Console Game of the Month: Call of Duty Black Ops II
It was always going to be tough to choose a winner this month with all the Wii U launch releases, the Xbox 360 flagship title Halo 4 and Playstation's All Star Battle Royale. But, in the end we came up with a compromise, a game that was released on all three consoles, Call of Duty: Black Ops II.
Now, before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Every Treyarch Call of Duty has seemed to focus far more on experimentation on the singleplayer end than on multiplayerbut this year Treyarch was able to expand the experience beyond the paradigms traditionally associated with the franchise: corridor fighting, linearity and very limited player freedom. With Black Ops II, we received a surprisingly interesting shift with a branching storyline, multiple endings based on player choice and actions, levels that rivaled some of Battlefield's maps in scale and even a new strategic element. While many of the plot twists and turns were predictable, what was presented to us was an entertaining experience whose new elements we can only hope become staple parts of the series going forward.
Other Notable Releases
> Halo 4
> Far Cry 3
> Zombi U
> New Super Mario U
> Scribblenauts Unlimited
> Hitman Absolution
> PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
November Console news
A set-top stripped down Xbox coming next year?
Microsoft is rumored to be building an Xbox set-top box that will be a casual gaming alternative to the next Xbox. It has been suggested that Microsoft plans to release the box as a low-cost alternative to its next Xbox console. The company’s full two-SKU strategy will allegedly be unveiled in 2013, and will release before the year is out. The set-top box is said to run on Windows 8, and will be more of a casual gaming machine that seeks to complement the full Xbox console experience.
The "always on" device will boot quickly and act as an entertainment services hub.
Microsoft is also rumoured to be investigating ways to make Xbox Live run on phones as well as TVs with no console present.
Wii U sells 400,000 in first week
Nintendo has revealed that 400,000 Wii U consoles were sold during the system’s first week on sale. In an interview, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime revealed the figure, also noting that 300,000 Wii consoles were sold in the same week.
Trailers of the Month
November’s finally come and gone, marking the end of the Fall release madness that our bank accounts reel in terror from every year. As we take toll of the financial damage that has been wrought upon us, we can reflect on just what made us question whether paying the rent is something we can afford to do. The obvious elephant in the room is the Wii U but we will get to that in a moment.
November always marks the release period of the biggest profile sequels and, boy, did we have some big ones. Halo 4 proved that life after Bungie is not only possible but also enjoyable. Hitman Absolution showed that a developer with two previous crap titles can still produce a quality experience. All this and Black Ops II mentioned earlier.
The thing that should really be taken away from this November’s crop of releases: Experimentation. Regardless of whether titles succeed or fail we need to more developers experimenting with their games while focusing less on meeting the demands of the most common denominator. We saw this with the three titles just mentioned. Treyarch presented a new take on the roller-coaster Call of Duty singleplayer, Halo 4 retained the classic gameplay we all know while reinventing the cooperative experience with Spartan Ops and even Hitman, six years after the last title was released, introduced elements of stealth gameplay that, logically, should have been a consideration for the series in the first place. Core experiences don’t have to change in order to present a fresh new take on something tried and true: augmentation through experimentation can be of true benefit.
Not Madden though. There’s no hope for that franchise.
Of course, the big deal for the month was the Wii U. The launch date timing is perfect with the lead up to Christmas. Young gamers everywhere will be pestering their parents for Nintendo’s latest offering. But is the Wii U, just a flash in the pan, or is it something that Nintendo fanboys can be proud of?
The visuals, although much clearer than the Wii, are barely an improvement on what the X360 is able to put out. But Nintendo have always danced to their own tune.
The main drawcard to the new console is the Gamepad, a device that is crossed between an iPad and a standard PS3 controller, complete with 854x480 pixel display right in the centre and built in motion sensors. The GamePad can be used for basic tasks such as showing the game map or as a way to set up team formations in sports games. In Zombi U, the GamePad becomes a scanner, through which you get an enhanced version of the environment that reveals interesting objects or possible exits. There is no doubt that developers will learn to use the hardware in various unique ways as the GamePad becomes more familiar to them, as was the case with the Wiimotes.
Stuff we can look forward to in December
December is a real quiet month for new releases, as most publishers will have already released their titles well ahead of Christmas, but there are still a few stragglers.
> Guardians of Middle-Earth
> Lego Lord of the Rings
> The Elder Scrolls V: Dragonborn
> Mass Effect Trilogy
> Wreck-it Ralph
> 007 Legends
So until next month, happy console gaming. Oh, and Merry Christmas…we hope the console or game you asked Santa for is waiting under the tree on Christmas morning.