Tag Archives: Rockstar Games

New Red Dead Redemption Video: The Law

Well, this isn’t exactly mind blowing, but Rockstar released a new Red Dead Redemption video called “The Law.” Since I’m still betting on the notion that this will be a GTA in the Wild West (the idea that Rockstar has floated to the press), I’m still amped about its April 27 arrival.

But it could be a less than profitable bet. This this was far less impressive video than I was expecting. The video played really slowly on my computer, and I’m hoping that was my computer and not the actual game or framerate of the game. Otherwise, dear lord are we in trouble.

Also, a couple of non-deliberate instances made me laugh. Marshall Leigh Johnson says, “The man who kills the boss of that bunch gets $50!”

The boss of that bunch? What, is he like a Japanese video game character? And…$50???!!! That’s like one lunch in San Francisco. Not so compelling. I’d rather join the bad guys.

Agent Edgar Ross seems like a creep bad guy, but when you hear the line, “We’re the bad guys…” you kinda have to wonder, have they hired a new, young script-writer who secretly loved Young Guns? The language in this trailer just wasn’t all that impressive for a Rockstar game, and now I’m feeling a little less of the super hype and more of a grounded feeling.

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The Decade in Review: Videogames 2000-2009, Part 2

By Douglass C. Perry

When we look back 20 years from now, the first decade of the 21st century will look obvious to us, like a paint-by-numbers drawing for kids. It’s almost incalculable how many little triggers have shaped our current place in the games race. But there more than a handful of events, dozens of key games, and entire years that pushed this one-time cottage industry into the full-blown billion dollar industry it is now. While this isn’t the definitive historical account of single thing that happened between the years 2000 and 2009, this Decade in Review is an insider’s look at the decade filled with significant events. This is part 2 of the feature, The Decade in Review. Check here for part 1.

January 11, 2005: The Best Thing About GameCube

Making up for its poor third-party relations on the N64, Nintendo signed a multi-title, multi-year deal with Capcom, securing the Resident Evil franchise for the GameCube. While all of the previous games (RE1-RE3) were updated and released on GameCube to no real fanfare (outside of insanely excited Nintendo fans), Capcom rekindled the sagging survival-horror genre with the remarkable and visionary Resident Evil 4. The action-packed game blended scare tactics with high-level action scenes, quick-time events, and a new story that, while still cheesy in many respects, breathed life into the series.

March 22, 2005: A God Appears

On the heels of Capcom’s Resident Evil revitalization, David Jaffe and Sony’s Santa Monica Studios burst onto the scene with little pre-hype fanfare (due to the ambitious and prickly Jaffe team), but immediately stole the spotlight, stunning gamers with a Greek myth-based action game that maximized every aspect of the PS2 in its final years of life. Introducing Kratos, the vengeance-filled semi God, Sony mixed platforming, quick time events, and a high-impact combat system like nothing else before it. God of War becomes the one of the definitive action games of all time.

March 24, 2005: Sony launches PSP

Seeing that Nintendo’s game Boy has yet to see a substantial rival, Sony engineers the beautiful, sleek, and expensive PSP, the ultimate cool games/music/movie gadget.

November 4, 2005: Microsoft Defines Next Gen Gaming

Jumping the gun by shipping a year earlier than Sony’s PS3 and Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft stole the hardware spotlight by defining the next-generation with high-definition graphics, connected multiplayer functions, and a virtual, online marketplace. Introducing achievements, a multi-folder interface, an online marketplace, and improving on its already established online gaming service model, Microsoft stole Sony’s thunder and ended its uncontested two-generation rule. Full retail games like Call of Duty 2 and downloadable games like Galaxy Wars paved the way for Microsoft’s insurrection. The American console maker would then pick off Sony’s premiere third-party exclusive titles one by one (Devil May Cry, Final Fantasy, Air Combat, Grand Theft Auto, even Metal Gear Solid). However, consumers exposed Microsoft’s hardware issues (the “Red Ring of Death”), which, along with a media battle between HD-DVD and Sony’s Blu-ray, have tainted opinions about the Xbox 360.

