Arnold's Press Pause and Rewind: February 3rd
It's Quiet...Too Quiet
This past week came off with a variety of good news. In fact, it may have been one of the very few weeks where the PS3 wasn't blamed for running over somebody's dog, or chopping down an apple-tree, or stealing Christmas, or robbing a suitcase worth of Little Mermaid Limited Edition Disney DVDs, or robbing a bank. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe...but the week of January 28th seemed soft in terms of firepower. This lack of talking 'ish' allowed us to concentrate on a variety of new big-name sequels being announced for next-gen consoles.
2K Pigskin. Kosher?
The week's most exciting news probably comes from the 2K Sports camp, as Visual Concepts made an official announcement that 2K Football will be coming back and better than ever. GameSpot's conducted Q&A session demonstrated an underlying tone from Greg Thomas that insinuated EA's days are numbered. With the NBA crown in their possession, the gang at VC has got their sights set on taking over the pigskin helm once and for all. While we're uncertain about what sidesteps VC will be taking to deliver a faithful experience in All-Pro Football 2K8, we have high hopes for the game and only the utmost trust in Visual Concepts. Midway proved with Blitz that you don't need to have realism to sell...but since VC has a bone to pick with EA, you can bet your bottom dollar that unprecedented realism is what All-Pro Football 2K8 will be aiming for.
Holy Crap! I Made a Hole to China!
The second good news bit is that THQ announced a new Red Faction title. Now, last week I made some comments about the FPS genre (that I still stand by), but I have to admit my interest in a next-gen Red Faction game has been piqued. Red Faction did something fairly original on the PS2, in that it allowed for the real-time destruction of the environments around you. But with the limitations of the PS2, the destructions were also limited in certain aspects. So with the PS3, the potential for something on a large scale is quite vast.
Give Me The Bow and Arrow. Hold Onto to the Flamethrower...
And there's also Turok, which I wrote a preview of some days ago...if the final product comes out looking as good as the shots, and playing as well as Buena Vista Games suggests, then check that as another FPS game I'm looking forward to. The stealth elements are what really intrigue me, being that they're a little reminiscent of Far Cry. Besides, who wouldn't want to snipe some baddies or even dinos behind shrubbery using a bow and arrow? The whole 'silent killer' concept has me running through various ideas in my head already, and I can't wait to try out some of them in the game. Of course if you're all about the run-and-gun, then meet your friend Mr. Flamethrower.
Spiking the Punch...
People are worried about PS3 sales in Japan, as the console's performance is landing Sony a mere average of 20k units sold per week. For reference, the PS2 is averaging about the same, the PSP is close to 30k units, Wii is roughly 80k, and the DS is somewhere in the heavens where it doesn't matter for the little dual screen wonder. Sales of the PS3 hardware should begin to jump quite a bit very shortly, though. With the upcoming release of Virtua Fighter 5, and others, new AAA software will finally give consumers a reason to purchase a PS3. Where as up until now the PS3 wouldn't have got much use from the Japanese gamers, the upcoming software boost should surely cure that and spike the sales of the console. Virtua Fighter 5 will lead off the spike, and Namco-Bandai/Koei's highly anticipated Gundam Musou will surely keep that momentum going. Now we just have to wait to see what each publisher has lined up for March and onward.
My Wallet Hurts. Cure it, Sony!
Sony talking about potential price-drops has got me really curious. The sales of the console are satisfactory for now, but being the most expensive one isn't always a great thing. There are a number of approaches Sony could go with the price-drop. If they drop it by $50, they can include a free PSN game (GripShift would be the best), or controller - or both. And they can also add a nice little label on the box that says something to the effect of: "Free Online Network: No Need to Pay!" That alone should drive sales quicker, seeing as how the average customer isn't aware of things like that. But the ideal situation would be to drop the price by $100 sometime close to October (that way early adopters don't feel ripped off), and head into the holiday season with a new price-tag on the box. Either one of the two moves should greatly benefit the PS3's sales, and if Sony ends up catering to the customer's needs more so than Microsoft and Nintendo can...they'll come out on top immediately.
A Fantasy That Isn't So Final...Har har har.
I've contemplated re-starting Final Fantasy X for whatever reason. Actually, I told Ben I blamed him for my soon-to-be-made decision, seeing as how often him and I talk about the franchise. It's the reason why Final Fantasy has become a re-occurring staple in each one of our weekly editorials. In any case, I've suddenly formed an addiction to excessively boosting my RPG characters' levels just so they could deal as much damage as they possibly could. I spent countless hours doing that in FFXII (and I'm replaying FFXII yet again, by the way...) and I want to spend countless hours doing the same in FFX. I guess it's fun to have these gargantuanly (yay, made up another new word!) powerful characters just break through every single foe in a game. And it's certainly not cheating, seeing as how it's no quick process amounting the levels. Is it cheating when a boxer trains for a match much more than a boxer who doesn't? No. Same concept.
Until next week.
2/3/2007 Arnold Katayev