Ubisoft Montreal’s Far Cry 3 won six titles including Game of The Year at the fourth annual Canadian Videogame Awards held in Vancouver on Saturday.
Other nominees for the Game of the Year title include Assassin’s Creed II, Mark of the Ninja, Mass Effect 3 and Papa & Yo.
Far Cry 3 was also nominated for other awards such as Future Shop Fans’ Choice Award, Best Animation, Best Game Design, Best New Character, and Best Visual Arts, all of which it won.
The only title Far Cry 3 was nominated for and didn’t win was the award for Best Writing which was given to Mass Effect 3.
“The sheer concentration of quality games produced in 2012 was utterly mind-boggling. Small of large, independently produced or developed by teams of hundreds, the nominees this year truly represent the diversity in the Canadian videogame industry,” said Victor Lucas, executive producer of The Electric Playground and founder of the Canadian Videogame Awards.
Here is a list of all the winners:
Game of the Year: Far Cry 3
Future Shop Fans’ Choice Award: Far Cry 3
Best Console Game: Mass Effect 3
Best Downloadable Game: Mark of the Ninja
Best Game on the Go: Sound Shapes
Best Social / Casual Game: The Secret World
Best Animation: Far Cry 3
Best Audio: Assassin’s Creed III
Best Game Design: Far Cry 3
Best Game Innovation: Sound Shapes
Best Indie Game: Mark of the Ninja
Best New Character: Far Cry 3
Best Original Music: Mass Effect 3 – Leaving Earth
A report at PC Gaming Alliance shows that PC software sales hit a record of $20 billion in 2012 with China contributing a large fraction of the revenue.
The figure reflects a growth of 8% year-on-year and 90% since the first ever PC Gaming Alliance software sales report in 2008. The report also showed that China contributed $6.8 billion out of all of the global revenue.
“In spite of media focus on mobile games and struggling social network games, there are now over 1 billion PC gamers worldwide and that number will continue to grow as more PCs connect online,” said DFC analyst (the company that compiles the information with JPR Research) David Cole in the report.
“DFC was surprised the industry still showed growth in 2012 with the decline of large subscription MMOs, heavy attention being paid to the impact of mobile games, and the struggle of many social network games,” said Cole.
The PCGA also announced that the “PC Gaming Certification and Logo Program” has undergone significant improvements. “Because the market conditions change, the PCGA certification program will remain under continual development to address specific industry challenges,” said PCGA President and analyst at Intel Matt Ployhar. “Retail boxes are disappearing, and recommended system requirements often confuse consumers more than they help. He went on to say that consumers are often faced with complicated decisions that involve hardware or software compatibility. “PCGA members will be the force of good that will define, develop and deploy the next generation of certificates to help and assist Developers and Consumers alike to navigate these issues,” said Ployhar.
The report went on to say that “we are experiencing a shift in the gaming industry.” PCGA Executive Director Erik Noreke explains how there is now PC hardware that allows gamers to take their gaming with them on the road. “The traditional desktop is no longer the gaming platform of choice as we are seeing more and more laptops with powerful GPUs and high end audio systems,” said Noreke.
This month, Focus Home Interactive have been poking their heads out of the corners, softly whispering: “heeeeeey, what about us?” in reply to community outrage over SimCity.
The general consensus is that whilst SimCity is potentially a good game, it’s not a great city builder. The size, scale, and depth of the game, including how everything is managed is very formulaic – and many people have said it’s not unlike Facebook flash games in the way that you progress. Your ultimate goal isn’t simply managing a vast and complex city, so much as working with friends to support each-other, aiming for one of the monumental region structures, for the benefit of everyone in the region.
SimCity is so stringent by design that even using the hotly anticipated curved roads feels like episode in inefficiency. Creativity is one of the key aspects of city building games, and whilst the SimCity series have always had ‘rules’ dictated by infrastructural necessities, they weren’t so plainly obvious when the work-space within which you could build was much larger. Now, space is a commodity in and of itself, and not properly allocating large areas to needlessly massive structures for use later in the game is a good way to waste 40 hours of your life.
Whilst I won’t go into the games server problems here (I’ve already been there), the games mechanical problems are well known to many. Whilst Maxis have gone some way to fixing traffic path-finding and Sim AI, some still feel there’s a long way to go to make it the proper successor to a venerable series. In my stated opinion, you could still have enormous fun with SimCity regardless of all the technical problems. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that many of them are merely academic. There’s a way to circumvent them. Being a more hardcore SimCity fan you’d be right to disregard that view, but at the same time, if you’re a hardcore SimCity fan it’s likely 2013′s incarnation will never be for you. So… what else is there?
I want to reference a certain explorative cartoon crustacean
Why not Cities XL? If SimCity didn’t have the problems it faced, I wouldn’t even be discussing Cities XL at this point, because whilst SimCity is a problematic little youth, Cities XL is, in some ways, an equally troublesome adolescent. Released in 2009 by Focus Home Interactive, Cities XL offered the depth and scale of a city builder like nothing we had seen before. It was stocked full of content, such as the ability to pick regional streets without a DLC price tag, and the terrains upon which gamers could build their cities were gigantic and varied. Cities XL was a town-planners dream come true… so what was the problem?
The biggest problem with Cities XL is a problem that remains today: due to the way in which the game was built, and the engine it uses, performance past a certain point crawls to a halt, essentially breaking the game. Cities XL 2011 came and went, with no improvement in that department. Cities XL 2012 came and went, with still no improvement in that department. Cities XL Platinum has recently come and gone… low and behold, performance is better. Did Monte Cristo fix the efficiency bugs that brought Cities XL to a close? They did not – but technology got better. Since the original 2009 release, I’ve upgraded from a 2.8 GHZ AMD Phenom II to a 3.8 AMD Bulldozer running at 4.5ghz. Whilst performance generally does decrease, the game remains playable on even the highest settings.
What does this mean? Cities XL Platinum is suddenly a viable option when people are looking for something more substantial than SimCity, so why is no one talking about that? Well, ostensibly because a buggy game doesn’t deserve your money; there are some games, however, that we make exceptions for. For instance, Arma II from Bohemia Interactive is a ‘buggy game’, but since it is so complex, built on an engine that is absolutely catered to what Arma II is about we learn to live with them in order to get what we want. It sounds a little bit like Stockholm Syndrone, but in reality, we have to look at the differences between ‘games’ and ‘simulators’, and assess for ourselves whether Cities XL is a ‘game’ in the classical sense, or a ‘simulator’. Simulators are notoriously buggy, and in my view, I treat Cities XL like Trainz, Flight Simulator X, and Arma II: technically imperfect, but mechanically magnificent.
