Rockstar is Preparing to Compensate All Those Affected By GTA’s Online Issues

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The problems with”GTA Online” may be getting played out to a meme like level, but it doesn’t change the fact that the first week or so with the game was rough. While the connection problems and various glitch annoyances may have been the face of the issue, the growing reports of players losing their characters and in game assets entirely quickly became the most troubling news to come from the whole incident. It’s also one that Rockstar didn’t seem to have an answer to as the reports grew and grew.

Now, however, it appears a solution is available, as Rockstar has announced that it will be giving everyone who played the game since launch $500,000. That’s in-game cash of course, though with the sales numbers for the game, they could probably swing that in real currency as well.

The funds will be available to any players who’ve accessed “GTA Online” in the month of October, and will be distributed in two deposits of $250,000 to players bank accounts when a patch is released in early November. While this may not restore the level progress of some players who lost their original characters, all things considered this is about as generous of a compromise as could be expected, and should set up most users nicely.

Oh, and if you’re debating whether or not to buy that luxury apartment or the luxury sports car with your recent influx of cash, I say hold off until the in-game stock market is working, and invest in real estate which will be on the rise after everyone starts buying places to live with their winnings. That’s how the 1% would do it.

 

The Biggest Games Still to Come In 2013

As much as I love “GTA V” (which, if you were wondering, is more than waking up to all the presents you wanted for the year on a white Christmas morning), trying to find video game news not related to Rockstar’s magnum opus is becoming quite the epic adventure itself.

Since the ghosts of video game present are a little tied up at the moment building their shooting skills (got to hit up Ammunation), to find something non “GTA” related to talk about, we’ll have to look towards the future.

It’s been something of an odd year for video games as even though it has seen some of the most high quality games in recent memory, they all seem to have been released early on, rather than continuing the traditional holiday season release rush. As such, while we may have a pretty good idea how the game of the year talks will shape up, here are some of the biggest games still left to get excited about, once your “GTA” addiction has subsided.

Watch Dogs

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What was one of the most touted games on the video game horizon has slipped a little bit in hype due to some questionable current gen graphics shown in a recent gameplay video, and something of a media silence since the last E3 showing, but still remains the biggest name left in 2013.

It’s easy to say that its got an even tougher path to glory in a post “GTA V” world, but while it may be an open world game, it’s unique hacker mechanics and the possibilities they provide when it comes to interacting with the world in previously unexplored ways, makes “Watch Dogs” more of an original superhero style game in the vein of “Crackdown” or “Infamous.”

Obviously when you’re mentioned in the company of such titles  you’ve got some raised expectations to try to clear, but so far “Watch Dogs” looks primed to provide a unique and memorable experience at the least.

Batman: Arkham Origins

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While “Origins” initially drew concern from fans who were unsure if the “Arkham” name could maintain its level of excellence away from developer Rocksteady, the more and more we discover about this game, the easier it is to get excited for it.

Drawing more design cues from the “Mega Man” series than any previous “Arkham” installments, “Origins” will see the dark knight take on some of the highest profile members of his rouge gallery on his never ending quest to save Gotham City. Though it serves as a prequel to the high profile original titles, “Origins” looks to  take Batman games in an interesting new direction that mixes old school gaming ideas with previous series features, and some fresh ideas (including an intriguing multiplayer mode), to form a best of all worlds experience.

Like “Watch Dogs,” this ones has some lofty goals  to live up to, but appears to be coming together well.

Beyond Two Souls

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Continuing the trend of wild card games that could really go either way on the quality scale, this spiritual successor to “Heavy Rain” is already causing some seriously divided discussion.

“Beyond Two Souls” continues to look like a different game every time we see it and, even as more and more of the game’s basic plot becomes clear, remains shrouded in mystery regarding what the overall product will look like and play like. We do know that fans of “Heavy Rain” will be happy to hear that it retains the interactive film gameplay of that title, while detractors will no doubt roll their eyes at the same news.

Quantic Dream has proven that they know how to create a game that differentiates itself from every other on the market, and can get people talking, with their distinctive style of game design. While it would be easy then to say that you can use your reaction to their previous games as a gauge for how excited to be towards this one, given the ambitious and exciting nature of “Beyond,” it may well be worth a trip outside of your comfort zone.

South Park: The Stick of Truth

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As someone who suffered through the dreadful “South Park” games of the PS1 and N64 days, its hard to imagine that an adaption of the influential animated series could actually prove to be something worth getting excited for.

Yet that is exactly the situation I find myself in. Surviving the closure of THQ, “Stick of Truth” has continued to look better and better with every showing. In marrying the series with basic RPG elements, developer Obsidian Entertainment has found the perfect outlet to showcase the deep cast of memorable characters, and ever expanding list of scenarios and worlds the show has crafted during its long run. Their execution of the source material’s style and humor has been dead on so far and, given the developer’s track record with RPG games, there’s more and more reason to get excited for the possibilities.

