PIXEL BURN – GTA on the BBC, BAFTA bafflement and Titanfall 2

In which Matt ponders what sort of godless universe allows Destiny to win "Best Game" at the BAFTAs.
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[TRANSCRIPT]

Hello my name’s Matt and this is Pixel Burn, where I take a sarcastic look at the week’s gaming news. For your pleasure.

Top of the news chain this week was Respawn Entertainment CEO Vince Zampella confirming a sequel to Titanfall was in the works, and that – to quote the man himself – “it will be multi-platform.” Even though the original was technically also multiplatform since it was on PC as well as Xbox One. What he means of course is that it’s also coming to PS4, which the original game didn’t. Speaking to IGN ahead of the BAFTA Game Awards Vince said:

“I guess EA announced a sequel, so I could play coy and pretend I don’t know anything about it, or… yeah. So we’re working on a sequel. No official name yet, but we’re working on that.”

Well Vince if it doesn’t have an official name yet then might I suggest…Titanfall 2? Y’know, keep it simple n’all.

We all knew this was coming of course, what with the game shifting 3 million copies and whatnot. Plus all the DLC for it became completely free this week on PC and Xbox One, which was a teensy bit of a giveaway that a sequel was ready to be announced. And if those hints were a tad too subtle for you, there was also a discrete clue dropped at a technology conference in November 2013 where EA’s Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen said:

“I’m sure that there will be future Titanfalls at some point.”

And since that was coming from EA’s Man In Charge of Money it was practically an official confirmation. Minus the press release of course.

Despite selling quite well however you don’t hear Titanfall spoken of in the same way that Destiny or Call of Duty are. It has its fans of course but it never quite seemed to set the gaming world on fire. Popular, sure, but not ubiquitous in the same way as Space Silmarillion Grindfest and Military Shooter Iteration X-Thousand are.

Part of this may be down to some of the glaring rookie mistakes Respawn made, namely in regards to multiplayer features. Basic things most FPS fans expect as standard, like private matches, clan tags, custom lobbies, and decent matchmaking, were glaringly absent from Titanfall on launch and only added long after the initial hype – that IGN told us all to believe – had died down to a flickering ember.

Titanfall’s single-player campaign also came in for some criticism, seeming more like an afterthought than a core feature. And yes I know most people who bought it did so for the multiplayer, and couldn’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s cock about a single player campaign. But if you’re going to put one into your game then at least try to make some effort with it.

Titanfall 2 will doubtless include all the multiplayer fripperies players expect from a multiplayer FPS nowadays, unless Respawn all suffer mass collective brain damage during development. The fact it’s also coming to PS4, whereas its predecessor didn’t, should also broaden the user base somewhat. But that’s assuming people are still excited for a game where you parkour around in exoskeletons, since Call of Duty shamelessly enroached on that particular turf with Advanced Warfare. Titanfall at least still has it’s titular Titans going for it, and expanding the types available to muck about in whould go a long way to enticing wayward players back for a second go.

But what do I know? I’ve barely played any multiplayer shooters since Unreal Tournament 99. Back in the days when men were men, women were women, and we all jumped around the map like homicidal fleas in zero-gravity. If the fleas were also on crack and had portable guided nuclear missile launchers.

Elsewhere in the news the BBC of all places casually dropped a gaming-related bombshell on its news website. Tucked away in this article about giving kiddie-winks free mini-computers, when they should really be learning to live in terror of global thermonuclear war like I did, was the casual, blase-as-you-please remark that the BBC were launching “a new drama based on Grand Theft Auto.”

That’s a tad surprising! Not something you’d expect from a purveyor of such high-brow programming as “I, Claudius”, “Poldark”, “Bleak House” and “Eldorado.”

Except it’s not an adaptation of the games themselves, and the fact it’s going to be shown on BBC 2 was a major giveaway to anyone living in the UK. Because BBC 2 mostly shows documentaries, niche dramas, arty stuff, and repeats – or reruns as my American chums call them – of programmes from other BBC channels or old shows like “Bergerac.”

Nope, what the BBC are actually producing is a dramatisation of how the very first GTA was made, focusing specifically on the people behind its creation. Which of course would be Rockstar North, based not in New York, LA, San Francisco or Seattle, but in Edinburgh in Scotland.

Yep, despite being steeped in the most extreme excesses of American culture, GTA is actually as Scottish as Golf, Haggis, kilts, television, Irn Bru, penicillin and Rabbie Burns. And you’d be amazed how many people still don’t know that. Or depressed. I tend towards the latter myself.

But I digress. While a documentary might not be what some GTA fans would hope for: a hyper-violent satirical series lampooning western civilisation, I am rather looking forward to it. Because the making of GTA is a genuinely fascinating story. From things like why the aggressive behaviour of police in-game came about because of a bug, and how the classic space-sim Elite was a signficant influence on its open-world gameplay, to how GTA met absolutely none of its development milestones and came scarily close to being cancelled. All of which and more are some damn good ingredients for a tense docu-drama about one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports.