To further support the ‘simulator’ argument, it’s important to note that Cities XL is really a constant work in progress. Each iteration includes its predecessor, with any and all DLC updates, including small graphical and game-play improvements. Cities XL Platinum is essentially the ultimate Cities XL experience. It isn’t an entirely new game, just as the Arma III engine isn’t an entirely new engine. It’s serious business.
Both SimCity and Cities XL have problems, but if you’re looking for a city builder, which one is for you?
When Cities XL was first launched, it offered the same sort of MMO experience that SimCity offers. Whilst the game was still – and is – playable offline, mayors could buy and trade resources across regions, over a “persistent online virtual community” called a “planet”. Players could even work together to build some of the games most taxing structures taken from real world wonders, such as the Empire State Building, etc,. This wasn’t free, though, and the subscription model, possibly because of the performance issues, quickly proved unsuccessful. Cities XL‘s subscription model lasted only a year, but it’s interesting to see just how much of the concept was used in SimCity. I actually defended SimCity‘s cloud saving with this exact point: they give you what Cities XL tried to, but for the cost of the box – something barely anyone pointed out.
Now, to many people, the social aspects of SimCity are exactly the problem – so there’s no sense strengthening an argument for Cities XL by referring to them. Cities XL Platinum hasn’t even a whisper of the originals’ social intent, and all the resource trading and tourist swapping is handled by AI. Cities XL is a single player game, and in reality, it was designed as one.
In other words, in Cities XL you can actually fail.
SimCity’s build-able area is around 2km x 2km, whereas Cities XL’s is 10.5 x 10.5 kilometers. That’s one problem already solved. SimCity’s cities rely primarily solely on your income vs your outgoings. This relies solely on keeping your Sim’s happy. It sounds bizarre, but so long as your Sim’s are happy, they’ll keep paying their taxes. Whilst it’s beneficial to produce, sell, and mine for ores, it’s still very easy to stay in the green merely by spamming parks all over the place. Sim’s don’t even need jobs, so long as you keep them happy with parks, play-grounds, and other functional aesthetic pieces. Cities XL is a little more complicated than that. The needs of people in Cities XL are independent from one and other. As your city grows, they will necessarily require healthcare, policing, fire services, etc,. These are a huge drain, as they are in SimCity on your economy, but this can be alleviated by picking different sizes of a respective service. This isn’t too different to SimCity other than if their need for leisure, education, healthcare, safety and security aren’t met, they will leave regardless of what bush you plonk down next to them. In other words, in Cities XL you can actually fail.
Whilst Sim City used to have more depth in that you’d have to lay power lines and water-pipes, you needn’t do that any more. In Cities XL, too, you needn’t worry about that. There are some instances where 2013′s SimCity shows a little more depth than Cities XL: garbage trucks, dynamic, real time traffic, and services management is a good example of that. This micromanagement is designed for tiny towns, though, and not cities to the tune of 10.5km squared. Cities XL compensates for this with more budget mangement than SimCity. Zoning costs money, and a lot of it. Everything in Cities XL is built by the state, and essentially taken over by private enterprise. Residential areas, manufacturing, industry, office space and “high-tec” zoning all costs varying amounts of cash – so you need to plan whether or not you have the people to man it, and the infrastructure to ship it and support it. Too many shops, and goods will be too hard to sell. Not enough shops, and nothing will sell, causing a chain of events that really is exclusive to the franchise:
Here’s what happens if your retail sector fails:
The stores go out of business
The entire residential region have no retail fulfillment, so they leave.
Money through taxation is reduced
Industry has no workers, they close down.
Manufacturing sector has no materials to manufacture.
Office space has nothing to manage.
High-tec sector has no produce, and no executive workers.
Your city collapses.
Too much of a good thing is bad in Cities XL, and there’s always a delicate chain of economic demand that must be kept on a tight leash. You really don’t have this in SimCity, and looking back at one path to success, all you have to do is zone residential (at no cost) and plonk a bunch of aesthetic items everywhere. Sim’s are very simple people, it seems. So whilst there is in some superficial way more depth to SimCity, it’s really only within the traffic AI management, and it’s micromanagement that deters away from the bigger picture, something the title lacks as a city builder.
Success in Cities XL
Starting Cities XL is like committing to a long and troublesome relationship. It’ll have its ups and downs, good times and bad times, but if all goes well it’ll last a life-time and grow into something grand and magnificent (although if it’s anything like mine, it’ll grow enormously over a week and then implode into a post apocalyptic wasteland). You begin by placing your highway wherever you want and in multiple places, placing your town hall and ‘city utilities’ somewhere on the map. Then, you zone residential, which has a good amount of depth:
Residential is split into four different ‘classes’:
Unskilled – 75 tax income
Skilled – 150 tax income
Executives – 300 tax income
Elites – 600 tax income
As your city grows, you unlock different densities for each. They don’t automatically upgrade according to density allowance like in SimCity, you periodically unlock density options through population growth. You’ll start by building small houses, eventually unlocking tower-blocks. Each density costs more, but offers more tax reward. Remember, citizens are a commodity themselves, and each industry sector has the same unlockable densities. For instance, it’s a bad idea to place high density industry with low density unskilled workers, since there won’t be enough to run it. Likewise, the different industry sectors require a mix of different workers. Offices require a mix of skilled workers and executives, and high-tec offices require more of both, and at some stage, elites. Keeping everyone happy is the key to keeping everything afloat, which in turn, keeps everyone happy.
Providing food and city services is equally important. We’ve already discussed hospitals et al (they’re not upgradable in Cities XL), but Cities XL also offers the ability to create garbage waste dumps at varying sizes. Nothing is Cities XL is capped to the degree that it is in SimCity, and this is my favorite aspect.
Zoning builds roads and aesthetic features around it. You can build zones either linearly, with a road and sections for industry or residential either side, or in a rectangle with all the zoning in the middle and roads around the peripheries – or you can ‘free-zone’, which allows you to click roads in varying positions, designing an area however you wish. There are also curved roads, which are fun to use considering the work-space. This means that Cities XL potentially produces much more dynamic, realistic cities. It isn’t one clinically tidy grid: it is whatever you want it to be, often, like some of the worlds greatest cities, a big, unplanned mess.
