Monthly Archives: July 2009

343 Industries Sparks Halo Legends, Bungie

Microsoft’s Halo series just fastened a powerful spark plug to its massive engine.  In conjunction with a recent rumor about 343 Industries (343 referring to Halo’s mad bot Guilty Spark), and a San Diego Comic-Con announcement about Halo Legends, an anime-style series consisting of seven short films, Microsoft today announced the official creation of 343 Industries, helmed by everyone’s favorite Halo artist and message board master, Frank O’Connor. O’Connor is 343 Industries’ creative director, first revealed in the LA Times.

The master expands his legend.

The master expands his legend.

“343 Industries is the publisher of the blockbuster Halo series of videogames and, as part of Microsoft Game Studios, oversees the Halo franchise, including novels, comics, licensed collectibles, apparel and more,” Microsoft said in a press release today. “343 Industries is home to world-class developers working on future Halo projects, including Halo Legends and Halo Waypoint, as well as partnering with renowned developers such as Bungie LLC and Robot Entertainment to produce Halo games for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.”

“If you look at how George Lucas held on to ‘Star Wars,’ not just to make money from action figures but to control the direction the universe went in, you can see why we think it’s pretty vital,” Frank O’Connor told the LA Times. “Luckily, Microsoft has the resources to enable us to do that.”

Halo Legends is in development with five animation production houses: Bones, Casio Entertainment, Production I.G., Studio4 C, and Toei Animation. Microsoft will supervise, approve, and manage the Halo property–including all art, presentation, and written material.

After a good long stint working as a social media manager at Bungie, Frank O’Connor left Bungie (about 8 months ago) to work at Microsoft. It wasn’t just an ordinary side-stepping job, it turns out. Put that together with Bungie’s separation from Microsoft to become its own studio, and now it all makes sense.

Bungie split from Microsoft to become more independent and gain a little more control over its destiny (although arguably all we have seen is more Halo games, and Halo 3: ODST seems a little like contract filler, to be fair). With O’Connor at MS looking over what is essentially a new publishing division at MS, Bungie is very likely going to be under different restrictions (fewer), and have better management over its properties than before. It’s essentially a custom publishing brand specifically made for Bungie.

Better custom management by a Bungie insider who knows games? Sounds like a great idea to me. Congratulations, Frankie!

3 Comments

Filed under Comics, Movies, Video Games

Comic-Con: Uncharted 2 Makes Waves

After receiving the Game Critics award for best of show at E3, Sony and Naughty Dog have moved onward and southward, down to the San Diego Comic-Con to show off never-seen-before gameplay footage of Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Said footage, according to the Official PlayStation Blog, is also hands-on. Feeling lucky (punk)?

uncharted2_boxartRecently, Sony Computer Entertainment America announced Uncharted 2: Among Thieves will ship exclusively to the PlayStation 3 October 13.

Naughty Dog’s Nolan North, Claudia Black, Emily Rose and Robin Atkin Downes will be at the Comic-Con Uncharted panel at 5:30 PM, Thursday, July 23, in room 6A on the Upper Level of the San Diego Convention Center. Sadly, I’ll only be there in spirit.

Sony’s social media writer Chris Morell announced there will be a Create a Comic Contest and other Sony events. Gamers and comic book fans also can get hands-on time with God of War III, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, Gran Turismo PSP, and LittleBigPlanet PSP.

Leave a comment

Filed under Comics, Video Games

Brutal Legend Lawsuit and New San Mateo Office: Has Activision Gone Insane?

Has Activision gone ballistic? Insane? Is it driven by some strange kind of blood-thirsty vengeance for EA’s first-born children?

There is only one strangely appropriate answer to this: Yes.

Is it now official? Activision is evil and wants to stab EA to death with shards of plastic guitars.

Is it now official? Activision is evil and wants to stab EA to death with shards of plastic guitars.

First Activision, which aside from Nintendo, is probably the most cash flush videogame company in the world, sues little Double Fine for taking its game, Brutal Legend, to EA.

Now Double Fine is counter suing Activision. Which seems like the only reasonable thing to do at this point.

