A First Half Analysis


It has been a strange six months. 2012 has yet to provide a great or defining game, no equal to Red Dead Redemption from the first half of 2010 or anything as enjoyable as last year’s Yakuza 4. However, with electronica blocks, space diplomacy, far eastern zombies, a gun totting alcoholic and everything else in between, I have been consistently entertained by 2012’s early offerings and have yet to find myself without a game to play.

For all the new shinnies that have graced my systems in the last six months, it was an old favourite that proved to be the best. Now in glorious HD, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater was every bit as excellent as I remember and I'm now fighting the urge to buy it yet again for my PS Vita which, despite a less than ideal start, has given me another compelling reason to use my thumbs. My at-launch adoption of Sony's latest was my biggest gaming event of 2012, even if the subsequent months have done little to assuage my concerns regarding its long term prospects.

Outside of my living room, it has been a turbulent few months for video games. This is an industry in flux, gearing up for major changes and a new generation while at the same time stubbornly holding on to outdated practices. DRM and used sales continue to be points of contention and will remain so well into the next gen. With the purchase of Gaikai, Sony has taken the first step in committing to a future of clouds, streaming and expanded subscription services, hinting at what the next decade of gaming might look like.

With the continued expansion of mobile games, some of the old-guard are now reassessing their core operations and acting accordingly. SEGA have begun a global consolidation, closing offices and concentrating on their four biggest franchises – Alex Kidd, Hang On, Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine and Seaman - whilst pushing everything else into digital and mobile. THQ is teetering on the brink and it’s a fair bet that we will see a couple more developers disappear in the coming months. Things have been far from peachy on the high street as UK retailer, The GAME Group, barely escaped closure back in March. They exist now as a shadow of their former self, though they still cling to their comically high prices.

E3 brought a disappointing end to an underwhelming six months, offering little more than tired ultra-violence and regurgitated pixels. Despite a console launch, a Mass Effect uprising and girl wood, it has been a fairly uneventful 2012 thus far but things are looking up for autumn and winter. It feels like every other game once slated for the second half of this year has since relocated to the first quarter of 2013, but there remains a handful of impressive looking games warming up for the second half. Hopefully they will succeed in keeping me entertained until the end of the year and prevent me from having to venture too far into my backlog.

First half standouts:
Mass Effect 3
Journey
Uncharted: Golden Abyss

Most looking forward to in the second half:
Assassin's Creed 3
Far Cry 3
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Need for Speed Most Wanted
Papo & Yo
PS One Classics on Vita
Tokyo Jungle




What have we learnt in six months of 2012?

1. The European Pokemon Video Game Championship committee frowns upon shit throwing, especially in hotel corridors. In Birmingham.

2. Sony is hell-bent on killing off the Vita, dragging their heels when they should be firing on all cylinders. A lack of software and piss poor cross-compatibility with the PS3 - trophy, friend list and connectivity issues date back seven months to the Japanese launch - are indicative of a company that seems content in fumbling its way towards failure.

3. Publishers see gamers as a bunch of blood hungry savages, albeit savages who are partial to a bit of Mario.

4. Despite a change of scenery, Peter Molyneux remains an evil genius. No other developer would have the balls to release a mobile app with a $50,000 slice of DLC and label it a social experiment.

5. Rape is a topic best avoided when promoting your forthcoming game.

6. This is an industry where it is acceptable for an "impartial" audience of journalists to whoop throughout a publisher's press conference.

7. A game dedicated portable can still succeed, at least when it has Nintendo’s name on it.

8. Need for Speed: The Movie will not be tied to any one entry in the series.

9. A new IP can still find an audience, as Dragon’s Dogma looks set to become a core franchise for Capcom moving forward.

10. If a vocal minority complain long and hard enough, there's always a chance that you’ll get to see Zaeed reclining on a sunbed

Comments

  1. The lack of connectivity between the Vita and PS3 is really disappointing. You would think they would have been more on top of that... or at least show us they are eventually going to be. It's still an awesome handheld, but I think we'll have to wait for the PS4 to get the cross-platform compatibility the Vita can handle.

    This year has been kind of ho-hum, but it's given me a chance to catch up on a bunch of games from previous years. I really loved Golden Abyss and Mass Effect, of course. Going forward I'm excited for NFS Most Wanted mostly and Darksiders 2 and Borderlands 2. Can't wait to do some racing with you (and beating your times)!!!

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    1. I don't know why they have been so slow to connect the Vita to the PS3. We still can't even see people on our PS3 friends list when they are playing Vita.

      You shouldn't have too mnay problems with my times! As much as I enjoy Criterion racers, I'm never that good at them

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  2. The fact that "Vitassurance" is now a word in the gaming community just cracks me up. The real question, of course, is not so much if the Vita will survive, but, will Sony? Worst case for the Vita is Sony dies, and we all end up downloading ps3 iso files to play on our custom firmware. Worst case for Sony is they replace Sega as the poster child for utter failure, and go from being the largest electronics company in the world to a cautionary tale.

    I'm still very interested to see Papa y Yo. And Tokyo Jungle.

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    1. I'm not convinced of Sony's long term health either, at least not in the elctronics market. They do business in other sectors in Japan, such as insurance, but PS, TVs and other conumser electronics are their focus and they are not performing well. I'm not sure how they turn it around

      Papo & Yo and Tokyo Jungle are by far the most unique looking and intriguing games of 2012.

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  3. I thought ME3 was a huge standout game, next to the first it's my favorite game this gen. I don't like how Sony's handling the Vita either, but Jet Set Radio and Crash Bandicoot on that screen is worth the $250 I paid for it. 3DS definitely has the better lineup of the two though, Epic Mickey, New Super Mario Bros 2, Paper Mario, and Adventure Time all look like must haves to me.

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    1. I'll enjoy playing Jet Set Radio as well as Sound Shapes and Sine Mora, but I'm not counting down the days. I'll be getting FF Theatrhythm next week, so my 3DS is guaranteed some attention for the next couple of weeks at least.

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  4. Great round up of the year so far. Quite a bit has happened despite not many interesting games being released. And whats all this about pokemon championship poo throwing?? I must have missed that

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    1. Cheers. Earlier this year the Spanish team were thrown out of the Pokemon European Championships after having a shit-throwing fight in their hotel corridor. I think they'd had a couple of drinks too many!

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  5. It has been sort of a dull half-year in gaming outside of the Vita for me. And Sony did its best job of souring my Vita joy by telling me they really don't think about it much. The rest of the year looks better though. Nice to see someone else looking forward to Far Cry 3. That is the best looking FPS on the horizon for me.

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    1. Really looking forward to exploring the islands of Far Cry 3. I like the insanity angle too - could give us some interesting gameplay sections. It looks a lot more interesting than the other shooters due this year.

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