It’s incredibly quick and easy to expand in Cities XL and to be honest it’s a relatively easy game… but only in the same way that games like Anno are easy games. Take a look at the Anno dynamic. Impatient players often spam market places, fisheries, and town houses with a view to increasing population as quickly as possible. This surge of townsfolk is great at the start, but the inefficient use of space, and often over-production of produce without appropriately looking at exactly what you’ll need tends to bite you in the arse later in the game. If you want, you can blast through Cities XL in around 40 minutes, using up about 25% of the available space with no foreseeable problems. Soon, though, you’ll notice how crime takes over your streets, and the residential sector shuts down because you spammed one too many shops, or one too little, and the roads are too convoluted for any city services to reach. Expansion might be easy, but collapse is equally easy without looking far ahead and taking it slowly.
I think I’ve done enough to prove that Cities XL is at least a city builder worth looking into, so let’s stop talking about the mechanical differences and similarities and quickly look at the aesthetic ones.
Two pretty games doing their own thing
SimCity’s aesthetic, in my opinion, is wholly reliant on the wonderful soundtrack by Chris Tilton (Fringe). Without this rapid and eloquent repetition, the elegant day to day motions of the tiny toy town would lose all relevancy. I’m in love with the SimCity soundtrack, but not its art-style. Whilst the tilt-shift adds a crisp, layered appeal to the whole thing, I can’t help but feel it further perpetuates the “I’m playing a Facebook game” sensation that many – including myself – suffer in game. Cities XL goes the other way, offering realism. It also pulls it off astonishingly well. You’ll be amazed when zooming to street view just how full of life, and thick, your city just is. The streets, variation of buildings, right up to benches, lamp posts, traffic lights and everything else that amounts to a metropolis, gives you a level of creative satisfaction in some god-like way. “I created this?”
What’s more, Monte Cristo give you full control over the day and night cycle, allowing you at any moment to change the lighting and atmosphere of your city. If you’ve got the rig for it, Cities XL is a breathtakingly beautiful game, and although it launched in 2009, the updates to the engine retain a sense of polish (at least visually) that rival SimCity in 2013. Whilst it’s not as fun to follow around the citizens of Cities XL, because the street-life really isn’t a real-time dynamic or anything, the over-all effect is one of authenticity without gimmick.
Of course, Cities XL features the same emphasis on creating tourist traps, hosting events, and expanding travel options as SimCity, but like many things, it takes those concepts further and offers you more options. Cities XL Platinum for instance features all of the regional building DLC’s from prior games, allowing you to stylize your cities at a whim. Other notable differences are the inclusion of an Aspen inspired snowy landscape, allowing mayors to build cities on mud, snow, desert, and green-land. Each of these types are better for milking various resources, and some are better than others for tourism.
Like SimCity, Cities XL has pre-made maps to pick from, indicating specialization and difficulty in stars. If you don’t like that, you can rotate the planet map and pick a city you like from there. You can even re-create Paris from a road template, with the Eiffel tower pre-made. Focus Home are French, after-all (I like to use Paris as my garbage dump… Just kidding).
I’ve clearly covered more of the aspects of Cities XL here than I have SimCity, but decidedly so; no one seems to know anything about Cities XL, a game I’ve been playing since 2009 to varying degrees of success. Cities XL isn’t too fundamentally different to the classic Sim City dynamic, but it’s owed relevancy now because it is wholly different to 2013′s incarnation. SimCity is a game about micromanagement, addiction, and enjoying bits of novel whimsy. Whilst it’s been criticized as such, it’s really not a very serious game. Cities XL on the other hand is. Whilst I won’t lie to you and claim the performance problems have been solved – they haven’t – technology has gotten so good as to almost negate them. Look back to my argument regarding ‘simulator’ vs ‘game’ and decide whether or not you want to put your money down on something that some consider to be fundamentally broken, but at £19.99 with tonnes more content than Maxis’ £49.99 effort, it’s really a matter of falling on the most comfortable sword.
We already discussed how SimCity is at least as broken as Cities XL, but given Cities XL is now playable, and people are asking for things in SimCity that already exist elsewhere, why the hell don’t you give it a go? It’s a thing. It exists. Far be it from me to tell you what to play, but I think it’s about time Cities XL deserves a look in, and Focus Home Interactive’s modest relaunch didn’t really do the title justice. I’ve said it a lot privately: SimCity is the better game, but Cities XL is the better city builder.
2012 hasn’t been the best year in the AAA arena for PC gamers looking for something new, pretty, and competent, but indie developers and European publishers have come out of the woodwork releasing some really mechanically unique and brilliant titles. Strategy fans and fans of space strategy titles in particular have had a very good year, and anyone who’s a fan of isometric gaming or 2D top down games has had something to dig their teeth into almost every month.
It seems as though ports to PC are getting worse, and our expectations getting lower, with the exception of Square Enix titles this year. 2009′s Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Dark Athena was recently on sale over at gog.com for a mere $3, and compared to the janky and ugly efforts from 2012 publishers, that even now blows a lot of the offerings out of the water. We’ve looked at Far Cry 3and even launched a YouTube channel to discuss the years games so far, but what do we think are 2012′s best PC games? Note that this isn’t PC exclusive games, so much as games that meet our standards of porting, mechanics, story and visuals.
#10 War of the Roses – Developed by Fatshark, October 2012
I enjoyed War of the Roses enough to call out to two local historians who literally wrote the book on The Wars of the Roses, and the Battles of St Albans in particular to see what they had to say about the details. As it turns out, it’s not historically accurate at all, and despite countless hours arguing on line over the fact that there’s “no evidence crossbows were even used” during The Wars of the Roses, there’s always something for history buff’s to fight over. Thankfully, this is indeed a fighting game and when you’re done tearing it up online, there’s a beautifully rendered world to cut into.
The War of the Roses isn’t even close to being a perfect game, which is perhaps why it’s in my number 10 spot, but it is a valiant effort Paradox Interactive and Fatshark to bring us a highly polished, AAA medieval combat experience where once it merely fit a niche. Since launch, net-code issues have died down and things are generally a lot smoother, and whilst some still argue that Mount and Blade is the better game, the depth, scale and beauty of War of the Roses suffice enough to allow you time to get used to the differences. What’s true indeed is that War of the Roses is an enormously fun game to play with friends, and it is an unparalleled experience on the PC or any gaming platform. Chivalry emerged the next month, which saw two medieval games pitting it out against each-other, but it’s not for me to decide which you prefer – it all depends if you like spit-and-polish, or some janky, wild testosterone fueled brawling.
For us, War of the Roses is the ultimate medieval combat experience – and hey, new content today!
