This April has been a busy week for video games, and a very weird one, too. And the news has varied from good, to bad, to ugly, and everything in between. Here's some of the stuff that caught my attention:
Table of Contents
Nintendo to reveal Wii 2 at E3 this June?
Lots of rumors have been circulating around the internet this month regarding the possibility of a Nintendo "Wii 2" being shown at this year's E3. Supposedly, Nintendo is planning on showing off the new system at E3 this June, and it is planned for a release this fall (October or November)!
Exact details regarding the console itself are subject the heresay.
There seems to be a lot of agreement that the new console will support HD graphics and output. Some people are going so far as to say that the new console will have more horsepower than either the PS3 or the Xbox 360!
There is also supposedly a fancy, new controller. Supposedly, it has a high definition LCD touch screen embedded on it. This may sound awkward, but many sources who claim to have seen it are saying that it is not as crazy as it sounds. Well, if the "Wii 2" is going to continue the trend of gesture-based gameplay, then a built-in touchscreen on the controller does seem a bit unnecessary and clunky.
Unless the controller is wearable! PowerGlove 2, anybody?
Although other people, such as my friend John Bono at Golgotron.com, have speculated that the next Nintendo console will have a brain-reading controller. I highly doubt that such technology will be revealed for this particular console. But I suppose it is a possibility.
Other factoids that have been suggested regarding the new Nintendo console:
- The "Wii 2" will be fully backwards compatible with Wii games.
- It will have online connectivity. Possibly Facebook and Netflix support.
- Nintendo is finally reaching out to third party developers.
- Software development kits have been provided to most major developers, and companies like EA, Activision, 2K, Sega, Square-Enix, Rockstar, Capcom, and Konami are all working on big projects for the system.
- It may be the exclusive launch console of Grand Theft Auto V.
- A new Resident Evil project may be in development for the "Wii 2".
- Nintendo may be working with Metal Gear creator Hideo Kojima on a "Wii 2" exclusive project.
- The console will retail for $350 to $450.
Remember, all of this is just rumor and heresay. We won't know any official details until E3 in June.
This announcement has also made people wonder what the status is regarding new consoles by Sony and Microsoft. Industry insiders, however, continue to claim that new PlayStations and Xboxes are not due out till 2014 at the earliest.
PlayStation Network down for days
As a sort of "follow-up" to my previous rant about replacing my PS3, as soon as I get it back, guess what happens? Yep, the PlayStation Network goes offline for an unknown reason. At the time of this writing, it's been down for almost 3 days, and there is no sign that it is coming back anytime soon.
So what's the deal, Sony? Was it Hackers? The hacking organization Anonymous has claimed innocence. Did your servers all explode? Come on! We want answers!
But so far, Sony is not telling us why the network has been down.
So what to do with Portal 2 or Mortal Kombat in the meantime? Well, in the case of Portal 2, if I get bored of single player, I can always play the PC version, which came with the PS3 version absolutely FREE! Almost as if Valve knew the PSN would be down... Dun dun DAH!
If you wanna play any other PS3 games online though, you're shit outta luck!
Portal 2 now available
Well, as indicated above, Portal 2 was released this week. I've been very busy so far this week and haven't had a chance to finish it. I'm a good way through the single player campaign, but haven't had a chance to even touch online play yet. Partly due to the PSN being unavailable, but mostly due to the fact that the single player has been keeping me busy.
So far, the game has been fantastic! I'm a little disappointed in the static-ness of the environments. And that the PS3 save file cannot be transferred to the PC version (and vice versa), as many people had falsely claimed was going to be possible. Instead, the Steam Cloud can only save your PS3 files for use on any other PS3.
The game is supposedly still capable of cross-platform online multiplayer, though, but without access to the PSN, I can't log in to actually try it...
So, we can have our cake (and it isn't a lie), but we can't eat it too. At least not yet.
First NCAA Football 12 gameplay video shows procedural tackling, catching
Is this for real?
If you've known me for any length of time, or read any of my numerous forum posts on EA Sports forums, youtube, my previous posts (particularly this analysis of last month's Madden 12 trailer), then you know about my general lack of satisfaction with the EA Sports football games over the past few years.
One of the consistent complaints of myself, along with Madden community vets like Versuz and ApexisFree, is the lack of procedural physics - particularly in the tackling animation department. I commented on this complaint in my blog post about the first screenshot for NCAA 12. In that post, I commented on how a tackler seemed to be paying much greater respect to the physical body of the ball carrier, and I even pondered that this may be an indication that procedural tackling and physics is being implemented in the new game.
Well, it looks like I may have been right, and EA is finally addressing this years-old complaint. And they're throwing in better passing, kicking, and catching physics too?!
And this isn't even the end of it! EA recently released other trailers for NCAA Football 12 that highlighted presentational and graphical enhancements, audio enhancements, more school traditions, the previously-ridiculed 3-D grass, and so on. I'll probably go into this in more detail in a future blog, but right now all I can say is "wow".
EA, this is what fans have been asking for since the launch of the Xbox 360 and PS3. And you're failure to deliver improvments of this caliber have been the reason you've been getting so many complaints. With a set of "next gen" consoles, we, as fans, were expecting to see things in our football games that weren't possible in the previous generation of consoles. And so far, that hasn't been delivered. Sure the graphics have been getting shinier each year, but the gameplay has stagnated - and in many cases, taken steps backwards.
In my analysis of the Madden 12 trailer (part 2), I said that if EA wanted to earn my money with its football games this year, they would have to wow me. And this was exactly what I was asking for! Well, technically, I was asking for fully real-time physics, but this is a great start. I'm not hopping on the EA bandwagon just yet, but this sort of enhancement very well might earn my $60 this year. At least for NCAA. Although I assume the same enhancement is being applied to Madden as well.
Video game players: See what happens when you don't buy a lackluster product?!
Last year, sales of Madden 11 were lower than expected, and now look what happened! Backbreaker may not have been the commercial or critical success that we were hoping for, but Natural Motion's ambitious attempt to add procedural collisions to football games put pressure on EA's back. That (combined with declining sales for Madden) may finally trigger the age of "next gen" football gaming. And we're only 3/4 of the way through the "next gen" consoles' expected lifespan! *sarcasm*.
UPDATE April 26, 2011:
I have since completed an in-depth analysis of the trailers for NCAA Football 12
Civilization V patch to fix AI issues, glitches, interface
Last week, 2KGreg announced that a new patch for Civilization V was in the works. I discussed the patch notes that were posted on 2k's Civ V forum a few posts ago. That list has since been updated to include a few extra AI and diplomacy fixes, some updates to the Civilopedia, additional stability fixes, and the long-requested upgrade to river color and shading!
I don't think 2k has announced the release date for this patch yet, but it is expected to be available by the end of April. I can't wait to try it out, since I've recently been having a lot of crash problems with that game recently while testing some new mods.
Civ V is still a long way from being the game I want it to be though.