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In mid-November, Quantic Dream registered the domain singularityps4.com, suggesting a title and system for the second of two games the Parisian developer is said to be developing for Sony. Despite Cage declaring a lack of enthusiasm for the next generation of consoles, it's been evident for a while his company is eyeing future platforms.
"Singularity" is a rather curious and possibly revealing title. David Cage acknowledged futurist Ray Kurzweil's recent book The Singularity is Near as a chief influence on Quantic Dream's "Kara" tech demo, and Kurzweil's exploration of the synthesis of man and artificial machine is very much up the wheelhouse of what Cage likes to focus on in his games. When asked in an interview about whether he would elaborate on Kara's themes and milieu in a future game, Cage delivered a rather evasive non-answer. And Cage's games do sometimes have titles that are rather on the nose.
The singularityps4.com domain falls very much in line with past Quantic Dream domains heavyrainps3.com and beyondps3.com, and mirrors SCEE's general preference for domains that indicate a game's platform. Given these domain trends and Quantic Dream's status as a valued second-party Sony developer that would presumably privy to the overall strategy of their publishing partner, "singularityps4" could perhaps indicate that Sony will opt for the name of PlayStation 4 for their next console (a surprise to probably no one)—and the current codename of Orbis will vanish.
It is, however, quite unlikely that the game will come to market simply titled "Singularity." Singularity was, of course, the title of Raven Software's commercially unsuccessful time-travel-themed 2010 shooter, and Activision holds the "Singularity" trademark in multiple territories. ("Singularity" was also, oddly enough, the name of an apparently now-scrapped big-name action film at Sony Pictures about nanotechnology that Roland Emmerich and Kurzweil were collaborating on in late 2011—something that makes me wonder if Cage possibly consulted with Kurzweil for his project.) In order to use the name in commerce, Sony and Quantic Dream will have to add some sort of subtitle or additional words to make sure their name doesn't infringe on Activision's already existing mark, assuming "Singularity" is anything more than a working title.
According to Remedy Entertainment's recruitment page, the studio is now working on an "unannounced iOS project" alongside the previously known "unannounced AAA project for future generation consoles," which many believe to be a full-fledged sequel to Alan Wake.
This new iOS project is quite possibly a sequel to Remedy's first mobile release, a remake of their 1995 combat racer Death Rally that broke even in three days. Last August, Remedy's Oskari Häkkinen told VentureBeat that his studio is "going to be doing more Death Rally."
Häkkinen hinted that Remedy hopes to bridge the gap between Death Rally and the company's other franchises by placing a greater emphasis on cinematic storytelling as to "bring more life to the cars and the drivers." In terms of gameplay, he also hopes Remedy can tailor the next Death Rally with "user-generated content" in mind to allow players to realize "the craziest cars and the craziest weapons." (Additionally, a publicly accessible sitemap for Remedy's website reveals a page with the URL "death-rally-2.")
But a few weeks later, Häkkinen said in another interview that Remedy had not yet decided what its next mobile title will be. And despite the commercial imperative for a Death Rally 2, he said Remedy still wants to "create new themes and franchises" that suit its creative ambitions.
It appears XSEED is the American publisher for Suda 51's recently-revealed PS3 and Xbox 360 action title Killer Is Dead. Last week, the niche publisher registered the domain killerisdead-game, as well as presumably marketing-related sites killandlove.com and
The game is yet to be confirmed for release outside of Japan, where it is slated for release in the summer. If one wants a very iffy suggestion for a possible American release timetable, the domains are set to expire in about a year.
Also of note: XSEED seemingly almost dipped its toes into the mobile free-to-play market last year. The company very quietly put up a site, trailer, and Facebook page for a "free to play action RPG for iOS and Android" that was intended for release last summer. The game, which was developed by Japanese mobile studio Blockbuster, seems to have been a fusion of Infinity Blade-esque touch and slash gameplay and a JRPG aesthetic.
Finally, amid THQ's troubles, Alex Peters, who was the studio head at THQ subsidiary Relic Entertainment, states on his CV that he left the Vancouver developer this month to join Activision. Peters was at Relic for two years, and prior to joining the studio, he served as game director on the ill-fated RPG Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned and chief operating officer at DICE.
superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone. He tweets, and can be reached at heyheymayday AT gmail DOT com.
