New XBOX to be Announced 21st May

New XBOX

Soooooooo this is a thing that’s happening. Given how underwhelming the PS4 announcement was, and also considering the rumours of things like it not being backwards compatible and always needs to be online I can’t say that I am too terribly excited.

Which is a shame because I’d like to be excited. I like my XBOX 360, but if it turns out that Microsoft is selling a replacement instead of an upgrade I’ll probably go back to PC gaming and never look back.

Well, maybe not never.

Awesome: Bungie’s Destiny Will Be Revealed Sunday

Destiny

We’ve been hearing tidbits about Destiny for a long time. It’s the first thing that Bungie has done since spinning off and leaving Halo is others hands and needless to say I –and every other gamer on the planet– am pretty excited to see what they’ve come up with.

They’ve kept a pretty tight lid on things, but they’ve announced via facebook that we’ll start getting info this coming Sunday, 17th of February.

You can pretty much pick your poison for finding out, Bungie has set up Destiny Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube as well as a new section on their forums.

Anyone else crazy excited???

[source: polygon]

Awesome: A Look at How The Steam Box Will Redefine Consoles

Valve

T.C. Sottek Writing for The Verge:

Valve is trying to build a game console that you haven’t seen before: something that brings the PC (the big thing sitting on your desk) and the traditional console (the little thing sitting under your TV) together into a single device. A device that will run Valve’s Steam platform: the biggest digital game distribution service on the market, with upwards of 50 million users. (By comparison, Xbox Live has somewhere around 40 million subscribers.) But what does that really mean?

[…]

Based on what Valve has told us, its Steam box will — like a console — be something small and quiet that you can fit near your television while you kick back on the couch with a wireless controller. Like a PC, it will let you buy and download your games as many times as you want without needing any discs, and choose from a vast library of free game customizations. The Steam Box will also include a few unique twists, like controllers that can passively sense your feelings (biometrics), and wireless technology that can connect the console to several rooms and screens in your house at the same time.

Valve is shopping for the right ingredients — the features, parts, and partners — to make the Steam Box a reality. But why would a software company like Valve, known for its game-making chops, want to bake its own consoles and controllers? Let’s look back at 2012 to find out.

It’s a long article so be sure to get comfy before you sit down to read, but do sit down to read because it’s a nice rundown of everything that seems to be going on.

I, for one, can’t wait for this thing.

[source: the verge]

Awesome: Ouya to be Available at Retail in June for 99$ USD

20130205-004442.jpg

Good news everyone! Ouya, the Kickstarter backed android powered hackers delight game console, is going to be sold at retail staring this June. So far the list includes Best Buy, Target, GameStop and Amazon. It’ll be 99$ and 49$ for an extra controller. The controller, in case you’re not aware, includes a touchpad in addition to analogue sticks, buttons and d-pad, which is pretty cool (although given the Android OS makes total sense).

Kickstarter backers and preorders will be fulfilled sooner (and preorders open up this week), so if you want to get one early there’s your chance.

There’s a lot to be said about the Ouya. Cheap and easy to mod and develop for, like I said above its a hackers delight. I think my favourite thing from the article is this quote though:

WSJ: What’s to stop other developers for using the controllers for other devices, like Apple TV?

UHRMAN: We are okay with that. One of the promises of being open is you can use what we build for other things. But you can create accessories and peripherals for our device as well. At the end of the day, it makes our ecosystem richer.

No matter what you think you gotta admit that’s a pretty refreshing outlook after dealing with companies like Microsoft and Sony and Apple.

[source: the Wall Street journal via polygon]

Matt’s Best of 2012

It is now 2013. Another year is over, so here’s a brief look at what I thought of 2012.

Favourite Film – The Avengers

The Avengers
The Avengers

There’s so much I can say here but what it comes down to is that I’ve been waiting for this film for basically my entire life. Having been reading Marvel comics since I was a kid seeing all these characters brought to the big screen in a way that doesn’t suck on their own was good, seeing them all on-screen together in a way that doesn’t suck is fucking amazing. Because let’s face it: a lot of superhero movies suck.

You see it’s not just that this is a good film that makes it my favourite of the year, hell I’ll even admit that there are a bunch of objectively better films that came out this year, but The Avengers is the geek dream realized: comic book continuity brought to the movies. Proof that you can create an entire universe in film and the masses won’t reject it. Proof to the studios —finally— that their audience is full of intelligent people who are looking for an interconnected film series with characters that stand both on their own and as a team in a single universe. Yes, I realize I just said the same thing three times. If you think The Avengers isn’t a milestone in filmmaking consider this: Fox just hired Mark Millar to oversee X-Men continuity. DC had the ending of Man of Steel retooled to leave it open for a Justice League style team-up movie down the road.

