Dishonored is a great game for gamers who are looking for something different in the plethora of fall releases. Arkane Studios and Bethesda did an excellent job with this new IP and hopefully its success guarantees a sequel or two. The question is, what sort of gamer does Dishonered appeal to?
I don't have fond, childhood memories of Mortal Kombat. My only memories of it were of watching my older brother play it and of my mother shaking her head with passing glances. I've been wary of playing Mortal Kombat since, as it is difficult to understand the complex story and the relationships between the characters. Thankfully, the newest Mortal Kombat serves as a much-needed reboot to the series, and a retelling of the first three games. Its awesome. This game is packed to the brim with content. You have an expansive campaign, a classic arcade ladder, 300 level challenge tower, an interactive "Krypt" with 300 unlockables, and of course multiplayer with both regular, tag, and king of the hill modes.
If you’re a nerd like me you probably ran out and bought Windows 8 last weekend. After using Microsoft’s new OS for the past few days I’ve come to see the Windows experience in a whole new light. Instead of thinking of my computer as a blank canvas upon which to create, Windows 8 throws you a ton of content at you to help get you started. It’s great for people who don’t know what to do with their computer. It’s also great for people who do know how to use a computer and just want something fresh and new to look at every time they turn it on. As a gamer, how will that new experience affect me?
I think back to Valve/Steam founder Gabe Newell’s comment about Windows 8 being a “catastrophe.” He goes on to elude that Steam will cease compatibility if Microsoft continues down this direction with its OS. As a matter of fact, Steam is now entering into beta status on Linux! Why the sudden turn around on Windows -- Steam’s largest user base? After finally getting my mitts on Windows 8 (I did not participate during the Release Candidate period), I’ve come to some conclusions as to why Newell feels so harshly about the new OS.
If you’ve used Windows 8 then you’ll instantly notice that it looks and feels much more like that of a tablet. The OS also supports touch screen monitors as well (something I’m surprised Apple hasn’t jumped on already). If you have an XBOX 360 or a windows phone, then you’ll notice that they all look and function almost exactly alike. This is all part of Microsoft’s plan (much like Apple) to unify and unite its products across multiple platforms.
The old fashioned Desktop and Start menu that has been a staple of Windows is now gone (though a version of it can be turned on if you need to use a legacy program). Instead, your screen is filled with apps, which can be downloaded, installed, and run in an instant. It also surprises me how fast Windows 8 is at switching between them. This is clearly the direction Microsoft intends on taking the Windows experience and I believe that it can be a healthy one if done right.
The root of Newell’s main criticism of Windows 8 is that this new direction seems to close off the open ended architecture of Windows in general. All apps and programs must go through some sort of an approval process before they can appear on the OS (much like Apple). Microsoft can also reject any apps. I suppose the less open nature of Windows 8 is a valid argument on Newell’s part but I believe he’s over dramatizing it. The legacy Desktop app allows you to access all of your older programs in a formant similar to Windows 7. You can even access the good ole’ Command Prompt (now that’s old school). Trust me, Windows will still remain open. Instead, let’s look at the real motive behind Newell’s comments.
About three months ago Steam released a new feature called Big Picture. Big Picture (currently in open beta) throws the entire Steam experience into an easy to navigate user interface that can be entirely controlled by an XBOX 360 controller. It’s intended for gamers, like me, who have their PCs hooked up to their fancy widescreen televisions and prefer to game from the couch rather than a desk. Newell and company have put a lot of time and money into making Big Picture work and the results are wondrous. Once you’ve used Big Picture, there’s no going back; it’s awesome! I love it and I think it is a step in the right direction for Steam.
The problem arises once you’ve put Big Picture and Windows 8 together. At this time Steam doesn’t work natively within Windows 8. Whenever you run it, it switches back to legacy Desktop mode. With Big Picture and Windows 8 being developed separately, simultaneously, and by different companies, it’s no surprise they are the technology equivalent of water and oil. Steam and Big Picture was never intended to run as an app. It is a program that runs apps of its own -- games. As a matter of fact, Microsoft indirectly places itself as a competitor to Steam in that it too runs a service and app store within Windows 8. The first reason that Newell hates the new OS is because he sees it as an instant (1) COMPETITION BUILT INTO EVERY COPY OF WINDOWS 8 SOLD.
Getting back to the topic of Steam and Big Picture mode not working natively within Windows 8, it doesn’t really seem that difficult for Steam to create a working app that launches within the OS. We all know that Steam rakes in a lot of money (just look at the number of games in my account) and also has some of the most talented people in the business. Steam has proven itself to be the leader in online game purchasing. Why don’t they just create that app instead of busting their heads over Windows 8’s architecture? The answer is they did! It’s called Big Picture! The problem is that it was made for Windows 7! They just didn’t know what Microsoft had down the Windows pipeline when they were creating it! So now Steam just (2) WASTED TIME AND MONEY CREATING A MAJOR FEATURE FOR AN OBSOLETE OS.
With Microsoft taking Windows into new territory, Newell and company wonders where to take Steam next as well. Mac and Linux seem like a natural expansion of Steam but with such a small install base compared to its Windows audience it’s going to be hard to generate as many sales. The tablet and phone market are also biting a chunk in the traditional gaming pie. Other online services such as Origin, Green Man Gaming, and Amazon Downloads are also cutting into Steam’s profits. I believe that steam is (3) FEELING THAT ITS PLACE IN THE GAMING MARKET IS BECOMING THREATENED. It’s amazing Newell can even manage to keep it together at this point!
Steam is at a turning point in its life. It can either accept to roll with the changes or die with the past. I believe these criticisms from Newell are part of its growth. I, for one, love Steam and hope to see it continue, and run natively in Windows 8 one day (and soon too). Come on Gabe, stop with the criticisms and get working on that app!
Halo 4 is almost here and there are quite a few gamers who are ready for a midnight release. The game is releasing at the perfect time, right before Black Ops II. Several retailers are offering pre-order bonuses, Goozernation has a breakdown and asks gamers who is offering the best bonus?
For Part 3 of Going Through the Motions, Ryan focuses on the PlayStation Move. This series looks at gaming through the eyes of a new gamer, interested in motion control, in the hopes of helping people pick the right system for Christmas presents, or for their personal use. Coming soon: a comprehensive article on Nintendo, covering the Wii and what we know of the Wii U.
Like a good scare with the lights off? The Goozernation crew is going to look at some of their favorite games to play on Halloween. Prepare to be terrified as we talk about PC and console games -- everything from the classics to more modern titles.