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Jun 29, 2012
Shacknews - Andrew Yoon
Sure, the rest of the world is waiting for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, but Mac gamers will finally be able to get their hands on the original Treyarch shooter later this year. It will be the first Mac Call of Duty since the original Modern Warfare. Neither Modern Warfare 2 and 3 were ever ported to OS X.
Mac specialist publisher Aspyr Media is handling the port, and is aiming to have it available at both retail and online later this fall.
Curiously, it appears the numerous DLC packages released following Black Ops' launch may not be included with this years-late re-release. In a separate bullet point, Aspyr notes that "all four packs of Call of Duty: Black Ops DLC are scheduled to arrive on the Mac later this year. More details to be released soon."
Nuketown was one of the most popular maps in Call of Duty: Black Ops' back shooting filling multiplayer, and a favourite of fans. Now an IGN reader has spotted a poster at Irish game store Xtravision that indicates the beloved map is coming back, but not for everyone.
The redesigned map is called 'Nuketown 2025' and will be updated to fit with Black Ops 2's more futuristic approach. It's unclear if the Nuketown will be a special edition bonus (the sign does say 'limited edition') a pre-order bonus (it also says 'driving pre-orders... and day 1') or an retailer specific bonus. Either way it's described as the 'biggest incentive in Call of Duty history', which while it will no doubt excite retailers, is just an additional annoyance for fans.
Maps are always a controversial choice when it comes to bonus incentives, as EA and DICE found out last year when gamers attempted to organise a boycott in the mistaken belief that Battlefield 3's Back to Karkand would be day one DLC for pre-order customers. The fear is that it will unnecessarily split the community, although given that Black Ops sold 20 million map packs, Activision could probably split their community several times over and still have more players than almost every other FPS.
Bonus maps aside, the new Call of Duty actually looks like it's trying some new and interesting things. Check out our Black Ops 2 preview for more.
Jun 15, 2012
The studio behind the Tony Hawk series and Guitar Hero have started working on Call of Duty. Evil Avatar note that their website has been updated with a message saying "we have molded our team into a crack squad of eager developers ready to push the First Person Action genre in support of Activision's Call of Duty franchise."
Working "in support" suggests they might be handling ongoing DLC content for an upcoming Call of Duty, in the same way that Sledgehammer are supporting Modern Warfare 3 with Call of Duty Elite content. Alternatively, they could be working on a new CoD title entirely, but will it have skateboards?
It's impossible to tell at this early stage, but judging from the cycling mocap studio shots and the job listings on the site, it won't be a small spin-off. The job ads require "experience designing top notch levels or gameplay experiences in shipped AAA titles" So there we are, Neversoft are the latest members of Activision's Call of Duty tag team, consisting of Treyarch, Infinity Ward, Sledgehammer and Raven.
Treyarch are busy putting together Call of Duty: Black Ops for release later this year. Based on previous form, Infinity Ward will be making Modern Warfare 4 for 2013, but a Neversoft project could give one of Activision's other studios an extra year or two to move CoD into an upgraded engine, though that may be wishful thinking. Frostbite 2 will start pushing 64-bit OS systems next year, with the release of Battlefield 3 and Medal of Honor, Call of Duty is in danger of looking increasingly dated.
"Noisy" and "quite orange" were the two overriding sentiments coming out of the E3 2012 demo for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The futuristic setting does allow for some neat toys, though. There's a sniper section in which the player plugs enemies from a broken carriageway, spying and shooting them through solid concrete pillars, Perfect Dark style.
It's loud and full of bangs, but there's no sign of any deviation from the traditional Call of Duty linear set-piece to set-piece progression here, and while there's technically plenty going on (mostly explosions), up-close, the engine is starting to show its age, especially when lined up alongside the Medal of Honor trailer that also emerged from the E3 conferences today. What do you think of the new setting?
May 29, 2012
With ITV mistaking games footage for video evidence of terrorists attacking planes and the BBC mistaking a logo from Halo for a genuine UN flag, the boundaries between the real and the virtual are getting interestingly blurred – although not, curiously, by people who actually play a lot of games. Accidents like the BBC and ITV incidents happen, but intentionally confusing games for reality is still rare. Unless you're Sam Orchard, a photography student from Falmouth College hopes.
