Another week, another whiff of next-gen console news. This week? Speaking to the German edition of Gamesindustry International, Remedy Entertainment's (Alan Wake) head of franchise development Oskari Hakkinen confirmed his studio is working on a next-generation project, and shrugged off the thought that new hardware will not be a significant improvement over existing technology. "Right now we're working as always with a relatively small team on a next-generation project," Hakkinen said. "You always ask yourself: Can the new consoles really be that much better than the old ones? Be assured: They are. It is a quantum leap forward." Hakkinen did not say if he was referring to a Microsoft or Sony system, or reveal any other details about the game it has in development for unannounced technology. Regardless, it's further confirmation that things are starting to heat up.
Speaking of which…
Hear that groaning sound? That's the collective grumbling of technophiles that just bought a new TV, along with hordes of online video editors wondering where on Earth they're going to find the hard drive storage to capture PlayStation 4 video content if reports from Boy Genius Report are correct. BGR cites an anonymous source that reportedly told the site that Sony is planning to implement 4K resolution in the PlayStation 4, following the publisher's reportedly planned line-up of 80-inch XBR LED screens sporting the same resolution. 4K has a horizontal pixel count of 4096, and is double the resolution of 1080p. BGR claims Sony is implementing a larger scheme to push out 4K to consumers, likening it to the publisher's earlier efforts with 3D. And, y'know…that worked out awesome, right? The site says Sony's move to include support for 4K resolution media like games and movies in its next-gen console is part of an incentive to draw consumers to 4K TVs. Think it will work?
10 New GTAV Screens That Divulge Very Little
Rockstar Games shared three batches of new images from the much anticipated Grand Theft Auto V this week in a series of updates to the company's news blog. The first, dubbed "Transport" showed a fighter jet, sports car, and road bike; the second titled "Leisure" showed three individuals racing off-road motorbikes up a mountain pass, a tennis match, and a person parachuting through a gorge; finally, on Friday they showed a batch simply dubbed "Business" that showed a range of activities, environments, and actions including urban police chases, a harbor-set shootout, and a biplane flying over a countryside river.
So what is Rockstar trying to tell us? That the new game is much broader in scope than GTAIV? That it has more in common with San Andreas (that let you jump out of planes, too)? Possibly. If there's one thing the publisher is good at, it's dribbling out just enough information to get us talking, without giving away anything of real substance. One of the many advantages about a game so big, successful, and beloved is that it inspires such debate. What do you think Rockstar is trying to convey? Let us know in the comments.
Check out all of the new Grand Theft Auto V screens here.
In terms of a release date, Rockstar is still keeping its cards very close to its chest. The game has been the subject of much speculation, with many analysts believing that it will be on store shelves by March 2013, despite Rockstar having remained silent on the subject. Last month, the studio explained why it has remained largely quiet on GTAV since officially announcing it in October, saying it doesn't want to spoil the game prerelease, and it is simply not ready to show more.
If you had to guess, when do you think it will be out?
Political Parody Beat 'Em Up
Chair Entertainment is following up Infinity Blade II with another downloadable brawler, but with a very different theme. The company announced Vote!!! The Game (that's three exclamation points) on Wednesday this week, a free cartoon-style iOS game that pits President Barack Obama against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Described as a "lighthearted romp," the game allows players to dress their candidate of choice in a range of comedic outfits, like a disco suit or boxing shorts, and equip them with a series of items, including ice cream cones and microphones. Players duke it out in various stages, ranging from debate halls to the White House front lawn. The game also features voice-acted soundalikes, with Obama spouting lines like "All right, we're getting fired up now" and "Can't hold us back. Why? 'Cause we're moving forward." Romney delivers quips like "You like that, huh?" and "It's time to believe in America." Vote!! The Game is free, but as revealed in the game's announcement trailer (embedded below), users will be able to spend real money to purchase "coins," which can be spent on a range of in-game boosters. These include Filibuster, which adds an extra 30 seconds to the fight; Good Press, which allows players to take a hit without suffering a booster reset; and Health Care, a booster that makes it so players cannot be knocked down.
Additionally, through a partnership with political engagement group Rock the Vote, Vote!!! The Game features in-game voter registration for the real-world presidential election this November. On top of this, Chair Entertainment and parent company Epic Games have teamed with the Video Game Voters Network and Project Vote Smart to provide gamers access to various voting resources.
So what do you think? Do games like this raise awareness and have a positive effect on getting people to think about politics? Or does it just trivialize the whole thing? Let us know in the comments.
