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 411mania » Games » Columns

Four Player Co-op 09.26.12: New PS3 Model, Half Life 3, Rock Band, More
Posted by Stephen Randle on 09.26.2012

Stewart Lange has joined the game.
Adam Larck has joined the game.
Todd Vote has joined the game.
Dan Watson has joined the game.

Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Four Player Co-op. I am the Quizmaster, and this week, to ensure that all scoring will be both fair and balance, I've taken the liberty of hiring an impartial crew of officials to make a final decision on the scoring. I'm sure nobody will have any problems with that, and nothing can possiblie go wrong.

Er…possibly go wrong.

Start the game!

QUESTION ONE: With the Wii U just weeks away and a general consensus that the next X-Box and PlayStation are just around the corner from being announced, Sony has confirmed that they'll be releasing a new, "super-slim" PS3, possibly by the end of the month. Boasting the usual hard drive upgrades and an even smaller silhouette than the original "slim" PS3, and coming on the heels of an announcement that there are no PS3 price drops in the future, this has me thinking one of two things: either the PS4 is a lot farther away than we all think, or Sony seriously thinks that there's still a couple years of life left in the PS3 even with a new console waiting in the wings. Or maybe I'm way off base. What do you think?

Stewart Lange
You know, I think they want one last spike in sales before the next generation is announced. Let's face it, an announcement is only likely to come at E3, which is the best part of a year away. Then, assuming they don't "pull a Saturn," it'll be another minimum 6 months before anything even sees the light of day. I'm not saying there isn't something waiting in the wings, to steal your exact phrase, but its far enough away to keep milking a little extra out of what they already have.

Adam Larck
I really don't know what to make of this. There's no reason that older models shouldn't have seen a price drop with a new model coming in time for the holiday season. I still think we'll see a PS4 announcement next year. What this could mean is that the PS3 is already operating at such a small profit margin that the older prices couldn't be cut more. I'm not sure, but that's one of the best guesses I have.

Todd Vote
If there is one constant vibe that Sony has put out this generation, at least the vibe I have gotten from them, it's arrogance...hubris if you will. I've constantly gotten the impression from Sony this generation that they think their shit doesn't stink. They just expect people to fall all over their product because they are the creators of the great and mighty Playstation. I'm not saying they don't have superior software, or a better line up of exclusives, that is all irrelevant in this particular conversation. Can anyone deny that Sony felt justified in the price they set for the PS3 based solely on their success in previous generations? Anyways, my point with this was that they are more than likely still thinking they are bullet proof when it comes to consoles. They think they are offering a great deal here, whether the PS4 is just around the corner or not. For once, they are right, this is a great deal on the PS3, but this late in the cycle, is it worth it?

Dan Watson
I think we are still a ways off from the next generation. Towards the end of the last generation we had games that were two and three discs long and graphics were slowing down frame rates. We are still getting games that are single disc, great graphics, and fun. Sony has so many exclusive titles they really don't need a new console yet. If they wait until 2014 the economy will hopefully be turning around and more people may be willing to spend 600 on a console.

Gee, Dan's got some of that Sony hubris going if he thinks anyone's going to be happy if they come out with a 600 dollar price point for the second console in a row. I'd say the maximum they can get away with is $450, and even that price would keep me away until the first drop. I'd like to believe that Sony will have learned from their prideful mistakes, but instead Todd's getting 342 points, because we all know they haven't.

QUESTION TWO: So, Valve's created a bit of an interesting betting opportunity here. In one corner, their much-rumoured "Steam Box" potential foray into console gaming, which they apparently would like to get into beta testing by next year. And then you have Half-Life 3, which will apparently be a massive open world game with questing, puzzles, RPG-elements, and possibly a cure for cancer. That one's not due until at least 2014. Given that this is the first real news about Half-Life 3's existence that has come directly from Valve, which one would you put your money on coming out first? Oh, if you want to throw your cash away, you could also bet on Half-Life 2: Episode 3, which has inherited Duke Nukem Forever's "most anticipated vapourware" title.

Stewart Lange
Half Life 3, easily. Software will come before hardware, I reckon. Even if this Steam box is real and close to testing, how long could that then leave it before release? Exactly. That's taking into account that it would even be a viable venture for Valve, in the real world. It's a cool idea and all, but there much more to consider than "cool" in business. A game, especially one that'll sell like hot fudge sundaes such as another Half Life, be it 3, episode 3, ANYTHING will be much easier to get out there. Hell, it could even help fund the "console."

Adam Larck
I look for Valve's new hardware to be done first. With the beta testing set to happen next year, and an internal beta already ongoing, Valve seems to have a good start on that. Half-Life 3, if everything is to be believed by "sources," seems to be hitting quite a few bumps in the road in the development process. I can also see Valve just skipping Episode 3 altogether and going for Half-Life 3 and extending the game out a bit more.

Todd Vote
I think the Steam Box is the most likely scenario to materialize first. With news of Half Life 3 as an exclusive right on its tails. Do you think it is coincidence that we are starting to get news about both of them around the same time here? Hell no, it's strategic marketing. You start talking about your new game box, then you start talking about a game people have wanted to see more than just about any other game right now. Boom, instant hype. I mean it makes sense for Valve to make Half Life 3 at least a timed exclusive, right? What better way to get millions of geeks to hand you their money?

Dan Watson
This is a tough one, Quizmaster. I'd like to say option three, the NFL refs get a call right before either of these comes out but we all know that'd be wrong. So I'm going to go with Half-Life 3 getting the sooner release of the two. Games are easier to put together than an entire console.

We are split right down the middle on opinions, but I like Todd's marketing version of the timeline, for 1539 points. God knows it would break the trend of launch lineups that have absolutely nothing worth playing, so you buy the console and then wait months until the real anticipated titles hit.