He's taking screenshots to the art world, with a project called 'Uncanny Valley' which will be exhibited at the Truman Brewery in London. In it, he uses shots from Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 to “question the validity of the perceived ‘real’ war photograph”.
I contacted Sam to ask him how he captured the images, thinking there'd be some sort of free camera mod with heavy PhotoShopping involved to let him get the pictures he wanted, some of which are very close to award winning pictures from recent conflicts. Stupid me – his technique was to point a camera at the screen while playing. Tricky to do, but he is a photographer after all.
War photography and the images of war is a difficult subject to tackle – on the one hand, it might seem facile to challenge photojournalists and reporters who risk their lives to bring back stories from warzones with pictures from videogames. On the other, their work is so important that it needs challenging regularly – at its worst, it becomes a process for satisfying the aesthetics of the image rather than the documentary truth of a situation.
“Some of the most celebrated war photographs of all time (Roger Fenton's 'Valley of the Shadow of Death' - 1855, Robert Capa's 'Falling Soldier' - 1936) were the result of ethically debatable degrees of representationalism or even straight forgery, using the perceived infallibility of the war photograph to mould the author's own agenda around the image.” says Orchard, “This ranged from moving aspects of the scene to benefit the final aesthetic of the photograph (Fenton), or actually staging soldiers being shot to create an iconic image (Capa).”
There have been many more recent examples of photographers seeking a “front page shot”, says Orchard, who believes that an “iconic documentary image should be incidental, not constructed”.
“By mimicking the role of a war photojournalist and imitating the aesthetic conventions of the archetypal war photograph,” he says, “I aimed to plant a seed of doubt within the viewer's mind - causing them to question not only my images, but other subsequent 'real' images of war. This process of creating an awareness to the potential of deception within the war photograph would therein challenge the working ethos of the war photojournalism industry and its supposed purveyance of truth.”
Le Show – which features collections from the Falmouth course, most of which have nothing to do with games of course - runs from 21st to 26th June. Image credits and copyright Sam Orchard.
Proving once again that it pays to wait when it comes to the hottest PlayStation 3 games, today Sony is launching Ultimate Editions, a selection of hit PS3 titles bundled with all of their downloadable content for one low price. How much would you pay for complete editions of Red Dead Redemption, BioShock 2, or L.A. Noire?
They're like Game of the Year editions, only downloadable. Today through June 4, PlayStation 3 owners can hop onto the PlayStation Network and purchase more-or-less complete editions of some of the hottest older games on the console for 30 percent off what all the bits would have cost individually. For a DLC-heavy game like Motorstorm Apocalypse, scoring the whole shebang for $50.49 isn't too shabby.
Of course it's even better when you're a PlayStation Plus member. Then the bundles are 50 percent off, dropping that Call of Duty: Black Ops Ultimate Edition from $66.46 to $46.54. Maybe it's finally time I look into hooking up a year of PlayStation Plus.
Here's the full list of Ultimate Editions going up today.
- Red Dead Redemption with Legends and Killers, Liars and Cheats and Undead Nightmare — $27.99 ($19.59 for PlayStation Plus)
- InFAMOUS 2 Complete Edition — $33.99 ($23.79 for PlayStation Plus)
- BioShock 2 with Exclusive Character Pack, Minerva's Den, The Protector Trials, Rapture Metro and Sinclair Solutions — $27.99 ($19.59 for PlayStation Plus)
- MotorStorm Apocalypse — $50.49 ($35.34 for PlayStation Plus)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops with First Strike, Escalation, Annihilation and Rezurrection Packs — $66.49 ($46.54 for PlayStation Plus)
- L.A. Noire: The Complete Edition — $27.99 ($19.59 for PlayStation Plus)
- Mafia II with Betrayal of Jimmy, Greaser Pack, Jimmy's Vendetta, Joe's Adventure, Renegade Pack, Vegas Pack and Hero Pack — $20.99 ($14.69 for PlayStation Plus)
- Just Cause 2 Ultimate Edition - $20.99 ($14.69 for PlayStation Plus)
- Mortal Kombat with the Warrior Bundle and Klassic Skins Pack 1 — $34.99 ($24.49 for PlayStation Plus)
PSN Introduces Ultimate Editions [PlayStation Blog]
The introduction of the Frostbite 2 with Battlefield 3 last year threw down the gauntlet to other shooters. Visually, things have taken a step up, so it's interesting to see how the other big shooter franchises like Call of Duty respond. Black Ops 2 was revealed just a few weeks ago, and while it's been updated, it's still running on the modified version of the id Tech 3 engine that the series has been using for years. Treyarch aren't concerned.
