Find out all the latest news and gossip from the UK in GameSpot UK's team blog, London Calling.
Other Site Blogs
GameSpot Versus Beat the Pros Edition is a way for GameSpot members to test their skills against super star pro gamers. From FPS to...
Christmas is nearly here, and we have a very special competition for you to help brighten the season for you. Not only can you win a shiny new 32" Samsung HDTV (with a built-in Freeview tuner, naturally), but you can also win an ultra-limited edition Darksiders Xbox 360, of which there are only 10 worldwide.
On top of that, there are also copies of the game to be won, as well as 7" figurines of the game's main character, War. The first name drawn from the GameSpot festive hat before it gets put away for another year will win all of the above--so that's a copy of the game, a figurine, a console, and the TV--and the next five lucky winners will all get copies of the game when it's released in January, along with figurines of War.
What you could be getting your grubby little mitts on…
So what do I have to do to be in with a chance of winning this spectacular bundle, I hear you cry? Well, all you need to do is answer a simple question: In what chapter of the Book of Revelation are the four horseman of the apocalypse introduced?
Easy. Now send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Awesome Darksiders Goodies," and we'll pick a winner in the new year. As the game is rated 18+, you have to be over 18 to enter and a UK resident, so be sure to include your date of birth and home address in your e-mail. If you want to include a phone number that would be useful too, as that makes it so we can get hold of you quickly when the competition closes…but not putting on in your e-mail won't disqualify you.
This competition has now closed! Thanks for entering..
This Boxing Day will mark the five-year anniversary of the Asian tsunami. Resulting in the deaths of nearly 230,000 people and affecting the lives of millions, the 2004 tsunami is one of the most destructive natural disasters the modern world has faced.
In an innovative move to promote awareness, the British Red Cross has launched an interactive challenge called Decisions for Recovery. Placing you in the role of a disaster recovery manager, the interactive flash game asks you to coordinate the tsunami recovery response, rebuilding lives by answering a series of tough questions. Based on the actual events and dilemmas faced by Red Cross staff during the crisis, Decisions for Recovery uses role-playing game elements to engage players in the wide range of problems faced by real-life recovery workers.
“We were faced with the most difficult decisions of our lives, decisions that affected hundreds of thousands of people whose lives were destroyed by the tsunami," said Alistair Burnett, disaster recovery manager for the British Red Cross.
“The support we received from the public was phenomenal and enabled us to mount our largest recovery effort since the Second World War. Now we want to tell the story of how the money people gave was spent and the difference it has made to people’s lives.”
To support the continuing Red Cross recovery effort, visit recoveringafuture.org.uk/challenge and take the Decisions for Recovery challenge.
Chart Track-GfK, the UK's main music, video, software performance, and sales tracking company, has today reported that since December 8, 2006, the Wii has sold over 6 million units in the UK, as of 28 November 2009. This officially makes Nintendo's little white box the fastest-selling console on UK record.
Nintendo consoles have dominated this year's market. Figures released by UK retailer Game in April of this year show that the DS has managed to shift upward of 8.8 million units since its UK debut. At that time, the Wii install base was hovering around the 5 million mark, showing that not even the lack of UK price cut was able to deny the Wii the required 1 million sales, earning it record-breaking status.
However, it cannot be forgotten that the Wii's earnings took a hit earlier this year. Nintendo reported that sales fell 34.5 percent during the first half of 2009, forcing Nintendo president Satoro Iwata to publically acknowledge that, "the Wii has stalled."
Given the Wii's impressive performance in such a short period of time, it looks like Nintendo could be gunning for the PlayStation 2's UK sales record. Sony's sophomore console hit the 10 million sales mark earlier this year, officially making it the best-selling console in history. Having already beaten the PS2 in terms of sales-per-minute, can the Wii keep consumers interested for a couple more years and steal the overall top spot?
In a world where not even our virtual booty is safe, Jagex, who claims to be the UK's largest independent games developer and publisher, is using the law to fight back against fraudsters. RuneScape, the company's hugely popular free-to-play massively multiplayer online game, has been a persistent target for criminals looking to turn cybercrime into hard currency. However, as the first part of what is said to be an ongoing campaign against this brand of theft, Jagex's cooperation with police appears to have yielded results, and an arrest has been made in the Avon and Somerset region.