#9 Dota 2 Beta – Developed by Valve, playable to the masses throughout 2012
I was new to playing MOBA’s in my spare time before Dota 2. There’s something about eSports that intimidates me enormously. Given that jumping into a game you don’t know how to play online is a scary experience anyway, I was about ready to take a torrent of abuse from players who’d enjoyed the game for longer than I had. That didn’t happen, though, and my sluggish and apprehensive performance was met with support or indifference, and after a mere 2 games I had understood the basics and learned to use my chosen Hero: Sniper.
Build for newcomers, Sniper sits back and issues CC and finishers. I can handle that, I thought, but with 95 of the 110 that will eventually appear, there’s plenty more to learn. Dota 2 may be accessible to newcomers of the genre, but that doesn’t make it a simplistic game. You can argue for hours over the competitive edge between LoL and Dota 2, but the fact of the matter is they’re both enormously different. Each to their own, and no more than that.
The elegant ballet of lane camping at the start of each game as you gently pace back and forth carefully keeping an eye on the enemy in front of you, barely an inch apart, and the timing of each Hero for that all important last hit makes Dota 2 so meticulously crafted that the subtleties are comparable to that of one of the better board games. It’s a game that looks deceptively simple, but then, no one ever claims that when they’re losing, do they?
#8 XCOM: Enemy Unknown – Developed by Firaxis Games, October 12
For about 2 weeks, I woke up every day at 6am and jumped on my PC to play XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It’s not the story, visuals, art style, mechanics, or any sense of rose tinted nostalgia that brought me back to this game every day – it’s the fact that I was managing an underground salvation of humanity, as I watched teammates I grew to recognize and love die every time we went into the fray. Unfortunately, I only recognized their faces, because 2K limited further customization to special and deluxe editions, which would have enormously increased my attachment to my unit, but that’s just how it is.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a fantastic game – and that’s why it gets my number 8 spot – but it isn’t necessarily a fantastic strategy game. With the wake of the console generation comes limited, but not a tragic watering down of the franchise. Squad sizes are limited to 6 players, and many PC gamers felt it necessary to put the difficulty all the way up to the hardest to give them a fair challenge. Like most of Firaxis Games’ products now’days, depth and scale are tremendously cut-back, but they’re substantially supplemented with “fun-factor”, for better or for worse. There’s no denying that XCOM is a consistently enjoyable, addictive experience, but as strategy games go, it’s a little predictable, and consequently a little repetitive.
That said, it’s fantastic to play on Steams Big Picture with a game-pad (calm down), or via Splashtops’ THD gamepad, which allows you to run games on your PC, and stream them to your tablet. XCOM: Enemy Unknown has just about enough depth and challenge – or strategy – to pass as a good strategy title, but for those of you looking for something a little more complicated, it’s not the best choice.
#7 Wargame: European Escalation – Developed by Eugen Systems, Feburary 23
What, you thought like most places this would merely be the last 10 big releases? Feburary 2012 was most certainly a period of time this year, and with that comes the release of my personal favorite RTS/Strategy game of the entire year. Eugen Systems sounds like some security corporation from a Bond film, and whilst I hadn’t heard about the European developer until this release, I was blown away when I tried it.
The problem I have with most RTS games of late is that whilst they aim to be balanced with regards to each unit, they end up being completely rock-paper-scissors. And it’s not only unit balancing alone that developers are obsessed with, it’s the layout of the maps. Now’days, maps barely resemble anything at all, other than a perfectly symmetrical concrete patio clearly designed for war. Nothing seems to make any logical sense, and it’s all about knowing what kills what with regards to the game mechanics. Then there’s the map exploits, oh God, it never ends.
Wargame: European Escalation washed all that away, and when it first released it forced you to jump right in online. With 361 painstakingly realistic units, no one knew what the hell they were doing. It was chaos: the chaos of war. Perfect. Sure, you can claim it’s rock-paper-scissors, but in war Apache beats Hind – its all about the ammo, the armour, and the range. Wargame is a lesson in Cold War technology before it’s a game, and several content updates later, it’s better than ever. For me, no strategy series has beat the depth and meat of Wargame: European Escalation, and it’s a must own.
#6 Planetside 2 – Developed by Sony Entertainment Online, November 20
John Smedley is watching you. He’s always watching.
Ever since free-to-play farted its measly way into the industry on the pretext of “oh, hey, here’s a game for free – and if you like it, you can just give us a couple of bucks to say thank you!” which we all know is complete bullshit, I have been cogently cynical as to the actual intent of companies who implement the system. For some, it’s their saving grace, allowing their games to survive on lower subscriber levels, and opening up the title to a larger market. There’s no real doubt that it saved APB, Star Trek Online, Age of Conan, and, more recently, The Secret World, but it’s also been used to unnecessarily re-boot franchises such as Theme Park on Android and Age of Empires on PC and consoles. In a nut-shell, F2P is largely: “Here’s a game, play it until your addicted, then we’ll milk you for cash.”
Exceptions to the rule are few and far between, and arguably the only truly acceptable title in my eyes was League of Legends, who charge for cosmetics only. They can afford to do that, though, and 99% of other developers cannot. Therein lies the problem with free-to-play.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, John Smedley’s watchful eye happened. He said “Guys, sriously, F2P or subscription? Who’s in?” and the community replied “F2P please, but here are the conditions” and John Smedley made it happen. It’s that simple. As discussed in our review linked under the trailer, Planetside 2 is a completely free experience which doesn’t limit you in any meaningful way. You can compete effectively without paying a single penny. Because of this, and the fact that the game is both fair and awesome, people have been buying cosmetics. Why would they do that? Because Planetside 2 is a fantastic and enormous game – it is a truly unique experience on the PC, and a nice way to make that even better is to pimp yourself out. All upgrades and side-grades are unlock-able with earn-able points, but if you’re of an impatient disposition you can go ahead and buy them with SC. Something that EA are no stranger to with their $60 packaged games. Good guy John Smedley – just don’t let him catch you cheating!
#5 The Walking Dead – Developed by Telltale Games, April 24
I’m not going to patronize Telltale Games and claim that The Walking Dead was so great because it was a “surprise hit” from an incompetent developer. The fact of the matter is that The Walking Dead isn’t a surprise hit. Why should it be? Telltale have always been a troubled developer, but they’ve also always been a very talented one. They’ve a great team of writers, artists, and story writers who, given an out-let for a higher budget, have really come into their own on this release. I’m not one of the people who saw the initial concept of this game and thought it would suck. I enjoyed Tales of Monkey Island, the Sam and Max series, and I even enjoyed Jurassic Park.
