Shocker! EA trying to manipulate Battlefield 3 review scores: The Norwegian branch of Electronic Arts seems to have withheld review copies from certain sites and tried to filter reviewers for Battlefield 3. If you’re surprised, raise your hand and punch yourself in the face. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about something like this, and it certainly isn’t the first time it’s happened. The mandatory apology has already been made, and EA is already developing more subtle ways to manipulate the score of their next attempt to unseat Call of Duty. I’ll spare you the usual rhetoric about how this is reprehensible. The reality is that EA knew it could get away with this. Getting caught will cost them almost no sales, and succeeding could have conceivably boosted the gross from the first week. In their desperate desire to unseat Activision’s juggernaut, EA will seemingly do anything except develop and execute a thoughtful, multi-year market strategy.
Arkham City launches with a glorious DLC disaster: Destructoid reported that boxes of Arkham City have shipped without the DLC codes that are supposed to be included in a new game. Some of those who managed to use the codes are apparently getting crashed games and messages about “corrupt DLC”. My advice is to wait and buy the game used. It’ll be cheaper, and you’ll avoid all the troublesome crashes that the “free DLC” causes. Remember, the cost of free DLC is your dignity. And, I guess, the $60 you paid expecting to get a working game. Sucker.
The last of the handhelds: On February 22, the world’s last dedicated handheld gaming device, the PS Vita, will be released in America. Maybe it will sell in decent numbers and I’ll be proven wrong. The increasing power and flexibility of phones and tablets, however, makes me suspect that a costly, bulky piece of single-purpose hardware with short battery life and insanely expensive proprietary memory won’t be good enough for another go-round after this one. I haven’t felt the slightest tug of longing for the Vita, and my enthusiasm for the 3DS died within an hour of trying one out. Maybe that will change, but I really can’t see getting one of these things when tablets and netbooks are not much bigger and have so much more capability.
I read these posts and so should you:
Tom Auxier breaks up with Dark Souls.
While we’re on that topic, John Vanderhoef has some interesting things to say about the game’s massively multiplayer aspect.
Discussing Rage, Jim Rossignol takes issue with the railroading that occurs in open world games and their imitators. Make sure you follow the links to two other interesting pieces by Brandon Sheffield and Eskil Steenberg.
In a similar vein, Mitch Krpata argues that Rage might have been better if id had just made it a linear corridor shooter.
Dark Souls – My interest is flagging, in large part because of the issues that Brad refers to in his recent post. Even though I’m only a tiny bit into the game, the input lag and strange interactions with level geometry have cost me at least 10K souls directly, not to mention the forced retreads where I lost nothing. In a game this tough all the fundamentals must work perfectly. Aside from the issues he lists, I also have a minor issue where I occasionally roll when I hit L1 instead of raising my shield, usually with unpleasant results.
Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep – You know a developer is giving you the finger when he gates progression in an RPG with a badly-made rhythm minigame based on “It’s a Small World”. Just click this video, I dare you.
Now imagine hearing that a thousand times as you shoot lumps of ice cream at Huey, Dewey, and Louie in time with the music trying to reach a score of OH GOD MAKE IT STOP