Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at some of the more important, interesting or irritating things that happened in the week’s gaming news.
Starting with the…ahem, “news” that a yearly franchise has a new iteration coming out! Wow, what a startling revelation eh? Stop the bloody presses! There’s a new Assassin’s Creed game coming out! Called Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, this one finally brings the throat-stabbing and roof-jumping antics to Victorian London, something I’ve been wanting the series to do since Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
Except back when Brotherhood came out I wasn’t almost entirely sick to the back teeth of the whole Assassin’s Creed formula. That and Assassin’s Creed Unity hadn’t yet mentally scarred an entire generation with glitches spawned from humanity’s darkest nightmares.
You might remember this latest instalment was leaked back in December 2014, sporting the somewhat more grandiose title Assassin’s Creed: Victory. Perhaps Ubisoft thought that sounded a bit too final for their ongoing yearly franchise? Syndicate is a much more appropriate choice in that case, especially given its relation to the term “syndication” meaning “to sell something that’ll be repeated ad-nauseum.” It’s also a word of French origin, like many words in the stolen mongrel hodge-podge that is the English language.
Anyhow, enough with the etymology lesson. What does this instalment offer in the way of new stuff to play with? Well there’s now a Batman-style grappling hook that you can use to scale buildings quickly or zipline between rooftops. Which kinda defeats the purpose of one of the series’ main elements: namely figuring out which parts of a massive building you could use to climb up it. No doubt there’ll be some in-game explanation for why you can’t just zip right to the top of Big Ben, like crumbling masonry or shoddy roof tiles. Ubisoft are also promising the ability to use environmental hazards, like these hanging barrels here, to take out unfortunate enemies. Which is really just a twist on the gunpowder barrels from Assassin’s Creed 3, the last Assassin’s Creed game I actually played.
The rest looks like more of the standard Ubisoft formula. Climbing up tall buildings, synchronising viewpoints, taking over territories, blah blah blah. If you’ve played Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood you’ve pretty much played them all. So why am I more interested in this one than I was with Unity?
By which I of course mean “actually interested.”
Well it’s London innit geez? Cobblestone streets, gaslamps, up the apples and pears and whatnot. Although curiously for a game set a mere twenty years before the heyday of Jack the Ripper, all the footage Ubisoft have released so far is set during the day. Come on Ubisoft, where’s the pea-soup fog so thick you have to fish it out of your lungs with a coathanger? Still at least they’ve got the old horse-drawn Hackney Carriages in it, although judging by this footage it’s less genteel and more GTA.
Tonally Syndicate also seems much more cynical than Unity was, and for once I’m not talking about the way Ubisoft continually milks the franchise. The promotional material for Unity was very idealistic, all red banners, revolution, Liberté, égalité, fraternité, und so weite. Syndicate on the other hand appears much better suited to the mindset of your average Brit, like me. For starters you’re not playing as some idealistic dispossessed French nobleman with a bleeding heart, but instead a swaggering mockney wide-boy called Jacob Frye. Along with his twin sister Evie – who is also a playable character – Jacob plans to take over London’s seedy criminal underworld, unite all of its gangs into one giant super-gang and then overthrow the establishment…somehow.
All seemingly very noble, except – and maybe this is just me – Jacob and Evie seem less like rough-and-ready Cockerney freedom fighters and more like a cheeky Victorian version of the Kray Twins, if the Krays were brother and sister.
After all Jacob and Evie clearly enjoy stabbing people with knives, which is something the Krays did too. Well, one of them at least.
All I’m saying is a brother and sister starting out with the best of intentions: uniting London’s criminal underworld against tyranny, only to find they actually enjoy their newfound nefarious power, could be an interesting story angle for the series. It would certainly add some actual moral ambiguity to the Assassin’s Creed franchise:
And it’s not like Ubisoft are strangers to making “good” characters turn out to be evil shitbags. Just look at Far Cry 4 where, spoilers, your allies turn out to be just as bad as the main villain Pagan Min, who himself ends up being a surprisingly sympathetic character by the end of the game.
Speaking of Evie Frye, as I mentioned earlier she is actually a playable character. Yes it appears Ubisoft finally found away around that whole “women characters are too difficult to create” problem, that being their official reason for no playable women characters in Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Although their argument wasn’t entirely without merit.
Women also feature amongst the game’s antagonists with one storyline villain revealed to be a gang boss called…*sigh* “Bloody Norah.” You’ll also find women speckled among the regular lowlife gang member enemies that you can stab, shoot, punch in the face, drop boxes on, trample with horses and generally beat seven bells out of.
Not that I in anyway what-so-EVER condone violence towards women. All the ones I know could kick the fucking shit out of me.
Nevetheless, and I’m calling it now, it’ll inevitably kick up a fuss of hand-wringing moralising in the contemporary gaming press. Or as the Victorians would put it, a right old bubble around of tallywags from a bunch of moral mutton-shunters that could make a stuffed bird laugh, and make me want to smother a parrot until I’m as tight as a boiled owl.
Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate is pencilled in for release on October 23rd this year, assuming you even care anymore.
Continuing on a theme of stuff that isn’t really news, Konami once again proved themselves simultaneously clueless and malevolent this week by trying to censor free speech.
Apologies if that sounds a tad sensationalist, but there’s really no other way to describe a spurious DMCA claim against a YouTuber for daring to criticise a large corporation.
That YouTuber being one George Weidman (Weed-man), better known by the name Super Bunnyhop whose video “Kojima vs Konami: An Investigation” featured information he’d gleaned from an anonymous source within the company. According to Weidman’s source, Konami CEO Kagemasa Kozuki reportedly hates Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima, Kojima being fired was just the tip of an iceberg of layoffs, and that some within the company believe Kagemasa has gone, and I quote, “bat shit crazy.”