Several RuneScape account holders were tricked into releasing their details by way of a targeted phishing scam. Mark Gerhard, chief executive of Jagex, stated that the affected numbered a "few thousand" and that the resulting arrest had been the end product of a long-term investigation.
"Account theft and the use of phishing websites is a problem facing the entire online games industry and Jagex maintains a specialist team to combat any law breaking within our games" said Gerhard. "Players invest years of time and effort into developing their RuneScape character, so the theft of a RuneScape account shouldn’t be treated differently to the theft of any other valuable possessions such as a games console, television or car."
Gold farming, the process of building unreasonable wealth by endlessly repeating profitable activities within the game, was recently addressed by Jagex via changes to RuneScape's underlying code. Gerhard believes that because they eliminated this unfair method of gold acquisition, criminals were forced to find an alternative way to aquire loot.
"Once you close one vulnerability you move the attack surface to another part," said Gerhard. "They were going directly after the user credentials and trying to get at the wealth that way."
Jagex continues to cooperate with the PCeU and stresses a "zero tolerance" approach toward anyone who tries to introduce criminality into the RuneScape community. A spokesperson for the PCeU said, "People who seek to destroy others' online gaming experience could be committing criminal offences, leaving themselves liable to prosecution. The PCeU will continue to work with the industry and investigate these allegations where appropriate."
If your Christmas wish list, like mine, is chock-full of impossibly ambitious gift requests that will never materialise (personally, I've always felt that a private jet is the only way to pick up my groceries), then hark, for I bring you tidings of great joy.
With a little festive help from the kindly elves at Argos, GameSpot is offering one lucky reader the chance to get his or her mittens on a PS3 console and three games. And, if that weren't enough, we're throwing in a Samsung 40-inch full HD LCD TV to play it all on. Well, we wouldn't want you to strain your eyes, now would we? Not when there's all that high-quality Christmas TV to look forward to.
If you wish to lay claim to this magnificent bounty, all you need to do is tell us what our highest-rated PS3-exculsive game of 2009 was and how many emblems we gave it when it was reviewed. Simple, no? So why are you still reading this? Click here to enter and read the full terms and conditions, and don't say we never do anything for you. You've got until December 18 to enter, so get clicking!
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to be nice, not naughty for a few hours. I have a shortfall to contend with.
In a revelation distinctly lacking in both shock and awe, Activision continues to dominate this week’s chart with the distilled anarchy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. According to Reuters the franchise as a whole is reported to have hit the $3 billion mark this week. It seems that a gamer's thirst for bullet-time door breaches and gravity-defying skidoo jumps should never be underestimated.
Apart from F1 2009 managing to squeeze its way past Lego Batman and into the 10 spot, the situation at the top is more of a reshuffle than a new pack: Assassin’s Creed 2, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and Wii Fit Plus remain static, while FIFA 10 creeps up two places to number 4. Dragon Age continues on its downward slide, dropping 3 places to 20, while SingStar: Take That fails to shine, suffering a 13-place plummet to number 32.
On the flipside, pre-Christmas goodwill seems to be helping Activision’s latest musical underachiever, with DJ Hero now hovering on the edge of the top 20 after last week’s residency at 35. Along with a climb from Brain Training, it’s a safe bet that stockings will be stuffed with plastic and oddly shaped peripherals in the coming weeks.
In a bid for transparency (and general friendliness), I take this opportunity to present myself before the GameSpot faithful. I shall be floating around the periphery of the site for the next few weeks, having gained a work placement after stumbling in from the street and claiming to know what I’m talking about. Though, in all honesty, I think it was the kiss-and-tell story on a certain L. Croft that got me the gig. Turns out it really is all about who you know. I look forward to sharing my ill-informed ramblings with you all over the coming days and will endeavour to keep my digital indiscretions to a minimum. Thanks for having me and bring the noise.
