The vaunted Game Developers Conference wraps up tomorrow, and though we weren’t in attendance rounding up some hot news from the event right here seems the next best thing. So, in case you’ve been too busy actually playing video games this week to read about them, here are a few big stories to come out of the annual event.
Just in case you somehow missed the hundreds of articles published today, Apple announced the iPad 2 will hit stores on March 11th. The upcoming model offers a bevy of new features – a slimmer build, two cameras and 3G capabilities. It also boasts a significant improvement to its hardware power thanks to a new dual-core processor – the A5.
What does this mean to gamers? Hopefully, better games. And if the device catches on (the original iPad sold over 15 million units in less than a year, so it’s probable), more of them.
Hit PC game “Minecraft” is a huge success despite the fact it’s still a work in progress.
The current ‘beta’ code of the Sweden-developed game was released in December, and according to online statistics over one million people have purchased the yet-to-be-completed version. Over three million people in total downloaded it.
So, what’s next for the completely out of left field game that merges building blocks and zombies? Mobile phones.
The Official PlayStation Blog announced yesterday that classic RPG “Xenogears” would see a North American release on the PlayStation 3 via the console’s online network on Feb. 22nd. The title was previously exclusive to the original PlayStation before making the jump to the modern console in 2008 — albeit only in Japan. Now, U.S. players can revisit (or experience for the first time) a game which eschewed traditional RPG trappings for a complex story inspired by religion, philosophy and, yes, anime fetishism.
It’s happening. Minecraft will enter beta on December 20, developer Markus “Notch” Persson posted on his blog. The big addition is “some kind of non-intrusive narrative to the game to help drive the game experience early on, and to provide some kind of late game goal.” I have a hard time picturing Minecraft with any narrative whatsoever, but the quote suggests that it won’t get in the way of people who just want to run around building 16-bit computers.
While Microsoft loves to promote its Xbox Live Arcade games with sales and such, Xbox Live Indie Games — a smaller storefront whose games are admitted by peer review — are left to fend for themselves. And so they’ve put together the Indie Games Uprising, a week of new game launches that promise not to be shameless clones or lame massage apps. Best of all, the games will be cheap — between 80 and 400 Microsoft Points ($1 to $5) each. The event kicks off today with Epic Dungeon, a new game with four player classes, over 50 dungeon levels and loads of pixelated loot for 80 Microsoft Points. Check out the trailer for the other games that will launch this week, or read the developers’ descriptions after the jump.
At the gut level, a Michael Jackson MMO seems ridiculous, but hear Planet Michael out for a minute: The game, to be published next year by SEE Virtual Worlds, will be set in places inspired by the late King of Pop’s songs and music videos. Pictured above is a scene from “Thriller,” and areas based on “Beat It, “Smooth Criminal” and “Billy Jean” are also planned. The gameplay details are hazy, but developer Josh Gordon told USA Today that the game will avoid violence in favor of song and dance.
Demon’s Souls was, I thought, the best game of 2009, so even though there’s very little information about Project Dark — supposedly the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls — I’m compelled to pass the announcement along. Reporters at Tokyo Game Show were shown a teaser trailer for Project Dark (just a codename), which according to 1UP included “lots of undead monsters in helmets and booming music,” but it’s not available online. Project Dark’s website, despite containing nothing but a burning fire and some light information, still manages to capture the sombre mood that made Demon’s Souls so brilliantly sad.
Halo’s alright, but Mass Effect is the real gem in Microsoft’s exclusive Xbox 360 lineup, at least until January 2011. Bioware announced that Mass Effect 2 will be released for Playstation 3 next year. According to PC World, the game will include “hours of bonus content,” but there aren’t any other details. A trailer at Bioware’s website simply says that “after 70+ perfect reviews, it’s finally coming to PS3″ and shows no particularly noteworthy footage.