile-proof buildings. The million-billion-gazillion dollar question: Is this a Call of Duty game? The answer: “Duh.”
What it means: All eyes are eagerly following the pre-fight war of words between Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Spoiler alert: Modern Warfare 3′s going to win. By a lopsided landslide that stretches on for miles. That’s the power of blind brand recognition for you. But that’s not what you discerning, absurdly well-informed folks care about. Quality and innovation will win this race in the long run – or at least, that’s the hope. So, who’s better positioned to come out on top? Well, Battlefield’s packing full destructibility and glorious graphics that even God considers himself unworthy to gaze upon, but Modern Warfare still seems to be one or two incredibly linear steps ahead in the setpiece department. Not that any of that matters, because – seriously – who plays these things for their single-player? Curiously, neither side has shown much in the way of multiplayer, probably because they’re each saving their biggest guns for E3. We doubt that’ll stop people from arguing on the Internet, though, so here, we’ll start: BF3 is going to have a gun that fires earthquakes and a level that’s four times the size of the known universe. There. Have at it.
Sony: Work on “future platform” is “already underway”
What happened: After denying that a PS4 was even yet in the cards a few months ago, Sony decided to sing a different tune during a recent investor call. “Development work is already under way” is now the official word from on high, but as for the whens, wheres, whats, and hows, who knows?
What it means: May as well cryogenically freeze that popcorn, because you won’t need those front row seats to the next console war for quite some time. Sure, Nintendo’s getting a head start next month, but it sounds like Sony and Microsoft are just now herding their armies of magical console-creating elves back into the factory. Odds are, Sony was just showing a quick glimpse of its hand to reassure investors that – shockingly – it’s not giving up on the console business just because Nintendo’s next may very well come equipped with a built-in Starbucks barista. Of some note, however, is Sony’s insistence that there won’t be a PS3-sized gap between its next machine’s sales price and manufacture cost. In other words, selling consoles at a loss is looking mighty unattractive after the PS3 left a trail of tears and shattered piggy banks in its wake. We imagine Sony won’t entirely abandon its souped-up hotrod approach to console creation, but we’re not expecting another $600 console, either.
What happened: Take-Two caused gamers to do a double-take by proudly uttering the words “full-year profit.” That’s right: a big publisher’s actually making money. During a period of transition-related doom and gloom, that – somewhat sadly – is quite the accomplishment.
What it means: Take-Two’s a member of the old guard – a major player that clawed its way up from rock bottom using only guts, determination, and multimillion-dollar triple-A blockbusters. Inspirational, no? Nowadays, however, conventional wisdom says that approach is a one-way ticket to a poor and penniless end. And yet, Take-Two’s still alive and kicking – and with a smattering of new, previously unproven IPs (Red Dead, Borderlands, LA Noire) leading the charge, no less. Could this be a glimpse at the future of triple-A game development? A smaller number of releases that each have something truly special – not to mention different – to offer? Seems like a reasonable assumption, especially given Take-Two’s recent success. Fingers crossed, anyway, as we want more games with eerily realistic faces and criminals who are also world-class marathon runners.
What happened: After planting a big, sloppy kiss on PC gaming’s cheek, Capcom managed to undo all that good will and then some by saddling Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition with DRM that appears to have attended the Ubisoft School of Pissing People Off (And Crafts!). No Internet connection? Well then, bid an infuriated farewell to half your character roster and the ability to save your progress, among other things.
What it means: DRM’s still stupid. PC gamers still hate it. In spite of that, we don’t think Capcom’s execs suddenly decided to start kicking puppies and hurling deeply personal insults at larger dogs. Rather, DRM’s an industry-wide plague, and Capcom’s just the latest to catch it. Happily, the publisher immediately began responding to fan complaints, inviting suggestions and feedback. Hopefully, the end result of all this will be tweaks and changes that actually help keep pirates at bay instead of tripping up legitimate customers and kicking them while they’re down.
What happened: Deep, dark industry secret: No one actually goes to E3 anymore. We just attend pre-E3 events and then make the rest of it up as the waves tickle our toes at our balmy beachside Vacation Lairs. Or at least, it sure does seem that way. So we’ve been shown some pretty interesting games, but BioShock Infinite may very well take the cake.
What it means: Infinite alternatively seems to be the original BioShock’s identical twin and polar opposite, mixing exploration of a bold, ideologically charged new world with a far more character-driven storyline. From what we’ve seen, however, those conflicting natures serve the game well, and it’s coming together to be another figurative (and literal – if you count skylines) rollercoaster ride. With games like Modern Warfare, Battlefield, and Homefront hogging all the media attention, it’s also reassuring to see games like Infinite, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and Mass Effect 3 looking better than ever. Smart, in-depth single-player shooters are far from dead, and we couldn’t be happier.