I know that it’s been awhile since I last posted here, but that’s been due to several factors. School has been pretty tough this semester, and adapting to a three-day school schedule as opposed to two has really interrupted my free time flow. My energy levels have been down, and I’d just been spinning my creative wheels up until very recently.
I’m happy to say that my writing roles outside of Consoleation have begun to increase, and I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you what’s been happening:
For starters, I’m still active on staff with Popzara Press. Aside from monthly sales analysis pieces that I continue to try and piece together from what data I can find, I’m also still writing some reviews for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles. I got a chance to put Fist of the North Star: Ken’s Rage 2 through its paces for the PlayStation 3 last month, and I just recently got to cover the initial suite of Star Wars Pinball tables on the PlayStation 3 as well. I’m currently working my way through Tomb Raider, and I’m hoping to get to cover Bioshock Infinite for Popzara later this month.
In addition, I’ve been asked to cover Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 for GamersHell as a contributor and should be seeing the game soon. It was a pleasant surprise to have the offer extended by Chris, the Managing Editor, and I was happy to accept given my enjoyment of the Tiger Woods series and of sports games in general. The door is open to more contribution opportunities if the initial piece goes well, so I’m looking forward to this opportunity.
Finally, I’m happy to announce that Pinball Alley has a new home: 1 More Castle.
If you haven’t visited this great site, which is dedicated to older video games and platforms, I can’t recommend it enough. I’m honored and privileged to be a part of a talented group of staff and contributors, and I want to thank Eric for reaching out to me and working with me to get this idea realized. As the above video explains, Pinball Alley is a six-part, bi-weekly series of articles that breaks down each of the pinball games for the NES. The first article in the series will be going up on March 12th and will be a breakdown of Nintendo’s Pinball. I’m both nervous and excited to have the piece go live and to see what readers think of it. I haven’t yet decided on the order for the remaining five games, though I’m leaning towards Rollerball.
So… that’s what’s going on. I also have midterms coming this week, so things are turning very busy all around. It’s a very exciting time, and I hope that you’ll be able to take some time to check out my work in a few spots.
The announcement of the Bioshock Infinite delay to late February of 2013 doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.
The original October 2012 release date seemed a bit risky, given the already-impressive lineup of software that is slated to ship near the same time. Assassin’s Creed III, Halo 4, Black Ops II, WiiU hardware, and other games would likely have eaten into potential sales for Bioshock Infinite. Would these other software releases have led to disappointing sales for Infinite? Possibly, but after a 2+ year hiatus for the IP, I think that Infinite would have held its own.
Let’s look at some potential causes for the delay.
1. Multiplayer addition:
Ken Levine notes in his explanation of the delay that Irrational Games had “uncovered opportunities to make Infinite into something even more extraordinary.” I firmly believe those “opportunities” are multiplayer options. Multiplayer has become fastened to almost every major game experience, and we even saw it with Bioshock 2 in 2010. Job postings from within Irrational Games for Network Programmers seem to suggest that multiplayer is going to be added or tweaked in the coming months. From a personal perspective, I’m not too excited about more multiplayer, as I’ve had more enjoyment playing these games solo. From a business perspective, though, multiplayer is an easier avenue to additional revenue per user (ARPU). I can see why the decision may have been made.
2. Something else is coming:
Analysts have been hinting that Grand Theft Auto V, which is another release under the Take Two umbrella, could hit stores in October. Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter said in a note that the Infinite delay “opens the window” for the game to see a release this year. He remarked that we could see some news about Grand Theft Auto V during the Take Two quarterly results presentation on May 22nd, or during E3. During some communication on Twitter, it also appears that Blockbuster put a preliminary date on Grand Theft Auto V of October 26th in the UK, which would likely mean October 23rd here in the US. I think that there’s a bit of coincidence here, and am starting to lean a bit towards the conclusion that we do see Grand Theft Auto V this year. If not, the hole left by Infinite‘s delay will lead to revenue projections being revised downward for the holiday quarter– perhaps considerably so.
3. It’ll be done when it’s done.
It’s entirely possible that Ken Levine and the team at Irrational Games are working beyond deadlines and more time is needed to complete the product. Perhaps there’s some extra fine-tuning needed for certain portions of the game. Maybe a few late-term additions (aside from multiplayer) were added. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, it’s a pretty huge undertaking and projects like these do take some time. While not necessarily good for Take Two’s near-term bottom line, improving on and making sure that Bioshock Infinite is the best game that it can be should pay dividends to consumers when it finally does hit stores… hopefully early next year.
With Infinite being pulled from trade shows for the immediate future, we can look to the next few weeks to see if signs of Grand Theft Auto V arise. If they do, as I suspect, then I think we’ll have our cause identified. It’s a good thing for Infinite if this bears out, however; more time to polish a long-awaited piece of software is a positive. If we hear nothing during E3 (or before), then analyst speculation– and investor fear– over the delay will worsen. In either case, I think that speculation over Infinite becoming another Duke Nukem Forever or Final Fantasy Versus XIII scenario will prove false and we will see it hit stores in 2013.
The wait is almost over.
