Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Hearty Dose Of Next-Gen Rumors Have Arrived

If there is any truth behind the rumors at Dual Pixels, it looks like we have a hell of year ahead of us in
2013.  Dual Pixels details Sony and Microsoft's new console, multiple new first-party Wii U games, and much more. This is one of those rare news pieces you don't want to miss.

Check out the full article at Dual Pixels

Monday, December 3, 2012

Frost-Bitten: Call of Duty Black Ops 2

Frost-Bitten is a series of criticisms that focus on undesirable elements in games that are often overlooked.

Before the release of Black Ops 2, Treyarch/Activsion and much of the gaming press would have you believe that this Call of Duty was going to be an absolute reinvention for the series.  We heard things like:

- The Call of Duty game-changer
- The most innovative Call of Duty since Call of Duty 4
- Treyarch's answer to 'franchise fatigue'.

All of these assumptions were not only silly, but absolutely wrong.

From the opening cinema, it's apparent that Treyarch tried their damnedest to make this a different type of Call of Duty game. And honestly, they haven't failed in every regard.  They succeeded in pushing story-telling forward for these types of games.  Your choices, along with the intimate brand of story-telling seen in Black Ops 2, were only glimpsed at in prior efforts. I actually felt something playing a Call of Duty game.  Shocking, isn't it?

Even with this new narrative direction, after the last building has been pummeled with gunfire, a realization sets in.  The tired foundation is still there.  This is nearly the same Call of Duty you've been playing for the past 5 years. Only this time, with a more compelling story and some unsuccessful gameplay experiments added to the mix.  What Treyarch needs to do, is call in an air-strike and topple the foundation once and for all.

A lot like this.

Playing through Black Ops 2 for the first time can be a perplexing experience.  Treyarch tried to give the player a few new things to do by playing on the, 'you see it in the game world, you can do it' mentality found in games like Grand Theft Auto.  I usually appreciate this, but in Black Ops 2, all of those experiences were not only shallow, but mostly boring.  It's a shame because they were Treyarch's vehicle for pushing the series forward.

For example, near the end of the game, you'll find yourself flying through the air in a future aircraft.  This should've been a fun and climatic moment.  Instead, the developers decided to strip away any form of freedom and replace it with an 'on-rails' segment. Your freedom exists only in your aim and your abilitity to move within a predefined area as your aircraft blasts forward.  It was a painful experience that made me long for the corridor shooting segments the franchise is so well-known for.  It's almost as if Treyarch realized how clumsy these experiences were. Each lasts only a few minutes before returning to the aforementioned shoot-outs.

The irony in this, is that the brevity of these segments is precisely what's wrong with them.  They were designed to break things up, not act as catalysts of change. The gameplay suffers dramatically for this.  If there is no learning period, how can the mechanics be engaging or satisfying?  You are put in the driver's seat of a new experience, (whether it be a car, a hoversuit, or mech) and told to drive.  It doesn't matter that you've never driven before, they've dumbed-down the controls enough so that anyone can drive.  Just don't expect it to be fun.

Fun to watch? Maybe.  Fun to play? Not so much.

Most of these problems likely rest in Black Ops 2's resilience to be a bat-shit crazy action movie rather than an engaging game.  If the developers would step back and focus on creating a fun, new mechanic, maybe pushing gameplay forward wouldn't be such a struggle.  Call of Duty didn't rise to popularity from the development of expansive set pieces.  The intuitive gameplay and and strong multiplayer is what keeps players coming back.

Black Ops 2 serves as yet another reminder that Call of Duty needs to innovate or follow Activsion's other franchise, Guitar Hero, into the realm of irrelevance.  Gamers will only put up with a tired idea for so long, until they move onto something better.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

This Is What The Box Art For BioShock Infinite Looks Like

Here it is, the official box art for Bioshock Infinite.  Featuring the main character, complete with his comb-over and trusty shotgun.

What do you think? Good? Bad? Generic?

I'm liking it for the most part.  I wish it was a little more creative rather than just having the protagonist posing on the cover.  But it's still appealing to the eye, so I'm alright with it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bloomberg Says Next Xbox Will Be Out By End Of Next Year

News and business site, Bloomberg, has reason to believe that Microsoft's new console will be launching by the end of next year. Their source?  The people familiar with Microsoft's plans regarding their new machine.

The 'new xbox by next year' speculation isn't exactly new.  But when a media giant like Bloomberg gets behind it, there might be something to it.  Now all we need is Sony to follow suit.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Want To Help THQ Out? Buy Their Humble Bundle

A struggling THQ doesn't seem to understand what it means to be a 'Humble Indie Bundle'.  A Humble Bundle doesn't usually consist of a gigantic publisher's top games, with titles like Saints Row: The Third thrown in the mix. THQ doesn't appear to care.  For the next 2 weeks, you can pay what you want for 6 of their best games, or pay over the average donation to get Saints Row The Third included (The best of the bunch in my opinion).

Check it out at

WIi U Specs Released By Hacker

Months of debate and speculation may finally come to a close today. A hacker who goes by the name, Marcan, appears to have the answers to all of our Wii U hardware questions.

Marcan states that the Wii U's processor has a clock speed of 1.24 GHz.  Putting things into perspective, that's less than half of what's available on the Xbox 360 and PS3. Things get a little better on the GPU front, with a core that runs at 550 MHz, a speed that's roughly the same as the PS3 and slightly faster than the 360.

If the past is anything to go by, this could mean troubling things for 3rd party support on the Wii U.  The Wii missed out on many stellar games due to having lackluster hardware specifications.  It looks like Nintendo is playing the same hand again.  We can only hope that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Dragon Age 3: Inquisition Likely Headed To Next Generation Platforms

According to EA designer, Tao Gu's LinkedIn profile, we may be waiting on the release of the latest Dragon Age until 2014, when it hits next generation consoles.

Why not stick to current hardware? On his profile, Gu specifies that the 'scope' of the game has changed, and as a result, a leap to next generation platforms had to be made.  EA has yet to respond on the legitimacy of Gu's claims.

The looming implications of what this means for next generation hardware is what makes this story interesting.  What kinds of 'scope' are we talking about here?  Does this mean next generation consoles will greatly outperform the current generation?  Oh, and why isn't E3 here yet?