Their eclectic mix of long dialogue, classic point and click influences and some recycled mechanics from the third shaky Broken Sword game always felt like a rebirth of the classic adventure game genre, but with April’s The Walking Dead which had a considerably larger budget than prior titles, and a new and interesting business model, Telltale Games raised a massive middle finger to the naysayers who always acted as though they weren’t a proper developer. Hell, Treyarch started with Wii ports.
The Walking Dead isn’t without its problems, though. If you’re not feeling for the characters, and you’re not a fan of the slow, drudging zombie like pace the series moves in, you’re gonna’ have a bad time. But for the rest of us, The Walking Dead is a touching and beautiful masterpiece that came in a £20 package with a whole bucket of feels. Spanning 5 episodes with another series announced, The Walking Dead is a show of its own. It doesn’t supplement the TV series, it bests it.
#4 Hotline Miami – Developed by Dennaton Games, October 23
The Hipsters may have ruined Drive for us, but they’ll never catch on to Hotline Miami. That’s ours.
Heavily influenced by the film Drive, which sees a vapid and vacuous Ryan Gosling prancing around to a pseudo-80′s soundtrack and smashing peoples faces in because he loves Carey Mulligan but is too embarrassed to ask her out, or something, Hotline Miami takes lashings of the ultra-violence and applies it to tight controls on masterfully created maps. Hotline Miami is what all indie games should be. A vision from a very small team (in this case two) with a heavily stylized and well executed concept. The title differs from other indie games in that it isn’t just all about the visuals. All too often games feature the same generic platform or puzzle mechanics, only with some new unique art-style to differentiate it from the crowd.
Hotline Miami’s art complements the game-play mechanics, and they’re woven into something of a masterpiece. What’s more, it’s a damned hard game, and the sense of humour and referenced albeit tasteless brutality transcends mere video-game violence into an art project of both visuals and coding. From picking your named mask to emptying out the various levels of enemies using mostly melee weapons, Hotline Miami is an addictive, consistently good experience that, for me, sets a new benchmark for small indie teams. I’m not saying that no indie game matches Hotline Miami for style and substance, only that Jonatan Söderström and Dennis Wedin seem to have done it with a breeze of cool calm, and an air of “you like the game? Cool. F**k you” that’s refreshing in this climate of people begging to buy and support their games.
#3 Assassins Creed III – Developed by Ubisoft Montreal, November 23
The ending may have enraged me to the point of writing this article, tweeting @assassinscreed and @ubisoft about 17 times and eventually crying into the palm of my hands for a week straight, but my emotional torment alone didn’t negate the fact that Assassins Creed III is a superb game. It’s not the most challenging game on the planet, and it’s even probably the easiest Assassins Creed game in the franchise, but have you ever been told a story so well? A story so rick and exotic with characters that sucked you in and dialogue that took time to actually explain itself? Conner might be a little wooden, but there were subtleties to the context that allowed him, as a blank slate, to learn with you as you traversed 18th century America, in its very European state.
Conner wasn’t as bold as Ezio, but we have to remember that Altair wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. Perhaps Conner was that awkward third album, but withHaytham Kenway making appearances throughout the game – who was a truly sublime character – and other numerous important key figures, Assassins Creed III was the first in the franchise that felt more about the world as a state than about either the Assassins or the Templars, or those in their ranks. Ubisoft Montreal tackled the political climate with a keen eye for detail, and whilst there are those who jest that Assassins Creed III is all “Murica’!” I have to wonder if they’ve even played it. In the end, all the political leaders are stripped of their glory and grandiose, and what we finally see is that every silly man on a horse is just as corrupt as the last. Conner wasn’t fighting for America, he was fighting firstly for his own people, ending in total and complete apathy. That’s kind of the opposite.
Because of this, and the fact that it develops on the structure of all the prior games with enormous depth, Assassins Creed III is one of my favourite in the franchise. The multiplayer, however, was a total sham, which played like Tenchu designed for drunk children. Connectivity issues plague connecting to friends to this day, and when we did finally get to cover it in an up and coming let’s play, we were totally underwhelmed. Still, none of this deters away from the fact that Assassins Creed III pushed developmental budgets to the limit.
Ubisoft Montreal managed to market an historical period drama with a keen eye for political details and a cogent and incisive attitude to millions of Call of Duty players. That is absolutely genius.
#2 Natural Selection 2 – Developed by Unknown Worlds Entertainment, October 30
If you’re like Eric Neigher, who can’t be bothered to properly play a complicated Indie FPS for whatever reason, then you probably won’t enjoy Natural Selection 2. In an age of Call of Duty and Battlefield, brainless instant gratification and zero thought in first-person-shooters means that military shooters has a monopoly on the entire genre. Twitch shooters and Halo style shooters such as Nexuiz and Section 8 have all tried and failed, but none have managed to deter attention away from those promotions and XP rewards that keep us coming back. We live in a world where an FPS is an investment like an MMO, and progression aims to pin down players and keep them buying DLC. It’s like the genre is a mere vessel for the sale of DLC now, and the problem is that everyone is totally okay with that.
Then there are games like Red Orchestra 2, Counterstrike: GO, and Natural Selection 2. Un-apologetically old-school in nature, entirely bad-ass in practice.
Natural Selection 2 isn’t just a balanced first-person-shooter gun-to-gun, it’s balanced gun-to-massive-over-sized-alien-teeth. That’s right, NS2 is marine vs alien, and each teams efforts are conducted by one commander, who issues orders to the entire team over the in-game comms system. It’s RTS meets Alien, at least for one very responsible guy. Natural Selection 2 is a game with a learning curve, and because of that it is enormously rewarding. When do I use the Gorge? When shall I use the Fade? How do I maximize use of a Skulk? What’s the quickest path to this location? Where are the entrances to the vents? When shall I use a shotgun over an assault rifle? Can I ask for ammo from the commander, or shall I head back to a munitions hub? You learn, you cooperate, you win.
Natural Selection 2 isn’t high on my list as a direct rebuttal of the success of Call of Duty, it is simply, in my opinion, the better game. It’s thoughtful, rewarding, enormously fun and incredibly social. When was the last time you heard someone directly refer to you by name, ask you to do something, then congratulate you on a job well done? Natural Selection 2 feels a bit like a VIP gentleman’s club where everyone has something in common: a hatred for brainless shooters. Not to mention the fact that the game features a tailor made engine built for the title from the ground up, and about 10 years development time since the original mod for Half Life. It’s a beautiful indie development that pushes the limits of the budget, and retailing at £18.99 stands as proof that high quality gaming with substance doesn’t come in a £55.99 box. Hopefully, many developers will follow suit.