This anonymous source also claimed Konami were shifting their focus to mobile games and gambling machines, in anticipation of an expected legalization of domestic gambling in Japan later this year.
Weidman’s video is a strong piece of investigative journalism with thoroughly drawn conclusions, and essential viewing for anyone with an interest in what’s going on at Konami.
So naturally Konami didn’t want it around and figured they’d get it removed.
This reaction is hardly surprising of course. In recent weeks Konami has continued running roughshod over Hideo Kojima’s name and work by cancelling Silent Hills, removing all mention Kojima from it’s website, and even completely withdrawing the Silent Hills P.T demo. I don’t just mean removing it from the PlayStation Store either. Konami have literally pulled it from their servers so it can never be downloaded again, even if you have it registered on your PlayStation account. Where it is now, nobody knows, although knowing Konami it’s probably buried on a remote Japanese mountainside. Thankfully copies of it still exist in the wild, albeit forever confined to random PlayStation 4 hard drives around the globe.
And if your PS4 is harbouring one of these fugitive copies: keep it secret, keep it safe.
Alright, alright, calm your…eyeball. Sauron, Ring Maker, Lord of Barad-dur and Dark Lord of Middle Earth, wishes to clarify that he is not and has never been associated with Konami. (To “Palantir”) Happy now?
[“BUILD ME AN ARMY WORTHY OF MORDOR!”]
I told you I’m still working on that!
Back to the topic at hand, I want to emphasise that Konami didn’t merely issue a Content ID claim. Those are ten-a-penny and while they are bloody annoying – I know this from personal experience – they’re not the end of the world. This was an actual copyright strike against Weidman’s channel however, three of which would mean a permanent termination of his YouTube account. So it’s fortunate Weidman didn’t have more than one video covering Konami featuring footage from their games, or they could’ve filed DMCA’s against THOSE ones too, putting him at or above the three-strike limit. And Konami is more than petty enough to actually do that.
Anyhow, before this turns into a litany of Konami’s countless sins, there’s a happy and surprising ending to this little story. Within several hours the claim on Weidman’s video was revoked, the video itself was reinstated and his channel was back in good standing.
So Konami obviously had a moment of clarity, realised the potential PR damage and backed-off, right? Well, no, because it wasn’t Konami who removed the claim. It was actually YouTube themselves.
No I’m serious. YouTube revoked the claim.
Oh Tommy Wiseau, if only I were. Nope, in a rare moment of actually getting off its bloody arse and doing something, YouTube themselves removed Konami’s DMCA claim on Weidman’s video because…get this: Konami didn’t put a reason as to WHY Weidman’s video infringed their copyright. That little detail only being what DMCA claims are actually for of course.
One other thing about DMCA claims is that as the person being subjected to a claim, Weidman was entitled to know which individual filed that claim. And the person who did that on Konami’s behalf was…well, I’ll let Super Bunnyhop himself tell you.
Basically Konami executives are so far up their own arse, and so hell-bent on striking Hideo Kojima’s name from history, they literally think they can just click their fingers and make stuff go away.
Someone really needs to sit them all down and explain to them how The Internet works.
Continuing on the topic of people succeeding in spite of Konami, Japanese developer Koji Igarashi revealed his new Kickstarter this week for a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series. Helpfully conveyed with this cheesily entertaining campaign video made by 2 Player Productions, responsible for such documentaries as Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, it features Igarashi himself explaining his pitch while strutting around a castle, sitting in a big throne and turning into a cloud of bats. Also this bit where he tortures a man on a rack, something he’d probably also like to do to the Konami board of directors. The Kickstarter smashed it’s initial $500,000 target by reaching over $1 million within its first day, and as of this video has accrued over $2 million dollars.
And finally, the strongest evidence so far of the existence of Fallout 4 popped up this week on Destructoid. Apparently an artist who’d previously worked on the cinematics for Far Cry 4 has recently been working at Mirada Studios on a cinematic trailer for Fallout 4. Mirada Studios, for those of you who don’t know, is a production studio set up by Guillermo Del Toro in 2010 and they made this video pitching his concept for the film “Pacific Rim” to Warner Brothers.
Oh whoopdeedo, so someone put something on a Linkedin profile. I could make a Linkedin profile right now that says I’m working on Half Life 3.
Doesn’t make it true.
Although if a gaming news site covered my fake Linkedin and Valve sent them a demand to pull the story, that would certainly make it seem more legitimate, no?
Funnily enough that’s what exactly Mirada did with Destructoid. One of their representatives told Destructoid that they were somehow breaking a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA, and requested they pull the offending article immediately. Even though nobody at Destructoid had actually signed an NDA. In fact the only NDA being broken was that of the person who thought putting “Fallout 4 cinematic trailer” on their public Linkedin profile was a good idea.
Needless to say Destructoid did not retract the article.
So, I guess we can look forward to seeing Fallout 4 unveiled at E3. Some might say that spoils the surprise, but Bethesda have been so reticent about Fallout 4 I’m still amazed it actually exists. If anything this gives people something to look forward to.
Plus it’s not as if the entire trailer was leaked or anything. Now THAT would spoil the surprise. And I’m still eagerly anticipating news about Dishonored 2 myself. Nothing against Fallout: I particularly love Fallout: New Vegas, but my personal hope is to see something about a Dishonored 2. Which is as good an excuse as any to reinstall Dishonored. I AM somewhat overdue for a replay of that after all.
That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know by clicking the requisite button down below, and maybe share it with your friends, family and Koji Igarashi as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. If you didn’t like it then I look forward to receiving your DMCA claim, Mr Konami Executive. In the meantime, until next week, as always, you can go now.