t feels like we've already come to take so many things for granted when we've only been living them for a few months. Remember when Warhawk was going to have a single player game? Or how about when we were actually still blindsided by the announcement of Home, rather than its lack of existence? The world can change a lot in a year without you noticing.
A tale of 11 broken 360s
What are the odds of getting a broken 360? Even if they're only one in ten, your chances of getting eleven busted 360s in a row is something like one in ten billion. i.e You'll be struck by lightning four times before that happens. The natural conclusion is that ever-patient 360 owner Justin Lowe is either the most unlucky man on earth, or 360s just plain break a lot.
Duke Nukem Forever: Yes It's Real
DNF has spent about a decade as the butt of "taking forever" and "Did Not Finish" jokes. Hell, Wired's vaporware awards gave it a lifetime achievement award just to keep it from showing up on their lists every damn year. It's weird to think, but children born the year this game was announced are now old enough to read about it on the internet and wonder what's so funny. So when 3DRealms breaks silence on the topic to not only say that they're still working on the thing but show off a not-entirely-awesome screenshot, you can pretty much hear necks snapping from the double takes.
Guitar Hero vs. Rock Band Controllers
They're fun, but plastic guitars sure do engender a lot of drama. Which is better? Is someone getting ripped off? Are they compatible? Would they be if someone coughed up enough cash? It's a long, stupid path to walk just to rock out with your friends.
Sony Announces Rumble
At this point we kind of take vibration in controllers for granted the same way we do buttons. This wouldn't have been such a story if Sony hadn't earlier been poo-pooing rumble as a last-gen feature. Or chalking up its absence to patent issues. Or just generally saying a lot of things that serve as a keen reminder that whatever comes out of a PR
mouthpiece should be taken with a mountain of salt.
PS3's Football Troubles
The PS3 may be able to entrance freaky babies and levitate eggs around with the power of its mind, but one thing it wasn't doing was pushing Football games at more than 30 frames per second. Sure, we can understand that games that start their lives on 360 will make for a tricky transition to PS3. It doesn't change the fact that this year PS3-having football fans kind of got the crap end of the stick.
Microsoft's Jeff Bell Calls out Message Board Poster
The only thing more surprising than a MS exec stooping to argue with hecklers on the internet is that his response fit right in. "And your contribution to society is... what?" is right up there with "your mom" on the big list of overused ways to fail at shooting someone down on a message board.
Sony Reveals Home
It's been a year since it was announced but we haven't quite forgotten the whiz-bang, Snow Crash-esque imaginary internet house we've been promised for our PS3s. The only thing more surprising than the risky gamble being taken with the thing is that little has been heard about it since. Maybe it'll be another year before we can wallpaper our virtual homes with porn.
Bungie and MS Part Ways
Sort of. It's more like when your parents started living in separate apartments and only saw each other on the weekends. They're still married, but they're not as close. Which is fine, because it saves us kids the troubles of a messy divorce. Still, the press release sure did read a lot like the "Mommy and Daddy still love each other" talk.
David Jaffe Confirms New Studio
With blackjack. And hookers. In fact, forget the game company. We eagerly anticipate whatever games come out of this, whether they're hits on the scale of God of War, or a Calling All Cars-esque flop. Either way, the dude's going to be a character about it.
Kutaragi Leaves Sony
Ken's been pretty much the face of the Playstation since the big bang, and his departure left everyone reeling, even if we kind of expected it. The exact why of things was laid down pretty well in Sam's blog on the subject. Personally, though, it's the guy's mind-altering quotes that I'll miss the most.
EA Acquires Bioware/Pandemic
You could have guessed that something big was going down when an ominous silence descended on normally-chatty Bioware. Our surprise when it lifted was only eclipsed by awe at the money involved. EA grabbed the studios for "up to" $620 million in cash and an additional $155 million in equity to "certain employees" of VG Holding Corp. It's hard to wrap your head around a number like that. You could buy a cheeseburger for every single person using the internet.
Peter Moore Leaves Microsoft
It's always strange when the face of a company slips over to another one, but when it's someone as theatrically enthusiastic as Moore it's even harder to adjust. Note: No, he doesn't actually have an EA tattoo. Yet. Admittedly, we'd love it if he got one for every game and company he's represented. Dude's chest would look like a Nascar racer by now.