Mark Lamia spoke about the Black Ops 2 engine to One of Swords. "People always ask me, “Is this a new engine?” I liken it to people who live in an older house that has been remodeled," he said. "Just because you’re remodeling the house and it will look new or it will have a new kitchen, you don’t tear out the foundation, or break out some of the framing. You might even go as hardcore as replacing the plumbing, and we will do that sort of thing, as an analogy. It’s a gross simplification, but it’s one way to say that. There’s a lot of good still in that foundation that you wouldn’t get rid of, and we don’t. We look to advance in the areas that support our game design."
The lighting system has been a big point of interest for Treyarch in Black Ops 2, and the team have the added constraint of trying to ensure that the game will run on consoles at 60 frames per second.
"Engines, each time they get touched, they change. The creators alter them; they don’t modify what they don’t need to, and then they alter what they need to. You can’t make a competitive product if you’re not upgrading that engine along the way," he added.
Black Ops 2 will be set in a future full of X-Ray sniper rifles. Find out more in our Black Ops 2 preview.
Activision puts out a new Call of Duty game every year. It's been that way for the last half-decade or so. Trouble is, this annualization give people a wide-open lane to complain about recycled engines and how the games all look the same.
Mark Lamia—head of Treyarch, the studio behind the Black Ops branch of COD—knows all of this and wants people to know that some the software powering the sequel won't be a complete overhaul of the tech used for 2010's Black Ops. In an interview with Activision blogger Dan Amrich, Lamia says:
Engines, each time they get touched, they change. The creators alter them; they don't modify what they don't need to, and then they alter what they need to. You can't make a competitive product if you're not upgrading that engine along the way.
So what specifically got touched? Graphics and lighting, it seems:
I think what people are asking for is for us to push. They want us to make a better-looking game; they want things. I don't think those are things people can't ask for. We asked ourselves that very same question - we wanted to advance the graphics. I think the questions are valid. The answer may not need to be an entirely new engine, but you might need to do an entire overhaul of your entire lighting system. The trick is, we're not willing to do that if we can't keep it running at 60 frames per second - but we did that this time. So this is the Black Ops II engine.
Mark Lamia discusses the Black Ops II engine
[One of Swords]
Court documents obtained by Game Informer suggest that the near-future setting of Treyarch's upcoming Black Ops 2 could violate the agreement between Activision and Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward.
Infinity Ward's Memorandum of Understanding includes a cause that grants the developer authority over 'any Call of Duty title set in modern day (post Vietnam), the near future or distant future.'
Game Informer's report suggests that if ex-Infinity Ward bosses Vince Zampella and Jason West win the lawsuit against Activision, the publisher could find itself in a difficult situation, with damages payments the likely outcome.
Check out Evan's Black Ops 2 preview for more on Treyarch's new direction for the series, and this picture of a mocap horse because it's a picture of a mocap horse.
May 4, 2012
When we say "Dubstep" most people think of hard drops and grinding wubs. But there is a lot more to the genre than that.
When people think Call of Duty, they think of hard explosions and grinding machine guns. But… perhaps there's more to the genre than that?
YouTuber TomahawkTrix thinks so, anyway, with this surprisingly lovely dubstep remix of that first trailer for Black Ops II, featuring a tune from Blackmill Music.
Feels like all those other emotionally dissonant action-game trailers we've seen, only with kinda more interesting music.