This legal battle is the stuff of legend, of heinous businessmen gone off their rockers, of greed, and of mean spirited bullshit. I learned some crazy shit today: Activision wanted to make Brutal Legend part of the Guitar Hero franchise? LAME! They let the game go, and now they want to kill it? Get lost Activision!

And could the lawsuit come at a more obvious time? It seems now that Brutal Legend is receiving superb previews and tons of hype–because it’s by the awesome Tim Schaefer–Activision wants to spoil the party.

And what’s this? Activision is wooing executive level staffers from EA’s Redwood City headquarters–specifically its internal studio Visceral Games–to help start up a new Activision office near EA’s Northern California base? Talk about going on the offensive. I guess EA isn’t entirely innocent. I am still pissed about EA killing off the 2K Sports football game, and EA did open up an office in LA. But this all seems like junior high school behavior.

Activision please, just go back to making your sequels and unoriginal movie/licensed/franchise games.

1 Comment

Filed under Video Games

Iron Man 2 (The Game) Is Better, Stronger, Faster

Iron Man, the movie, rocked the Casbah. It was a supreme surprise. Robert Downey, Jr. sparked the normally stoic, dislikable drunkard/millionaire Tony Stark to life with a quirky genius and refreshing inventiveness. Iron Man the movie has become one of my all-time favorite comic book movies.

Iron Man, the first Sega video game, sucked big sweaty elephant balls. It was all of the bad things that videogames shouldn’t be: unfocused, repetitive, uninspiring. It made you feel like Iron Man was a pretty lame super-hero as he fought endless waves of stupid thugs from five miles away. Who would want to play another Sega Iron Man game again?

Can Sega pull off a kick-ass Iron-Man 2 video game?

Can Sega pull off a kick-ass Iron Man 2 video game? My fingers are crossed.

“The world has changed, Jarvis. The crazies are getting smarter. I’m not alone anymore,” says Downey, Jr. in this first reveal trailer on Sega’s home page.

Hm… does this actually look, dare I say, intriguing? In a cynical world, no one in their right mind should give Sega a second chance after the first game’s poor effort. But things change, publishers learn lessons, people get inspired, and sequels shouldn’t be prejudged.

In Iron Man 2, developed by Sega’s San Francisco Studio–formerly known as Secret Level–a completely new creative lead heads up a mostly new dev team. The game is designed on a completely new, built-from-the ground-up engine, and gamers should get to play in the new Mark IV armor.  The game isn’t based on the movie, but shares elements of it, giving Sega wiggle room to do cool things in the game that it was restricted from doing the first time around (causing some of the first game’s issues).

For instance, Iron Man confronts Crimson Dynamo, as revealed in the first trailer, a character who isn’t in the movie (or so we have heard). From the video it appears that Sega has imbued Iron Man with a sense of power, enabling him to defeat enemies by blasting straight through them, ripping off their heads, and pummeling them to pieces. That’s sounds cool by me.

The story is penned by Iron Man comic book writer Matt Fraction, which means it will be more true to the character, his strengths and weaknesses, than anyone else is likely to pull off. Add to that the ability to research, create, and modify custom weapons for your suit before each mission and already this game sounds better.

A video game trailer can be deceiving. But this Iron Man 2 video does look bitchin’. Should we believe in Iron Man 2? I’m hoping Sega can pull it off, and I know it knows the first game stunk. So I am truly hoping they’re using that game as fuel to construct a truly kick-ass Iron Man 2 that’s worthy of the first movie and the Iron Man comic book legacy.

3 Comments

Filed under Comics, Movies, Video Games

God of War Comic Penned by Marv Wolfman

Known for his comic book work on The New Teen Titans, the novelization of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Superman Returns, Marv Wolfman is a well loved and well known comic book scribe. So, is it a departure for him to pen a comic book based on a video game? I guess when that video game is God of War–with all its drama, fighting, and super hero action, well no. Not when put that way.Teentitans_2

DC Comics, along with Sony Computer Entertainment America, announced prior to the San Diego Comic-Con that God of War the comic will be penned by Wolfman in a six-chapter mini-series starting this October and finishing in March 2010 when God of War III launches for PS3.

