Uncharted PS4 writer Amy Hennig has left Naughty Dog, Uncharted PS4 development unaffected
Update: PlayStation as confirmed to IGN that Hennig has left Naughty Dog and the development timeline for the PS4 Uncharted game will not change because of her departure.
Amy Hennig, lead writer and creative director of the Uncharted series, no longer works at Naughty Dog, according to IGN.
Sources close to IGN say Hennig’s last day was Monday, March 3. Hennig was writing and leading development on the upcoming Uncharted for PlayStation 4.
Hennig was allegedly “forced out” of the studio by The Last of Us' Neil Druckmann and Bruce Straley, according to IGN's sources. The future of Uncharted probably rests in their hands now, which raises a lot of questions.
I can’t claim to know what happened or why she’s left, but the circumstances surrounding her departure sound really ugly.
Hennig’s writing and direction made Uncharted the success it is today. The series is her baby. If her being “forced out” is true, it does not paint a good picture for Naughty Dog.
Women in the games industry are already hard to come by. The fact that Hennig leaving the studio is even news is testament to the mark she’s left on the industry and why her presence is important. It’s disgusting to think that two men could force a successful, creative woman to leave the studio where she’s spent the last 10 years crafting incredible stories.
It’s especially strange when you consider how gracefully Druckmann and Straley wrote the female characters in The Last of Us. The news is still fresh, so I’m hoping that IGN’s sources are wrong about the way her departure was handled.
Because damn it looks really bad.
Batman: Arkham Knight Announced
Following an earlier tease on an official Batman Facebook page, Batman: Arkham Knight, Rocksteady Games’ return to the series, has been announced today.
The aforementioned tease took place on the Batman: Hush Facebook page run by Warner Bros., the owner of DC Comics and publisher of the Batman: Arkham games. A computer generated image of Batman villain, Hush accompanied the post, saying, “Remember a little appearance by somebody in Arkham City? Well things [might get] more interesting next month.” This post has since been removed from the page. (Source)
While Hush didn’t appear in the trailer, we are shown to a car chase and firefight between Two-Face’s gang and the Gotham police force, with the Dark Knight crashing the party in his Nolanverse-inspired Batmobile. This action is accompanied by the disembodied voice of Thomas Wayne reading his last will and testament for his son, Bruce.
The trailer also has appearances by Harley Quinn, the Penguin, as well as an ominous voice by an unspecified villain who can be assumed to be the main antagonist.
Check out the trailer above, and expect Batman: Arkham Knight to come out this October on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Cel Damage HD Coming to PS4, PS3, Vita
For those of you longing for the good old days of Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8’s vehicular carnage are in for a treat in the form of Cel Damage HD.
Finish Line Games, the developer behind the HD re-release, announced the project today, which will bring nostalgic gamers back to the cel-shaded, vehicular combat mayhem that we were first treated to in the early days of the GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2.
Cel Damage HD will be coming the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation Vita as a cross-buy title this April.
You can play Pokémon live on Twitch… Sort of
Twitch user twitchplayspokemon is livestreaming Pokémon Red/Blue, but the people in the chat are the ones controlling everything on-screen.
The chat is typing out GameBoy button inputs which, through some sort of magic, controls the Pokémon trainer. With so many people trying to command the dude, he spends a lot of time walking in circles, running into walls and in and out of buildings. It’s hilarious. Watch for yourself:
Nintendo Direct Recap: Monster Hunter 4 on 3DS, Little Mac in Smash Bros.
Nintendo had a busy day today, with the latest of their Nintendo Direct releases packing in a bunch of new information about the Japanese game company’s upcoming titles for the Wii U and 3DS this spring.
The Direct kicked off with a new trailer for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS featuring a new character in Little Mac from Punch-Out!! Also announced today were the Koopalings (Larry, Morton, Wendy, Iggy, Roy, Lemmy, and Ludwig) as playable characters in Mario Kart 8.
Nintendo revealed handful of brand new titles in today’s release, as well. For 3DS, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate was easily the biggest reveal of the day. But alongside Monster Hunter on the 3DS, we were also shown Pokemon Battle Trozei (A match-three puzzle game for 3DS), Steel Diver: Sub Wars (a sequel to the 3DS launch title), Inazuma Eleven (a Japanese Soccer RPG), Weapon Shop de Omasse (A Level 5 placing you in the role of an apprentice in a JRPG’s blacksmith shop), and Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball (A collection of baseball mini-games).
For Wii U, NES Remix 2 was announced, within the game being a right-to-left version of Super Mario Bros. featuring Luigi titled Super Luigi Bros. Also revealed were the first Game Boy Advance Virtual Console games we can expect on the eShop; Metroid Fusion, Mario & Luigi: Super Star Saga, and Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario Advance 3.
