It's Bungie day today, as well as the 20th anniversary of the influential and much-loved studio. Bungie will be bidding a fond farewell to the Halo franchise, which will now be handled by 343 Industries, in order to focus on the recently revealed Bungie Aerospace, which seeks to help budding developers find their footing in the industry. To celebrate and commiserate this epic transition, there's a range of goodies, freebies and events to gorge yourself on including the release of Marathon for the iPad.Click here to join the celebrations!
You would have thought Microsoft's marketing campaign for Halo Reach might have calmed down a bit now, considering its been eight months since the game released. But according to Microsoft, 200 million dollars on opening day and countless million since just isn't enough, as they've released a three-pronged demo onto Xbox LIVE, featuring a slice of the campaign, multiplayer and Firefight.
And in related news, Microsoft will drop the price of Halo Reach to £40 through their Games on Demand service; although please just check here for a much better deal. But if you really do need convincing, the demo features the pretty spectacular 'Long Night of Solace' mission, where Noble Team break through Covenant forces to reach a UNSC facility and commandeer spacecraft. The multiplayer level on offer is Powerhouse, a fan-favorite, although the Firefight map remains unnamed. [Halo Waypoint]
The multiplayer support for Halo: Reach continues with 3 more maps dropping today, including the first ever downloadable Firefight map. The maps include a giant orbital station set above the burning, ruined planet, an abandoned civilian mining complex and a military training facility hidden deep within woodland. As per usual, these three will set you back 800 MSP, which is either daylight robbery or relatively cheap, pixellated crack.
You can expect to earn a few Achievements though, with the map pack throwing an additional 150 potential Gamerscore points into the mix.
The map pack was developed in conjunction with Certain Affinity and its release today also marks the availability of Halo: Reach on the Games On Demand service.Check out the press release after the jump for more details on the three maps...
Okay, we admit it. Microsoft's showcase was nowhere near as big enough as we- or anyone- predicted. Surprisingly, no new titles were revealed and the industry isn't reeling from earth-shattering revelations. There's still some interesting developments, mind: including a date for Halo Reach's Defiant Map Pack, some new Fable III DLC and several games offering 3D on the Xbox 360. We've rounded it all up into one place for your comfort and convenience.Click here for more details...
It's a dark day for Activision... as well as the last few dedicated fans who still cling to their plastic guitars. During their annual financial statement, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has confirmed that the Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and True Crime: Hong Kong franchises have been completely axed (along with their studios) in order to concentrate on the Call Of Duty franchise.
Due to continued declines in the music genre, the company will disband Activision Publishing’s Guitar Hero business unit and discontinue development on its Guitar Hero game for 2011. The company also will stop development on True Crime: Hong Kong™. These decisions are based on the desire to focus on the greatest opportunities that the company currently has to create the world’s best interactive entertainment experiences. - Activision's Bobby Kotick
With Rock Band's future all but destroyed by Harmonix's departure from the Viacom family, this practically marks the death of the music game as we know it... along with around 5000 job losses. See you at the crossroads, Guitar Heroes.
Perhaps the most bizarre decision to come out of this recent press release is the canning of True Crime: Hong Kong. My sources (and our previews) tell me that the project was nearing completion- but Activision COO Eric Hirshberg apparently feels that the franchise is not "good enough" to compete in the open world genre. Time to cancel your preorders, folks.
There also won't be any Tony Hawk titles in 2011, though it's unclear whether the franchise has been ditched altogether.
Like a phoenix rising from the flames, Activision also confirmed that their year-long Beachhead Project has blossomed into a fully-fledged studio. Their remit and objectives are still incredibly vague, but Activision CFO Thomas Tippl suggests that the outfit is currently engaged in creating a new online venture set in the... you guessed it... Call Of Duty universe.
Beachhead will create the best-in-class online community, exclusive content, and a suite of services to supercharge the online gaming experience like never before.
We'll hear more in the "near future," but current speculation suggests that they may be hard at work developing an online dashboard that brings together the Call Of Duty games (much like a mix between Halo Waypoint and Battle.net). We'll keep you posted.
UPDATE: THIS IS HAPPENING.
French fansite Halo Destiny have reportedly snagged some details of a new DLC map pack for Halo Reach. Entitled the Defiant pack, it may offer three new levels: "Condemned," "Unearthed" and "Highlands." Condemned is rumoured to take place on a Covenant Frigate, while the Highlands map apparently takes its cues from High Ground (prominently featuring a covenant cruiser that's in the process of glassing the planet). The original details and pictures have been pulled by Microsoft's request... though a very authentic Flickr account still exists.
