14/11-20/11/11

 

 

It’s hard to believe the Xbox is 10 years old. I remember the day I first got my hands on it. We were in Toys R Us in one of Harlow’s industrial parks. Incidentally, this is the backdrop for the horror novel I’m currently writing. We were dining at Pizza Hut but the Hut microwave was taking its sweet time so my sister and I popped into the atrociously expensive toy hypermarket next door and low and behold, perched proudly among the stray prams and Black Mamba yo-yos was Microsoft’s Xbox. I don’t remember specifically which game was being demoed, except that it was not Halo, but I do remember the loud warning signs plastered either side of the TV. ‘Warning: you may experience motion sickness while playing’. As an impressionable 12 year old, I had to have it.

As nauseatingly cliched as it is, I do doubt whether I’d be in the position I am today without the Xbox. I certainly wouldn’t be on the university course I am and for that Microsoft, fuck you. On the flip side, I probably wouldn’t know many of the people I erroneously call “friends” today nor would I likely be writing this. I’ve written a less bile-filled account of the Xbox Years which I’ll be publishing in the coming days. Until then, back to NEWS, TASTY TASTY NEWS:

 

Playstation Game Sharing Limit Reduced; Buy 1 Get 4 Free Offer Extinguished After Many Years

There was a time, but a few days back, when a man or woman or child could purchase a videogame from the Playstation Network and proceed to share copies of it with four of his or her friends. In return those friends would then share out their games in a merry orgy of sharing and caring. One could buy Fat Princess and in return gain Flower, PixelJunk Monsters, Wipeout HD and DeathSpank to his library of titles. Our Medieval ancestors would surely label this as witchcraft.

“Thanks”, friends would sing in chorus, each of them oblivious to the cruel truth. For each time a gamer partook in this heinous act, somewhere on this terrible mass of rock and dirt we call Planet Earth a developer would buckle under financial strain and ultimately die a hideous and unsavoury death. If I were an asshat or a clod I may say it were the Butterfly Effect in effect.

Well those dark days are over and developers can look forward to years ahead with bread and butter on the table. With Playstation Network maintenance coming to a welcome end on Thursday, the number of consoles users can now share games between has been reduced to 2, that’s two Playstation 3 consoles and two Playstation Portables.

Probably a smart decision when you think about it for, oh, half of the smallest denomination of time there is. In an age of rampant piracy and iron-fisted, consumer-hating DRM, it’s remarkable, if not utterly stupid, that it’s taken until the year 2011 for Sony to put in place a structure that impedes people potentially buying one and getting four free on all of its content. Incidentally, none of that previous content is effected by the update so your legally purloined games are safe.

 

Metacritic Abused by Developer… Again

It’s a sad truth the power Metacritic commands over the gaming industry, whether it’s Peter Moore denying the FIFA team congratulatory pizza funded by their bonus money if they fail to earn a 90+ score on the review aggregator or Telltale Games withholding review copies of Jurassic Park so that they can review it themselves. Actually, thinking about it, what a phenomenal idea. Not only do the developers clearly know more about their game than anyone else, they can get reviews out long before embargoes are lifted! Surely this is the future.

As revealed by Gamespot, several of Telltale’s employees took to Metacritic to sing the game’s praises and they didn’t exactly go out of their way to conceal their identities either. Like a couple of bozos robbing a police station with their Dixon name badges still in place, they only went and used sign-up names that led directly to LinkedIn profiles which meant Gamespot had to spend an estimated forty seconds following the trail of jelly beans back to the culprits.

Not that it wasn’t achingly obvious that the accounts were phoney anyway. For a start, the offending reviews each rewarded the game 10/10 scores and many of them repeatedly used the words “Heavy Rain” and “L.A. Noire”. Take some of these examples with a side order of salt:

Jurassic Park: The Game is a true Telltale “point-and-click”. The company that championed the adventure game genre delivers yet another solid game based on a beloved “nostalgic” franchise.”

Uh huh.