And aside from all that, it’s just a damn good movie. It’s near-perfectly cast, they’re all clearly having fun, Joss Whedon’s script is lively and full of humour, and it features one of the best action set pieces of the year. Who knew basically destroying New York could be so fun? More than that though, Joss Whedon understands that what makes a large cast work isn’t the action or the bad guy’s plans, it’s the relationships between the characters and he completely nails this aspect of the film.

At the moment when The Avengers finally assemble for the third act of the film, I was one of the people standing and cheering, and I fully expect that the next time they assemble, I will be again.

Honourable Mentions

“I don’t want to talk about time travel, we’ll be here all day.” is my favourite line from Looper. This is the scene in which writer/director told us “stop worrying and enjoy this story because the story is what matters.” All of this is completely true. Looper is a film that tells you that it’s about time travel, but it’s really about love. That message, coupled with fantastic performances from the cast, a brilliant script make this a must-see.

Skyfall is the best James Bond story in years. It’s also the third act in a larger story that sees the latest Bond become fully realized and ready to move the franchise forward. Combine that with some of the best action direction of the year from Sam Mendes, and you’ve got a recipe for a great movie, which this is.

If you’d told me last year that one weekend in the summer all the guys I knew would be in a theatre watching a movie about a teddy bear (and all the girls were watching a movie about a stripper), I’d probably have given you a funny look, but that’s pretty much exactly what happened when Ted came out. It takes the ageing buddy movie schtick and manages to make it fresh again, it’s hilarious from start to finish, and it gives Mila Kunis a character to play. What more could you want?

Favourite Game – Punch Quest

Punch Quest
Punch Quest

I actually struggled with this category because, in all honesty, I don’t really have that many memorable gaming experiences from the year. There were a few flash-in-the-pans like Borderlands 2, but it ended up not holding my attention for more than a couple of weeks. Punch Quest, however, I can’t seem to get enough of.

There’s not really that much new stuff here; it’s an infinite runner that features punching. Strange at it may seem, that simple addition makes it completely addictive. Like all good single-player games, it engages me to keep playing by asking me to compete with myself and also by offering upgrades that make the punching cooler, routes that lead to boss battles or treasure troves, and a host of other “I can’t wait to see what comes next” moments in the gameplay.

Biggest Disappointment – The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises

You know I could go on and on and on about The Dark Knight Rises, but I am not going to go into specifics because I already did on the podcast but also because the specifics don’t really matter.

Sure, there are plot holes that you could drive a bus through, and there’s a lot of them, but you know what? Batman Begins and The Dark Knight both have some pretty big holes in them too. The difference is that where Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are both compelling stories, and The Dark Knight Rises is not.

Batman Begins had Bruce Wayne training and learning to become Batman. The Dark Knight pitted Batman against The Joker, his philosophical opposite. The Dark Knight Rises had Batman face off against his equal after learning to become Batman again, twice. This is not compelling; it’s repetition. Bane, despite Tom Hardy wearing the mask, isn’t interesting and a last-minute twist robs all his characters weight.

I feel like Christopher Nolan might have been going for fan service with this one (and let’s face it if the story were a comic book few people would complain because comics are strange), tried to work too much into the story and the end is a non-compelling mess.

And how did Bruce Wayne get halfway around the world with no money or ID in just a few days and then enter Gotham while it was on a total lockdown, anyway?

Dishonourable Mentions

Halo 4 may have made all the money, but I personally didn’t connect with it in the same way that I did the previous 5 entries in the franchise. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but every time I got stuck I got frustrated rather than spurred to push harder as I did in Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach.

Prometheus was meant to be Ridley Scott’s triumphant return to SciFi and the Alien franchise. It’s pretty safe to say that this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, so when it turned out to be a convoluted mess, you could say that I was disappointed. Listen to the podcast episode in which we talk about Prometheus to get a better idea of how I felt.

Top Three I haven’t Seen/Played

I’ve tried to see Django Unchained twice now and both times I’ve gone down to the theatre every show has been sold out. Love it or hate it, people are certainly seeing it. I have mixed feelings about Tarantino as a whole, but I loved Inglorious Basterds, and this one looks to be right up the same alley of bloody American history.

I’ve heard very mixed things about Les Miserables but I very much want to see it for myself. I love the idea of live singing in a movie, but I can see where that might detract from the show as well. Plus it’s full of people that I like, including Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman.

The C.I.A. says that Zero Dark Thirty isn’t realistic but I’m not sure I care. I’ve yet to hear a bad review, and it has one of the more interesting production histories of the year. Plus, Jessica Chastain. Just sayin’.

Conclusion

That’s about all I have for 2012. All in all, it was a pretty good year for film for me, but not so much for games. Hopefully, that changes in 2013!

Be sure to check out Simon’s Best of 2012 before you go, and have yourself a great 2013!