Sticking with politics, Microsoft will launch its U.S. Election Hub 2012 on Xbox Live on August 27, showcasing a range of pre-recorded content as well as interactive polls and video streams from the upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions. As it has before, and much like Vote!!! The Game, Microsoft is collaborating with Rock the Vote to offer voter registration through the service as well as local information. The Hub will also feature regular Obama and Romney campaign coverage from NBCnews.com, daily polls from online market research agency YouGov, and contributions from public policy fact-finding group Face the Facts USA. "Technology has been a transformative force in politics during recent years," said Fred Humphries, vice president of government affairs at Microsoft. "By bringing the elections directly into the home through this Xbox platform, we hope to encourage greater participation in the democratic process this fall." Some of the hub's features require an Xbox Live Gold membership to function, including NBC news updates and live event streams.
Cage Wants A Different Approach to War
To not make a game just about shooting and glorifying violence by saying, 'look how great it is to have a gun and shoot at people.’ It would be interesting to show the other angle, and how difficult it is to be at war."
Outspoken Quantic Dream boss David Cage told VG247 this week that he would like to see a shooter be made that focuses on the "difficulty" of war. He bemoaned games like Call of Duty, saying that even with new advancements in technology, "it's the same game." Instead, Cage said he is interested in a game that approaches war in the way that popular American war movies Platoon or Apocalypse Now do. "Then it would be very interesting," he said. "To not make a game just about shooting and glorifying violence by saying, 'look how great it is to have a gun and shoot at people.’ It would be interesting to show the other angle, and how difficult it is to be at war." Cage elaborated further, saying he hopes that when new hardware arrives, it will be used to "say something meaningful. But if you use it to do another shooter--that's cool--but it's not a big step." Last week during Gamescom, Cage called on the industry to "grow up," saying he was frustrated with the industry's reluctance to broach more mature subject material. This followed comments from July, when he said the industry will "die" without innovation.
What do you think? Do you agree with him?
On the subject of games with lots of shooting in them, last month, Electronic Arts officially announced Battlefield 4, even though it hasn't yet finished working on add-ons for Battlefield 3. The timing of the game's announcement struck up a commotion with some gamers, but EA executive producer Patrick Bach dismissed these concerns. "We have now announced we are putting a lot of effort into supporting Battlefield 3 and still we get reactions like this. I think it's just sad," he told Eurogamer. "We are dedicated to supporting Battlefield 3. People seem to be worried for all the wrong reasons." Bach said he has heard similar complaints before with Battlefield 2, and claimed they are misguided. "People tend to forget we built three other Battlefield games in between Battlefield 2 and Battlefield 3," Bach said. "That's a natural reaction. People then think we won't support Battlefield 3, even though we have the Premium version. People know we're working on future expansion packs and we've been very open in explaining what we are doing." Ultimately, Bach said that he understands that some will be upset to learn DICE is working on more than Battlefield 3, but noted "people want something awesome in the future, and that takes time."
Cheaper Kinect, and New Logo For Microsoft
Microsoft has cut the price of its full-body motion-control technology peripheral Kinect from $150 to $110 in the United States effective immediately. Microsoft's director of Xbox Live programming Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb announced the news on Thursday through his blog. A permanent price cut for the rest of North America, as well as Latin America and Asia Pacific regions, is also planned. Additionally, the Kinect peripheral will be available at a permanently reduced rate in Australia and New Zealand beginning October 4. Microsoft said the final retail price for each region will vary based on currency rates and "other variables." The price drop will not extend to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, or Japan. Why? No reason was given. Speculate about that doozy in the comments.
Sticking with Microsoft, the company also unveiled its first logo change in 25 years on Thursday, revealing a more colorful brand image that will be used to kick off an "incredibly exciting" year for the firm. In an update to the official Microsoft blog, brand strategy general manager Jeff Hansen said now is the "perfect time for a change," as the company prepares to release new versions of "nearly all" of its products this year. The new logo will be a part of Microsoft's aim for a "common look and feel" across its products, including Windows 8, Windows 8 Phone, and new iterations of Office and Xbox services.
What do you think? Do you like it? That new font is called Segoe, if you care about such things. It's actually quite a bit like Adobe's Myriad Pro, which is the font Apple uses on everything. We're sure that's not intentional at all.
Quoted for Truth: Watch Us Talk About News
If you like to watch and listen to your news coverage, rather than read about it - check out our weekly news discussion show Quoted for Truth. This week, news editor Brendan Sinclair steps out for an episode, and the magnificently bearded Peter Brown joins us to discuss Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and some politically incorrect nonsense. It's embedded here for your viewing pleasure.
Farewell Psygnosis and Nintendo Power
There was plenty of bad news this week, unfortunately. So much that news editor Eddie Makuch had enough material to write an entire article about the bad events of the week. You can read that here. Of particular note was the closure of Sony Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis; responsible for some truly incredible games over the years, and a defining element of the original PlayStation generation) and longstanding games magazine Nintendo Power. Two great institutions from what is now, clearly, a previous age.'