Features// SPOnG's Review of the Year 2011: January

Posted 26 Dec 2011 10:00 by
This is not a Tomb Raider image.
This is not a Tomb Raider image.
January. The games industry groaned, rolled out of bed, trod in a kebab it had forgotten it left nestled under its discarded Santa hat and staggered towards the coffee machine. It was time to shudder back into life and stare down 2011.

Appropriately, things got off to a rather grouchy start. Rock, Paper, Shotgun and Game Informer got into a bit of a spat after RPS looked to inform its readers about a game. The game in question was Tomb Raider ? the (still) upcoming reboot. The problem was that RPS was showing some screens that were meant to be Game Informer exclusives. Game Informer's measured response? Threaten to sue the bitches! (Game Informer Threatens to Sue RPS Over Tomb Raider, 5th January).

It wasn't just the games press bitching amongst itself, though. It was also Activision CEO and president Smilin' Bobby Kotick bitching at the UK government. Lamenting our lack of tax breaks for the games industry, Bobby noted "there are so many other places that are encouraging the video games industry." (Activision's Kotick Rails Against UK Government, January 4th). At the time, Activision-owned Bizarre Creations was on 90-day notice to find a buyer. Maybe you remember how that went for them. If not, check back on our look back at February to find out...

There was a lot of jibber jabber about hacking in and around the Sony camp through January. First up was hacking group Fail0verflow, which announced at the 27th Chaos Communication Conference that it had finally, irreversibly, irrevocably and irreparably cracked the PS3, releasing the security details to anyone who wanted them (Hackers Crack PS3 Security For Good, January 4th). Their intention was only to enable a bit of homebrew development for the console and not to let pirates onto the system, of course. You know that, right?

All that said, information surfaced later in the month that Sony might still be able to detect homebrew software and ban the consoles that run it after all (Report: Sony Able to Detect PS3 Homebrew, Can Ban Consoles at Will, January 12th). It's better to be safe than sorry, though. Sony announced an upcoming firmware release that brought nothing to the PS3 but a security patch (PS3 Firmware Attacks Security Issues, January 27th).

While Sony was vague about the exact details of the patch, one thing that quickly became clear was the fact that it was helping Activision lay the smack down on cheaters at Call of Duty: Black Ops. Suspected modders and hackers were slapped with console server bans, resulting in predictable cries of innocence. (PS3 Call of Duty: Black Ops Cheaters Banned with Firmware 3.56, January 28th).

While hacking was on a lot of people's minds, though, it was handheld gaming that stole the show in January. SPOnG had a good old chinwag with Nintendo UK Marketing Manager James Honeywell about the then-upcoming 3DS. He's a man who's clearly been through some hardcore media training ? whatever the PR equivalent of leaving your kid to fight wolves a la 300 is ? but Svend managed to give as good as he got.

Really, though, all of the above was just preamble to the main event. Sony finally got around to unveiling the PSP2. Back then we were still calling it the NGP ? 'Next Generation Portable'. It was a name that captured our hearts and minds, that inspired us to want more from our gaming platforms, to know that, 'yes, a portable can be next generation too'. (To think, 'about bloody time').

The NGP, we were told, will feature a touch screen on the front and a touch panel on the back. It will have dual analogue sticks. It will most certainly NOT use UMD. Yeah, that's right. Bye UMD. Hello, cartridges. (And downloads, obv). (Sony Unveils PSP2 - Kills UMD, January 27th.)
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