#1 GOTY: SLEEPING DOGS – Developed by United Front Games and Square Enix London, August 14
As console ports go, Sleeping Dogs is the best. Ever. Okay, it might not technically be the best ever since it required download of a high resolution texture pack, but once you grabbed that, you were rewarded with a lush and vibrant Hong Kong city-scape to enjoy. Actually… come to think of it… the controls on PC too before being patched didn’t work too great, either. I suppose Sleeping Dogs isn’t the best PC port ever, but it still looks better than, and performs better than, any other port to PC this year. As someone who’s happy to use a game-pad if the mouse and keyboard isn’t working out, I leaped into this title with fairly low expectations, but I wholly admit that I was wrong on too many levels to think that this title would be anything but brilliant.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my game of the year merely because it looks pretty; Sleeping Dogs crams more game mechanics into any one game that I’ve ever seen before. Lock-picking, car hopping, a full, Arkham City style combat system, mini-games, racing, executions on various environmental assets, weapons, guns, the ability to steak out drug busts, cons, tricks, side-quests, main quests, and all other manner of ways to entertain yourself in Hong Kong. Whilst I jested at the fact that Sleeping Dogs didn’t work great with a mouse and keyboard, it’s important to note that it never will. Neither does Assassins Creed III. It’s just not that style of game. Sleeping Dogs is largely a brawler, and a driving game, and a fantastic one at that. The voice acting, characters and story were all sublime – and it was totally up to you whether your heart was in the Triad, or the Hong Kong police force. Sleeping Dogs had you betraying friends, befriending enemies, and fighting for causes based on false pretenses whilst the lines between fiction and reality grew increasingly blurred.
I got lost for weeks in Hong Kong and whilst the main story was fairly short-lived, there always seemed to be something to do. The most important thing about Sleeping Dogs compared to other “GTA clones” (what a horrible term), though, is your hands-on approach to everything. Literally. In Hong Kong, as they point out in the game, ostensible as a reference to GTA, “isn’t America, there aren’t guns everywhere” and because of that, you felt somewhat more innocent than in other games of the type. You couldn’t just get out of you car and start shooting everyone up automatically, because you rarely even had a gun. Police, thus, became a real controlling power, and more than a mere annoyance. Spotted breaking the law? The police would tackle you and try to arrest you, as you could flip them round and hand-cuff them, running off. You aren’t an indestructible killing machine in Sleeping Dogs, you’re just a sentimental guy, lost in a world of lies and espionage. It was a human story that re-defined the genre for me, and as far as I’m concerned, Grand Theft Auto has a lot to learn about re-balancing the protagonist in the environment.
Sleeping Dogs offered, to me, the same level of immersion as any decent RPG – and although I couldn’t relate to Wei Shen in any meaningful way, he somehow felt close to me, and I learned to empathize with him. A very strange, visceral experience, but one that I immensely enjoyed, and a fantastic game.
Thus concludes the PCGMedia Top 10 PC games of 2012. Whilst you will inevitably question some of my personal choices, I’ve tried to pick games as objectively as possible – although clearly I immensely enjoyed some. I have chosen 10 games that excel at substantial, genre-redefining game-play, with decent mechanics and an art-style that supplements the game-play, rather than merely makes up for it. You might ask me why games like Far Cry 3, or Call of Duty Black Ops II aren’t in the list, and my reason is simple: $60 games designed for everyone often lose substance. With the exception of Assassins Creed and Sleeping Dogs, two games that appeal to everyone, we’re often offered watered down experiences that take four steps mechanically backwards, and show the age of the current console generation cycle. Gaming is about game-play, and if you’ve got an over-bearing HUD, or linear and basic mechanics to lessen the chance of failure, then your game might be fun, but it isn’t as substantial as I’d like. How does Assassins Creed III qualify, then? The combat in Assassins Creed III is mechanically substantial, and the game is designed to tell a story. Some have considered it an “interactive movie” instead of a game, but I don’t really adhere to that philosophy.
I’m confident that my Top 10 list for this year will be agreeable to those who enjoy the games respective genre. Natural Selection 2 was unarguably one of the best team-based FPS of the year, and Sleeping Dogs the best “GTA clone” or sandbox title, for PC. Of course, every list is deeply personal, and there are lashings of subjectivity here and there – the key thing to note is that “level of fun” is not the single most important criteria of this list. Not everyone will enjoy these games, but I know that those who do, do so immensely – and for me, that’s what counts.
Remember the Steam Summer sale? That £2.50 ‘joke’ that became an internet sensation, Train Simulator 2012, which supported its own range of meme’s and gag’s throughout the sale, has upgraded itself to the next edition of the game without anyone knowing.
“Train Simulator 2013 (Standard edition) will be available on Steam from 20 September 2012. From that day, Train Simulator 2012 will no longer be available on Steam.
What do I get in Train Simulator 2013?
Anybody who already has TS2012 will receive all the new features totally free. However, existing TS2012 users will not get the new TS2013 routes and locomotives for free. TS2012 users who want all the new content will find that the most cost-effective option is to simply buy a copy of TS2013.”
It looks as though the folks over at Railsimulator.com are ready to capitalize on their unlikely success in the mass-gaming demographic, by upgrading the cosmetics of 2012 to 2013, but keeping that sweet content to themselves. In a nut-shell, users will upgrade to the new platform for free, but all of the news trains and routes will have to be purchased separately. By their own admission, it’ll be cheaper to purchase Train Simulator 2013 “again” to get all of the content from the new update.
Train Simulator remains one of the most graphically beautiful simulators on the market, and is a very competent simulation suite. It has enough breathing room for newbies to simulation to get going, and everything keen train-ies(?) need for a realistic train experience. Many people who bought the game on offer found themselves enthralled, for at least an hour.
It remains to be seen exactly how many people will upgrade to 2013 proper, but it’ll be a damn sight more than if 2012 didn’t hit the Summer Sale in true cult fashion.
You can read our review of the title, but for those of you who already own it, you know it ain’t half bad. It’s not just topical relevance that keeps the game selling, it might be a distinct lack of party games on the PC or even AAA party games on the popular consoles, but sales for the game, according to Videogamer, are up 88% the past week.
