games / Columns

Ask 411 Games 10.15.12: XCOM, Syndicate, THE Games, More!

October 15, 2012 | Posted by Mathew Sforcina

Hello, and welcome to Ask 411 Games! I am the guy who answers all your questions about video gaming, Mathew Sforcina. You know, in case you’d forgotten.

Hey, you have a busy life, lots going on, a lot of stuff to remember, you can’t be expected to remember every tiny detail, now can you? No no, a helpful reminder of the occasional fact is something that is worthwhile, to ensure that you’re up to speed on everything.

I actually have some movement on the gaming front, as on a whim I got the new Dead or Alive 5 game. I’ll admit that I have something of a weakness for the series, even if the new English speaking voice over work is slightly hit and miss. I mean, while I don’t like the drawl, Tina’s voice is perfect for her, but Christie… I dunno, I always pictured her as less cultured. Not Lady Sovereign level by any means, but not the cultured English lady voice she’s got.

But still, for some reason I just LOVE the new girl, Mila. I dunno why, but for some reason I just have to play as her a lot. Which is weird, since I’m not a big MMA fan, so why do I love her?

Oh, maybe what’s on her chest is the reason…

Anyway, enough about that game. Let’s get to BANNER!

411 on Twitter!

Me On Twitter~!

Remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to [email protected]

Mr. Ace Crusher has some questions first up. You know, that being the gimmick of the column and all.

What was the reason for dusting off Syndicate and XCOM and turning them into FPS? Other than the obvious ‘milk our old franchises for all they’re worth’, why FPS when the originals were heralded as amazing turn based strategy games?.

Let’s take them in alphabetical order.

The original Syndicate was produced by Bullfrog, and was a real time isometric strategy game from the early 90’s, where the player headed up a corporation and used groups of cyberpunk type agents to carry out missions like assassinations and demolitions, as well as ‘encouraging’ conversions.

The reboot, released this year by EA, is a ‘gritty’ first person shooter, with the main characters data chip allowing him to slow down time and other FPS type actions.

And was, by the way, another game not released down here in Australia. Sigh.

Anyway, officially EA viewed the game as a ‘risk that didn’t pay off’. Their words. They have claimed that they were in a catch 22, in that a ‘small, vocal’ minority were going to hate the game anyway, in that if they didn’t provide a straight remake they’d hate it, and if they did a straight remake they’d be hated for not innovating. EA basically felt that they did as good a job as they could to bring the game into the new millennium. Given it sold supposedly around 150K, it failed.

That official life is, to be frank, BS. Deus Ex: Human Revolution had a much harder job to convert an old sci-fi game into the new millennium and via taking the best of the original and converting the rest to what is today’s standards, it produced a game that, while not a personal favourite of mine, sold well (I own it…) and was popular as hell.

But then, that’s kinda the reason why Syndicate came about, because EA saw DX:HR and decided that they wanted a game like that, but also was like COD, they did not take a risk, they went the absolute safest path possible, which produced a game that was in every way generic, with a classic brand slapped on in an attempt at some free sales. I mean, EA so desperately wants a Call of Duty level FPS. Battlefield is good, and across the series has sold somewhere between 25-40 million. Call of Duty’s sold over 100 million, across the lifespan.

So EA wanted to try and get a COD level sales franchise, and since they have the straight FPS covered, they tried for a safe, bland sci-fi FPS. And it didn’t work.

Turning to X-COM, which began as UFO: Enemy Unknown, or X-COM: UFO Defence in the US of A, it went from a hybrid of real time management simulation and turn based tactics fighting PC in 1994…

And is now split into two games, with the XCOM: Enemy Unknown being a more faithful tactical update of the original…

And, the game I believe you are referring to, just XCOM, from Irraitional Games 2K Australia 2K Marin, a more straight FPS set in the 60’s.

Although that said, the backlash has, supposedly, made the delopvers take more cues from the original game series. But when you began a project with a senior figure saying that strategy games ‘are just not contemporary’, you’re unlikely to get a turn based strategy game out of the deal, although given there’s pause functions in the game, I suspect it might eventually resemble Fallout 3 somewhat.

Although rumors are swirling about the game, as it might end up third party, and/or as a XBLA/PSN game, with the current developers pushing for it to be more like the original. So it might be that the original developers who wanted to make the game a FPS to be more ‘modern’ being gone, replaced by people who like the early games, it may not go the Syndicate route. We’ll have to wait and see. But at least, unlike EA, 2K were up front with their opinions. When they began, they felt Strategy was dead, and thus they went FPS. You know, they are wrong, but at least they are up front about it.

Which came first XCOM 2012 FPS or XCOM 2012 TBS?

Well XCOM is 2013/14 at current plans. But the FPS has been in development since 2006, in that in May 2006 Irrational hinted they were hiring for people to work “on the sequel to one of the best loved PC franchises of all time”, with E3 2010 being the official announce point.

Whereas Enemy Unknown began work in 2008. So it started later and came out first. So points to Firaxis there. Now gimme a sequel to Sid Meier’s SimGolf already!

Also what do you think the chances are of Crusader: No Remorse or Wing Commander of getting reboots?

Crusader is an interesting game series, in that it was fairly open, with heavily destroyable terrains and a wide variety of missions.

