Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year: September / October

Posted 10 Jan 2008 16:44 by
“Fuck Halo"
Adam Orth - Sony designer - 13/09/2007
Sony Designer: "F**k Halo"

September was a month of sinister corporate skulduggery.
OK... maybe I exaggerate, but there was certainly a spot of high-profile moving and shaking in the air.

The month kicked off with confirmation from SCi that it had “entered into extremely preliminary discussions regarding a possible offer” of purchase. Not the strongest of words, but that's only to be expected until a deal is nailed to the wall in triplicate going forward out of the box 24/7.

The elusive Ms Cavanagh. A new picture for 2008 mebbe?
The elusive Ms Cavanagh. A new picture for 2008 mebbe?
Needless to say, speculation as to just who had approached SCi was rampant; Electronic Arts? Warner Bros? In games industry corridors across the country, people were talking in hushed whispers about just who could be after the Tomb Raider-owning giant.

By September it was increasingly beginning to feel like the mainstream was closing in on games. Our Prime Minister, the esteemed Gordon Brown, decided it was time to turn his attention to video games. "Parents are concerned about whether children are exposed to harmful violence and sexual imagery in games and on the Internet", he said. With that, plans to turn over the task of examining games to a “Citizen's Jury” were underway – as we said at the time, what other kind of jury is there? Unless, of course, we’re now inviting juries in from other countries (or even outer space) to see if they can come up with anything more constructive than we can…

We could tell that the government was super-serious about the issue when it turned leadership of the review over to TV psychologist Tanya Byron, she of The House of Tiny Tearaways and Little Angels fame.

Whatever. SPOnG was getting to grips with a Crysis of its own.

Things got a little more light hearted as Sony geared itself up for the Halo 3 launch. Yes, Sony. OK, we might be being a little unfair. It was one Sony designer - Adam Orth – who had worked with David Jaffe on Calling all Cars, who uttered the words "Fuck Halo".

Microsoft, meanwhile, confirmed that it was working on a 'YouTube for games'. “It’s always been our vision since we’ve started”, said Chris Satchell, general manager of Microsoft’s game developer group. “We use a music analogy – you know, it’s like we’ve given the instruments so they can go and play music now, but what’s the radio station where they can reach everyone? It’s cool that they can invite people around and play in front of them, which is sort of the Creators Club, but hey, they want to play to the world.”

By mid-September it looked like Adam Orth had got his wish. A little bit, anyway. GAME had to cancel its planned massive midnight launch for Halo 3 due to fears from Westminster Council that it would all get a bit too rowdy. 24-hour drinking, it seems, is OK; a bunch of gamers waiting to get their twitching fingers on a new game, though? That's a no-go.

Famous actor Christian Slater being famous at the Halo 3 launch, which went famously.
Famous actor Christian Slater being famous at the Halo 3 launch, which went famously.
Not to worry, though! Famous actor Christian Slater, famous model Kimberley Stewart and famous musician, Pharrell Williams stepped up and saved the day with an appearance at London's IMAX and a bit of a shindig at the exclusive Kingly Club to celebrate the game's launch. You can find SPOnG's Halo 3 review here and a second opinion on the subject here.

Back on the hardware front rumours surrounding a stripped down PS3 began to gather steam. A PS3 with only two USB ports and no memory card slots? What else could possibly be missing?

More surprising corporate news came towards the end of the month in the form of the acquisition of Bizarre Creations - the developer behind the Project Gotham franchise - by Activision. The fact that it was Activision wasn't surprising so much as the fact that it wasn't Microsoft, which had long prized the Project Gotham series as a platform exclusive. It came as little surprise when we learned a couple of days later that the Project Gotham dev team would be working on a new racing game.

By September publishers were starting to roll the biggies and the goodies out. As well as that game about that Chief bloke, we saw Sony's Heavenly Sword (reviewed here), Warhawk prevented many an hour's work being done in the SPOnG office and skate. managed to give the Tony Hawk franchise a whopping great kick in the trucks.
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