Category Archives: Op-Ed

Gears of War 3 Trailer: First Impressions

WOW.  Gears of War 3.  Sure, we weren’t supposed to know what was coming, but knowing what game it was going to be didn’t make actually SEEING the trailer any less amazing.  Most importantly, after the trailer, Cliff Bleszinski threw out a more specific release date:  “Gears of War 3” will be in stores (and most likely in your hands) on April 5’th, 2011.

Now, what did we learn from the trailer?  First, there will be female COG soldiers.  Though it’s a purely aesthetic addition, but it’s definitely a welcome addition.  Second, the trailer spent an awful long time focusing on Dom and that statue of a woman and her child:  Expect Dom’s search for his family to play a major role in the game’s story.   Lastly, the crazy tentacle monsters:  According to GOW3 rumor mill, in addition to being a major plot component, these mysterious uber-enemies will change the way player use cover because they can reach around barriers to attack players and NPCs.

Also, while we’re on the subject of the tentacle monsters, they were the only part of the trailer that worries me.  Does anyone else think that the prospective plot – The COGs and the Locust both being forced to fight a newer, tougher enemy – seems just a little bit like the second half of the original “Halo”?  Please Epic, don’t rush to tie up all the loose ends of this exemplary series by using a horribly clichéd plot device.

Regardless, the game looks amazing…  Only 360 days until April 5’th, 2011.

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PAX East Sees Record Attendance, Prepares for Expansion in 2011 and 2012

As PAX East comes to a close, it looks as if the show’s inaugural year was a great success.  According to Joystiq, 60,000 people attended the convention, more than twice what was originally expected by organizers.  Not only is PAX East the first gaming convention on the east coast since in over a decade (E3 did a short stint in Atlanta in ’97 and ’98), if it continues to grow it could become the next major gaming convention, fitting squarely between GDC and E3.  There is definitely room for such a convention, especially if the show remains open to the public.  Since E3 became industry-only, there is a hole in the gaming convention circuit; gamers want a “Public E3”.

Because the show was such a big hit, organizers have already begun planning for the next two years and, starting with the next show, PAX East will be held in a larger venue.  Show organizers announced that they have secured the Boston Convention and Exhibition center for 2011 and 2012.  Though the new event space will accommodate a larger show, many have already expressed their concern over the fact that, while it’s a smaller venue, the Hynes Convention Center is in a much more accommodating area of the city (Read: More Bars).

Nitpicking aside, if you went PAX East and had fun, rest assured; the show will back next year.

Rome is Burning: Will the Infinity Ward Scandal Ruin Modern Warfare?

This past week has been an emotional roller-coaster for “Modern Warfare” fans.  First, a confusing security “incident” on Monday at the offices of developer Infinity Ward ended with rumors that Infinity Ward masterminds Vince Zampella and Jason West leaving the company they built up.  As things began to settle, Call of Duty producer Activision announced that they had, in fact, fired the two for “insubordination”:  By Activision’s account, West and Zampella were in breach of their contracts when they, according BingeGamer, contacted other producers about working on a new non-COD game.  The next day, West and Zampella fired back, announcing that they will be suing Activision for the rights to the “Modern Warfare” franchise.  The dejected developers said they were fired after a biased investigation by the company that wanted the two out after years of conflict and the studio’s desire to work on other projects before developing “Modern Warfare 3”.

The question is now; how will this scandal affect the future of the “Modern Warfare” series?

Truthfully, the falling out may very well kill the series.  Assuming that Activision produces the next Modern Warfare title, they’ll be forced to fully re-evaluate the series for the first time since it’s inception.  West and Zampella were the creative forces behind the most successful entries in the Call of Duty series; Call of Duty, Call of Duty 2, Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.  (Plus, before forming Infinity Ward the duo oversaw development of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault, which was easily the best game in the series.)  Meanwhile, other COD games, made by alternative developer Treyarch, have been well-made but are generally based on the Infinity Ward games:  (If you don’t believe me, play COD 2 to the end and then start COD3; it feels more like an expansion pack then a separate game.)  Rumors have already begun swirling about whether the current IW team will co-operate with Activision for MW3.  It’s safe to assume that West and Zampella will start a new firm, giving the rest of the team reason to walk away.

There is still plenty of room for failure, however, if Zampella and West somehow win the rights to “Modern Warfare”.  While it is definitely the better option for gamers, the disruption from the lawsuit, the transfer from company to company and the influence of another producer would all effect the game in some way.  That’s not to say that those changes would be bad, but such drastic environmental changes will have some kind of effect on the game.  Ultimately though, the biggest issue with Modern Warfare 3 as imagined by West and Zampella is that, between the lawsuit and the actual development, it would take at least five years for the game to be made, probably more.

So what can we do, as gamers, to make sure that the Modern Warfare series remains the gold standard of the FPS genre?  Absolutely nothing.  All gamers can do is play, which is fine.  It’s what we want to do.  For now, the best indicator of how the series will fare will be Treyarch’s upcoming entry in the series.  The new game is looking to distinguish itself, at least in terms of its story, by setting the game in Vietnam.  Maybe the developer will step up to play and make a game that features original mechanics to match its new localé, maybe it won’t.  The main point we can take away from this series of events is that, for better or worse, Infinity Ward, and by extension the COD series, will never be the same.