So here we are, the fourth and final quarter of our recap of the past year arrives at the present. You probably remember most of it, as its happening right now. Even so, history will judge us by the records we keep so lets take a look back at…erm…right now.
Quarter four kicked off with a bang as the biggest event in the history of gaming ever occurred – GTA Online. Cunningly released a few weeks after the GTA V games which carried all the necessary data on the disc, gamers were a small download away from endless online criminality. What they found was relatively repetitive missions and vehicle races to complete; both of which were immediately forgotten in the pursuit of roaming around a Los Santos populated with the dregs of society usually hidden in darkened bedrooms or lurking in the depths of internet chat rooms. For many, it was a chance to pretend they were being social; a chance to develop their internet troll persona still further, having now an avatar that let them escape their acne pock-marked sweat stain adorning Mountain Dew drinking troglodyte existence to pretend to be awesome. Others thought ‘yeah I’ll wait for COD Ghosts to come out so all these losers can go back to their natural habitat, then I’ll give it a go’.
Nintendo fans finally got to try out the new Nintendo 2DS, and they were blessed with two brand new Pokemon games and a new Zelda to enjoy. Those who had rushed out an purchased their new shiny and non-foldy toy found themselves stunned by beautifully rendered worlds, classic yet modern gaming, and an overwhelming thought that they just couldn’t shake – “Wow this is cool. I bet it would look great in 3D”. Fortunately Good Guy Nintendo knowing the fickle nature of their gaming brethren, took the wise approach of seizing the day and bringing out a gorgeous looking special edition 3DS XL, resplendent in A Link Between Worlds colours. For anyone who loves classic Nintendo gaming butare sick of fat Italian plumbers, Christmas this year would be filled with cheer.
Formula One fans were treated to their now annual instalment of Codemasters based joy as F1 2013 raced its way onto consoles, this time taking the brave and unusual step of including classic Formula One cars and drivers. Many like me were rendered weak at the knees by the period visuals, the chance to knock Schumacher off his perch, and still enjoy a vintage edition of their modern day counterparts. Whilst the margin for improvement grows smaller every year, they do just keep getting better.
The current generation’s swansong continued as Batman Arkham Origins appeared in all its spectacular and glitchy goodness, and Assassins Creed Black Flag had us all heading for Google Earth to see if Somalia was anywhere near the Caribbean. Further graphical delirium followed as the hugely anticipated Battlefield 4 arrived, dropping its levolution bomb on us as the apparent answer to its predecessors accusations of ‘hey where’d all the destructible environments go?’ Call Of Duty of course had their own release in Ghosts, taking the series in a new direction and going with the ‘look! Animals! There’s a dog and a shark!’ train of thought. Needless to say it sold in its millions, as COD always does, but I can’t help but feel like if they’d included a cat somewhere along the line the whole internet would have exploded. Still, game retailers had their annual turkey shoot as clueless parents and grandparents shuffled into game stores across the country, to be met by sales assistants holding branded bags and saying things like “you could have the standard one and your child will hate you, OR you could buy this one which is £190 more but you get a poster with it”.
The sad news of quarter four however was that the hotly anticipated Watchdogs from Ubisoft was delayed until 2014, with next gen bundle deals going unfulfilled. Many retailers took the stance of ‘don’t say anything and maybe no one will notice’, and frankly it left a bit of a sour taste in the now fever pitched fervour as the next generation of gaming dawned.
Finally, after eight years of the boring old current generation console gaming, the future arrived as the Xbox One and Playstation 4 emerged from the mist, looked us up and down and went ‘well don’t just stand there come and buy me!’ And buy them we did, with talk of both consoles clearing a million sales each on their respective release dates. Europeans sat back and watched as America beta tested the new hardware for us, first Sony experiencing what having a ‘red BLANK of death’ felt like for themselves, and Microsoft wandering around their factory going “Steve! Where did we leave all those stress test discs again?….I thought you’d taken them out?!…..oh dear”
Failures aside, it was a good time to buy a new console as launch titles included Need For Speed Rivals, Assassins Creed Black Flag (again), FIFA 14, Forza 5 and Dead Rising 3. The new and original Knack also made its way onto PS4, and unsurprisingly at this early stage game developers were yet to find a good use for Kinect 2.0. The all seeing eye was reduced to spying on people’s Skype conversations and led to Microsoft banning people for using naughty words. Never mind, I’m sure they’ll get it right sooner or later.
And so that’s pretty much it for 2013. It’s been a hell of a year and with 2014 comes the promise of developers fully harnessing next gen power, Destiny, Elder Scrolls Online, Watchdogs, Dark Souls 2, Star Wars Battlefront, Titanfall, Thief and those rumours about the Steam box are becoming ever more frequent. So I suppose this is the point where I should say Happy Christmas from all at Zero1gaming, enjoy your new games and consoles, eat and drink far too much, and we’ll see you on the other side!