Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year 2010: February

Posted 24 Dec 2010 12:09 by
This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.


With the busier-than-usual January period well and truly behind us, all eyes were fixed on the upcoming Spring release schedule. And because 2010’s Q1 contained an unprecedented amount number of AAA titles, February ended up being even more mental than the previous month. Take 2, Sony, Square Enix, Microsoft, Nintendo and EA (to name a few) all had something to show for the weeks ahead.

But while many were looking ahead, Activision was still focusing on the present. It did not escape the publisher’s attention that this busy period was all due to the November release of its blockbuster FPS, Modern Warfare 2. And so it kept interest alive by continuing to support the Infinity Ward title well into the new year - a “care package” was submitted to Microsoft to patch the Xbox 360 version in early February (Xbox 360 Modern Warfare 2 Update Submitted, 8th February).

Activision was also keen on protecting the identity of a project it had been involved in with Nintendo and the DS handheld since 2006 (What is Activision Hiding Until 2012?, 18th February). A request was sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission to grant a Confidential Treatment Order on… something. We can’t tell you, because it was accepted, and so nobody will know until 2012 apparently. If it’s been canned by now, it’d be quite funny.

Sega was looking to kickoff a blockbuster gaming launch of its own in February, with Rebellion’s Aliens vs Predator finally ready to scare the Marine pants off of you. The marketing push began in earnest, with a demo being released for the Xbox 360, PC and PlayStation 3. Unfortunately something scuffed up, with PC and PS3 users being unable to find games online (Aliens vs Predator Demo Hiccups on PC, PS3, 5th February).

Things took a turn for the worse when Rebellion’s CEO Jason Kingsley had to brush off early reviews from the US that brutally punished the game (Rebellion in Talks with SEGA on “Ongoing Support” for AvP, 23rd February). If the writing wasn’t clear on the wall at that point, the uncertainty that Kingsley had about even developing updates for the online component of the license-based shooter had pretty much painted it in luminous colours.

We all know what happened next - Rebellion would face apparent liquidation and redundancies would soon hit the studio. Sad times.

The world had no time to dwell on AvP’s unfortunate end result, because one of the big names on everyone’s lips this month was BioShock 2, the sequel to Ken Levine’s fantastic romp through underwater city Rapture. This time around development duties were handled by a consortium of different 2K studios, with the focus on one of the original game’s key enemies - the Big Daddy.

While not “as deep or remarkable as the first one,” we certainly appreciated its ability to “indulge in A-Level philosophy while retaining atmosphere and tension.” And in a way that made us want to keep playing, obviously (we know how averse some of you are to learning and things. Or just learning things). We gave it 90% at the time. Pretty great, then.

What was also great was the news that BioShock 2 designer Steve Gaynor had gone to the trouble to post a bunch of trivia about the sequel on his blog, telling fans of all the Easter Eggs the team had laid into the game (BioShock 2 Designer Reveals Rapture Easter Eggs, 11th February). References included his long-term girlfriend and Agent 47 of Hitman fame.

Reveals like these can warm the cockles of your heart, and remind you that games are in fact written by human beings. Some things, however, probably do little but flare up automaton-esque fanboy flamewars. Over in Japan, Square Enix producer Yoshinori Yamagishi fielded questions regarding the PS3 port of Star Ocean 4, dubbed the ‘International’ version.

Referring to prior concerns from developer Tri-Ace about the Xbox 360’s DVD format, a fan asked whether any content had been deleted or removed from this version. “If ‘this version’ means the PS3 version, there was nothing deleted,” was the reply. Flame retardant suits at the ready, gentlemen (Star Ocean 4 International Has “Nothing Deleted,” 5th February).
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