The only question now is if the game will actually honor its 2013 release date. If so, don’t be surprised if this ends up being a dark horse on some game of the year lists.

EB Games Employee Hands Out Fake Cocaine;Wins the Internet

On the eve of what has quickly become the most anticipated video game launch of all time, millions of gamers wait with bated breath for their chance to play Grand Theft Auto V. Given the massive size of the game (Rockstar has said a 100 hour playtime through the story is not unreasonable), many of those same gamers will soon be skipping assignments, missing work, and destroying relationships at a capacity considered admirable by the game’s own detestable protagonists as they welcome a fresh new addiction into their lives.

It looks like the addiction may be stronger for some gamers in Australia though, as a user on Reddit has provided a screenshot of an EB Games there where an employee was filling up little ziplock bags of “cocaine” to hand out as a pre-order bonus.

Though what exactly the powdered substance is in these bags is unknown, this is a story that is particularly bizarre when you take into account the strict regulation of video game content in Australia. As such, if this story is true (this is the internet overall where the deception flows like wine), it represents a humorous and risque rebellion against proposed moral decency that the GTA series itself would be proud of, even if it is likely the singular action of a soon to be fired employee.

Regardless of whether you received a bag of faux Columbian marching powder with it or not, I hope everyone gets their GTA copies without issue, and finds a way to set a little time aside in their lives for a game that looks to have the ability to consume all of it with ease.

Those That Downloaded GTA V through Playstation Store Will Have to Wait Just a Little Longer to Install it

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It’s lately been all quiet in the gaming world, as we all live through the calm before the storm that is the final days before Tuesday’s bombshell release of “GTA V.” While the industry lays low in fear of opposing the gaming juggernaut, we all look to the sky and wait patiently for the arrival of what could very well be the greatest game of this generation.

Unfortunately for those who chose to download the game through PS3′s store, the wait may be slightly longer than anticipated.

Sony had initially announced that those who download the game through their store would be able to pre-load it starting today, and access it immediately at the stroke of midnight on Tuesday. However, they’ve recently retracted that statement saying that you’ll have to wait until Monday to install the game.

It may not sound like a huge deal, but when you take into account the HUGE filesize of this game, and the fact that gamers no longer have the weekend to let it install. Not to mention that since the hype for this game is at critical mass, any announcement of a delay of any time is sure to cause an internet explosion of an unprecedented degree.

No explanation of the move has been provided, though it is likely related to the high profile leaks that occurred through PS3 earlier this month.

Ultimately those who per-ordered should be able to have the game installed in time for its launch. However, should anything go wrong with that process just a day before, you can expect to hear the cries of anguish from any point on the globe.

Grand Theft Auto V Soundtrack Leaked; Vice City Still the Soundtrack King

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Full disclosure here, as this list of leaked GTA V songs are “unconfirmed” and were all snagged through a recent PSN update which apparently gave away the majority of the game’s tracks.

It’s a big list complete with some station names, DJ reveals (series regular Lazlow returns, because dude apparently can’t hold a job), and of course a crapload of songs that run a gamut that includes  big names (N.W.A, Queen, Johnny Cash…umm…Britney Spears), one hit wonders, and some painfully bad obligatory choices (pretty much the entire Pop station).

While it doesn’t feel like a complete list (there’s not near enough radio stations), it is a list that gives the impression that the series will follow the “GTA IV” route of cutting down on big names and instantly recognizable tracks, to instead offer up more of a variety of genres with bands you may not necessarily be familiar with immediately.

Or maybe I’m just really out of touch with modern music.

In either case, it’s looking like “Vice City” will remain king of “GTA” soundtracks with its incredible variety of 80s’ classics. That’s not really a dig at this music selection, but more of a personal preference as the nature of “GTA’s” chaotic gameplay doesn’t really allow me to focus on the music much while driving and therefore makes the whole “discovering new music angle” kind of a moot point. This could be alleviated if Rockstar allows you to listen to music outside of vehicles this time around, but so far there is no word on cribbing that feature from “Saint’s Row.”

Still it’s going to take more than Fergie to derail the “GTA V” hype train, and if this is a slice of the real track list, there are certainly more hits than misses, meaning the “GTA V” hype train keeps rolling, now blasting some pretty sweet tunes as it chugs along to its September 17th release date.

Among the “GTA V” Multiplayer Celebration, A Nagging Worry Remains

Try and deny “GTA V” its applause for the recent full reveal of its online mode, and you’ll be left arms to your side amid an explosion of ovation that the announcement deserves. Ever since “GTA III,” gamers have dreamed of “GTA” online, and the reveal trailer showcases a mode that is everything you could possibly imagine and dreamed of when it comes to the concept, and then some.

However, there is a catch.

See, if you give any number of players guns and put them in an online world, their natural inclination will be to find each one another and shoot until those who are not them are dead. While that is certainly an element of the “GTA V” multiplayer experience (the trailer is largely focused on PvP confrontations) it’s clear that the better intentions of this mode are instead focused on group play and exploration of not only the landscape, but of the potential scenarios that can be created within it.