Top photo: It's not a screenshot! It's a futuristic-looking dentistry robot. Photographed by David Guttenfelder | AP.
Read more Assorted Scoopery! Secrets lurk within.
Looks like rumors that Roland Emmerich, the director behind such films as Independence Day, The Patriot and The Day After Tomorrow, is set to direct an Asteroids movie, based on the video game may not be true.
In an interview with Collider, Emmerich denies taking on the role of director, though the position was in fact offered to him.
Collider: You've been rumored to be attached to Asteroids. Are you doing that?
C: Not at all?
E: Nope. I was very honored that they wanted to have me as a director, and I kind of liked the script very much, but at that time I was writing with my writing partner Harold Kloser a new script called Singularity and I opted for that.
So for now, if the Asteroids film is to be made, it is director-less. But they are searching!
Most of the time on Fine Art I look at new stuff, or at least somewhat contemporary art. Sometimes, though, I like to look a little further back. Today is one of those days, and it's a real treat.
Today we look at the art of Jeffrey Moy, who among other things did concept art for one of my favourite games of all time: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.
You'll find a ton of pieces from that game in the gallery above, where I've also included work from some of his other, more recent stuff like Activision's time-travelling shooter Singularity, X-Men Origins and X-Men Legends. He also worked on Call of Duty: Black Ops.
What's cool about the stuff I'm posting here is that it's so raw: Moy usually worked on the production side of things, like storyboards and turning the big, colourful concept art into something more practical that 3D modellers and animators could work with.
To see the larger pics in all their glory, either click the "expand" icon on the gallery screen or right click and "open link in new tab".
God of War III, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II round out the field of nominees. The winner will be named Feb. 5 at the annual Writers Guild Awards, which will take place simultaneously in Los Angeles and New York.
Writers who are Guild members or who have applied for membership are eligible, and they must have worked on a game that released between Dec. 1, 2009 and Nov, 30, 2010.
Last year's winner in this category was Amy Hennig for Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. The full citations for each nominee are:
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Story by Patrice Desilets, Jeffrey Yohalem, Corey May; Lead Script Writer: Jeffrey Yohalem; Script Writers: Ethan Petty, Nicholas Grimwood, Matt Turner. Publisher: Ubisoft
Fallout: New Vegas, Creative Design Lead/Lead Writer: John Gonzalez; Writers: Chris Avellone, Eric Fenstermaker, Travis Stout; Additional Writing: Tess Treadwell, George Ziets, Jason Bergman, Nick Breckon, Matt Grandstaff, Will Noble, Andrew Scharf. Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
God of War III, Written by Marianne Krawcyzk; Additional Writing by Stig Asmussen, Ariel Lawrence, William Weissbaum. Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands (Wii), Writer: Benjamin McCaw; Story Dialogue Editor: Marianne Krawczyk. Publisher: Ubisoft
Singularity, Written by Marc Guggenheim, Lindsey Allen, Emily Silver; Additional Story and Writing: Jason Henderson, Adam Foshko, Michael Cassutt; Story and Script Consultant: Adam Foshko. Publisher: Activision
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Executive Producer-Writer: Haden Blackman; In-Game Script: David Collins, John Stafford, Cameron Suey; Additional Writing: Tid Cooney, Ian Dominguez, Tony Rowe. Publisher: LucasArts
2011 WGA Awards Video Game Writing Nominees Announced [News Release]
About forty people were let go today, according to some of the folks directly effects by the layoffs. Reached for comment this morning, Activision had this to say:
"With the recent completion of Singularity, Raven Software is realigning its workforce to better reflect the studio's upcoming slate."
They declined to specify how many people were let go today.
Raven Software was founded in 1990 and later acquired by Activision.
Over their 20 year history, the developer worked on a number of popular titles including the Heretic series, Hexen series, Soldier of Fortune series, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Quake 4, Wolfenstein and most recently Singularity.