War Child, a charity that aims to assist children in areas of conflict, is to receive support from Activision, Infinity Ward, Xbox Live and Game during the weekend of December 5 and 6.
As part of an initiative called Game for Good, the popularity of Modern Warfare 2 is going to be used to raise money for the aforementioned charity. If over 600,000 UK players log on to play Modern Warfare 2, a donation of £150,000 will be made to War Child. Every 100,000 players after that will earn an additional £25,000 for the charity, with a maximum of £250,000 up for grabs.
To ensure as many people as possible will be playing the game online, Xbox Live Gold Memberships will be free for the weekend. Game is also selling War Child wristbands to provide awareness and to, hopefully, entice the million users needed for the maximum donation to be granted.
Activision Blizzard is also using Modern Warfare 2’s success to further help raise money for charity. The publisher recently set up the Call of Duty Endowment, a nonprofit programme that aims to aid unemployed war veterans. Activision has already paid an initial grant of $125,000 to the Paralyzed Veterans of America to help fund a new rehabilitation centre in Boston. According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, there more than half a million unemployed war veterans in America; a figure that the C.O.D.E initiative is looking to help decrease. C.O.D.E workers will identify other organisations that need support and work to raise both funds and awareness for the cause.
For more information on the Game for Good initiative, War Child, or to get a Twibbon to show your support, a Facebook fan page has been set up here .
European publisher Rising Star Games has today revealed its lineup for the first few months of 2010. Leading the way is Opus’ Half-Minute Hero on the PSP, and the firm's first outing on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, in the form of Acquire’s Way of the Samurai 3. Both titles will be available from February and mark the start of a busy period for the firm, which is a subsidiary of Japanese development house Marvellous Entertainment.
The seven new titles hitting European store shelves in the first three months of 2010 represent double Rising Star’s first quarter schedule for 2009. Last year, we saw Rune Factory: A Fantasy Harvest Moon, Populous and psychedelic space shooter XG Blast land on the DS; this trend of role-playing games and puzzlers is going to continue well into 2010.
Alongside Half-Minute Hero and Way of the Samurai 3, the DS gets three new releases in RPGs Avalon Code and My World My Way, while cutesy puzzler Animal Kororo is on the slate and targeted at younger gamers. Avalon Code and My World My Way both hit shops stateside in Q1 of last year, to mixed reviews. The Wii also gets in on the party with tri-Crescendo’s much-anticipated action RPG Fragile Dreams--just known as Fragile for its 2008 Japanese debut--arriving in Europe in March. To round off a hectic start to the year, Rune Factory Frontier will also make its way to the Wii by the time April rolls round, from developers Neverland.
No mention was made of plans to publish No More Heroes: Paradise, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 port of the critically acclaimed Rising Star published 2008 Wii action RPG. The game is due out in Japan early next year and does not currently have a confirmed publisher outside of its home country. While Rising Star did not confirm plans to publish the title in Europe, when contacted by GameSpot, the firm did indicate an announcement on the title’s European fate should be expected some time early in 2010.
Check back shortly for our verdict on the remaining five Rising Star titles that are available soon.
Our friends at CNET UK have tested the Wii's new iPlayer channel against the PlayStation 3 version in a comparison that pinpoints where Nintendo's multimedia setup is still lacking. Improvements have certainly been made, but the visual splendour of Sony's powerhouse remains a cut above the Wii's best effort yet.
Despite the Nintendo Wii's strong sale figures, the console has always trailed behind on the multimedia front. The BBC's iPlayer service has been running smoothly on the PS3 for nearly a year, but unfortunately the new Wii iPlayer channel just doesn't cut the mustard, according to our AV-loving colleagues.
Up until now, the only way iPlayer was accessible on the Wii was through the basic Web browser. This made it impossible to stream high-quality images that would match the HD output of the PS3 and made watching any sort of programme on Nintendo’s console rather unbearable…and judging by their conclusions, the new channel doesn't do much to alter that.
Check out their reasoning and review of both services for full details here.
I'm Guy Cocker, and I'm an editor at GameSpot UK. This month, I've been growing a moustache to support the Prostate Cancer Charity, as part of an event known as "Movember."
