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

Posted 25 Dec 2010 16:23 by
This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.


The smell of freshly cut grass, the sight of blossoming flowers and the constant dodging of heavy downpours is the traditional mark of Spring. I’m starting to sound like a broken record here, but the games industry started 2010 as it meant to carry on and the result was an avalanche of big-hitting games.

Particularly on the PlayStation 3, which had already seen quite a big boost from Heavy Rain back in February. In fact, Quantic Dreams’ interactive story was seeing some serious stock shortages in early March as unprecedented demand kicked in (Heavy Rain Stock Shortages as PS3 Problems Persist, 1st March). This was coupled with a mysterious bug on older PS3 ‘phat’ models that disabled trophy updates and online use.

But Sony wasn’t done with its 2010 exclusives just yet, as it launched God of War III, the long-awaited Kratos smash’em up sequel, to magnificent critical acclaim. Gavin reviewed it and called it a “landmark game that shows what modern consoles are capable of… as good a reason as there has ever been” to get Sony’s latest console. Can’t really argue with a 96%, there.

God of War III quickly dominated the UK Software Chart as well, marking SCEE’s second #1 victory in as many months (Heavy Rain took top spot as well in its first week on sale) and outselling the launch of God of War II by a ratio of 2.65 to 1 (UK Software Charts: Kratos is God of Charts, 22nd March). But even the might of Kratos couldn’t topple a second juggernaut releasing in March.

After many years and plenty of hype, Final Fantasy XIII had landed on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We put the RPG through its paces and while it offered a lot of playtime, some 20 hours of that was spent traipsing through glorified corridors. Paul got a bit annoyed at the “drawn-out hand-holding [that] pulls the game back and becomes frustrating as you know there is so much to enjoy just around the corner.” But its beauty, splendour and fluid control mechanics countered those issues to earn it a decent 78%.

To a lot of fans, the fact that a Final Fantasy game was gracing the Xbox platform for the first time was a point of extreme contention. Blah blah blah fanboy wars. To alleviate some of that, and to offer PS3 fans something a little special, Square Enix had included a special card in the pack of the Sony edition that allowed for advance access to the Final Fantasy XIV beta (Final Fantasy XIII - the PS3 Surprise, 9th March).

FFXIV did end up being complete tosh, but hey it’s the thought that counts, right? Don’t start.

However, the news that Square Enix was actually considering a Final Fantasy VII remake (despite saying around about a month ago that it had no interest) was very welcome indeed. Unfortunately - and somewhat short-sightedly on Square Enix’s part - fans reacted on the company’s Twitter page like rabid ducks on crack bread (Chaos as Square Enix Considers Final Fantasy VII Remake, 8th March).

Meanwhile, in Bobby Kotick’s evil underground lair at Activision… Modern Warfare 2 was still at the top of the agenda, for both the publisher and gamers alike.

While Infinity Ward was working on the Stimulus Package add-on, Scandinavian rivals DICE decided to launch its own, free update for Battlefield: Bad Company 2 whilst slamming Activision’s “nickel-and-diming” approach (DICE Slams Activision in Bad Company 2 Update, 11th March). There was a caveat though, in that you needed a brand new copy of the game.

DICE’s comments were the least of Activision’s problems however, as it ended up firing the two founders of Infinity Ward for an alleged breach of contract (Activision Storms Infinity Ward: Studio Head Laid Off, 2nd March).

In return, Jason West and Vince Zampella kicked off a legal battle against their former publisher (Ex-Infinity Ward Head Sue Activision, 4th March). As Modern Warfare 2 became the biggest game of 2009, so too did this continuing drama make for one of the biggest stories of 2010.
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