Sources tell Kotaku that the layoffs come as the developer refocuses their energies on downloadable content. Raven Software initially had three development teams, but last year reduced that to two teams. This year's reduction cuts it to one.
While the studio still exists, it's sad to see it dwindling to seemingly so small a part of publisher Activision's future.
Heavy Rain and Madden NFL 11 lead the charge into a day filled with PlayStation 3 deals in Amazon's shiny golden box of values. What's up for grabs today?
A day's worth of PS3 deals on Amazon begins with Deal of the Day Heavy Rain, a game seeing increased interest lately due to the addition of PlayStation Move controls. Amazon's got it for $39.99 all day long.
If shouting for your missing son isn't your thing, then perhaps shouting out audibles is? Well too late. The deal on Madden NFL 11 ended at 8AM Pacific time, so you missed your chance to pick it up for $44.99. Instead, we've got Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions with bonus art book for $44.99.
Here are the remaining times and the clues:
10:00AM Pacific: Premium headsets for FPS games. (Obviously a headset.)
11:00AM: Battle as your favorite character in the war that started it all. (Um.)
1:00PM: Bigger hits and broken sticks! (Something sportsy?)
3:00PM: Ready yourself for an epic, retro adventure. (3D Dot Game Heroes)
5:00PM: Battle Soviet forces in an alternate time dimension. (Singularity)
8:00PM: Power up your racing experience. (Blur)
Feel free to fill in the blanks here. I am a horrible guesser.
See anything you like?
Amazon Gold Box Deals [Amazon.com - Thanks ph15h!]
Transformers: War for Cybertron for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 is a steal today on Amazon.com at $42.98, the Deal of the Day punctuating a series of timed Lightning Deals running all day long.
The first of the Lightning Deals has already been revealed as Singularity for the Xbox 360, a game I was particularly fond of, unconventional multiplayer modes aside. At $39.99, it's definitely worth giving the game a try, as long as copies are still available once this story goes live.
The rest of today's deals are, as usual, presented as a series of clues.
9:00AM Pacific: "Go West, young man." Red Dead Redemption, hopefully.
11:00AM: "Journey to a land of legendary combat." Tournament of Legends?
12:00PM: "Street Fighter IV button mashing" Some sort of fighting stick controller?
15:00PM: "The first modern day spy role-playing game." That would be Alpha Protocol.
16:00PM: "Hone your stealth skills." Splinter Cell: Conviction?
18:00PM: "Life 23 years from now." Metro 2033.
21:00PM: "Explore the deadly, shadowed world of an Assassin." Barbie's Horse Adventures, or Assassin's Creed II.
Hope that helps you folks save a little dough!
Amazon Gold Box [Amazon.com - thanks visceralrealist!]
Of course not! TimeShift had a time-shifting suit. In Singularity you have a time-manipulating device that slips onto your arm, so the rest of your body can breathe. You'll stumble across this device after finding yourself the lone survivor of a U.S. military patrol of the island of Katorga-12 off the coast of Russia, where mysterious experiments took place during the Cold War. Could the device and those experiments be connected? You'll find out as you unravel the mysteries surrounding the Singularity.
It sounds like bad science fiction. How does it play? Like good bad science fiction.
It's A First-Person Shooter All Right: Strip away the time manipulation aspects and Singularity is a first-person shooter that's as by-the-numbers as they come. You start off with a pistol you'll hardly ever use once you gain the machine gun, shotgun, and sniper rifle. Every once in a while you're treated to a special gun, like the rifle that shoots bullets in bullet-time that you can steer, but they quickly run out of ammo and are then discarded, put there seemingly as an occasional reminder of the whole time thing. Otherwise, it's your standard FPS, solid, dependable, and satisfying, if not spectacularly so.
Time Passages: What helps Singularity rise above other rank-and-file first-person shooters is the TMD — Time Manipulation Device. It's a wrist-mounted gadget from Cold War-era Russia that allows the wearer to age objects back and forth, cause localized time distortions, blast enemies apart using ferocious temporal energies, or pry open rifts in time. Using the device to manipulate the mysterious element E-99 certain objects are infused with, you can even use it to pick up and throw items.