Microsoft has yet to officially comment on the matter- but the speed with which they attempted to shut the rumour down is extremely suggestive. For now, file it under watch this space. [Halo Destiny via Joystiq]
We haven't forgotten about the ongoing legal battle between Sony and a cabal of hackers who managed to crack the PS3's tough security. The biggest obstacle facing the software giant is finding out exactly who these individuals are behind their online aliases- and requested Subpoenas from Google, Paypal, Twitter and Youtube in an effort to discover names and home addresses.
Unfortunately for Sony, US District Judge Susan Illston believes that their request represents a gross breach of online privacy and legally denied access to their accounts.
To be honest, this is probably a sound precedent. The idea of billion-dollar companies being able to legally rifle through our PayPal details is chilling to say the least. For Sony, however, it will unfortunately be back to good old fashioned cyber-sleuthing. [PSX-SCENE]
Let's be clear. we don't necessarily mean dedicated multiplayer games here, but rather the game that offered the best multiplayer experience this year. Unsurprisingly, a good number of nominees came from the FPS side of the room, though it should be noted that Red Dead Redemption and Kane and Lynch 2 came close to making the shortlist. Business as usual for Bungie and Activision, though Ubisoft threw us a curve ball by introducing multiplayer into Assassin's Creed....and making it awesome. Vote for your favourite below...
Click here to see our own shortlist and best multiplayer game of 2010...
Once again we've been rather spoiled for choice when it's come to FPS titles this year. EA kicked things off with a slightly belated attempted at stealing away Modern Warfare 2's crown with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and most months of the year saw at least one cracking shooter find its way onto the shelves. This was the year of Bungie's Halo swansong, the year that Treyarch stepped out of Infinity Ward's shadow, the year that saw the Medal of Honor and GoldenEye franchises return too. We had a hard time narrowing down our shortlist - and we've expanded the list slightly for your votes - but really when it came down to it, this one was decided after the first couple of rounds of voting.
NB. Hit the thumbnail for price comps and the title for our full reviews where applicable.
Busting out with Frostbite 2.0 and offering a more team-oriented experience than some of the other shooters this year, it was arguably BBC2, more than Medal of Honor, that really challenged Call of Duty's dominance in 2010.
Perhaps not quite and groundbreaking and spellbinding as its progenitor, Bioshock 2 was nevertheless a much better FPS, with some fantastic action and a multiplayer that proved more than a mere afterthought.
After the onset of the Infinity Ward soap opera, all eyes were on underdogs Treyarch to produce something magnificent. Black Ops was certainly that - making tonnes of noise, refusing to take itself too seriously, and mopping up a number of sales records in the process.
Bungie's farewell to the Halo franchise was certainly a Noble effort indeed. As absorbing for five hours as it was for five minutes, Reach came stuffed with something for all comers, delighting fans and newbies alike.
Brooding, atmospheric and idiosyncratic, Metro 2033 impressed many of our writers simply by having the balls to do something a little different. Offering one of the finest FPS experiences of the year it more than made up for its technical shortcomings with an abundance of character.
The little game that no-one saw coming, Singularity essentially took all of the best bits from the best FPS titles of the last ten years and stuck them all into one game. The result was sheer enjoyment for fans of the genre. Derivative? Sure. Fun? Undoubtedly.
It's been one hell of a year- and a fantastic time to be a games journalist. We've had scandals, hype and a ludicrous amount of controversy to sink our teeth into... but it's time to move past all that. We're here because we love games- so without further ado, I'd like to present my personal highs and lows of 2010.
Wait, what? WhaaaAAAAaaat?!
I can hear the incredulous shrieks from here. Sure, I've given games a higher score, but Deadly Premonition breaks every game design rule in the book and still manages to deliver a completely unique and worthwhile experience. The storyline is one of- if not THE- best ever told in a videogame to date, with perfect quirky characters and hilarious dialogue jarring with the overtly mature themes and horrifying exposition. Not to mention that Agent York is one of the most interesting and relatable protagonists in gaming history. There's nothing even remotely like it out there. It isn't so bad that it's good- rather, it's just damn good at what it does.
Put simply, Deadly Premonition is 2010's Killing In The Name Of; an alternative masterpiece that deserves to be lauded above the trendy coiffured hipsters that tend to dominate the scene at Christmas time.
Just go rent it already. So says Mr. Lester.
