February Console Wrap-up

February Console Wrap-up


February 2013… a month that just turned out to be Sony month with the announcement of the much awaited Playstation 4.

February 2013…a month that just turned out to be Sony month with the announcement of the much awaited Playstation 4. We take a look at what it means for console gamers and what we can hope for. There were a couple of big budget titles released this month, all vying for our coveted Console game of the Month. So without further ado, let’s get into it.

Console Game of the Month - Dead Space 3

Horror games may be a dying breed these days, what with publishers afraid to put money behind anything that doesn’t feature tons of guns, multiplayer and regenerative health, but Dead Space 3 brings us the hope that the genre still has plenty of life left in it. While many of the tropes that made Dead Space a survival horror title are gone with this new entry such as item management and slower pacing, this third and possibly final entry in the tale of Isaac Clarke, space engineer extraordinaire, the game does still offer a scary experience at times. The much lauded online co-op doesn’t intrude on the single player experience at all and even offers a unique second playthrough experience for those who miss the psychological horror aspects from the previous two games. Though it isn’t what everyone wanted, Dead Space 3 is still a rather good romp and is well worthy of the series’ name.

Other Notable February Releases

  • Crysis 3 (PS3, X360)

  • Aliens: Colonial Marines (notably a huge disappointment) (PS3, X360)

  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3, PSVita)

  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (PS3, X360)

February Console News

Let’s face it, the PS4 announcement was the news of the month, but there were some other interesting news titbits throughout the month:

Ouya plans to release a more powerful console every year
Ouya founder and CEO Julie Uhrman has revealed plans to release an updated version of the console every year. Uhrman outlined her plan to bring a more powerful version of the Ouya to market at regular intervals to counteract the rapid growth of mobile processors, which have advanced from single-core to quad-core chipsets in the past two years.
"Our plan is to have a yearly refresh of Ouya where we leverage the best-performing chips and take advantage of falling component prices to create the best experience we can at the US$99 price point,"
The device ships in March to those who backed it on Kickstarter, and will be available in US stores from June.

Wii U January sales lower than worst month of any recent console
Although official figures haven’t been made available by Nintendo, estimates put January sales of its Wii U console below those of most other consoles' worst months. NPD sources estimates that the Wii U sold a mere 57,000 Wii U units in the US in January.

Nintendo had hoped to sell 5.5 million Wii U consoles by March 31, but recently revised that figure down to four million. To date, it has sold just over three million Wii U consoles worldwide. The sooner they get titles like Pikmin 3 and Wii Fit U on the console side and Pokémon games and titles like Animal Crossing: New Leaf on the 3DS side on store shelves, the better.

No backwards compatibility for next gen consoles according to EA
The next generation of consoles will "most likely not be backwards compatible," says EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen. While explaining why EA’s customers were in his view unlikely to upgrade to next-generation consoles immediately, he said: "An important thing to remember is that next-gen consoles will most likely not be backwards compatible."

"If you [play] multiplayer on a game, you'll most likely not be able to play with someone on a different generation. Therefore, players of the sort of annual sports franchises EA is known for would be more likely to play out their season on current hardware before upgrading their console” he said.

He was right on the money with regards to the PS4 (on release date, at least).

Trailers of the month

GRID 2 - Gameplay Trailer

Tiger Woods PGA 14 – Legends of the Majors

Murdered: Soul Suspect

February Editorial

It has finally begun. Long ago, in a fabled time known as Two Thousand Five Anno Domini, came the arrival of what we call the seventh generation of consoles, a tremendous time for innovation and progress for our beloved medium. The Xbox 360 heralded the beginning of an age that brought us such unique titles as BioShock, Dead Space and Assassin’s Creed. The arrival of the Playstation 3 and the Wii spurred on wave after wave of interesting experiences, year after year driving us forward with promises of even better things to come. And yet, despite all logic to the contrary, the end didn’t come when it should have. Whereas a typical console life cycle was around that of five or so years before the next iteration would arrive and wow us, it didn’t come by 2010. For the past three years we have been asking developers, publishers and hardware manufacturers just when we could see the next big leap in technological progress. On a Wednesday, February 20th, 2013, we finally got the answer we’ve been waiting for.

Last week’s reveal of the Playstation 4 has been one that was both a long time coming and much needed. With publishers focusing on increasingly weaker consoles for all their major releases there hasn’t been anything to really push us forward. I’m not just talking about visuals though: the drive to experiment with new ideas and concepts for games have struggled as well. The industry became complacent, with the worst offenders annualizing their games with little to no innovation to be found from title to title, while others focused on maximizing profits by giving people what they know will sell and not what wouldn’t, no matter the reception or quality put into it. With the eighth console generation set to begin in the 4th quarter of 2013 we finally have something to hope for.

Yet despite this most of what we were shown that wondrous afternoon was exactly what we were expecting to see: a high profile shooter sequel, a visually-stunning racing game and tech demos for products that will never find a way to becoming a full-fledged product. Sure, many of them looked fantastic and the ideas put forth look to make most of today’s PCs cry, but nothing truly stood out. There was no “it” title to really grab you and say, ‘yes, this is truly next gen!’ The consumer is right to expect more from a show like this and yet I find myself underwhelmed by what Sony showed off.

The real mystery to be had though is the depth to which Sony plans to make a mint off their latest polygon-pusher. Many announced services sound very enticing such as the ability to stream games to Ustream live as well as uploading gameplay clips with just the press of a button but the question must be asked: just how much of this will be hidden behind a paywall? Sony has dreamed for years about an online service akin to the Xbox Live model and, really, who can blame them?

The real question at the end of the day comes down to this: should we be excited for the Playstation 4? Yes and no. Too many unanswered questions lie before us and many of them will no doubt be answered come this holiday season but it’s simply too early for anyone to make a financial commitment. Microsoft has a planned event in April that looks to be an announcement event for the next Xbox system so once we’ve seen both we can begin to draw some reasonable conclusions as to which is the more alluring product. Until then, ignore the system hype and instead begin to imagine just what the next generation could bring us in terms of games. A new generation is a chance for everyone, consumers and content creators alike, to start anew, allowing for fresh new ideas as well as old ones previously impossible to create to blossom into the next great interactive masterpiece.

Well, except the Wii U. Nintendo’s run that ship aground.

Games that we’re looking forward to in March

  • Tomb Raider (PS3, X360)

  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate (3DS)

  • South Park: Stick of Truth (PS3, X360)

  • God of War: Ascension (PS3)

  • Gears of War: Judgment (X360)

  • BioShock Infinite (PS3, X360)

  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14 (PS3, X360)

Well, that’s it for the month, fellow couch-based gamers. The PS4 announcement has definitely breathed some new life into the console scene. We’re really looking forward to seeing what our good friends over at Microsoft can come up with in response. We’ll be sure to let you know more as it come to hand. See you next month.

Written by William Thompson and Chris Davis