“There is much to love about Jurassic Park: The Game. The writing is top notch [...]. Did I mention that the deaths in the game are amazing?? Yeah, there are hundreds of unique ways to see your characters die-by-dino; truly a sight to behold.”

A trumpet solo for your enjoyment there.

But what really gives the game away is this line:

 “The quick time events grow increasingly challenging”

The only sentence regarding QTEs that ought to make its way into a review is “FUCK OFF”. Any sentence that isn’t lambasting quicktime events clearly wasn’t written by your everyday gamer. This, however, proved to be my favourite:

“Reminded me a lot of heavy rain . I like the cheesy dialogues and the whole Jurassic Park vibe. It’s entertaining and fun. There is not much that gamer can really do (just like in heavy rain) it’s linear but in a good way. It’s like an interactive story. I wouldn’t give a 10 here. But 9 is fair. 10/10″

That review has everything; a stellar, nay, perfect illustration of the art of games critiquing. 7/10

Caught with their pants down, a Telltale spokesperson confirmed that Telltale “does not censor or muzzle its employees in what they post on the internet”, which is fair enough but you’d hope that any self-respecting developer confident in its work would communicate to its employees that these kind of deceptive shenanigans aren’t part of the job description. They’re actively fooling gamers into purchasing a game that has, thus far, accumulated a string of mediocre to poor reviews from professional critics. And, with the news out, gamers have flocked to Metacritic to bomb Jurassic Park into oblivion. The Xbox 360 version is currently sitting at 2.9/10.

Perhaps in future, if Telltale employees are going to review their own work, they could employ a more critical eye. Who knows, it may help their future projects if they aren’t all spunking over its ‘increasingly challenging quick time events’ or ‘die-by-dino death scenes’. As for Metacritic, it’s still shite.

 

EA Bans Origin Member From All Origin Games for Using “e-peen” in Forum Conversation.

EA are no strangers to shooting themselves in the foot. Take the Battlefield 3 launch for instance, good grief. Or how about their insistance on using their own online structure, rather than Xbox Live. Lordy. Or the Origins/Old Republic debacle that saw EA announce that, not only was The Old Republic going to cost £10 more to buy on Origin than it does on Amazon.co.uk, but purchases on Origin would also come bundled with a £5 pre-order fee and even then, EA couldn’t guarantee you’d even be able to play the game on release date. EA and friendly fire then, the closest of friends.

In a hilarious article, Rock Paper Shotgun took to investigating a recent spout of EA forum bannings that have resulted in gamers also being barred from playing their Origin games. I say recent, according to the article this has been happening since March.

And bans not for the kind of crimes you’d expect to be barred for life for either. One person contacted the site to tell the remarkable story of how he was banned from his EA account – and thus his entire library of Origin games – for using the word “e-peen” on the Battlefield forums. To put that into perspective, one of the barks the Battlefield soldier cries if he’s taking fire is: “I’m being fucked in the arse over here.” Investigate the scene and nobody is being angled and anally penetrated anywhere, there is no evidence of an anal party having taken place and no mention is made of the act again by the soldier in question until he cries out next time, “I’m being fucked in the arse over here.” and you dance the whole merry jig again. To me, that rather crude assessment of the situation is far more insulting than the word “e-peen”, but the offender was charged, the hammer brought down and EA refused to talk anymore with the culprit. No more Origin for you, Mr. “e-peen.”

Origin could do without the setbacks considering the competition but this goes beyond setback, it’s probably illegal. Forum bans is one thing, but locking people out of products they have paid for is a touch heavy handed. Media Molecule can’t come to my house and reclaim my copy of LittleBigPlanet on the grounds that I made a LittleBigMusical about all the things I can fit up my arse.

EA eventually got back to RPS but no concrete explanation for the bannings, or policy on what constitues a bannable offence, was provided.

“We have listened to our customers and are planning a policy update which will include more equitable rules on suspensions – we want to make sure the time fits the crime” 

One would presume the “e-peen” punishment is set to be reduced, then.

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