That is until Scotland inevitably secedes from the UK and gains its independence, whereupon we soft southern sassanachs won’t be able to claim it as ours anymore. Like we do with everything great that comes from Scotland.

Continuing on a theme of all things British, the 2015 BAFTA Game Awards occurred this week. Or the British Academy Game Awards as they’re called on the official website, which surely makes them the BAGA’s does it not? A full list of winners can be found on BAFTA.org but some notable victors included:

Monument Valley for best Mobile & Handheld game.

Hearthstone for best multiplayer.

Far Cry 4 for best Music, no doubt thanks to the absolutely atrocious omission of Transistor from the list of nominees.

Shadow of Mordor for best Game Design.

The Vanishing of Ethan Carter for Best Game Innovation.

And Alien: Isolation, nominated for a whopping six categories, took home the award for Audio Achievement. That’s still great news though as it’s the one award it absolutely bloody well deserved to win, even if only managed to win one. Which it did in this case.

One winner that caused something of a stir was Bungie’s Destiny, which picked up the award for best game. That’s right. According to the BAFTA judges – comprised of industry professionals and chaired by a member of the BAFTA Games Commitee – Destiny was considered the best game of 2014.

Which you could say is indicative of the kind of year 2014 was in games. IE, a disappointing one. But Destiny was nominated alongside Mario Kart 8, Shadow of Mordor, Dragon Age Inquisition, Monument Valley and Alien: Isolation, some of the best of plenty of great games released last year.

Now while I would’ve loved Alien: Isolation to win, even a hardcore horror-lover like me knows it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. And it got the Best Audio award at least so I’m happy there.

Mario Kart 8 on the other hand is considered by some the best entry in the series since the Super Nintendo days. Packed full of content as-is, it also has a remarkable generous approach to Downloadable Content that Nintendo should be commended for. It certainly doesn’t charge you £20 fucking quid for a smidgen of content that’s already in the game like Destiny does.

Meanwhile the Nemesis system elevated Shadow of Mordor above its Assassin’s Creed and Batman influences into something with truly memorable emergent story elements. And Shadow of Mordor at least it keeps its story details in-game, instead of requiring you to read “grimoire cards” on a bloody website.

Even Dragon Age: Inquisition’s loading times, which I’ve complained about plenty in the past, don’t ultimately detract from its overall experience. While a lot of the side missions are mind-numbing fetch quests straight out of MMO 101, at least you’re not literally repeating the exact same ones like you do in Destiny.

Instead the winner was barely even a game. Rather a bunch of admittedly well-crafted FPS combat mechanics, packaged inside a Skinner Box draped in strands of a tissue-thin storyline that even a 5yr old would turn their nose up at.

Finally in other news Netherrealm Studios, kreators of “MORTAL KOMBAT” revealed this week that hockey mask-wearing slasher movie legend Jason Vorhees is coming to “MORTAL KOMBAT” X. Although like a certain Mr F.Krueger before him, Jason is only appearing as a “guest fighter” and not officially joining the Kombat Krew’s kavalkade of kooky karnival klown’s.

The katch – because you know there’s always a katch – is Mr Vorhees is only playable if you buy either the Kollector’s, Limited or Premium editions of Mortal Kombat X. That’s $150, $100 and $90 US dollars respectively. Because you’re all made of fucking money aren’t you?

If you don’t want to fork out such silly money for a copy of the game with a bloody statue included in it and just want to play as Jason “Momma’s Boy” Vorhees, he will be available to purchase separately as part of the so-called Kombat Pack for THIRTY DOLLARS! TWENTY-FIVE FUCKING QUID!

For which you also get access to some different costumes for existing characters and…bugger-all else really. Well, not quite. You also get access to another as-yet unconfirmed guest character that people are betting will either be Todd McFarlan’e Spawn or The Predator, from those films with The Predator in them. Even so, £30 for two extra characters and some different costumes. That’s just a wee bit rich for my blood.

Besides, if you’re a die-hard fan of all things Camp Crystal Lake you’re better off waiting for a game that does the slasher-movie genre justice.

Like Summer Camp, which has horror movie effects maestro Tom “Sex Machine” Savini on board as well as Kane Hodder, who needs no introduction to Friday 13th fans.

There’s also the similarly-titled Splatter Camp from indie team Pig Farmer Games, creators of the Halloween-tribute game Babysitter Bloodbath.

Or Last Year, which promises to be the kind of authentic slasher movie experience Friday 13th fans have long hoped for. So much in fact that it recently fended off a DMCA takedown from Crystal Lake Entertainment, over some of its concept art.

As for Jason in Mortal Kombat X, well, his fatalities better have that “CHEE-CHEE-CHEE-CHEE-AH-AH-AH-AH!” sound from the movies playing in the background. Otherwise what’s the bloody point?

That’s all for this episode of Pixel Burn. If you liked it then please do let me know, and let your friends, family and your nearest Camp Crystal Lake counselor know as well. At the very least I hope you found it tolerable. In the meantime, until next week, you can go now.

 

Matt

About Matt

Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind bitscreed.com and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.