All of the release dates given for upcoming 3DS are as follows:
- Steel Diver: Sub Wars – Today (February 13, 2014)
- Inazuma Eleven – Today (February 13, 2014)
- Weapon Shop de Omasse – February 20, 2014
- Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy – February 28, 2014
- Yoshi’s New Island – March 14, 2014
- Pokemon Battle Trozei – March 20, 2014
- Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball – April 2014
- Mario Golf: World Tour – May 2, 2014
- Kirby Triple Deluxe – May 2, 2014
- Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate – Early 2015
And the announced release dates for upcoming Wii U games are:
- Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze – February 21, 2014
- NES Remix – April 25, 2014
- Child of Light – April 30, 2014
- GBA Virtual Console – April 2014
- Mario Kart 8 – May 30, 2014
- Bayonetta 2 - 2014
To see all of the trailers shown today in the Nintendo Direct, head over to Nintendo’s Youtube channel.
For more news on Nintendo, the Wii U, and the 3DS, be sure to follow Select Start Gaming.
Mario Kart 8 Coming May 2014
Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced at an investor briefing earlier today that Mario Kart will be coming to Wii U this May.
The game was announced at E3 2013 and was revealed to be coming sometime in Spring 2014. With Mario Kart Wii, the most-recent console version of the franchise, being the company’s best-selling game of all-time (not bundled with a system at launch), Nintendo is hoping for this latest installment to give the struggling Wii U a much needed shot in the arm.
Is Mario Kart 8 the answer to the Wii U’s troubles? We’ll find out this May.
Sly Cooper Feature Film Announced
Rainmaker Entertainment and Blockade Entertainment revealed today that they will be making a full-length motion picture based on the Sony franchise, Sly Cooper. This news follows last year’s announcement that the studios were working together on another film based on Sony Entertainment characters, Ratchet and Clank film (due to release in 2015), as well as last year’s revitalization of the game franchise in Sly Cooper: Theives in Time.
The film’s official synposis: “Sly Cooper is a kinetic and comedic heist film that tells the story of Sly Cooper, an orphaned raccoon thief, along with his childhood friends and partners in crime, Bentley Turtle and Murray Hippo. In the film, Sly learns of his birth family’s secret legacy; that he comes from a long line of talented and international thieves. Endowed with this knowledge, Sly and his friends are catapulted into a global adventure as they race to reassemble pieces of an ancient book holding The Cooper Clan’s family secrets before it can fall into the hands of Clockwerk – an evil Russian metallic owl bent on ending the Cooper family line. From romantic Parisian backdrops to the lush mountains of China, gritty film noir meets bright, colorful graphic novels in this origin story of the world’s greatest thief-turned-hero.”
Expect Sly Cooper to come to theaters in 2016.
Fans Create Mass Effect Mod for Starbound
A fan-made mod featuring elements from the Mass Effect universe has been released for Chucklefish Games’ resource-gathering, action-platformer Starbound.
The mod, created by Team SMEE, includes Asari and Turian character classes, Biotic Powers, replaces your ship with the Normandy SR-1, and features music and sounds from the Mass Effect series. Also promised in the mod’s next update are Element-0, the Mako transport, and new armor upgrades.
You can find the mod and any subsequent updates here on the game’s forum.
Game of the Year 2013: The Last of Us
When considering Game of the Year, I try to think about what title best represented 2013 in gaming, and the state of the industry as a whole.
Was 2013 the year of the indie developer? While there were countless great indie titles over the past year, I don’t think that this past year is the year of the indie (that was 2012).
What 2013 meant to me as a gamer was the progression of the medium as a whole. In 2013, more than any year to date, we received emotional, gripping stories that elevated the medium as an art form. From the incredibly ambitious Bioshock, to the expert representation of women in titles like Tomb Raider, and to the gut-punchingly emotional experience of Gone Home, we were spoiled with a gluttonous amount of quality storytelling over the past year. But the game that delivered in every aspect of this, and exceeded all of its grand expectations was Naughty Dog’s PlayStation 3 swan song, The Last of Us.
The Last of Us is the story of Joel, a man hardened by great loss and life in a post-apocalyptic America, who comes across a young girl named Ellie who happens to hold the key to wiping out the virus that has plagued Earth for the past two decades. Joel and Ellie have to survive the cruel and unforgiving ruins of what was once America to try and find the cure hidden in Ellie to eradicate the infection that has turned most of the human race into zombie-like fungus creatures.
