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News Around the Watercooler

March 22, 2009

News around the Watercooler, educating the masses.

It seems like my favourite topic has continued to crop up into the spotlight once again. A year after the possibility of the public having a say in the R18+ debate, we’re still nowhere. The latest in this debacle is from Industry representative Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia. He has released statements on several fronts including an analysis showing that the Adult Rating for video games is long overdue; and an official response to Attorney-General Michael Atkinson. This comes after Atkinson has insinuated 91% of Australia’s population as being “nerds”, and accusing them of wanting to play obscene games that would never be released under an R18+ classification, and just daring voters to try and challenge him at the next election.
You can read Ron Curry’s pro-R18+ stance on the ABC Website.

Marvel have signed a deal with Gazillion Entertainment to produce several MMOs based on the characters of the comic tycoon. Who’s Gazillion Entertainment you may ask? Well actually, no one really knows, they claim to be a MMO focused video-game developer. Their most noticeable studio involvement is NetDevil, the developers of the LEGO Universe, however they’re still a developer that’s sat off the map for quite awhile. However with this latest siding with Marvel, they may become a lot more prominent in the future. Granted last time Marvel attempted a MMO based around their Comic Universe it got canned by Microsoft.

Sorry PlayStation 3 but you will not be getting Mass Effect 2. BioWare officially announced Mass Effect 2 last Tuesday. CEO of Bioware, Dr. Ray Muzyka stated:
“We’re going to surpass the extraordinary gaming experience we brought our fans in Mass Effect by delivering intensified combat and expanded weapon options as well as increased depth of planet exploration, all while delivering a powerful, emotionally engaging story…Mass Effect 2 is shaping up to be an unforgettable RPG-shooter experience, taking players on a non-stop roller-coaster ride filled with stunning plot twists and no-holds-barred action.”

Bethesda is due to release the second Downloadable Content for Fallout 3, on Tuesday.Fallout 3: The Pitt will take players into an industrial area once known as Pittsburgh. Now controlled by raiders, the ruined American City provides an extra 3 hours of gameplay. Cashing in at 800 Microsoft Points you decide whether it’s value for money.

Crytek are about to release their latest development solution labelled as “truly Next-Gen-Ready”CryENGINE 3 will be released at this year’s Game Developers Conference to be held in San Francisco this coming week. It’s promised to be the first ever development platform thatwill support DX9/DX10, MMO, PS3, and Xbox 360. Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli explains:

“With CryENGINE 3 we are delivering our best game development technology that enables our clients to achieve their vision on current and future platforms to develop games such as MMOs, action games and more. Our complete game engine solution enables realtime development, ensures teams are able to maximise their own creativity, saves budget and creates greater gaming experiences. Also with our solution developers can start working on their next generation games today.”

World of Warcraft finds it’s players now supported by none other then Mountain Dew“Mtn Dew: Game Fuel” brings PVP into your local 7/11. Will you go for Horde Red, or Alliance Blue? After hoarding with your Gnome Warrior can you really enjoy that sugary sweetness when there’s an Orc Shaman plastered on the WoW themed label. It’s set to hit store shelves this summer.

This week Microsoft announced that Halo Wars had surpassed one million units worldwide, making it the most successful Real-Time Strategy on any current generation console. Pulling a George Lucas, the Halo Wars story is the prequel to the already popular Halo series, set 20 years before the original game “Halo: Combat Evolved”. The phenomenal statistics have shown that more than 2.6 million multiplayer matches have been played over Xbox LIVE, that’s over 118 years of gameplay time. Nevertheless it seems players still prefer to side with the UNSC (as was represented by MasterChief in the Halo series) rather than the Covenant with a difference of 66% to 34% respectively. Microsoft have also announced that they’re working closely with Robot Entertainment to bring out even more new content for the already successful RTS. Newly formed studio Robot Entertainment is comprised of some of the forefathers of the RTS genre including veterans from Ensemble Studios, the mastermind behind “Age of Empires”.
The announcement comes as Wii Fit overtook Halo 3 in overall game sales in the U.S.

Pro Family Perspective, an Australian parents’ group, is protesting the MA15+ rating given to House of the Dead: Overkill, the Sega grindhouse zombie shooter. This comes as the Wii game has sold over 45,000 units last month, and set a Guiness World Record for “Most Profane Game” after using the word ‘fuck’ a total of 189 times. Pro Family Perspective director Angela Conway stated:

“The gaming industry has been mischievously misrepresenting the classification system on this issue. I feel very distressed that a large number of teenagers and adults would play this game and soak up this amount of sexually aggressive violence and aggressively violent language.

We need to draw a deep breath and look at the research, which will show a need to scale back this level of violence.

Given the increasing amount of knowledge now available of the effects of exposure to intense levels of violence on the adolescent brain, we should be reviewing the level of violence the MA15+ classification now allows.”

Defending the game, Sega Spokesperson Vispi Bhopti responded saying:

“House of the Dead: Overkill has been rated as suitable for people over 15. It is not an R-rated game. The swearing in it is very much stylised so it matches the Grindhouse cinema style made famous by director Quentin Tarantino.

In playing the game, players attack zombies or humanoid characters but never humans. This is an important distinction that the classification board makes when it gives a rating.”

Modding has gone to a whole new level with the introduction of the Trumpet Hero hack forGuitar Hero. An old Trumpet has had sensors and switches built into it enabling full control with all 5 controller buttons, a mouthpiece that activates the strum switch when blown into, and even a plunger on the front like a mute that controls the whammy bar. It has just been shown off at the Tangible Tech Exhibition in San Francisco last Friday.

Due to be released this week are the following:
Thursday
- Dynasty Warriors: Gundam 2 (Xbox 360, PS3)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (Wii, DS)
- Harvest Moon: Island of Happiness (DS)
- Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum 2009 (Wii)
- Job Island: Hard Working People (Wii)
- Madworld (Wii)
- Mario Power Tennis (Wii)
- Ready 2 Rumble Revolution (Wii)
- Resistance: Retribution (PSP)
- Stormrise (Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
- You’re in the Movies (Xbox 360)

Friday
- Don King Boxing (Wii, DS)