Saying goodbye to January and February, we welcome March. It's rather useless to say that March wasn't a busy month for the industry. I had to make Part 2 completely dedicated to the month for that very reason. There were a lot of cheers and a lot of jeers, but the one thing that remained constant was debate. There was a lot of debate among reviewers, gamers, developers, and publishers over some of the major news in March.
Whether it was a rebooted game meeting incredible praise or a new addition to a series that no one really got to play, March had it all. It even included such instances of companies making complete fools of themselves. Join me as we take a second look at January to March In Scope.
The Sim City Disaster
What better way to start off Part 2, then by talking about EA and their botched launch of Sim City? I'm not going to lie, I was very excited for Sim City. I don't avidly play the Sims games, but the Sim City franchise was always a favorite series of mine. I even preordered it to get the superhero and supervillain pack. I was thinking of all of the cool ways I would construct my cities and what I could add to them.
Then the game came out and so did the many reviewers and gamers calling for EA's head on a silver platter. Actually, that's too nice given that EA would want that silver platter, so I'm going to say that reviewers and gamers would condemn EA to Alcatraz while having to listen to Eli Roth taunt them with curse words and saying "faced" over and over again. Why would that be? Well, for the very reason of an always online connection needed to play the game. This includes the single player. Regardless of what anyone says, a majority of users are unhappy with this. Isn't it funny that EA neglected to mention this before release, but that there is a message at the bottom of the front cover that mentions a needed online connection? That's like reading the fine print of a contract when you sell your soul to a demon or FOX News, but you can't do anything because your blood has already soaked into the paper. Also, yes, I did not pick up my copy.
On top of that, the launch was so bad that not many reviews were able to be put up due to connection issues. This in turn hindered the review scores of Sim City. The result is Sim City suffering for the incompetence of its publisher. The most common scores I have seen is a five or six out of ten. Here's the problem: EA hid very vital information about the game from the general public and had vapid server support. Cities would disappear that people worked hours on, connections would suddenly drop, waiting periods were ludicrously long, and probably the biggest insult is having to be forced to download Origin. EA, no one wants Origin. You messed up. Stop making your developers issue apologies for bad decisions you make. For the record, Sim City is fun...when you can get it connected and working.
DRM Gets Flogged
Following the disastrous launch of Sim City, the topic of DRM (or Digital Rights Management) dominated the internet for weeks on end. What exactly is DRM? The idea of DRM is a way for companies to safeguard their content and services after selling their product and restricts the use of digital content being used in a way that it shouldn't be. Companies and supporters reinforce that DRM is essential in fighting copyright infringement and piracy, while those opposed to DRM say it only hinders the experience of legitimate paying customers and that there is potential for games to be shut down in the future thus making it impossible to access.
By all rights, all of these hold some merit of truth. My first experience with DRM was with StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. My friend got me into StarCraft back in high school. I played through the original game and Brood War. I loved every bit of it (even though hackers in the multiplayer made it very unpleasant to even bother) and couldn't wait for the sequel. Then Wings of Liberty comes out and I find out that I need to be online to play the single player, whereas the original game did not require that. I will freely admit that I did not enjoy this. While I am more than happy to support a company for their good work, having to wait for the game to be patched or go through maintenance was frustrating since the main thing I play is the single player campaign.
This brings up the question of whether or not all DRM is bad. The reality of DRM is that quite a few companies require online connections for their games. Blizzard is a long standing example. Defiance is a recent example. You will always require an internet connection to play World of Warcraft and Defiance. There's no way around it for paying customers unless they pirate and hack a game. Can DRM be handled better? Most certainly, but until piracy, hacking, and greedy business tactics are stamped out (which won't happen anytime soon or ever) we paying customers suffer for it.
Tomb Raider is a Success
Undoubtedly one of the best games of 2013 so far, the reboot of Tomb Raider met with amazing success. The primary scores crowned to Tomb Raider ranged from mostly nines and tens. The reimagining of making Lara Croft into a hardened survivor really brought it home for this great hit. It was a solid move to rebuild Tomb Raider and evolve Lara as a character. The combat is great, voice acting of high quality, and the environments look amazing. I would love to see what Crystal Dynamics can come up with for a potential sequel. After all, Tomb Raider has sold over three and half million copies. Much like Ni No Kuni, I think that Tomb Raider is a solid contender for Game of the Year.
Square Enix and Their Unrealistic Expectations
Unfortunately, the public's impressions of the success of Tomb Raider do not match up with Square Enix. The publisher went on to say that Tomb Raider did not meet their sales expectations. I know what most of our reactions were like at that point. How can anyone honestly think that three and a half million copies sold is not a success?
Well, according to a few head honchos at Square Enix, Tomb Raider failed to meet its sales goal. I don't know who is in charge of the department that comes up with projected sales figures, but a slap to their face isn't uncalled for here. We know what numbers they want their games to reflect: Call of Duty. They have even admitted it as such. That's about as subtle as a creepy clown offering ice cream to children in his black windowless van. These projected sales figures are unrealistic and even more so given that they put this pressure on their Eidos Montreal studio. Hey, Square Enix, how is Final Fantasy XIII holding up? "Not too well", says I while taunting you with my wallet in hand, like a storeowner holding Black Ops II just inches from a ten year old's fingers.
Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women Series Begins
I couldn't go on writing about March without writing about Anita Sarkeesian and her new video series on Youtube. After watching her twenty-three minute video, I do have a bit of an analysis of it. Keep in mind that I approached this video as someone who has never seen any of Anita's videos. For that matter, I had no idea of her existence until some people starting complaining about her en masse.