November 8, 2005: Guitar Hero Changes Everything

After quirky-cool endeavors Frequency and Amplitude made gamers feel cool on PS2, Harmonix teamed with Konami to sell millions of copies of Karaoke Revolution, the world’s first sing-a-long videogame. But its best and biggest partnership with Red Octane would revolutionize the game industry. Bravely confronting the statistically proven industry notion that expensive peripherals didn’t sell in high numbers, Red Octane gave the industry’s old idea the finger with Guitar Hero. Merging Harmonix’s innovative music gameplay with Red Octane’s functional, sturdy plastic guitar, the duo would blow past Konami’s musical endeavors, and then blow past everyone else. The rest of the story — Guitar Hero 5, Lego Rock Band, DJ Hero, and The Beatles Rock Band–nearly explains itself.

2005: Epic Floods Next Gen Middleware

Quietly in 2005 and loudly in 2006, Epic Games established itself as the defacto software engine for the new generation of consoles with its Unreal Engine. In the previous generation, a handful of developers created middleware for consoles: Id Software (with Id Tech), and Criterion (with RenderWare) to name a few, but Epic marketed and sold the Unreal Engine heavier, harder, and more convincingly than any other studio. And every time Epic showed game journalists Gears of War, the company’s new in-house game for Xbox 360, a dozen more developers would sign up.

2006: The Music Wars Begin

In May 2006, Activision acquired Guitar Hero publisher, Red Octane for $99.9 million. Then in September 2006, MTV Networks acquired Harmonix, the creative software studio behind Guitar Hero, for $175 million. In November 2007, Harmonix, under publisher MTV Networks and distributor Electronic Arts, released Rock Band, the direct competitor to Guitar Hero, complete with plastic guitar, microphone, and drum kit. Activision and MTV/EA would fiercely compete to out-do one another with new games, features, and exclusive bands, such as with Rock Band The Beatles, in the not-so-distant future.

Fall 2006: PS3 and Nintendo Wii Launch

One year after Microsoft’s Xbox 360 launch, Sony’s newly launched PlayStation 3 had the looks of a lost system. For a Blu-ray player, the PS3 was an economically priced system. For a console, its high price tag was reminiscent of the 3DO–way too expensive. Sony’s gamble on winning a media/storage war started well before mass consumers were even aware they needed a Blu-ray player–and before the world had decided which it wanted more, HD-DVD or Blu-ray. The result? Sony’s powerful new PS3 would start slow and remain in third place behind Microsoft and Nintendo in the console race.

While the PS3 launched November 11, the oft-laughed at, low-end Nintendo Wii launched November 19 with the free Wii Sports bundle. To everyone’s surprise (except Nintendo), the Wii captured the imaginations of consumers worldwide. The Wii, with the equivalent of Xbox 1 hardware and maximum 480p output, would go on to topple Xbox 360 sales, steal the console marketplace crown, and recode the next generation with its non-stop sales to the casual market, females, families, and weight-conscious gamers. If Microsoft defined the next generation with HD graphics and connectedness, Nintendo’s Wii rewrote it with its wireless, interactive Wiimote and its simple, accessible games, broadening the game market in a way Microsoft and Sony could only wish for.

June 29, 2007: Apple Launches the iPhone

Following its string of successes with the iPod, Apple released the unprecedented touch-sensitive interface and app-filled smart phone, the iPhone. While the device sold millions and remained the coolest gadget in the world for a good year, it wasn’t until Jul 12, 2008 when Apple launched its online app store that videogame developers were introduced to the full potential of a publisher-free videogame marketplace. With the app store in place, hundreds more developers started making apps in their garages. Just like old times.

July 11-13, 2007: Good-bye E3, Hello…Business Summit?

Booth babes: Did they make or break E3? (Image courtesy of CNET)

After escalating costs, the expansion of t-shirt-throwing barkers, endless parades of booth babes, stage shows, and a general circus mentality growing each year at E3, a majority of game publishers led by EA, agreed to end E3 as we knew it. In its place appeared a multi-venue, splintered, no-frills “event” known as The E3 Media and Business Summit. To put it mildly, the majority of attendees voiced their opinion that the new E3 was a poor substitution for the old one.

