Ben's Week In Review: July 8
Another week down, and now, E3 is almost on top of us. We'll be crazy busy keeping y'all up to date in the coming days, so make sure to bookmark us for the best coverage you'll find on the Internet. Arnold's gonna be on-site for us, and I'm staying behind to make sure the site is as current as possible with all the news and announcements that are sure to be numerous. E3 certainly is smaller than it has been in the past, but that's okay. It's still a big deal.
Beautiful Katamari canceled for PS3
In case you didn't know, Namco has canceled Beautiful Katamari for the PS3. While it doesn't matter so much to me because I also have a 360, I still don't quite understand the move. While this became a popular little niche game, it's still very Japanese, and is very different than most everything in the 360's library. While the PS3 isn't anywhere near as popular as the Wii in Japan, it's a damn sight more popular than the 360. I'm aware of the good sales the previous two Katamaris enjoyed in the U.S., but I'm relatively certain they were even more successful in Japan. I also understand the development problems Namco ran into with the PS3, but then again...this isn't a graphically intensive title, here. I can't imagine it would be that difficult. There was talk of the game making it to the PlayStation Store, but I doubt that'll happen now.
I guess the PS3's userbase simply isn't big enough to matter right now to Namco. But with the imminent price drop and all the fantastic games scheduled for 2007 (which will certainly fuel hardware sales), it seems like a colossal mistake to cancel Beautiful Katamari for the PS3. The last two installments were PS2 exclusives, remember; the Microsoft crowd isn't even remotely familiar with those games. Just weird.
First GTA IV Voice Actor Revealed
Yep, and it's the Ukranian singer, Ruslana. After hearing the news, I really got to thinking about voice acting in the next generation. As games become more advanced, we can always expect to see flashier graphics and better sound, but that should also include voice acting. Thing is, that's not something the programmers can control; it's not a technical achievement. It's more of an artistic achievement provided by a professional, and I've come to realize just how essential it is. I recently completed The Darkness (see below), and the voiceovers in that game were so tremendous, it's hard to imagine playing without that acting talent. Frank Acevedo as Jackie Estacado was truly fantastic, but he wasn't the only one; everyone was great. The game benefited more from this than I ever thought possible.
Therefore, I'm really hoping to see more of this in the near future, especially with something like Grand Theft Auto IV. Vice City had some top-notch voice acting (Ray Liotta voiced the main character), and it absolutely enhanced that awesome '80s environment. If they want to make GTA IV as - or even more - engrossing, then I think it's a very good idea to recruit excellent voice talent.
Sony: "We don't buy exclusivity"
Jack Tretton said that this past week, and it's an interesting viewpoint. He said they don't "bribe" game companies to make games for Sony platforms (perhaps unlike other manufacturers, like Microsoft), and that Sony "earns" exclusivity. In some ways, this seems backwards, but in other ways, it seems entirely reasonable. On the one hand, you can say that exclusives sell hardware, and thus, you need the exclusives first. But on the other hand, you can say that developers reward popular hardware with exclusive titles. It's like the age-old question, "which came first, the chicken or the egg?" I can't really say I agree 100% with Tretton and Sony's stance on this, but like I said, in some ways, it does make sense.
At this point, though, I think the only games that will remain exclusive (for all consoles) will be first-party titles. But if that's the case, I don't believe Sony is in a bad position. After all, we're talking about franchises like Gran Turismo, Ratchet and Clank, God of War, etc. In the end, I'm just not sure how big of a role exclusives will play in this generation...guess it's a "wait and see" situation.
Personal Gaming Update
So I've completed The Darkness, which was a sweet game and I'm seriously considering a replay. I don't have too much incentive simply because I doubt I'd do things much differently, but it's just so much fun. Instead of starting over, though, I finally downloaded the Ninja Gaiden Sigma demo and played through that, which was, of course, pretty damn good. I've already played the game back on the Xbox, so I knew what to expect, but it had been a while. ...I was happy to find out I still remembered how to play, because NG can be brutally difficult, even on the Normal setting. I also plan to get Sigma some time this month, simply because it should definitely be part of my collection.
And now, after realizing Odin Sphere just wasn't for me, it's on to the last game in my queue: Okami. I got it many months ago, but plenty of other games got in the way (Final Fantasy XII, God of War II, Gears of War, Splinter Cell: Double Agent, Kingdom Hearts II, and The Darkness), so it's long overdue. I can't wait; heard it was supposed to be both original and wildly entertaining. :) I really don't have any plans to buy another game just yet, so it's a great time to clean up my backlog.
7/7/2007 Ben Dutka