I've never actually grown a moustache before, so this endeavour has certainly been a learning experience. I have discovered not only what I have always suspected--that my body is completely incapable of growing facial hair--but also that my friends and colleagues never tire of mocking me for it.
As part of the festivities, I was invited by the guys at Movember to receive a barber's trim on the London Eye. While the trip was incredibly surreal, I did learn a lot of new things about male grooming, including the existence of moustache wax, which helped my 'tache become just a tiny bit more noticeable.
Now I'm inviting GameSpot users to help out this great charity by donating to my 'mo page. You'll be supporting a very noble cause, as well as the efforts of video game scriptwriter Tom Jubert, today's podcast guest, whose handlebar moustache is much more impressive than my effort.
And don't forget, if you're growing a mo yourself, post a link to your Movember page below, especially if you've entered Rockstar's Movember competition.
Following on from last week's interview with Zero Punctuation's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw, GameSpot UK's sister site CNET UK has compiled a list of the best games-focused blogs, podcasts, and Twitter accounts from around the Net. (That is, of course, in addition to GameSpot UK's own Podcast, London Calling blog, and Twitter feed.)
You can check out all three features on CNET UK's Crave blog by clicking on the images below, and be sure to let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.
It has been nearly a week since the release of Modern Warfare 2, and the first official UK sales figures have just been released. Unsurprisingly, the numbers are very impressive, with sales high enough to not only top the all-formats chart, but also put Modern Warfare 2 up there as one of the most successful entertainment launches ever to hit the British Isles.
According to figures released by ELSPA/GfK-ChartTrack, an estimated 1.23 million units were shifted on the first day of sale, grossing around £48 million. The game has since gone on to sell a total of 1.78 million copies in the six days since release, resulting in a gross of £67.4 million in the British Isles. These figures eclipse the launch of last year’s Grand Theft Auto IV, which made a record £39 million in its first week on sale in April/May 2008.
According to ChartTrack, Modern Warfare 2’s sales record easily surpasses other high-profile UK entertainment launches. Mamma Mia holds the record for the top grossing DVD release for taking £25.8 million in its first week. The video game’s launch also destroyed the highest grossing opening week in the music industry, making the £9.5 million made from Oasis’ album Be Here Now look measly in comparison.
Michael Rawlinson, director general at ELSPA, commented, “These figures tell a clear story. The video games industry is now an established part of the mainstream entertainment mix. Whilst the launch of Modern Warfare 2 has indeed been extraordinary, it is indicative of the growing popularity of video games. One in three people in the UK now play video games regularly.”
This sales success means that Modern Warfare 2 now sits at the top of UK all-formats charts, knocking Nintendo’s Wii Fit Plus from the top spot. VG247, meanwhile, reports that the game has been removed from sale in the Russian market following controversy surrounding one of the game’s single-player levels.
Recently, console manufacturers have been racing to add non-gaming features to their machines. Microsoft's upcoming dashboard update will add Facebook, Twitter, and Last.fm integration to the Xbox 360 on November 17, while Sony is rumoured to be adding Facebook support to the PlayStation 3. Sony also recently integrated BBC iPlayer into the video channel of the PlayStation 3 XMB, an addition that proved so popular, the console is now the second most popular method for watching iPlayer, accounting for 10 percent of all usage.
This success was clearly noted by Nintendo, who today announced that the Wii will be given its own dedicated iPlayer channel on the main home menu. Though iPlayer was previously accessible via the Wii's Web browser, the BBC promises that the integrated player will offer a "faster, high-quality, and improved viewing experience."
The BBC iPlayer launched in 2007, and the service has grown to receive 75 million requests per month for radio and television programmes. The service originally rolled out to the PS3 and Wii toward the end of 2008, paving the way for its availability on over 20 devices.
The iPlayer channel will be available for free in the UK via the Wii Shop channel on November 18.
Good news, music fans! The GameSpot UK podcast will be receiving its first-ever musical guests soon, in the form of Pint Shot Riot on December 3. The band's track "Not Thinking Straight" appears in FIFA 10, and to celebrate, they've offered GameSpot UK users a free download of the track.