September 12, 2007: The Wii Takes Over

Despite launching one year after the Xbox 360, owning a kooky name, and delivering hardware that wasn’t as powerful as the PS3 or the Xbox 360, The Wii took over the console market in sales. The Financial Times reported September 12, 2007 that the Nintendo Wii had surpassed the Xbox 360 and had become the console market leader, the first time Nintendo had done so since the Super NES. (Sales based on NPD Group, GfK and Enterbrain tracking numbers for North America, Europe, and Japan.) Nintendo fans go berserk (and have remained giddily proud ever since).

October 11, 2007: EA Purchases BioWare, Pandemic

EA takes another big gulp out of the development world. One wonders why Microsoft didn’t buy BioWare, after its long partnerships and Mass Effect. But it took a hungrier, more ambitious Redwood City publisher to take over the reigns of the biggest Western RPG maker in the world, one famous for its work on Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, and Mass Effect, not to mention earlier works with Interplay such as Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Oh yeah, and EA got Pandemic too.

Dec 3, 2007: Activision Merges with Vivendi

The Activision merger with Vivendi created “Activision Blizzard,” a publisher that would soon become the biggest independent game publisher in the world, nudging long-time king EA into second place. The deal would be legally completed on July 10, 2008.

Fall 2007: Gamers Rejoice Part 2

In a collective burst of creative output, videogame developers harnessed the new console hardware with dozens of original titles and exceptional sequels on every system. Gamers scored in every genre and on every system. Titles such as BioShock, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Crysis, Halo 3, Skate, Forza Motorsport 2, Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Pac-Man Championship Edition, Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords, Assassin’s Creed, Super Mario Galaxy, God of War 2, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Rock Band, The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Mass Effect, and The Orange Box, just to name a few, stole gamers’ hearts and emptied their wallets.

February 2008: EA’s $2 Billion Move to Acquire Take-Two

In an opportunistic bid just prior to the release of Grand Theft Auto IV, Electronic Arts proposes an unsolicited bid to buy Take-Two Interactive for $2 billion dollars, or $25 a share. After an initial refusal, EA upped the bid to $26 per share, but Take-Two rejects the offer again. The press went hog wild with the story because of all the opportunisties to speculate on how EA would handle Rockstar, which games would get killed, etc. Analysts practically begged Take-Two to accept the offer, but Take-Two’s “take” on the offer was simple: “We’re worth more.” The biggest news? EA would have surpassed Activision Blizzard as the biggest independent softwre developer in the world with the acquisition. Somewhere, Activision’s Bobby Kotick is giggling madly in a room filled with plastic guitars, skateboards, posters of Spider-Man, and World War II guns, with money signs burning brightly in his eyes.

March 2008: The Indie Movement Arrives (Again)

While indie gamers have been around since Nolan Bushnell’s Pong started it all, a perfect storm of marketplace scenarios came to light in 2007 and 2008, creating a perfect environment for indie games to flourish. The world finally noticed in a big way at the Game Developers’ Conference in 2008. Jonathan Blow’s Braid, 2D Boy’s The World of Goo, and a dozen other quirky, creative, and low-budget titles created more than just a lot of media buzz, they showed the world new and different ways of thinking about and playing games.

The Games of 2008

While we can exalt in the monumental barrage of games that flowed through game stores in 2007, 2008 featured distinct breakthroughs. Bethesda’s award-winning first-person RPG Fallout 3 captured the essence of the beloved Fallout RPG series and brought its epic sense of story and size to the IP. Rockstar stunned the world with its updated, realistic vision of New York with an online, multiplayer Grand Theft Auto IV, garnering perfect scores and generating record-breaking sales. And Will Wright’s quirky god-game Spore hit the streets, generating buzz and good scores, but sales that did not match Wright’s previous hit, The Sims. With other breakthrough games including LittleBigPlanet, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Left 4 Dead, Gears of War 2, Dead Space, and Prince of Persia, game publishers warded off the beginning of the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

February 12, 2009: Midway Goes Bankrupt

Confronting a $240 million debt, Mortal Kombat publisher files Chapter 11. Meanwhile, the last Midway-made Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat vs. DC, ships 2 million units. The last of the Old School arcade publishers, Midway’s closure was cause for a moment of profound silence, followed by, “Get over here!”

