Friday, May 3, 2013

Monthly Gaming News Wrap up - April 2013


The Midaged Gamer Monthly Wrap for 5-3-2012

Welcome the first Monthly Midaged Gamer Wrapup!

We're going to take a look back at the most interesting news from the month that's gone by and maybe even see if anything's changed since our first look.

Ouya, the android based game console, started shipping to kickstarter backers in late March and a few less than patient reviewers were already complaining about an unfinished interface and limited supply of game titles.  Of course the official launch of the console isn't till June 4th so you can write off the complaints as growing pains.  Hey, it's the price you pay for being an early adopter. 

The biggest news out of EA so far this year(aside from the SimCity launch failure) seems to be the massive layoffs as the company..reorganizes.  In a year that's seen the CEO quit and revenues decline it seems the only answer for EA is to cut staff.   I guess overcharging for mediocre games and sticking the new mantra of "micro-transactions" into almost every product they sell doesn't have anything to do with it.  If they keep this up EA could become the THQ of 2013.

As of this writing we've got 18 days (May 21st.) till the big XBOX event, the same old rumors are still swirling around and the only thing that's really changed is news from the enemy camp.   On August 28th, gaming retailed Gamestop will exhibit the new PS4 at its Las Vegas event.  If you go, you'll be able to actually try out the console.  Of course nothing's free and tickets are $45 (USD). 
That's a bit later than the XBOX reveal at E3 but at least you won't have to wait till November to try it out. 

What we know so far about the next XBOX is this:

  • ·         It willl launch in early November
  • ·         it won't be backward compatible with the Xbox 360
  • ·         There will continue to be an Xbox 360
  • ·         It will cost $500 ($300 with a 2 year XBOX Gold subsc. @ $10/mo.) 
  • ·         The new Xbox will contain an Blu-Ray drive
  • ·         It will be based on X86 architecture (PC) likely from AMD
  • ·         The operating system will be running...Windows 8 core.  

In a related story a "Creative Director" at Microsoft sent the Internet into a rage when he tweeted responses to gamers' outrage at the requirement for an always-on connection.  Adam Orth "Didn't see the drama" but he sure saw the door when he suddenly departed the XBOX development team about the same time Microsoft issued an apology for his comments.

The AMD 7990 Dual GPU video card finally launched in April.  Unfortunately due to driver issues it wasn't really worth the wait.  A new graphics performance rating system finally put cold hard facts to the deficiencies that many have long suspected with crossfire.  Then came news of a fix in the form of a prototype driver given to PCPer but the public wouldn't get to see it till June or July.  That leaves consumers with a gamble.  Is it worth $1000 for a 7990 if you can't use crossfire till July and is the new  "Never Settle" 8 game bundle enough to make up for the wait?

$1000 for a video card that can't perform the job it was designed for is a fail in anyone who actually has to work for a living.  An upgraded game bundle full of current triple-A titles is nice but if you can't take advantage of them what's the point?

April gave us a release date for the upcoming racer, Grid 2.  It's due out May 28th and promises to fill the void left by the mediocre release of NFS: Most Wanted.  What was surprising  was a subsequent announcement concerning a change to multiplayer.  Codemaster's decided to base multiplayer gameplay on a web based interface called Racenet.  Similar to EA's Battlelog and Autolog the interface is designed to be more social media friendly as well as offering more game modes.  Unfortunately if you do most of your racing with people in the same room you may see Racenet as more of a hindrance than a benefit.  Autolog and Battlelog have done little more than annoy fans of their respective franchises, let's hope Racenet doesn't do the same.

In what appears to be a trend in convergence, April also saw the ramp up of two video games based on popular TV and movies.  Defiance and Star Trek: The Video Game both launched in April ahead of their respective releases on TV and the theater.  While the jury is still out on the games the buzz for their respective franchises has been positive.  That translates into a halo effect for the short term but time will tell if anyone still cares about them in 6 months.

Let's wrap up this month's report with a new rumor about the next and last installment of Borderlands 2 DLC.  Reportedly due out in June the next DLC will feature the Tiny Tina character starring in "Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep."  The rumor comes from a tweet posted by Anthony Burch who is apparently the lead writer for Borderlands' developer Gearbox. 

Tiny Tina's probably my favorite character in the game if for nothing else all the controversy she stirred up earlier this year.  I love irreverence so if this rumor pans out I know I'll be onboard for this DLC pack.

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