This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.
Boo! Ahhh! What was that, you ask? Only November sneaking up behind you, taking you out and lying you next to that pile of dead Vietnamese soldiers there. That’s right, the biggest thing on everyone’s minds this month was the launch of Call of Duty: Black Ops
, and there was good reason to be excited about that. David reviewed the game at length
for SPOnG and gave it a “classic” score of 92%.
As expected, it sold as if it was Scarlett Johansson covered in treacle toffee lying on her back near a warm fire in a country house. Ahem. It sold a lot, and even after an 85% drop in its second week the game still maintained its #1 place on the chart (UK: Black Ops Loses 85% Sales: Still Beats All-Comers
, 22nd November). Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
did bloody good that week though, it has to be said.
The Black Ops
fever was great enough for retailers to engage in price wars - with some stores selling the game for a mere 99p (Retailer’s Price War on Call of Duty: Black Ops - 99p Madness
, 8th November).
Microsoft had a huge launch of its own, but this one was hardware related - the release of Kinect in the UK was a statement of intent from the company, to tell us all that its Xbox 360 will still be kicking around in five years time. We’re not so sure about that, but what we were sure of was that initial impressions of the camera device
were mixed at SPOnG’s Underwater Castle. Tim, Mark and Pocket Frenzy all had a go and ultimately weren’t sure of its potential.
As much fun as Microsoft was having with the Kinect launch, it was having a significantly less fun time dealing with someone who had hacked the device right open - days before its UK release. It was all part of an MIT contest that asked computer science wizards to ‘Open Kinect.’
One ‘AlexP’ claimed to have the peripheral working with a copy of Windows. Naturally, Microsoft was not amused. The hacker won $2,000 for his handiwork (Kinect Hacked - Microsoft Not Amused
, 8th November).
Sony made a play this month by releasing AAA racing game Gran Turismo 5
at the end of November - but it took its sweet time toying with its fanbase before it did so, with SCEA marketing president Peter Dille originally being coy on a specific launch date (Sony: Distances Itself from GT5 Pre-Xmas Release Date
, 5th November). When it finally launched - after 6 years of development time - reviews came in from various sources, but were curiously inconsistent (Gran Turismo 5 Review Round-Up: A Mixed Bag
, 24th November).
We didn’t think to rush a review out of the door, and instead put our collective thoughts on virtual paper as part of a preliminary ‘first thoughts’ feature
instead. Unfortunately, it seemed the feeling across the board between Tim, Gavin, Marcus and Mark was disappointment - plenty of technical accomplishment, but a sense that Polyphony had somehow lost its way in the gameplay and entertainment department.
These issues didn’t stop the game from usurping Black Ops
in its first week on sale though (UK Video Game Chart: Gran Turismo 5 Overtakes Black Ops
, 29th November).