March 27, 2009: Square Enix Secures Acquisition of Eidos

Ever since I’ve been in the business of writing about videogames, Eidos has been on the table for purchase. After succumbing to too many Tomb Raider failures (from TR4-TR:Angel of Darkness), Eidos never really climbed back up to its previous heights of success in development or on Wall Street. During that time, nearly every publisher in the world has engaged in talks to purchase the English publisher. But no one in their right mind thought Japanese giant Square Enix would be the one. Anyone for a Final Tomb Raider Fantasy?

March 24, 2009: Could OnLive Change Everything?

OnLive CEO Steve Perlman and COO Mike McGarvey introduced the cloud-based computing online service, OnLive. The service is designed to eliminate the need to continually upgrade PCs or to buy new consoles. EA, Epic Games, Take-Two, Ubisoft, THQ and several others show initial support, but direct issues such as eliminating lag and cost structure posed problems, while indirect worries such as the next generation of consoles led by Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft also weigh in.

June 1, 2009: Microsoft, Sony Reveal Motion Controllers

At E3 2009 (which had returned to the LA Convention Center), Microsoft unveiled the potential next step in controller-less gaming, Project Natal. Combining the use of an RGB camera, depth sensor, microphone, and proprietary software, Microsoft discussed the importance of eliminating the barrier between gamers from games (a la Nintendo’s Wii). At Sony’s press conference, Dr. Richard Marks introduced Sony’s own proprietary engineering prototype which combined the abilities of the EyeToy and a motion sensor. Neither project would ship in 2009.

June 24, 2009 Bethesda Acquires Id Software

After quietly announcing it had transformed from a developer into a publisher, ZeniMax Media Inc., the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, acquired industry pioneer Id Software. Id’s departure from the conservative creative culture at Activision and acceptance at Bethesda’s well-funded, new studio-friendly system was a surprise and a shift whose repercussions have yet to be determined.

November 2009: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Smashes Records

Infinity Ward’s first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 took in $550 million during its first five days, beating Grand Theft Auto IV’s video game record, while setting a single-day record with 2.2 million unique Xbox Live users playing the game on November 10. Modern Warfare 2’s remarkably fast-paced single-player campaign is joined by a new Spec-Ops mode, and a highly improved, highly desired multiplayer game. Christmas will never be the same again.


Surely that’s not everything–not every single thing–that happened. What about…? If I forgot, missed, or ignored an event worth posting, write and let me know! I’ll see if I can post it in the story.  Missed part 1 of The Decade in Review: Videogames 2000-2009, part 1? Check it out now.


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Red Dead Redemption: Three Things

An open world Western by Rockstar? Sold!

An open world Western by Rockstar? Sold! (Image courtesy of GameSpot.)

Oh, impressions of impressions, you’re so bloggy.

Just read GameSpot’s Red Dead Redemption impressions. I played and reviewed the original and liked it well enough (gave it a 7.5 on IGN Xbox and 7.0 on IGN PS2)  The idea of a good Western game is always intriguing to me, as surely it is to a great many people. During the preview, a few things caught my attention: 1) An Open World, 2) Wildlife and random encounters, and 3) The lcoations: The great Plains, the Frontier, and Mexico.

If the vastness of GTA IV’s NY City was exciting to explore, how cool will the Frontier with its packs of hungry coyotes, friendly campfires, and stagecoach hijacks? (Very.) One of the best parts of Neversoft’s GUN was its open world aspects, so with Rockstar’s uncompromising desire to fill its games with little details, these open worlds will be wild, indeed.

The wildlife seems like a little thing, but just like the weird old ladies in GTA III (“I’m going to Aruba!”) stick in your head, so will the vast ecology of wildlife. Should be fun to see the Wild West come to life Rockstar style.