The game encouraged stealth and tactics, and to be honest, I’m kinda shocked EA hasn’t rebooted this, given that it’s a lot more friendly to a FPS remake than Syndicate. But a third game was in the pipeline but never eventuated, and supposedly in 2006 a Slovakian company named Outsider Development tried to pitch to EA a reboot, even getting a prototype up and running, but that was rejected, although it’s hard to tell if that was due to the game or the people pitching it.

It does have a cult following and critical success, but EA hasn’t yet shown an interest, so I’d have to put it at low to middling chance.

Wing Commander on the other hand, you know that right?

… What the hell is TAKA Michinoku’s theme doing at the start of that video?

Anyway, Wing Commander has been around for many years, starting in 1990, and is known as being both THE space combat simulator, and for Wing Commander III being the first game to use full motion video rather than animation for its cutscenes, with a cast of actual actors (Luke Skywalker! A British Person! TIM F’N CURRY!!!) and stuff. However, with the fall of the space shooter, Wing Commander has fallen with it, with the last game an XBLA game in 2007, 9 years after the last game, Wing Commander Arena, with a 2D type gameplay style, no cockpit view.

Given that that game did poorly, and that the space shooter genre is still as dead as Maze and Programming Games. So I’d say that’s low to no chance. Sorry.

Darth Mortis finishes with a review of THE games…

When I was young, I was hung up on River Raid and Megamania for the Atari 2600. I noticed that my son, now 17, was a huge fan of Pokemon and shows signs of continuing that trend for a long time to come. If you could list, say one game from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft (console only, but your choice of handheld or set top, but current generation only) each, to represent what you think the ‘go to’ game for the future, what would they be? What would your personal favorites be if different? Please show your work. Love the Ask games and wrestling columns, and would most likely cry the tears of the damned if you stopped them. No hints nor pressure, dude.

Last bit first, I did toss out an idea that Boxing Day this year might make a good spot to end my run on Ask 411 Wrestling, given that it would be 4 years or so since I began. I’m still working that out in my head, suffice to say that Ask 411 Wrestling and Ask 411 Games are separate beasts, and that I might keep one and stop the other, or vice versa, or whatever. I dunno yet. My life could change at any moment after all.

But anyway, onto the question. I will stick to the current generation, although I’ll do all of them, and if people want to hear my reasoning/choices for past consoles, I’ll do that next week, make a series of it.

Anyway, current gen consoles (7th and 8th). What will be THE game that will be associated with it in the future? In reviewing these choices, I tried to find the game that balanced being exclusive, best sales, those that pushed the console to the limit, and that are recognizable and popular. The game that becomes forever associated with the console should be all these things.

3DS: I think my choice for the game associated with the console is fairly safe, in terms of the fact that it’s the highest selling game on the console, Super Mario 3D Land. I think that given that it’s a Mario title, uses the 3D aspect fairly well, and is of course exclusive, it’s a very safe choice for being THE game. At least so far.

Although I must admit, I don’t own a 3DS, so I can’t speak from experience, but Paper Mario: Sticker Star is the title I’m most wanting to get (there’s a couple others, but I LOVE Paper Mario…)

DS: This I do own, but the choice is a bit harder. Mario Kart is so far THE Mario Kart, and New Super Mario Bros is beloved. But I’m gonna go for Pokemon Black and White (maybe 2), which is something of a gamble, I’ll admit. Mario is always the safe bet, but I think PB&W will be one of those games that people keep playing.

But again, not my favourite. The Professor Layton series isn’t for everyone, but it’s the series I’ll always associate with the console.

PS3: I think this is very much a toss up between three games, God of War 3, Gran Turismo 5 and MGS4. But I think that in the long run, MGS4 will end up being the game more associated with the console. But GOW3 is my choice, given that I’m not deeply in the MGS canon.

PSP: Geez Louise… I think that you can’t go with Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, given that it’s pretty much solely a Japanese game. So my pick is God of War: Chains of Olympus. Which is about as good a choice again for my favourite, given that I don’t own and have no intention of owning a PSP.

Vita: I think it’s harder to pick from a console still going, especially one that will be so interactive with another one. But so far… Uncharted: Golden Abyss is a good a choice as any.

Wii: Wii Sports. I’m happy and want discussion of these below, I’m happy to have people talk about these things. All but this one. Wii Sports is the ONLY correct answer here. There’s better games, bigger games, but the fact is, thanks to this being the bundled game, this is the game that EVERYONE has played, from you reading this to your little old grandmother and everyone else in between. It will forever be linked with the Wii in mass culture. No debate. (Super Smash Bros Brawl is my fav though.)

Wii U: Bad enough for the PSP, but to do it for a console not yet out is just madness. But so far, given what’s been announced… New Super Mario Bros. U I guess…

Xbox360: The only debate is which Halo game, 3, 4 or other?

Although I don’t really have a favourite game that fits here, as my 360 is my default console, so all my fav games tend to be cross platform, I just have them on the 360. But Halo is the Xbox.

But do you disagree? Say so below, and remember, questions can go in the comment section, or, better yet, to [email protected] See you all next week!


article topics

Mathew Sforcina
comments powered by Disqus