Tuesday, 10 February 2015

JD's Videogame Awards 2014

It’s time for me to hand out my videogame awards for titles released in 2014.
Games like Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition, Halo: The Master Chief Collection and GTA V are not eligible, as they are re-releases.
Best Graphics
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Best Gameplay
Best Story
Watch Dogs

Best Music / Score
Alien: Isolation
Best Sound
Alien: Isolation
Best Acting
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
Most Innovative
Alien Isolation
Best Local Multiplayer
Call of Duty Advanced Warfare

Best Online Multiplayer
Favourite Game
Best Game
Alien Isolation

Games on my watchlist for 2015:

Tom Clancy’s The Division
Star Wars Battlefront
Mirror’s Edge
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
The Witcher III: Wild Hunt
Call of Duty
Battlefield Hardline
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Forza Motorsport 6
NHL 16
Madden NFL 16
Assassin’s Creed
What are you looking forward to?

JD's Film Awards 2014

It’s that time again for me to hand out my Film Awards. These are for films released in 2014 and that I saw either in the cinema or on DVD.
Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress
Amy Adams (American Hustle)
Best Music / Score
Best Sound
Best Screenplay
The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Story
Two Faces of January
Best Special Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Best Director
Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
Best Film

I would have liked to have seen Exodus: Gods and Kings and I have a feeling it would have been up there for the Special Effects award if not more. But sadly, I just didn’t get chance.
Films on my radar for 2015:
American Sniper
The Theory of Everything
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
Fast and Furious 7
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Terminator: Genisys
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2
Big Hero 6
What will your next film be?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Come the Revolution: The many troubles of Homefront

Since its release in 2011, I have been a big supporter of Homefront, but it isn’t an IP that has made it easy for you to love.
Developed by Kaos Studios and released by THQ in 2011, Homefront is a first-person shooter telling the story of a united Korean republic invading a weakened United States in 2025.
The gameplay is your standard shooter fare, though the action is fun and explosive. The campaign is gritty and pushes the boundaries compared to the action movie-esque shenanigans of the likes of Call of Duty.
Review-wise the campaign was criticised for being too short. Now I don’t really mind this myself as life is busy and I like games that don’t take forever to get to the point, but at barely 4 hours long, I can see where the critics are coming from.

The multiplayer received the most praise on release and it really is brilliant – or should I say was (more on that shortly).
Large maps, a high player count and with satisfying gameplay the multiplayer, for me at least, was one of the strongest examples on store shelves at the time.
Its primary innovation was the Battle Points system. Traditionally, points earned in multiplayer matches can be used to upgrade your gear and abilities back in the lobby, but Homefront allowed points to be spent during the multiplayer games themselves. After gaining points from kills and capturing objectives, you could then choose to spend these points on the likes of weapons and drones or let them mount up in order to spend on larger assets like helicopters and tanks.
This system made for matches that started out fairly low-key, but by the end were chaotic with armoured vehicles rumbling around the field and choppers harassing your overhead.

The multiplayer was not without its problems though. Technical issues plagued the game from the start making partying up with friends almost impossible. These issues were eventually ironed out for the most part, but the game still had poor map rotation, few customization options and some connection issues still lingered.
Despite its problems Homefront had a small but loyal following. Not enough for THQ it seemed, as Kaos Studios was closed in June 2011, a mere 3 months after the game’s release. Nevertheless, the publisher announced strong sales for the game and that a sequel would be developed by Crytek UK.
Things were left unclear when THQ filed for bankruptcy in December 2012 which finally closed the door on Homefront’s multiplayer outside of private matches.
Crytek bought the rights to the franchise in January for $544,218 and announced they were co-developing Homefront: The Revolution with Deep Silver Studios.
Shifting the action from San Francisco, the game will be set two years after the events of Homefront and four years into Korea’s occupation. Following a new uprising in Philadelphia, the game promises to be much less linear than the original, with an open-world design, allowing for random events to occur in the world around you that you can choose to take part in, ignore, or use as distractions to your advantage.
Financial problems then hit Crytek with reports of missed wages and bonuses for staff. A number of employees filed grievances against the company and some left entirely – the Homefront director Hasit Zala amongst them.
By July 2014 Crytek had to admit to being in a “transitional phase” of restructuring which ultimately led to the Homefront property being sold to Koch Media, Deep Silver’s parent company.
Homefront: the Revolution would now be solely in the hands of Deep Silver Studios, though under British transfer laws, all Crytek UK employees would be moved over also, giving some cohesiveness to the project and the vision of the game.

Looking at the breakdown of the game on console I have concerns that the multiplayer aspect currently reads “co-op” only. Surely they haven’t ditched the strongest element of the original game have they?
Considering this franchise’s turbulent history, nothing would surprise me at this point – except maybe the game getting a release date. At the time of writing, Homefront: The Revolution has no clear release window beyond “TBA 2015”.
Pre-orders are still being taken at retailers, however, so for those of us who have supported the property since 2011 and have campaigned and clamoured for its return – there is still hope.
Home is where the war is.