2014 Post-Mortem: June
Here we are, half way through the year and bugger all to show for it. The first half of the year was dull and drab in comparison to second half. The news was lackluster and depressing, with studios having financial difficulties and being shut down. June however is the month of hype, where developers from around the world come to show off their new shiny toys as E3, we got all sorts of announcements and what not from E3 in 2014. In terms of releases we had only a handful of notable releases, mostly from the indie sector. What triple A games that did emerge out of the primordial ooze were met with cold indifference.
In June we had the rather unsettling news that Homefront developer Crytek was putting the IP up for sale. Homefront was modern FPS in the Call of Duty style mold but with a story about America being taken over by North Korea. The ideas behind that game were decent enough, just not good enough to dethrone the king of the genre. After THQ’s demise the IP was sold to Crytek who were now having difficulties so the IP was once again sold to Koch Media who would continue development on the next in the series Homefront: Revolution. Most of the staff from Crytek Uk were transferred over to new studio Deep Silver Dambuster. Unfortunately both Crytek UK and Crytek USA were shut down. To me personally this is rather sad news as Crytek UK had once been known as Free Radical who made one of my favorite games Timespillters: Future perfect.
In other news we of course had E3. E3 was all about pushing next-gen as something that meant something special, something that the other guy (and PC) couldn’t. There were few shocks of the convention, lot of existing IPs getting new games. Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Dead Island 2 etc etc. Xbox however manged to pull out two surprises for the crowd in the form of a new Crackdown game, a series that had been immensely popular at the start of the 360’s life span but which had gone quiet of late. It had a shiny trailer showing stuff that won’t be possible in the game itself but hey ho look at all those explosions!
Most surprising from Xbox however was the revelation that the next Tomb Raider game would be a Xbox exclusive. For a series that has been console neutral for the longest time this was quite a surprise and bloody annoying for anyone who liked the reboot but didn’t own an Xbox One (ME)
Sony on the other hand showed what everyone expected them to show, a few exclusives and a handful of consoles games who Sony are trying to pretend will be better on PS4 (PC master race looks on and mocks) With Dark Soul’s spiritual successor of Bloodborne being shown as well as a new Uncharted on the horizon, PS4 at least has a few decent exculsives on the horizon.
E3 also marked the start of the No Man Sky hype train. With lengthy trailer showing off the universe of No Man’s Sky, as the camera flies around various planets and finds all sorts of totally scripted events. Hype for this game since E3 has been pretty high with almost no actual game play to back it up. We don’t know how this game will play and yet people are getting all sorts of invested in this game that it will be difficult to live up to the hype.
Games that actually came out in the month of June are few and far between but there were some notable releases. Ubisoft’s Valiant Hearts came out to much praise, a point and click set in the Great War was a well made story that didn’t glorify the conflict but instead told a very human story. I had my issues with the game thanks to it’s portrayal of the Germans but these are complaints that have softened somewhat of late.
Other releases included Sniper Elite 3, another decent entry into a series which has been quietly chugging along for some time now. Shovel Knight which people seem to adore but which I being the contrarain I so often am didn’t find that engaging. Maybe it’s because it apes an era of gaming I was never that invested in. I missed much of the early 2D platformers of old so have no real love for them now.
Lastly we have Divinity: Original Sin. One of the first big kickstarter successes of kickstarter boom of a few years ago. D:OS was a tactical RPG which gave the player a terrific amount of freedom. This and Wasteland 2 really brought back this dead genre in a big way in 2014 and it would be interesting to see if their return leads to other games being made in this style in the near future.