Warhawk Becomes Multiplayer Only
It's been a while since the game came out, which makes it easy to forget that not too long ago it was actually inconceivable that we'd be getting the game we have now. We really liked what Warhawk ended up becoming, but it was a shocking 11th hour twist.
Last year we not only looked behind us, but took a crack at peeking ahead. We got some hits and some misses. Some weren't exactly much of a gamble: We got more crappy game movies and EA found new ways of pissing people off, but it's actually more of a trick to think of years where that hasn't happened. Spore, Resident Evil 5 and Fable 2 didn't make it to release in 2007, though we were kind of hoping to be wrong. Like how we predicted BioShock would be a critical success and a commercial failure. It never felt so good to be such a bad psychic.
Another year later we're giving it another shot. Here's hoping that our dreams come true and our cynicism is rewarded with a hearty "in your face" come 2009.
Home, Home on the Range
Where the deer and the antelope play, but why would PS3 owners want to, and for that matter when will they even get a chance? Sony continues to sink valuable online development team resources into Home, and its ambitious scope will continue to impede a full release. Instead, sometime before the end of the year we'll see a soft launch of a partially featured beta that begins a long process of live development and refinement. Who knows how long that might go on; Gmail still says beta on it and it's just an email client. Once the dust clears from the initial stampede when it does finally open, don't be surprised to find tumbleweeds blowing through. With Second Life turning into a ghost town as users and marketers alike pull up stakes, there's little reason to expect the virtual world concept to suddenly become compelling just because it's on PS3.
PS3 Will Be Big - For Reals This Time
OK, so in early 2007 we predicted the PS3 would become cool that year -- which, if you remember Sony's missteps in 2006, was a rather bold statement. But it wasn't until the tail end of the year -- when games like Uncharted came out and Sony's killer marketing kicked in -- that this prediction remotely came true. But considering most of the PS3's really good stuff -- MGS4, LittleBigPlanet, FFXIII, etc. -- got delayed until 2008 and Blu-ray wasn't decided the HD victor until a few weeks ago, we're claiming a rain check on this one. So the prediction still stands, but now for 2008: the PS3 will become cool and people will admit that Sony was right about a lot of things.
Duke Nukem Forever No More
It's just impossible to wrap your mind upon how this thing is still going, and the teaser that hit last month didn't make it any easier. The brain just keeps reaching for an explanation for how this thing can be so persistent in its nonexistence. Why hasn't the plug been pulled? Some impenetrably arcane tax reason? The most elaborate and long running practical joke ever? Anything is believable at this point. We'll prognosticate that April 1st 2008 will be the day 3DRealms finally runs across the stage making finger pistols and finally lets us know we got punked. Likely? Probably not, but it'd be awesome if a wild guess like that turned out to be right.
PSP Earns its Wings
After 3 years of playing second fiddle to Nintendo's touch-screen enabled DS, Sony's PSP should finally become the primary portable gaming platform of choice for hardcore gamers. Sure, it's never going to beat the DS in terms of raw sales figures, but an upturn in the number of top-quality PSP exclusives (Crisis Core: FFVII, Wipeout Pulse, God of War, and Patapon all hit by spring) and an increased awareness of the system?s impressive non-gaming applications (Skype, GPS functionality, web browsing, multimedia functionality, and PS3 remote play) make it all the more enticing as the DS's antiquated technology gets even older. Plus, while licensed preteen swill constitutes a big chunk of the DS's release list, the PSP's now playing host to serious, big-name games that outclass even the best-looking PS2 titles. Yet the real key to the PSP's continued success lies in the newly created PlayStation Store for PSP (the ability to download full PSP games (both existing and original titles) directly from the store will fundamentally change the medium... just wait and see.
Video Game Crash of 2008
Some chicken little has screamed this on a message board somewhere at least ten times an hour for the last decade, but maybe this year will finally be the big one. It's easy to imagine some nightmare scenario where a flood of crappy low-priced Phoenix Games budget titles finally pushes the average consumer into a state of terminal feduppedness and we have to dig up all those buried ET carts to make room for unwanted copies of Barry Hatter Billy the Wizard. Which is about as likely as an asteroid hitting, but that doesn't stop people from making crappy movies about it.
If it actually does happen then we're all out of both a job and robbed of our favorite pastime, but at least we'll have the consolation of winning a bet.