If you've been playing the game since launch like me, you'll instantly recognise the song in question. To own it in MP3 form, simply head over to the special site to download. And in the meantime, we'd love to hear your questions for the band when they come in. If you want to know how they ended up contributing music to one of the biggest games of the year, tune in to the podcast on December 3!
If you were lucky enough to pick up a copy of Modern Warfare 2 before last night's midnight launch, you should be thankful you didn't have to brave the teeth-chattering drop in temperature like many. With Activision turning up the style in time for the game's release, a number of parties and store openings were held worldwide to unleash the game with a bang. Whether you were shivering in New York, traversing the Australian outback, or even jigging along to Dizzee Rascal in Westminster, it seems everyone wanted a bite of Activision's tasty pie as early as possible.
Even our very own Mark and Guy made their way to the London launch party--an occasion flooded with celebrities and special guests. The first time the Westminster Council has allowed a video game launch to take place in the land of movies--some may have been fooled by Activision's Hollywood style setting and theatrics. Groups of actors dressed as in-game soldiers strolled along the camouflage "red" carpet, and security was provided via a set of armoured vehicles that replicated the transport in Modern Warfare 2's early levels. According to Mark, the event was "ludicrously over-the-top" but "Activision managed to pull it off." His enthusiasm stifled a little when commenting on the midnight launch, however, calling it "a bit of damp squid, [that was] possibly dampened by the low prices for the game at supermarkets." Both The Daily Mail and the BBC are today reporting that Play.com has taken up to 150 preorders a minute at peak times, so I'm sure Activision isn't quaking in its boots just yet.
Luckily, for the rest of the globe, London wasn't the only major city to suit up for Modern Warfare 2's release. Activision also provided a slightly less extravagant shindig in New York's Union Square. A sizeable crowd formed in order to play the game a few hours before release, as a system link setup had been installed to provide a brief taste of what's to come in the co-op campaign. Similar to London's hip-hop stars making an appearance, Ice-T could be spotted in New York, and the public was treated to a performance from The Roots' DJ Questlove. All the VIPs in New York walked away with a Prestige edition of the game, making me realise I should have been a limp-walking, free goggle-toting rap star instead of a writer who loves to wear a nice, warm sensible jumper.
Sales figures for the launches aren't available yet, but Modern Warfare 2 is expected to at least give GTAIV a run for its money and, perhaps, smash Rockstar's record for the biggest launch in history. UK Trade mag MCV is reporting that 3 million copies of the game have already been shipped to UK retailers, so expect some mammoth sales figures to emerge as the week goes on, especially with all the hype around the ongoing supermarket price war that eclipsed the controversy surrounding the game's inflated RRP.
After recently drawing criticism from longtime video gaming critic Keith Vaz MP--who you may remember for his ill-informed Manhunt-related antics--for certain airport scenes, Labour's former digital minister Tom Watson has fought back by setting up a Facebook club called Gamers' Voice and raising the matter in parliament. Combating the claim that Modern Warfare 2 contains "scenes of brutality", the group has been made to show support to the industry that is often under fire for its adult content. With the Modern Warfare 2 launch taking over hundreds of stores worldwide (including 300 in Australia) and parading across Leicester Square in flamboyant fashion, surely this is the closest a game has come to reproducing the glitz and glamour of a movie premiere?
After a lot of work and even more traveling, I find myself sitting in the GameSpot UK offices. While experiencing life in London for the first time, I receive an invite from Guy, Alex, and the rest of the crew. And it's not something I could refuse…especially when my first job is to bring you some brand new gameplay movies of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
So what am I going to be doing here? I'm happy to announce that I'm the latest intern on the editorial team and couldn't be more overjoyed at the opportunity. I'll be here for three weeks and will hopefully show the guys that I can cut it at the top level. Already, I'm learning new things and adapting to the intricacies of a workplace that any writer would strive to achieve.