God of War will run on DC’s Wildstorm imprint.

“When I heard a rumor that Wildstorm was going to do God of War as a comic, I began to lobby for it as I never have before,” said Wolfman, “I love the games–been playing them since the first one came out –  the setting, the mythology, the action and Kratos’ personal story. And I can write the comic without button mashing! My thumb thanks you.”

“God of War is a terrific franchise property; it’s really built for comics!” said Hank Kanalz, vice president and general manager of WildStorm. “There are so many story opportunities — many of which Marv is mining for this mini-series. Sony has really crafted a rich world to explore, and we plan on doing so!”

DC did not announce who would draw the comic or what the storyline would be, but I’ll speculate and say that it’s likely the story will lead up to God of War III in some secret side path fashion.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Video Games

MTV Uncovers 15 “New” Songs from The Beatles: Rock Band

MTV and Harmonix today unveiled 15 songs from the 45 song fall release, The Beatles: Rock Band, exhibiting a broad assortment of titles from different time periods in the band’s career including Twist and Shout, Eight Days a Week, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Dig a Pong.

Harmonix illustrates how will handle the Beatles in their love phase.

Harmonix illustrates how it will handle the Beatles in their "love" phase.

The 15 songs revealed today include:

Twist And Shout / Cavern Club

Do You Want To Know A Secret / Cavern Club

Can’t Buy Me Love / Ed Sullivan Theater

I Wanna Be Your Man / Ed Sullivan Theater

Eight Days A Week / Shea Stadium

Paperback Writer / Budokan

And Your Bird Can Sing / Budokan

Yellow Submarine / Abbey Road Dreamscape

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band* / Abbey Road Dreamscape

With a Little Help from My Friends* / Abbey Road Dreamscape

Within You Without You / Tomorrow Never Knows / Abbey Road Dreamscape

Revolution / Abbey Road Dreamscape

Birthday / Abbey Road Dreamscape

Dig A Pony / Rooftop Concert

I’ve Got A Feeling / Rooftop Concert

Check out the new gameplay trailer featuring eight of the 15 songs  here.

The Beatles: Rock Band (which made my top 10 E3 2009 game list) will ship September 9, 2009, simultaneously in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and other territories for PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii.

As previously disclosed at E3 2009, the entire Abbey Road album will follow the launch as a complete downloadable album. Also, the song All You Need Is Love will be released September 9, 2009, exclusively through Xbox Live for a limited time as a downloadable song for The Beatles: Rock Band, with all Apple Corps Ltd, MTV Games, Harmonix and Microsoft proceeds benefitting Doctors Without Borders.

Leave a comment

Filed under Music, Video Games

Disastvertising: Commentary

About year ago I learned that IGN and Fox  executives had plans to revamp GameSpy, the oft-overlooked game site purchased by IGN Entertainment in 2004. GameSpy has seen various half-improvements, stutter steps, design shifts, deadline changes, and more, and very few of the original staff felt all that good about it, as evidenced by staff changes, departures, and layoffs.

disastvertising-the-worst-in-gaming-pr-20090714105255057

The recent editorial shift is probaby the biggest change the site has seen since the two companies merged, and it’s interesting to see what the new staff, led by Will Tuttle, is doing. A majority of the editorial is humor. Yes, there are still reports on games, but there are also feature stories like this, “Disastvertising: The Worst in Gaming PR.”

Have you ever tried and succeeded in writing something truly funny? The clever, talented folks at The Onion have, year after year, written some of the funniest articles and produced the funniest videos the world has ever seen. GameSpy isn’t even close to reach that level of gut-wrenching humor.  But articles like “Disastervising” give me hope for GameSpy.

Unlike the parody-driven Onion, this article points out the absurdity in gaming PR stunts, and it’s quite amazing to see just how insanely ridiculous said stunts are. At first I dreaded reading the piece. But the level of detail presented and the approach the writer took were clever, witty, and more often than not, funny.

Other gaming sites have tried and continue to emply humor as their main means of covering the game industry, such as GamesRadar.com. How well does GameSpy match up, or surpass GamesRadar?

2 Comments

Filed under Video Games