1. LONDON 2012: THE OFFICIAL VIDEO GAME 2. LEGO BATMAN 2: DC SUPER HEROES 3. MARIO & SONIC LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES 4. BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY 5. THE ELDER SCROLLS V: SKYRIM 6. ASSASSIN’S CREED: REVELATIONS 7. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 8. BATTLEFIELD 3 9. TOM CLANCY’S GHOST RECON: FUTURE SOLDIER 10. CALL OF DUTY: MODERN WARFARE 3 11. FIFA 12 12. DEAD ISLAND GOTY EDITION 13. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 14. RISEN 2: DARK WATERS 15. MARIO KART 7 16. SKYLANDERS: SPYRO’S ADVENTURE 17. WWE ’12 18. SUPER MARIO 3D LAND 19. KINGDOM HEARTS 3D: DREAM DROP DISTANCE 20. MOSHI MONSTERS: MOSHLING ZOO
We’re surprised to see titles like Risen 2: Dark Waters in the list, although we actually liked it. The game didn’t get a huge media backing, but seems to have overcome its humble marketing. There’s nothing notable due for release this week, so it’s likely things won’t change much – although with Ubisoft working on patch 1.4 for Ghost Recon, it’s possible sales will increase.
From today, PEGI becomes the new standard for video-game rating in the UK. Before, reliance on the BBFC (British Board of Film Calssification) led to no single standard of consumer information, which the government believes led to ill informed decisions by parents regarding buying electronic entertainment for their children.
According to a poll of 1000 parents, 1 in 3 have bought an unsuitable game for their child (although it’s not clear if they understood the content and didn’t mind, or if they had no idea what they were buying).
The new age standards are 12, 16 and 18 – where previously 15 was often used, and has now been replaced with a 16. These are indeed legally enforceable and required, setting retailers a potential prison sentence of up to six months and/or a £5000 fine. The punishment is the same for those selling alcohol or tobacco to minors.
The infographic rating is as follows:
This all comes with a strangely London-2012-esque information website, AskAboutGames which features information reiteration from Jo Whiley, who I’m told is a BBC Radio 1 presenter.
Aside from information on the PEGI system, the site features some opinion and statistics regarding the ‘healthy’ amount of gaming time for kids. It’s not all doom and gloom and gaming bashing, though, with a nice fluff piece following a family of Pestridges, who are a self proclaimed gaming-family, doing very well despite their hobby.
The site isn’t dedicated to Daily Mail style propaganda about the dangers of video-gaming, with the FAQ expressly denying that gaming is ‘bad for my health’:
Video games can sometimes falsely be perceived as a sedentary activity. However, our partnership with the Department of Health’s Change4Life Campaign indicates the positive role video games can play in promoting an active and healthy lifestyle.
Although their example attributes the positive nature of gaming to the Wii, and not so much to World of Warcraft.
Indeed, the site refutes claims that gaming makes children terrible:
There is no evidence to suggest that people’s behaviour is negatively affected by playing video games. For example, there is no conclusive evidence directly linking violence in individuals to the games they play.
AskAbountGames and the institution of the PEGI system probably won’t play a negative role on gaming. They seem to clearly understand that adult entertainment and games rated 18 are for mature adults, and unlike some media outlets they don’t attribute games unsuitable for minors to reasons regarding behavioral problems.
The system should help adults make more informed decisions when purchasing games for their children, although featuring tobacco smoking in games is now on par with featuring alcohol or drug abuse. There’s risk that parody’s of unsavory behavior will fall outside of the 16 bracket and into the 18 bracket, but this is to be expected with the legal age of tobacco consumption now 18 in the UK.
In a measure that should shut The Daily Mail up – an adamantly anti-gaming tabloid – I welcome the changes which should help empower the guardians of children too young to to understand parody or gratuity.
Who better to develop a multiplayer sports title than Sega? More specifically, Sega Studios Australia. This in house title took me by surprise; with high polish, good visuals and mostly unique and interesting sporting events, what I suspected to be a churned out cashing in on the hype surrounding the Games was actually a genuinely fun party-game. Sure, it was coated with Olympic charm and graphics centered around that not-so-popular London 2012 logo, but when you look at it more objectively, it’s just a highly polished party game, and a competent one at that.
Character models are well made and textured nicely, with a lot of variance
Graphically, the game will probably surpass your expectations. Textures aren’t incredible, but skin and facial impressions including pores and sweat are probably better than Sega’s popular Virtua Tennis series – somewhat surprising considering this is a Sega port, and they don’t have a very good reputation with porting projects to the PC. Despite that, Sega are clearly determined to release a competent port, and a competent title for PC gamers.
Including online and local play, with their “National Pride” ranking system, players can pick teams or individuals depending on the type of event, and compete in a series of events on a sort of map-like rotation. Events including Archery, Aquatics, Track and field, Gymnastics, Shooting and other sports such as cycling and rowing really offer a dynamic range, with plenty to choose from. In total there are 31 events, all with their own game mechanics and varying difficulties or entertainment.
I’ve no idea if the uniforms are official, or if these were designed by the developer
As important as the events you play is of course who you play for. With 36 nations to play for, it’s likely you’ll have at least one favourite nation if not your own to play as. Despite offering a wide variety of nations, there are no licensed athletes themselves from what I could tell. From the names I looked up, none of them seemed to correlate to the individuals in the game. That might be important for some, since there are some Olympians who of course merit celebrity status in certain countries, but for whatever reason Sega have chosen a varied albeit fabricated host of athletes. In fairness to them, the athletes are all well rendered, and all fairly unique. They could have done much, much worse.
Featuring a host of game types, including The Olympics (career mode, I suppose, without the leveling up) and a tailored series of events chosen by you, there’s plenty to do. I started the career mode, and having been asked to choose my athlete I was of course thrown into his respective event. In this case, it was shot putting.
With the colourful and artistic splash-screens and televised style introductions, the game oozed style and polish. It certainly felt like a licensed product, and the crowd cheering and commentating felt genuinely electric. Although the male commentator sounded like a mix of Craig Charles and Alan Partridge (I guess he was a bit keen) the narration was varied and I don’t recall hearing the same line twice. He interacted well with what I was doing, spurting out one-liners with regards to where I placed, or my reaction to whatever I had done. There was even an option to hit X on my game-pad and start showing off the crowd. It’s the little things.
Each game initially starts with a brief tutorial which is both clear and concise. It explains the mechanics, you hit enter, you go for it. Shot-putting wasn’t the most complicated thing in the world, but it wasn’t too easy either. I had to move the right thumbstick right when a yellow ring appeared, then left when he swung backwards, then right again – then I had to move the left thumbstick at an angle between 90 and 45 degrees for height, within a slice of the ring he was standing on, similar to expedited reloading in Gears of War. This mix of timed user-inputs serves as the base of game-play, but Sega really managed to create varying types of interactivity despite the number of games in their arsenal.
