I’ve been exhausted after this weekend of DIY (because I’m such a pampered desk-jockey most of the time), so when I haven’t been fixing the odd bug in Ogre, I’ve been unwinding with Psychonauts. I’ve cleared a couple more ‘minds’, and although they all have their own unique style, the Milkman Conspiracy is definitely one of the more memorable. I won’t give anything significant away, but you enter the mind of ‘Boyd’, avid conspiracy theorist, oftentimes guard, and general fruit cake.
As one of the many paying customers who gets constantly irritated by DRM software, I was glad to hear the news that the infamous copy protection software ‘Starforce’ has been abandoned by Ubisoft, one of their biggest customers. Starforce is particularly vilified because, like the Sony BMG ‘rootkit’, it installs software on your machine which remains even after you uninstall the games it protects, and which introduces horrendous security vulnerabilities while it’s at it (basically it gives any software running on your machine full privileges, opening the door wide open for torjans and other nastiness).
It’s been rumoured for a couple of weeks, now it’s official - MGS owns Lionhead. Now of course in business terms this is a pretty darn sensible move - next-gen games are damn expensive, Lionhead already had close ties with Microsoft, and who better to have at your back than a company with the brass gonads to burn through no less than a billion dollars every year of shareholder’s money on the dream of being a player in the console business?
Well, the Microsoft marketing machine is in full swing again. I can only imagine the despair of MS engineers when they see what the marketing guys do to their creations. It’s recently been announced that Vista will appear in no less than six variations - that’s right, six. Now, we all know that market partitioning is one of the oldest tricks in the book for extracting the maximum revenue from your customers (latin: Bovinus Cashius), but this raises it to a truly art form.
So, the Red Cross have got a bit upset (not for the first time I think - I believe they’ve made this protest before in years gone by) that they don’t like their symbol being associated with violent games, one can assume foremost on their minds here are those games where you run about shooting other people in the face, before patching yourself up with medical equipment bearing the Red Cross ‘brand’.
A friend pointed out an Ankh review on Eurogamer today, and on investigation I found a whole bunch of others. Probably the simplest way to summarise is to link the Metacritic page. Overall it’s been received very well I think. Eurogamer gave it the worst mark of all the reviews so far (the others gave it around the 70-80% mark which is more in line with most of the German review sites), although they still made plenty of some positive comments.
Including some form of online play is turning into something of a must-have for many games these days. Once, it was the domain of a few PC first-person shooters, now it’s literally everywhere. I used to enjoy a good bout of networked Quake / Unreal Tournament a number of years ago, but my interest in testing my metal against online opponents has waned over the years. It’s mostly because, whilst I still enjoy playing games, I do it now just for the enjoyment of the experience, not because I have a need to utterly master every game I come across.
This article made me initially have a double-take. Nintendo in a Saga magazine? The whole idea sounded bonkers, half their readership would probably have no idea what the DS was, never mind what you did with it (“it sort of looks like a spectacle case, dear”). Then I thought about it a little more. I had an eye-opening experience last year - my parents have now retired to a sleepy village in Cornwall, and I gave them my old Sega Dreamcast to play with since my Dad showed an interest in games but wasn’t sure if he’d really get into them so didn’t want to spend any major cash without knowing.
Well, it appears that Ninty were fibbing to everyone when they denied the rumours over the last few weeks, and they do in fact have a new version of the DS in the wings, called the DS Lite, so named not because it has less features than the regular DS (as the misspelling of ‘Light’ would usually imply), but because it’s, well, lighter. Both in hue and mass - it’s ‘iPod white’ and 21% lighter at 215g.
The comparative sales figures of the DS and PSP so far make for some interesting reading: Nintendo DS US: 4 Million Japan: 5 Million Europe: 3.5 Million Worldwide Total: 13 Million Sony PSP US: 4.5 Million Japan: 3 Million Europe: 2.5 Million Worldwide Total: 10 Million I must admit, I didn’t expect things to be like this, despite personally choosing the DS. I figured that more people (especially teenagers) would be overwhelmed by the looks and graphical power of the PSP, and the (IMO) gimmicky MP3 and movie playing capabilities, and see it as a no-brainer decision to buy the slicker looking one, but that hasn’t happened.