With so many great Indie titles to consider as my favourite game of the year, I've been under a lot of pressure to come up with an experience that's genuinely monopolised most of my time and affection. I decided to spend some time in my comfort zone: tense games of Team SWAT on Halo Reach where muscle memory and reflexes could let my mind wander onto the subject at hand. And that's when it hit me. By becoming my go-to game, my home away from home on Xbox Live, Reach has become my favourite game of 2010.Read on to find out WHY, as well as the rest of this year's picks
Halo Reach's space flight section, Long Night Of Solace, provided one of the few stonking set pieces that the campaign had to offer. Frankly we wish that it had lasted much longer... but gallingly, Bungie has now revealed that they were originally thinking about including zero-G dogfights as a full competitive multiplayer mode. Not only that, but they managed to whip up a rough alpha version.
We joked about [Space Multiplayer] from time to time and even had a rough version of it working very early on in development. But the mechanics of it were pretty silly and we very quickly realised that the resulting gameplay experience wouldn't hit the bar we were aiming for, nor justify the amount of work required.
With so many features and so much content already committed, Reach was an incredibly ambitious project on an already aggressive schedule. - Bungie's Marcus Lehto to Game Informer
We certainly agree that Halo Reach is packed with content... but if there's ever been a case for Reach DLC, it's right now. Either that or a full Halo space sim. Those recon pickets won't stand a chance! [CVG]
Gran Turismo 5 took an age to release and is garnering surprisingly mixed reviews... but there's no stopping it now. Thanks to an enormous number of preorders and massive interest from the legion of eager GT fans, Yamauchi's latest epic has soared to the top of the UK sales charts and dethroned Black Ops after an unassailable three week run.
Sony's head of UK Public Relations is naturally keen to push the brand as much as possible, suggesting that it will be responsible for shifting a fair few PS3s this holiday season. Considering the momentum behind the Gran Turismo franchise despite the long delays, I wouldn't be surprised if he's right. [MCV]
Our full GT5 review covers both the highs and the disappointing lows of Yamauchi's project... and is causing a tasty little soupçon of controversy. Hit the link and get involved!
Fresh intel from the Land of the Rising Sun suggest that we're about to witness a fresh new IP courtesy of Toshihiro Nagoshi: the creator of Yakuza and Monkey Ball. Members of Japanese message board 2ch has reportedly seen the latest issue of Famitsu magazine that contains the full reveal (slated for Wednesday), and have relayed a tasty bit of info about the project.
The rumours suggest that Binary Domain will be a "robot-based shooter" set in late 21st century Tokyo that has been split in half by a massive class division. Naturally the city soon provides the canvas for a massive war, with humans and robots throwing down in large-scale battles that provide "an extremely high level of AI and online play." Nagoshi reportedly promises there will be a "massive focus on story and action, with the title being focused on a global audience".
Sugoi! We'll check out Famitsu this Wednesday to corroborate the reports... but until then, go ahead and file these rumours as likely. This doesn't smell like a hoax to me.
Halo Reach enjoyed one of the biggest game launches of the year along with an enormous amount of hype. I was impressed enough to award it a 9 in my full review... but now the fuss has died down enough to hear a nagging undercurrent of disappointment and dissent. Many people felt let down by myriad aspects of Halo Reach's campaign and multiplayer; and now we've had seven weeks to settle into the routine, I've undertaken a thorough analysis of the game as well as how it's evolved over these last few weeks. Did it deserve such high praise? Did it really deserve a 9? Did I make a mistake? Let's find out.
I was blown away by the campaign during my first playthrough. However, a series of nagging doubts started to eat away at my confidence over the next few days. They say that hindsight's a bitch, and she certainly wasn't kind to Halo Reach at first. After completing the campaign another three times- including a solo Legendary run- I've come up with an important addendum to the review.
To the uninitiated, the Campaign was an intense affair that stacks up very favourably next to the staccato singleplayer offerings that many competing shooters provide. It's a thoroughly enjoyable experience that delivers a consistent level of excitement, though the short levels made it all too easy to ignore potential opportunities for exploration or experimentation with different combat tactics. I'd strongly advise against playing on anything less than Heroic difficulty- because the limited number of enemies per encounter and decreased challenge on even the normal mode actually makes the game weaker as well as easier. If you were disappointed, I'd recommend cranking up the challenge and taking the blinkers off. It completely changes the face of the game, forcing players to think laterally and devise new strategies to prevail where brute force fails.
If only that were the end of it. Any sense of disappointment is amplified exponentially if you're a fan of the Halo universe.
Read on to see whether Reach really deserved our praise... and my 9.