Having said that, it’s far too easy. I was playing on normal and my first shot was apparently an Olympic Record – to which my character waltzed up to the announcement board and jeered, pointing at it, as the commentator relayed my excitement to the crowd. It felt well made… creative. I would go so far as to say that it was more polished than even Sega’s own Virtua series of sports games.
If porting were an Olympic sport…
There is one huge problem in the game for PC gamers: it is basically unplayable with mouse and keyboard. The game starts with a splash-screen explaining that the game is “best played” with a game-pad, but what Sega mean is that you must play it with a game-pad. It needs analogue input. Otherwise you get a clunky mess, uncontrollable. It needs pressure sensors and accurate, well timed angular movement. I don’t know who to blame here, though. Is it excusable to release a game for the PC that isn’t playable for mouse and keyboard? Maybe not, but how much work would they have to do to map each of the 31 games for the mouse and keyboard, and would the experience even be comparable? I guess that’s for you to decide. I used an Xbox 360 game-pad myself, which was an absolute pleasure to use.
We all have an alternative, though: the game is also compatible with PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect for some of the events, specifically in party events. Although this method of input isn’t forced on anyone.
That’s putting it mildly…
There is one other problem with the game: it is horrendously boring in single player. Sure, it’s fun to play all the events and learn the mechanics, and that’ll take you some time given the amount, but once you know how to play each one, it really isn’t all that fun to battle… effectively… maths. You don’t see the CPU opponent compete, you merely have your scores displayed in between your attempts. In reality, you’re looking at arbitrary numbers, so there isn’t a sense of real competition. The thrill of single player only truly lasts as long as it takes to experience all the events, and then you’ll want to move onto multiplayer.
This is where the game shines. London 2012 is a party game through and through, and although it looks serious and seems to take itself very seriously, you’ll have the most fun sitting on your sofa or on Skype with friends playing head on, preferably in the same room. Of course it’s not as fun to play with random people online, although of course you can do so if you wish, but with friends this is where the competition really shines. It is genuinely fun to see who can get the ‘special moves’ down the best, because in reality that’s what these mechanics are: special moves, like in any fighting game. You’re scored on how quick and efficiently you managed to pull them off, and any gloating rights is competitive in any case, especially between friends.
Replays are often enjoyable, but sometimes awkward and show graphical flaws
Every attempt has a replay similar to what you’d see in a driving game, or I suppose more topically on the television for the games. They could use some more angles, especially on the trampolining event where the camera pans between the side and above seemingly arbitrarily, but it has some nice depth of field to it and with the commentator talking atop, it feels realistic and exciting.
Some of the sports are more exciting than others. For instance archery, trampolining and to some extent the long jump were very interesting, where swimming and javelin, and shot-put I found samey and irritating after a while. Trampolining was particularly interesting because you were timed to string together tricks which relied on timed button presses, with a choice of combo which varied in complexity. A bit like Tony Hawks pro-skater… but on the spot.
Trampolining, though, showed some of the games downfall moments too, though, with some clunky and average animations where usually they were very good. I can’t help but wonder how much improved it could have been with motion capture animation. The authenticity could have gone up a level if they had the time and resources to add that in, but what we’re left with are obviously computer animated human actions. They aren’t bad, but they are noticeable - especially in gymnastics.
An Olympic failure or an Athenian’s dream?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not into the Olympics at all. I don’t plan on watching too many events, and I certainly don’t feel particularly patriotic about hosting it: but that doesn’t mean this is a bad game, it isn’t. It’s a fun party game with polished controls and good graphics, and although the keyboard and mouse controls are totally bad, I forgive them somewhat considering the type of game-play. Some games are just better with a game-pad, others are unplayable without. That’s just how it is. I feel as though families will enjoy this experience immensely if they’re into the Olympic spirit, with pretty much everyone able to understand what they’re meant to do – but it doesn’t feel created for the casual gamer, and certainly seems to take itself quite seriously.
For gamers looking for a fun party game, or nostalgia hit for those old Olympic classics, this is one for you. Just don’t expect to have a ball solo, or to enjoy every single one of the events. The game probably won’t last long… maybe for the duration of the games themselves, but as a relatively inexpensive title with a lot of polish, it isn’t a bad investment if you were looking forward to it.
Take that, E3 – we’re too cool for you. So seems the attitude of Rockstar by putting footage from GTA V in the up and coming Gamescom 2012 trailer. Many professionals and journalists on the group much prefer Gamescom’s more honest and hands-on approach to video-game marketing, so it’s no real surprised that Rockstar are heading to the high-brow in order to tease us with snippets of the up and coming game.
As Videogamer point out, Rockstar isn’t an official exhibitor at Gamescom this year, but Take-Two who owns the company, is.
Movies of beat’em’ups have always been notoriously terrible, or completely fantastic depending on what it is you’re looking for. I know you’d be lying if you told me you didn’t love the original 1995 Mortal Kombat, directed by Paul W. S. Anderson – who later went onto ruin all our sweet memories of Resident Evil. Although not really good films, they’ve always been interesting to watch; if only because seeing characters we’ve spent a great deal of time with in our living rooms, on the big screen, is a fascinating experience in and of itself.
With Uwe Boll basically out to ruin both cinema and videogames single-handedly, could there be a ray of hope in this already tarnished genre of film? Well, I had my hopes on Sam Raimi who was originally rumored to be directing the constantly delayed Warcraft movie adaptation – but since his credits have been removed and the film has left media attention, I guess that ray of hope has been extinguished…
2003′s Ong Bak was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Mimicking, in some ways, the early films of Jackie Chan with a low-budget and null reliance on CGI, Ong Bak was a violent and culturally fascinating action movie with breathtaking stunts, featuring the literally amazing Tony Jaa. According to this source, Prachya Pinkaew, the director of Ong Bak, has been tasked with another re-imagining of the Tekken franchise. What does Pinkaew know about action movies… especially fight scenes? Well, see for yourself:
He kicked a man in the fridge.
Gritty, hard hitting combat with no reliance on wires or CGI. Could this be the angle Tekken needs to fully represent the underground combat scene? Replace Tony Jaa with Jin, and I think we can all agree there’s something to work with here. Could Tekken turn out to be a 10/10 blockbuster hit? I very much doubt it – but at least the combat has the potential to take a reinvigorating slap to the face, and shake up some much needed violence that divorces the act of watching these films a mere foray into the “oh, that actor sure looks like this character” analysis of past features.