Okay, so the science is a bit suspect. The application is rather nice, at least when you aren't busy reassembling smashed crates under doors to pry them open. While the game's puzzles may be overused and derivative (slowing time to stop giant fan blades? Really?), TMD-based combat keeps things fresh and entertaining. Aging enemy soldiers until they crumble into dust, maturing mutant ticks so they turn on their young, or aging the support holding up a couple of exploding barrels so they drop down on enemies' heads; it's these sorts of entertaining and generally unnecessary diversions that keep Singularity from becoming boring and repetitive. I like to think of it as playing with my food.
Twisted Tales Of Science!: In early Cold War-era Russia a sinister scientist discovers a mysterious new element on the island of Katorga-12 called E-99, the properties of which allow for the manipulation of time energies. In 2010 a U.S. soldier checking on the island after a strange energy knocks out an American satellite finds himself trapped there, forced to travel back and forth through time to unravel the mystery. It's pulp science fiction at its best. It's got questionable science, a mysterious terrorist group that knows your name, hilariously bad Russian accents, and a time-twisted plot that would make the most seasoned Doctor Who fan sit up and go, "Wait, what?" As long as you aren't taking it too seriously, Singularity's plot is stupid fun.
Time For Some Upgrades: Did you know that a Time Manipulation Device is capable of boosting the number of health kits you can use, or how much stamina you possess? Singularity's upgrade system makes about as much sense as its plot, but it's just as satisfying. By collecting the E-99 that's scattered all over the island of Katorga-12, you can transform yourself from a crepe paper soldier afraid to turn the corner to a tough-as-nails commando without fear. There's even a weapons upgrade system that can eventually be modified to use E-99 instead of the rare weapon tech upgrades you'll find laying around. Again, it makes no sense whatsoever, but who am I to complain when I go from being downed from four gunshots to wading through groups of enemies as if they weren't there?
Great Moments In Cold War History: With great time manipulation powers comes some great opportunities to push Singularities capable graphics engine to its snapping point. Singularity is littered with awe-inspiring moments; times when the game and gameplay truly shine. Watching a gigantic ocean liner reassemble itself and rise from the waters of Katorga-12's docks is incredibly impressive, just as having to navigate the said ship in order to find a bomb while it slowly crumbles apart is exactly the sort of death-defying, over-the-top action I crave in a video game.
Difficulty In Reverse: Remember in the upgrades section above, when I asked who I was to complain? Well now I am complaining. The upgrade system in Singularity is enjoyable, but it also ruins any sense of tension that might have existed towards the end of the game. I'm used to my shooters getting more difficult towards the latter half, but the opposite is true here. Once you obtain the armor upgrade and toss a couple of points into it, there's no enemy in the game that poses a significant threat anymore.
Beastly Multiplayer: Rather than pit soldiers against other soldiers, Singularity tries to follow the Left 4 Dead multiplayer model, pitting teams of humans against groups of mutant enemies in two multiplayer modes. You've got the team death match flavor of Soldiers Vs. Creatures, or the territory takeover in Extermination, in which the soldiers try to activate three beacons that will destroy the opposing monsters. Having only two game types and a handful of maps wouldn't be such an issue if there weren't serious balance issues between the soldiers and monsters. The creature team seems to constantly struggle to keep up with the soldiers, whose ranged weapons and selective time manipulation powers seem to outclass their bestial counterparts at every turn.
Just as Singularity's story intertwines elements from the modern era and Cold War eras, the game itself is a combination of older first-person shooter conventions and new ideas. The game obviously borrows heavily from many different sources, most notably BioShock's aesthetic sense and upgrade system. The difference is that Singularity, by design or by happy accident, doesn't seem to take itself too seriously. It's a nonsensical time-travelling trip that somehow works itself into an experience that's quite enjoyable, as long as you're able to toss your suspension of belief out the window and enjoy it for what it is: Stupid fun.
Singularity was developed by Raven Software and published by Activision for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on June 29. Retails for $59.99 USD. A copy of the Xbox 360 version of game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through single-player campaign on standard difficulty. Logged several hours of multiplayer play.
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