Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year '09: May

Posted 29 Dec 2009 10:46 by
Japanese butt admirer Hideo Kojima was first to step up to the plate, with a mysterious advert in Famitsu magazine leading to a teaser site that had nothing but a timer and the number “5”. It lead all sorts of theories about a Metal Gear Solid 5 that could very well possibly perhaps be in the works maybe (“Kojima Productions Teases MGS5?”, 18th May 2009).

May was also a month for patching what once didn’t work, with Killzone 2 (“Tomorrow’s Killzone 2 Patch - Full Details”, 27th May 2009) on PlayStation 3 getting a full online makeover. In a Q&A that Sony published with Guerrilla Games’ lead multiplayer designer, Patch 1.27 offered a tweak in controls to those who pussied out because it didn’t play like Modern Warfare; better faction balancing options and made it easier for friends to find each other.

On the PC, Fallout 3’s Broken Steel expansion pack had a hell of a load of problems, which Bethesda blamed on the Games for Windows Digital Rights Management security. Apparently this pesky DRM was preventing the DLC from working properly or installing, but suddenly someone found that it works (“Fallout 3: Broken Steel PC - Fixed?”, 6th May 2009).

Only, Bethesda nor Microsoft have announced officially that they fixed it, so it left people wondering whether it was one of those ‘good glitches’ or if a patch was sneak-released. Although we can’t think why that would be the case.

Meanwhile, EA’s CEO John Riccitiello said in a conference call that he feels the console “arms race” is becoming less relevant as the urge to have more powerful technology slows and focus is changed to extend the life cycle of already existing products (“EA: Console ‘Arms Race’ Turns Cold”, 6th May 2009).

“...the way we look at a lot of what’s happening in the future is we’ve got probably about a billion PCs that are out there in the world... Very rapidly, the PC is becoming the largest gaming platform in the world -- just not in a packaged good format,” Riccitiello said, which reflects action taken later in the year to secure the online PC casual games market.

Following Killzone 2, Sony launched another high-profile exclusive for the PlayStation 3 with inFamous, and you can see both SPOnG’s preview of the game here, and our review of Cole’s open-world adventure was seen as “damn good fun”. We loved it so much here in the SPOnG Underwater Castle, that we had a bunch of (digital, of course) inFamous-branded T-shirts for PlayStation Home.

There were plenty of games to play to overcome the inevitable Summer drought too. We thought Boom Blox Bash Party was a simple idea, well implemented. Tim really quite liked his first experience of a Battlestations game in Pacific, despite the odd AI niggles, while Bionic Commando had its ups and downs. Oh, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine happened. Urgh.

In terms of previews and interviews, we spoke to the delightful Pete Hines from Bethesda about Fallout 3, mostly; Overlord II’s screen writer Rhianna Pratchett spoke to us as well as Darksiders’ creative director, Joe Madureira and MX vs ATV’s art director Ian Wood. By that token, you can probably guess that we previewed MX vs ATV and Darksiders: Wrath of War, right? Activision’s [PROTOTYPE] also got a look in, which is always fun given how similar both this and inFamous appeared to be.


Rounding off May with a bit of a heavy heart, was the announcement that the Atari brand would be no more. At least in Europe (“Atari to Become USA-Only Brand”, 14th May 2009). Namco Bandai would consolidate the brand as Namco Bandai Europe (original) after buying out parent company Infogrames. Atari would continue in North America, but with a much less substantial gaming presence.
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