The Last of Us is a story of survival and betrayal and companionship, drawing heavy inspiration from Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. The narrative is broken up into four parts that represent events throughout Joel and Ellie’s trek, each in a specific season taking over the course of a year. The end of each story arc practices near-perfect use of cliffhangers and will leave you emotionally drained (this game isn’t for the faint of heart). But that doesn’t mean that the moments in between are in any way lacking in story. Each chapter of the story is jam-packed with special moments. Some of these are mandatory cut scenes are key to the progression of the plot. But some of them are little moments that occur during gameplay and range from a quick dialogue between Joel and Ellie, or are easy to miss moments that will pass you by if you aren’t careful (pay attention to Ellie in the toy store about a third of the way in). And over the course of the narrative these characters grow and blossom and develop and you grow to love them (or hate them) due to the superb craftsmanship of Neil Druckmann’s writing and excellent voiceover work from the entire cast. No character becomes an archetype or a caricature; something I had yet to experience in my time as a gamer.
Fortunately, the transcendent story of The Last of Us is accompanied by some great gameplay and game design, as well as some of, if not the best, graphics in any game to-date. The Last of Us builds off of Naughty Dog’s Havok engine that is used to power Uncharted, and incorporates some of its predecessor’s third-person action elements. Throw in a crafting system and some capable stealth mechanics onto what was already a quality framework, and you’ve got a game that’s also fun to play (just get ready to move a few ladders and pallets in water). This is all without mentioning The Last of Us' beautiful set pieces and art design that creates a sense of immersion not felt since 2008's Fallout 3.
The most important thing about Game of the Year is defining what stood out over the course of a given twelve-months and honoring the crowning achievement that the rest of the industry can look to going forward. In a year where we got so many great titles that pushed gaming forward and succeeded at being a source of progression for the entire medium, The Last of Us stood out as the clear leader for where the gaming industry is headed, and was undoubtedly the best game of 2013.
Game of the Year 2013: Papers, Please
On December 29th, 1982, a van full of armed nationalists made a run for the immigration border and murdered three of the Arstotzkian guards posted at the checkpoint. An alarm swept across the air as my workplace shuttered, and the men and women who had been lined up waiting to cross into my country since 6 a.m. that morning fled in every direction.
The van stopped and two armed figures made their way toward the small outpost I occupied.
I reached across my tiny desk, cluttered with passports and access cards, and tugged the lockbox my superiors had installed earlier that month. Two key slots lay before me, a gold lock for the tranquilizer gun and a silver lock for the live-ammunition rifle.
I looked down at the two distinctly-colored keys before me, and grabbed the gold. I loaded the three tranq rounds provided, and took aim.
Two more chances, two targets. Tomorrow I have an audit of my activities during the past month, my dealings with the radical Order of EZIC Star will surely come to light and will not be looked kindly upon.
Maybe missing would be a better outcome for everyone.
But all of this happened because of my choices. And that is why Papers, Please is my selection for Game of the Year. It is a game of escalation, a meshing of simulation and detective work with 20 different endings and enough randomization in its daily interactions that replaying through the same portions over and over are just as satisfying as that first go-around.
Set in the fictional Communist nation of Arstotzka, Papers, Please places you at an immigration checkpoint in the early 80s. The task at hand? Admit, deny, or detain the men and women from neighboring nations as well as your own based on their intentions, their paperwork, or for your own benefit. It is a game based on an ever-changing set of rules — admit someone with proper papers and the day goes on, do so too many times when there were discrepancies and your job and livelihood are at risk.
There is a story of sorts, and how it progresses depends on the player’s interactions with the people who enter the immigration booth. Will you assist the rogue nationalist group? Will you give admittance to the good-natured drug smuggler? Will you purposely detain people to earn more money for your family? The risk of cold, starvation, and death is a constant as whatever money you take home daily must pay for necessities such as rent and heating as well as, say, medicine for your ailing son. Do poorly and less money comes in, skip chances on making additional income via immoral means and your family may be dead in a week’s time.
While many games which give the player choices in moral situations ultimately reward for integrity and positive actions, Papers, Please is a title which places you in situations where it truly comes down to “doing the job right” and surviving, with some outcomes based on actions taken weeks prior. It is a moral conundrum, a constant stream of self-assurance and rationalization in actions taken: You let that person go through with inadequate identification, why didn’t you let this other person? How do you decide who is detained and who is let off light? How players approach each of these situations can be very telling of character, and new methods of investigation which arise midplay (nude scanning for contraband) are genuinely disturbing and uncomfortable to take part in.
Papers, Please is despair and anxiety wrapped in code, a game that draws you in and makes everything else disappear. Once the mechanics are mastered the player’s environment becomes that small immigration booth, and the only things which matter are the clock, the desk, and the papers.