The locations: How often do you get to play a game in Mexico? Obviously, and I’m getting this from the trailer as well, there will be a gang of evil, stereotypical Mexican bandits involved, but thankfully Rockstar evenly distributes its caricatures amongst all folks (white men are often the most evil and dispicable people in their games, so they’re not prejudiced).

Oh and I guess there is one more point that got me intrigued: The trailer itself. One of the greatest aspects of the old West is its morale ambiguity, and just like the moral decisions and scenarios confront you in GTA IV, so assuredly will they in Red Dead Redemption.

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Red Dead Redemption Trailer

Rockstar releases a new Red Dead Redemption trailer. So…watch it!

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Rockstar Readies Midnight Club Los Angeles DLC

midnightclubla_041409Rockstar Games announced today that two DLC packs for Midnight Club: Los Angeles, featuring new cars and motorcycles, will be available for PSN and XBLA in mid-April.

The South Central Vehicle Pack 1 will be available for download April 16 and cost the equivalent of 240 XBLA points or $2.99 for PSN. It contains two luxury cars, the Audi S5 and the Mercedes CL 65, plus the 2009 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT.

The South Central Vehicle Pack 2 (same price as Pack 1), will be available April 23, and includes the Cadillac XLR V, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, and the Aston Martin DB9–plus a “free” Ducati 1098 R motorcycle.

Each pack requires that you first download the South Central Map Extension, itself a massive extension to the game, adding four new neighborhoods to South Central LA.

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EA’s Illegal Brass Knuckles


It hurts enough to get punched in the face. But get punched in the face with brass knuckles and you’re in serious trouble. I guess that’s why owning brass knuckles is an issue in the United States and in many countries across the world. It makes a Electronic Arts’ recent promotion all the more interesting.  EA recently has sent brass knuckles to game journalists as part of a promotion with the recent copy of The Godfather 2 (MSRP: $59.99, Xbox, PS3, PC).

In the US, state law determines the legality of brass knuckles. Apparently they’re not illegal to distribute as they are regularly sold at flea markets and online. Or, given to you, by you know, EA. Brass knuckles, however, are illegal in the  in the states of Arkansas, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Illinois, Connecticut, California, and Florida.

So, if you’re a games writer or editor who has been sent Godfather 2 andthose lovely brass knuckles, you have to wonder, did EA just give you the kiss of death, or just a potentially big fat legal issue?

Interestingly enough, when Rockstar was promoting Grand Theft Auto Vice City, it considered sending brass knuckles, but instead sent a Louisville Slugger baseball bat, said Terry Donovan, for COO of Rockstar. Rockstar didn’t want to send brass knuckles because they are illegal to own, and didn’t want to get involved in any legal issues. Is EA trying to hard to get attention with this one?

The  Godfather 2, which has ranged in scores online from GamePro’s 100 to the Official Xbox Magazine’s 75, ships Tuesday, April 7. The promotion consists of a press release, a humidor with cigars, and brass knuckles.

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Max Payne 3 Developed by Rockstar Vancouver

Rockstar Games today announced Max Payne 3 will hit Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC in winter 2009. Besides that this is the first next-gen version of the game, it’s in development by Rockstar Vancouver, not the game previous developer, Remedy. maxpayne3_032309_21

Rockstar’s announcement depicts Payne just as you’d expect: Payne has left the NYPD and New York, and his condition has worsened. “He’s now a retired police detective embroiled in a world of corruption, turmoil and intense violence,” according to Take-Two.

“We’re starting a new chapter of Max’s life with this game,” said Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games. “This is Max as we’ve never seen him before, a few years older, more world-weary and cynical than ever. We experience the downward spiral of his life after the events of Max Payne 2 and witness his last chance for salvation.”

There have been dozens of action games since Max Payne first intrroduced bullet time to the videogame repertoire of techniques, from Strangehold to Tony Hawk. How will Max Payne 3 outdo its previous outing, Max Payne: The Fall of Max Payne 2? I’m just going to assume Rockstar Vancouver will completely ignore the movie, make everything shiny and current gen, and perhaps add a little multiplayer.

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