Features// SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: November

Posted 2 Jan 2014 14:00 by
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NOVEMBER. The Big One. Hardware launch time for both Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4. Needless to say, they dominated the world of gaming. For the month, much as they had for a fair old chunk of the year.

But, since Nintendo didn't get much of a look-in with the gaming community through November, let's give it a moment. Here's Nintendo's President, Satoru Iwata, once again stepping in to defend his business: "We need a company with a lot of muscle, but a company that also has no excess fat - one that makes smart spending decisions. Restructuring the workforce is not the first option we consider even when cost cutting is required. I would like you to understand that this is because we do not see a dark future for Nintendo." Right. Good. Yes.

Mark Rubin, Executive Producer at Infinity Ward on Call of Duty Ghosts, got in a bit of a tangle when pushed on the Xbox One's capabilities compared to those of the PS4. The Metro pushed him on why the PS4 version of Ghosts looks better than the Xbox One iteration. It was resolution, Rubin said. On the Xbox One they couldn't maintain as high a resolution while still keeping the framerate up. So presumably that means the PS4's more powerful? Well? er? a-buh? erm? Just click through for the whole awkward exchange.

For every word of PR blunder, however, there are a hundred of PR bluster. How about Microsoft Canada's Xbox director of marketing Craig Flannagan? "Much like 360, Xbox One's not going to look a whole lot five years from now like it does on November 22, 2013. I don't know where it's going to go, but that's kind of fun because we're built for the future. We do have a connection; we can change what things look like and how it performs." Good push, Craig?

Meanwhile, AAA game sales weren't looking great, year-on-year. Publishers were blaming the impending launch of the Xbox One and PS4, but was the truth a little more worrying?

Sony's streaming service designed to bring streaming to the PS4, Gaikai, you might remember, got delayed for Europe earlier in the year. It would have brought PSOne, PS2 and PS3 games to the PS4. Mircrosoft had its own plans for such a service, but the company's senior director of product management, Albert Penello, conceded that the challenges it presented were just too great for the company. In light of Gaikai's delay, maybe that will turn out to have been a smart call. See what Penello had to say here.

And then, guess what? One of the consoles finally launched. See how the PS4's US launch unfolded here. The system topped a million sales in its first 24 hours. There were hardware problems but nothing, it seemed, that was endemic.

And then: boom! The Xbox One just so happened to match that million sales figure when it launched a week later on the 22nd. It also, lo and behold, got its own launch fault. But, again, it was nothing too serious in terms of numbers affected.

To round things out the rest of us non-US residents got our PS4 launch a week after Xbox One on the 29th. Sony just about got that right.

But, after all the build-up and hype and hyperbole and everything, all the time, how did the two machines actually fare in an actual living room? SPOnG, of course, took them for a spin.

Of the Xbox One, Tim said that, "My initial thoughts are that it's a perfectly adequate Xbox Entertainment Centre that is trying to do a lot with its GUI and services. For now it feels a bit like beta hardware though. That GUI can be slow, it is ugly to me and games have been relegated further to a mere part of the offering." He said a good number of other things, though, so you should give An Xbox One in the Living Room a read.

And as for the PS4, Marcus was somewhat won over: "When the PS4 was announced I was not terribly impressed, nor particularly interested in owning one. It seemed like an incremental improvement over the PS3 - and to make up for that fact, Sony (Microsoft too, with the XBone) was overcompensating by adding a host of mulltimedia features. But now I have had my hands on one, I HAVE TO HAVE ONE. It's a lovely piece of kit, small and stylish, and with a great feature set." Albeit with the caveat that the games line-up isn't all it could be. Read more here.

On a far less controversial note, with Rocksmith 2014 newly in the world I had a pop at trying to learn guitar with it. It didn't go well.

But, hey, LEGO Marvel Superheroes went considerably better. Please forgive the games reviewing equivalent of a selfie, but the review said, "It's great that there's finally such a big, generous and fun game out there really digging into the world of Marvel. It's even better that it's a game which is so accessible to all levels of gamer."

WWE 2K14 was less of a smash hit for Paul Rayment, which he found to be fun but flawed. "Seeing what 2K has done with the NBA licence I find it hard to believe thatWWE 2K14 is their idea of a wrestling game and I'm excited to see where they take the series next year and on the next-gen consoles," Paul concluded.

Fortunately Daniel Jones got on a little better with Call of Duty: Ghosts. "Ghosts has one of the strongest CoD campaigns to date, the customisation for the competitive multiplayer is great, although fairly confusing to start with, and squads mode offers new players a nice alternative to the stressful competitive multiplayer. As for extinction, I'm really looking forward to rounding up three mates and spending a night (or several) destroying alien hives," he wrote.

And, with the PS4 and Xbox One finally (finally!) out, it was time for SPOnG to look back on our games of the last generation. There were sad faces all round?

Big Name Releases Due this Month
Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - Ubisoft
Batman: Arkham Origins - Warner Brothers
Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate - Warner Brothers
Battlefield 4 - Electronic Arts
Call of Duty: Ghosts - Activision
FIFA 14 - Electronic Arts
Fighter Within - Ubisoft
Forza Motorsport 5 - Microsoft Game Studios
Killzone: Shadow Fall - SCEE
Knack - SCEE
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes - Warner Brothers
Mafia II - Mastertronic
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games - SEGA
Need For Speed: Rivals - Electronic Arts
PES 2014 - Konami
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy - Nintendo
Resogun - SCEE
Skylanders Swap Force - Activision
Super Mario 3D World - Nintendo
The Darkness II - Mastertronic
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds - Nintendo
Zumba Fitness: World Party - 505 Games

Read the Rest of Our Video Games Year in Review 2013
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: January
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: February
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: March
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: April
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: May
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: June
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: July
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: August
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: September
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: October
SPOnG's Videogames Review of 2013: November
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