Game of the Year 2013: Sly Cooper: Theives in Time
For those of you like myself who grew up on platform gaming, youmay have noticed a decline in the past few years of traditional 3D platform games that ran rampant throughout the days of the Playstation and Playstation 2.
The continuation of a series once the original company has passed the franchise onto another is always worrysome. Will the characters be noticably different because of the writing change. Will the level design not stand up with what made the past games so great? Will they take away mechanics that were so beloved? Perfectly legitimate questions when anticipating a release. Sanzaru Games, however, picked up the reins of the Sly Cooper series where Sucker Punch left off, as if no developer change had been made.
Thieves in Time, also known as Sly 4, is a continuation of the Sly Cooper series. What began as a new engine to update the original trilogy, soon evolved into a fully fledged studio developed sequel. A 3D platformer that centers around a band of thieves that usually steal back what is rightfully theirs, and in turn save the world from the big bad evil. Thieves in Time is no exception, except this time, someone is going backwards in time and stealing all of the Cooper family’s canes, resulting in the loss of their famous heists and robberies.
The fun adventure comes from a combination of both getting to see different eras in which you play as Sly’s Ancestors, and gaining the ability to use their special thief skills. (And I will say, that the skill that Sly’s Arabian ancestor unlocks for you is probably one of those most rewarding when roaming around the game looking for collectibles. Thief Reflexes was always my favorite unlockable in 2 and 3.)
I thought the story was solid for a fourth installment of a series, as well as the improvement of mechanics and challenges. (Those god damn time trial treasures are the bane of my existence, but very rewarding when finished.) The levels were challenging enough and the boss fights inventive.
I think the real reason I consider it my Game of the Year is because it put me back into that gameplay of the 3D open world platformers that I miss so much. Games like Spyro and Croc were always my favorite because even though there was a set path to take to complete the overall mission, the worlds always held secret rooms, caves, areas that urged me to explore every nook and cranny. They made you learn how to react to an attack by noticing a small pre-animation to the attack, and often made you use your accumulated knowledge of methods used in other games towards a boss fight. And feeling excited about a game while I’m playing it is pretty rare these days. So that’s why Sly 4 gets Game of the Year from me. Great game plus that lighthearted feeling it gave me while playing. That and because it’s pretty fun to rob an entire company of guards blind and then murder them one by one in clouds of dust.
Game of the Year 2013: Gone Home
Gone Home is my game of the year for 2013.
I’ve been thinking about it for a few days, and the thought of picking anything else feels insincere. Gone Home is the best game of 2013 and the game I want everyone I know to play.
For the unaware, Gone Home puts you in the middle of 1995 Portland Ore., when families would record favorite shows on VHS and riot grrrl feminism was at its peak. Your character arrives home from a semester abroad, only to find that no one’s home. It’s clear that something’s happened, and it’s up to you to figure out what it is. Your family’s moved since you were last home, and there’s an overwhelming sense that you’re not supposed to be there. What’s happened to your sister? Where are my parents? These are the questions I asked as I carefully explored each room of the house. The very fact the game made me believe this was my actual family says so much about what this game achieves.
The gameplay and narrative of Gone Home feel completely intentional. The developers at The Fullbright Company make a small team of four people, so its not unfair to assume there were some limitations in making this game. The Fullbright Company created something beautiful with those limitations and subverted everything I’ve come to know about game design and video game storytelling. It’s also refreshing to play a game that has such good intentions; combat doesn’t exist in Gone Home, and neither do enemies. It’s just you and a big, empty house.
It’s hard to say more about the game without giving anything away, but if I have any advice to give for people in 2013? Go home again.
Select • Start Gaming’s Game of the Year
First and foremost, I want to thank all of our followers here in our pilot year here at Select Start Gaming. There was a bit of a dry spell of content as we all dealt with our personal lives, but we’ve got more content coming forward and appreciate all of you wanting to follow our content.
But let’s talk about Game of the Year. Most sites and blogs bicker and fight about which game deserves the ultimately arbitrary title of Game of the Year. Some people are inevitably left unhappy with what the group’s consensus is, and we here want to highlight as large an array of quality games as possible. Because at the end of the day, we are all gamers and we all like good games.
So what we’ve decided to do here at S•SG is have each one of our contributors pick their favorite game of 2013 and tell you why. This way, we represent a larger group of games that we feel were essential to gaming in the past year. These posts are going to start going up tomorrow night (Friday, January 10th). We hope you all like and share the articles and check out the games our staff picks if you haven’t already. We are excited about bringing you more content throughout 2014!
The Select • Start Gaming Staff
Our Game of the Year picks are going up every 15 minutes starting at 6pm PST tonight! Be sure to like and share them around.