Starting next Monday, updates from Los Angeles will begin here on Consoleation and on the KmartGamer website as E3 festivities begin with press events. On Tuesday, the show floor opens with more games than any one person can play in three days. With so much to experience, what are the games that I’m looking forward to seeing or playing? That’s a good question, and to answer it, the Consoleation Hot List was born. While this won’t cover all of the games that I’m excited about, these games are the ones that I’m personally looking forward to getting more information on and eventually covering in the months to come. There’s no particular order here, so let’s get started:
To say that Bioshock had a big effect on me as a video game player is an understatement. My first Bioshock experience was on the PlayStation 3 back in 2008, and I was drawn into the game’s environment, characters, and story. Even as a lesser-skilled first-person shooter player, I was able to experience much of what Bioshock had to offer and it’s been one of the few games over the course of this current console generation that I’ve replayed more than once. Bioshock 2, to me, was a less-impressive experience. It was still a solid game (with one of the best DLC add-ons I’ve ever played in Minerva’s Den), but I wasn’t as blown away as I was during my first trip to Rapture.
Bioshock Infinite not only marks the return of Ken Levine to the franchise, but it also seeks to do lots of completely new things while maintaining enough familiarity to keep fans interested. A city in the sky is a radical departure from the undersea depths of Rapture, and there are lots of themes that the storyline seems to touch on. I’m excited to see the progress that the game has made since it was first premiered. What new information about the characters or about the city of Columbia will we see? How far into the experience will the new E3 demo take players? Hopefully I’ll get to see more at the show.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon:
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a new Ace Combat title, but 2011 brings that drought to an end with the release of Assault Horizon in October. This new entry deviates somewhat from the tried-and-true gameplay formula that we’ve seen from Ace Combat games for over 15 years as close-range combat is now an important piece of the puzzle. Players won’t just be piloting aircraft either– they’ll be manning guns in attack helicopters and focusing more on taking out targets than keeping their planes intact. What remains to be seen is how this new Close-Range Assault System balances with more standard gameplay. One other interesting fact is that, for the first time, an Ace Combat game is going to have a story based in and on real-life theaters of engagement. Author Jim DeFelice has penned the story, which takes place in regions such as Dubai and Russia as opposed to Belka or Yuktobania. This seems to give Assault Horizon a more H.A.W.X.-like feel of realism, which suits me fine.
The trailers for Assault Horizon have been gorgeous, and the Project Aces team has consistently delivered at least solid flight combat experiences. Here’s hoping that my excitement level for this game increases after spending some time with it next week. I think it will.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of sports games, and hockey games are at the top at that list. EA Sports has been on a roll with its hockey games over the course of this console generation, making gradual improvements year after year while delivering great action. The NHL series has made the twin stick method of play into the standard, added a spark to online play with the creation of the EASHL, and the Be A Pro mode has been one of the most addictive and enjoyable additions to a hockey game to date.
The bar looks like it’s going to be raised again with NHL 12. Additions are set to include an increased focus on play in the goal crease, more dynamic goalies and desperation saves, goalie fights, and a new physics system that accounts for more than just player and puck movement. The Winter Classic is also being introduced for the first time, and playing hockey outside during a snow squall sure looks pretty. The Be A Pro mode is getting some refining with new in-game tasks, and the presentation looks as though it’s going to continue to drift closer to the TV-style presentation that hockey games have been missing since NHL 2K5. Others may have their sights set on NCAA Football or Madden, but NHL 12 is getting my full attention at the show.
Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception:
This probably isn’t a surprising pick, but this game has been on my radar since the first images debuted. Naughty Dog has nailed down a great balance between action and platforming for the Uncharted series and adds likable characters and fun stories that keep players jumping and shooting until the very end. I am a bit concerned about more stealth being added, as I was not at all a fan of it in Uncharted 2, but that’s really the only concern that I have for this game at this stage. I’ll definitely have more to say about it after spending some time with it during the show; it’s going to be one of Sony’s big guns in Q4 and the pressure is on Naughty Dog to work its magic once again.
Modern Warfare 3 vs. Battlefield 3:
The stage is set for what looks to be a big FPS battle in November as a pair of threes– Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3– will be shooting for consumer dollars during a very busy release window. The real question to be answered will be: If I can only afford to buy one, which one will it be? Hopefully, if I can spend some time with both titles during E3, I can begin to form some solid opinions. Modern Warfare 3 is the heavy favorite, but is familiarity going to be enough against Battlefield 3? Will Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer be able to work some magic and silence the crescendo of critics? Can DICE deliver the Call of Duty killer that EA has been looking for? How will Call of Duty Elite factor in?
It’s sure going to be fun trying to find out during E3 and beyond.
These are just some of the titles that I’m going to have my eyes on during the course of E3. The KmartGamer team has set up numerous meetings with the top companies in the industry, so you can count on a lot of information and impressions during E3 and in the days following. I’ll be tweeting as often as my cell phone battery (and the allegedly spotty cell signal at the event) will allow; don’t forget to follow me on Twitter if you aren’t already. I also encourage you to follow my two KmartGamer blogging teammates– Amy Tucker and Stephen Haberman. If I happen to miss something, I can guarantee that one of these two awesome people will. Be sure to follow the KmartGamer Twitter feed for even more E3 goodness, as well as links to some consistently super gaming deals that Kmart puts together.
E3 is going to be huge– and I’m honored to be covering the event. I hope you’ll follow along.