Hailing from Kent, it's quite a commitment taking three weeks out here. Already, the opportunity has begun to pay off. I've spent the day capturing footage from the much-anticipated Modern Warfare 2--a game that, if you hadn't heard already, officially graces store shelves today. The process of capturing footage and getting it ready for the Web site has already implanted itself into the depths of my brain; a good start to what will be an interesting 15 days. The first of my Modern Warfare 2 footage is below:
There's a lot for me to learn here, and I couldn't be more excited to have the chance to show off not only my writing skills, but also all of the other skills required for making it in this business. It's been a busy two months for me, and finally my writing is getting noticed. Moving into GameSpot UK Towers for three weeks is a natural progression that will only add fuel to a fire that is already burning so brightly for success.
Although Football Manager 2010 was able to hold off Nintendo's Wii Fit plus from the number one spot, the fitness title has now climbed up one place to the top of the UK charts, as Football Manager drops down to number four.
Nintendo will be hoping for some success with Wii Fit plus, as itsrecent financials depicted a less-than-rosy outlook for the Kyoto based company. Overall Wii sales were down to only 5.75 million units from 10.1 million, and profits plummeted 52 percent from ¥144.8 billion ($1.6 billion) from April to September 2008 to ¥69.5 billion ($766 million) from April to September 2009.
However, if the game manages sales figures close to its predecessor, Nintendo should be laughing all the way to the bank. Wii Fit managed to hold on to the top spot for over 16 weeks earlier in the year, and lifetime sales for the game have hit over 22 million.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows for other publishers this week, as a number of high-profile releases have failed to break the top 10. Activision's latest child-friendly rhythm game Band Hero, failed to break even the top 40, while DJ Hero, which last week debuted at 20, drops another place to 21.
Sony may be disappointed with the performance of Insomniac’s latest title, Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time, which debuts at 22, though manages number three in the PlayStation 3 chart. It's more bad news for Sony as SingStar: Take That fails to hit the right notes and charts at 16. FIFA 10 climbs up a place to three, while rival PES 10 drops down to nine. Interestingly, PES 10, which traditionally fares better on a Sony console, has been knocked off the top spot in the PlayStation 3 chart by FIFA 10, falling to five. The last new entry in the all-formats category this week comes from BioWare with the critically acclaimed Dragon Age: Origins, which debuts at five.
If you've ever come across the online video series Zero Punctuation, you'll know that Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw doesn't refrain from speaking his mind. Every week, Croshaw reviews video games using a combination of crudely animated visuals and expletive-laden commentary. It's rude and often fanboy-baiting stuff, but above all, it's uproariously funny.
GameSpot UK's sister site CNET UK has secured an interview with the British-born, Australian-based journalist, and he goes into the production of each episode, the possibility of iPhone game reviews, and what he believes is the worst game ever made.
Check out the interview and let us know what you think in the comments.
While Activision’s other rhythm game Guitar Hero 5 has sold well in the UK, beating The Beatles: Rock Band and debuting at number one in the UK chart, it failed to live up to sales expectations in the US and was outsold by The Beatles: Rock Band.
Activision itself conceded that sales in the music genre were down significantly, but the company had hoped they would be rejuvenated with its latest rhythm game, DJ Hero. Unfortunately, analyst predictions of weak sales appear to be coming to fruition, because the game failed to break into the UK all formats top 10 after its release on Friday, debuting all the way down at number 20.
The high cost may be partly to blame, with the title having a recommended retail price of £99.99 in a bundle with the new turntable controller. The Renegade Edition of the title, which packs a special black and gold turntable, retails for an eye-watering £169.99.
Elsewhere in the chart, Football manager 2010 jumps straight in at number one, holding off Nintendo's Wii Fit Plus, which grabs the number two spot. The other new entries this week are Tekken 6 at number eight and Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, which debuts at number six.
While our US friends across the pond get to play with only a black Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Europeans will be soon be able to purchase the limited-edition black Wii bundle, complete with a copy of Wii Sports and Wii Sports Resort.
Nintendo was kind enough to send us a black Wii bundle ahead of its UK release on November 6, and we eagerly set upon tearing the box open to take a look.
Check out our full unboxing video and pictures below.