First, she targets Nintendo as a big hub of reducing a female's role in games to an object of desire or need of protection. This is shown when she talks about Krystle, Peach, and Zelda in their own respective series. Second, she doesn't consider games where you can play as these characters as legitimate to the "core series". Third, she misses a lot of information regarding the topics she has. From what I can tell, Anita misinforms her audience as a result of poor research and making insinuations about the trope when comparing it to pop culture. For example, as a mythology buff, I couldn't help but feel insulted when she was missing key points in the story of Perseus rescuing Andromeda, including the Oracle of Apollo.
Anita seems to miss a lot of information regarding her topics and many call her out for it. The response from the community was not positive. Many criticize Anita for disabling ratings and comments, thus not allowing people to display their opinion of the subject. Many female gamers responded with videos of their own defending the video game industry and stating that Anita is only using this series to exploit herself, while missing crucial information. The way I see it, if Anita doesn't brush up on her research, then she is only going to anger gamers. Then again it's because of angry gamers that we have to thank for giving Anita internet stardom.
God of War: Ascension vs Adam Sessler the White Knight
I hate it when people say stupid things online and get away with it, but even more so when a person I respect and think that they know better does. In the case of Adam Sessler, the situation couldn't be any more bleaker. I never took Adam Sessler to be a guy who hops on a bandwagon that other people have, but his video review of God of War: Ascension is absurd.
Granted, Ascension wasn't a perfect game. It's a good game (even though the magic was rather useless), but to call it misogynistic over a trophy is beyond parody. Does Sessler not know the God of War series? Sure, Kratos sleeps with women, but he didn't make a stink about that. There was intense violence and killing, but he never raised an eyebrow over it. Yet, a trophy called Bros Before Hoes gets Sessler's morals in a bind? Shortly after we have other like-minded idiots crawl out of their basements. People, where the hell are your priorities?!
You have no qualms about stabbing a harpy in the chest or having sexual intercourse with a topless woman, but someone dares to name a trophy after a joke that is over twenty years old and you cry foul. How childish are you? Yes, I say childish because like children you don't know what actually offends you. For that matter, I'm more than convinced that people just search through pop culture to find something to be offended by on purpose or say they are "offended" to garner hits for their websites. I bet most people don't even know the true definition of misogyny, which is the "hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women". Guess what, God of War is not that! Kratos would not consult a female Oracle, be so depressed by his family's death, and have connections to goddesses if he absolutely without a shadow of doubt hated women! With that small eruption of rage out of the way, I will end with this: if Sony Santa Monica and God of War truly were being misogynistic, then women would not have as much of an integral role in the series at all or in the workplace given that it was a woman who named the trophy.
PETA and Their Shenanigans
That's right, PETA is in the news again. PETA has shifted their focus from Nintendo to a couple of other popular series. Notable, they targeted Assassin's Creed IV for the reported whaling you can do in the game to earn resources. PETA, I don't know if you know this, but whaling was a common practice in the 1700s. It may be illegal now given possible species extinction and animals' rights, but this was a very real thing back then. It's how many people made their coin and living. Not that you use facts in your references anyway.
The second series to get targeted was StarCraft. Why StarCraft? Well, the reason why is because apparently PETA wants gamers to remember that zerglings have feelings, too. You know what, PETA, I will remember that. I will remember that as a hydralisk impales me in the shoulder with a spike or when a baneling explodes in front me as acid drips down my face. Actually, no PETA, just no. These tirades of supposed animal rights in video games has become self-parody and you only make yourselves look bad. Whatever happened to raising awareness on very real issues surrounding animals these days? I guess it gets lost in translation as you mock the video game industry with flash games and false advertisements with resources you waste that could have gone to aiding animals. Thank you for adding something so insignificant to the world.
BioShock Infinite Meets Success
Much like Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite was highly anticipated for this year. Heck, it's been highly anticipated since it was announced. That was three years ago if I recall correctly. So, how did the third installment hold up? Very well, I believe. It had glowing reviews and positive reception from many reviewers and games alike. Personally, I really enjoyed the game. For those who said the ending will stick with you, they were right. I kept thinking about it well after I beat the game. The voice acting is top notch, the visuals are stellar, and the gameplay (while can be a mixed bag) was engaging. If Irrational Games wanted to, they could truly bring out Infinite possibilities with future installments to BioShock.
Activision Cashes In on The Walking Dead
Oh, Activision. You and your projects have once again become a burden to the industry. In the case of licensed video games, you really outdid yourself here. To this day, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is my lowest scoring game. After playing and reviewing this cash-in, I gave Survival Instinct a three out of ten. This is basically a low D on my review scale. The graphics are terrible, the gameplay ideas lead to disappointment, the enemy AI is broken, and it doesn't do the show justice by any means. It's a bad first person experience period. If you want a good Walking Dead game, get the Telltale game based on the comics. It has better gameplay, stories, and direction. Plus, they are coming out with a second season this summer.
That was a taking a look at March. It certainly was a tad rage inducing, but I think we got through it okay. You might be wondering why I ended this blog with Activision and Survival Instinct as opposed to before. It's all to get started on my next blog. I will be taking a look at what I have dubbed the Three-Headed Hydra of the industry and why all three of these companies make up what is wrong with video games in the present. Activision, Capcom, and EA, I'm calling you out!