QUESTION THREE: Well, it's a smaller anniversary, but what the hell, let's work with it, because five years ago, Rock Band was released, creating arguably the peak of the plastic instrument gaming fad, which came, exploded, and then disappeared, leaving only the fresh scent of Rock Band Blitz, which uses no instruments at all. Looking back, which surprised you more, how quickly the genre grew into massive popularity, or how fast the entire thing became oversaturated and essentially vanished?

Stewart Lange
Now, the Guitar Hero thing only caught on for me with 3, and they all came out within 6 months of that basically, so I'd say the demise was more shocking for me as I didn't really notice the rise. Rock Band still gets a look in in my house, mainly due to it being one of three games my wife will play (Tomb Raider and Left 4 Dead 2 being the others) but we only need Rock Band 3, not the other ones. Blitz is appalling, though.

Adam Larck
The oversaturation is what surprised me. At a time when group play was becoming big, the music games worked great to satisfy playing with friends over for a party. However, between the amount of games made and released in a few years, the oversaturation was worse than Tony Hawk and shooters. I could see the genre eventually making a comeback, but companies really need to let things calm down and figure out what to improve on before making a new game.

Todd Vote
Quite honestly, the sudden rise of the genre after the first Guitar Hero game surprised the hell out of me. I was curious about the game, and liked what I saw, but never in a million years did I imagine that it would catch fire like it did. As far as the genre becoming oversaturated and vanishing, who didn't see that coming? Isn't that what happens to everything that is new and fresh? Beat that shit into the ground like a dead horse, milking it for every cent it is worth. I don't really think the genre has vanished, rather it lays dormant, waiting for the next big hook to bring it back from oblivion.

Dan Watson
Option 2, Boss. I can understand why it became popular: fun music, karaoke style gameplay, and just a lot of fun. I'm shocked at how quickly it disappeared. For a while we had a new game monthly it seemed and then nothing. Where did the music go?

Wait, I think we're missing the point here…Stewart's wife plays Tomb Raider and Left 4 Dead. No wonder he married her. Votes are 3-1 for the sudden death of the genre, and no surprise, Todd's on the wrong side. Dan gets 4326 points for addressing me by title. You don't usually get respect like that these days, according to CM Punk.

QUESTION FOUR: And with the news that the co-founders of BioWare will be stepping down and leaving the industry, we're going to ask you if you have anything you'd like to say to memorialize their massive contributions to the gaming industry in the form of several award-winning franchises like Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic and…um…Mass Something-or-other.

Stewart Lange
My old flatmate and I (I'm talking when Knights 2 first came out, I was not long in my first flat away from my parents) were playing KOTR2 and I noticed he was playing as a female Jedi. I asked him, "Why are you playing as a girl?"

He replied, without a heartbeat, "If I'm going to look at an ass, even a computer generated one, for all the hours I'll be playing this, I'd rather it was a female one."

Sage advice and my first memorable experience with Bioware. Personally, I loved Mass Effect. All of them. Even the ending. Suck it.

Adam Larck
Zeschuk and Muzyka have definitely left their mark on gaming. The games and stories in the games they've made have been top notch, and they've helped make genre-defining titles with great gameplay and stories. I'm sure BioWare will still continue to produce great content, but it all started with this pair of men.

Todd Vote
I have to give credit where credit is due. These sneaky bastards at Bioware have been responsible for me playing more RPG's than any other company in the industry. I've thoroughly enjoyed time spent with KoTOR, and hell I even gave Mass Effect a good honest try before realizing that it wasn't for me. If you know me, that actually is about the best compliment I can pay to the co-founders of BioWare, you made me play, and at times enjoy a genre I would otherwise despise. Good on you, and good luck in whatever you do in the future.

Dan Watson
Sadly, of the titles mentioned I only played that Mass game. To say they didn't create amazing games with huge worlds with be a major lie. This company created some of the most mesmerizing worlds and cut-scenes. They will be missed.

For me, BioWare is the developer that has made all sorts of games that are so full of depth and wonder that I can't manage to actually finish any of them. Damn you, gaming ADD!

BONUS QUESTION: Hey, with Microsoft renewing the Killer Instinct trademark, let's get Todd's hopes up that they might be making KI2, for real this time!

Stewart Lange

Adam Larck
Aww, but I've already ruined his hopes once about this. Even though, they've renewed the trademark doesn't mean they have to do a thing with it. While another title or HD remake would be nice, Microsoft may just be trying to protect the IP from being taken by someone else. Todd, don't get your hopes up. Microsoft and Rare have had a chance to make another title for years, and they still haven't yet. Don't expect one now just because they renewed a trademark.

Todd Vote
Silly Quizmaster. If you are trying to get me pissed off, you should at least ask the right questions. We've already got KI2. As it turns out, I am too busy laughing at you over your little guffaw here to be upset about the possibility of Microsoft only renewing this trademark so that they can hold on to it and never ever have to produce another Killer Instinct game. Never mind the fact that the timing has never been more ripe to revive that franchise. Never mind the fact that the fighting game genre is experiencing a bit of renewed interest... If the only thing that comes out of this is a Killer Instinct remake for the XBLA, I am perfectly okay with that. I don't necessarily need KI3, though I have a feeling if Microsoft does release a version of Killer Instinct on the Xbox Live Arcade, it may eventually lead to KI3, provided sales of the game reach what they want it to.

[QM Note]: I may have slipped a digit, but I still got you to hope again, Todd!

Dan Watson
Hmmm.... Microsoft is looking to cash in on another older title they didn't create. I'm sure we are just going to get a port of the original and maybe an HD remake in 3-5 years.

Please wait…Host is calculating scores…



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