Features// SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: May

Posted 31 Dec 2013 13:52 by
This month finally saw Microsoft throw its hat into the next-gen console war by officially unveiling the Xbox One in a special event.

Considering all the speculation that had surrounded the console’s name I find the final name a little underwhelming, though that would be the least of Microsoft’s problems.

While the machine undoubtedly looked good tech-wise, the event will probably be remembered best for Microsoft coming off as complete idiots, adding a defiant stance against second-hand games and a surprisingly inflexible approach to indie games to their already unpopular stance on ‘always-online’ requirements.

Mr Mattrick, shortly before leaving Microsoft
Mr Mattrick, shortly before leaving Microsoft
Or at least that’s how it seemed at first. It soon became apparent following the backlash to these features that Microsoft didn’t really want to commit to anything, instead stating that assumptions were being made and that feedback was being taken into consideration ahead of E3 where things would be made more clear.

Sony meanwhile were continuing their popular strategy of simply saying the exact opposite of everything the Microsoft people did, denouncing ‘always-online’ restrictions as being silly. Not their exact words, but that’s definitely what they were getting at.

Microsoft’s focus on television apps and the like instead of showing off actual games gave Sony more ammunition, as they would reiterate that the PS4 would primarily be a games console while also including multimedia features to match the Xbox Ones.

Before all this next-gen cock-fighting kicked off however, the biggest announcement early in the month of May was Activision’s reveal of Call of Duty: Ghosts, this year’s instalment of their seemingly unstoppable cash-cow franchise.

With the Wii U continuing to struggle in sales despite getting some big exclusive releases last month, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata addressed the Wii U’s perceived lack of graphical clout and noted that he hoped to see more third-party developers making games for the console. Unfortunately this was seeming less likely by the day.

Nintendo continued using their Direct presentations to showcase upcoming games, showing off Sonic: Lost World and announcing a new three-game exclusive deal with Sega that would make the Wii U the only place to go for your fix of blue hedgehogginess.

They also finally decided to bring out their big guns, announcing that their E3 Direct would reveal new Mario, Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. games.

We saw the closure of yet another smaller development studio this month as TimeGate – who ended up taking most of the blame for February’s awful Aliens: Colonial Marines – were forced into bankruptcy following a string of lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful court battles over its Sector 8 IP.

Another studio that kind-of not-quite but maybe saw closure this month was the beleaguered Silicon Knights, which seemingly refused to die despite most of its employees – including company founder and president Denis Dyack – and assets being moved into Dyack’s new company, Precursor Games.

Considering Silicon Knight’s ongoing legal problems with Epic Games and rumours of shady practices going on behind the scenes of major flop X-Men: Destiny the whole thing came off as fairly suspicious and culminated in Dyack eventually taking to video to denounce any wrongdoing and clear his company’s reputation. I of course bring all this up simply as an excuse to mention that Silicon Knights’ Eternal Darkness was an absolutely fantastic game way back when.

Maxis founder and series creator Will Wright spoke out about his disappointment with the troubled launch of SimCity earlier in the year, putting the problems down to the game’s ill-advised ‘always-online’ approach.

At least EA and Maxis seem to have learned something from the ordeal however, as this month they would announce The Sims 4 and immediately emphasised that this was an offline single-player experience.

In other EA news, it was revealed that they were now the exclusive developer and publisher of all future Star Wars games thanks to a massive deal with Disney following LucasArt’s closure last month. If they wanted to someone could probably make a joke out of it of course being EA of all companies who were the first to loot LucasArt’s still warm corpse.

Mr Dyack opines.
Mr Dyack opines.
This month didn’t see too many really big name releases. Metro: Last Light had a strong start in the charts but was quickly toppled by Capcom’s Resident Evil: Revelations. Aside from a 3DS port of the Wii’s Donkey Kong Country Returns, most of the month’s best-selling titles were older releases still going strong.

Big Name Releases Due this Month
Donkey Kong Country Returns - Nintendo
Fuse - Electronic Arts
GRID 2 - Codemasters
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes - Warner Brothers
Metro: Last Light - Deep Silver
Resident Evil: Revelations - Capcom
Saints Row 2 - Deep Silver
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Conviction - Ubisoft

Read the Rest of Our Video Games Year in Review 2013
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: January
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: February
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: March
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: April
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: May
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: June
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: July
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: August
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: September
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: October
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: November

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