Simply put, asking a group of 16 (likely) strangers to jump into the “GTA” world and consider violence against each other to be a secondary measure, is asking a hell of a lot. Now that isn’t to say it’s impossible, or won’t occur after a period of time where everyone gets bored shooting each other, but it does mean the better and more exciting elements of this newish type of multiplayer design may not always be present in every session, and may only be accessible should you choose to form a tight bond with like minded players or just happen to get lucky and draw a server of those individuals randomly.

I’d like to believe that gamers will approach “GTA V” in a manner befitting the outside the box design the online element looks to provide, but there is a pessimistic urge honed by years of experience in online communities built off major release titles that makes me believe otherwise, and worries that a genuine effort to provide something truly great may be squandered by the very people it was built for.

I’m not that one standing sulkingly amidst the applause towards “GTA V’s” multiplayer mode, and in fact nurse sore hands from joining the commotion as feverishly as any, but the question no longer seems to be is Rockstar capable of delivering the type of online “GTA” world we’ve always wished for, but rather if the hordes of loyal fans capable of fully embracing it.

When Looking for Proof the Hype is Real About the Next Grand Theft Auto, Look at the Little Things

“Grand Theft Auto IV” almost had to be called “Grand Theft Auto IV.”

What I mean is, considering it was for a new generation of consoles, and featured an exceptionally long development cycle, calling it “GTA: Liberty City” or something similar would have never gone over well with the folks at Rockstar, nor the fans.

However obligatory the name might have been though, the final product never really felt right as being the true evolution to the world changing “GTA III.” It was abundantly clear that all of the focus went into creating Liberty City, and even though that still stands as one of the most impressive accomplishments of video game engineering, the rest of the game suffered from half-baked or just plain bad gameplay ideas.

While it’s true then that “GTA IV” pleased many fans and critics, there were an equal number of people waiting for the real successor to the series.

Based on the recent internet stopping footage that Rockstar released of “GTA V,” that may be soon upon us.

You’d think that there wouldn’t be anything more to say about the next “GTA” until it actually comes out, but the first gameplay trailer of the series proved that as much as we may think we know about the game based on previous information, hearing about the features and seeing them actually come together are completely different things.

Because when you see the game truly in action, it’s clear that Rockstar is aiming to create a game that doesn’t just appear to be alive on the surface, but is a living, breathing, and (most importantly) evolving thing. Sure major aspects like the three character approach appear to work better than we could have anticipated, and new or returning core gameplay features like hunting and purchasing property/stock look incredible, but what really amazes are the little touches.

It’s the things that only the most eagle-eyed of viewers caught like individual weapon stats, or how the mini-map changes based on your current transportation. It’s the new pot shop you can patron, it’s the clever names of the tattoos, and it’s definitely the fact your hand shaped mouse cursor in the game is in fact a middle finger.

Those are the things that “GTA IV” was missing. It’s those aspects that show Rockstar knows how to make a sandbox game on advanced hardware, and are now working to perfect an actual “GTA” experience, and not a tech demo wearing its mask but possessing none of its heart and soul.

When looking for proof that “GTA V” is going to be a game-changer, you may be tempted to point to the tantalizing seconds of footage that reveal a true “GTA” style multiplayer mode. However, for me, the fact the NASDAQ parody stock market is called BAWSAQ is real proof that Rockstar is back to having fun with the series, and in the process advancing its identity.

Five Things That I’m Excited About in “GTA: V” (and One That I’m Not)

Like the rest of you I’ve been following every morsel of information that has come from the many previews of that “GTA:V” demo, and like many of you, I’ve started to form my own impressions based on what has been shown so far.

While my overall impression is that I really need to start scheduling some serious free time come September, more specifically I’ve noticed at least five things from all of those previews that really excite me…and at least one that does not.

Five things I’m Excited For…

The Fun is Back

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“GTA:IV” had a lot of things going for it, but one aspect that irked me the longer I played is how much Rockstar veered from the wild, anything goes, comically deranged world of previous “Grand Theft Auto” games and instead aimed for something more grounded, and serious.

“GTA:V” looks to be a glorious return to those old ways, but also has clearly retained an aspect or two from its immediate predecessor. So while the trailers show things like deranged rednecks highjacking helicopters in flannel, cars chasing planes while pulling off insane maneuvers, and the glorious return of miniguns, it also takes a moment to reflect on the serious motivations that drive each of the three main characters, and to show that Rockstar is crafting a world every bit as jaw dropping as “GTA: IV’s” Liberty City.

In other words, it’s looks the way “GTA” should. A wildly fun game that’s not afraid to get serious.

Improved Combat

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One thing that I saw mentioned in several previews is that the combat is smoother than ever, with some comparing it to “Max Payne 3.”

“GTA’s” combat has been steadily improving over the years, but it still feels clunky for a game where there is a lot of it. It’s good to know that Rockstar looks to be making a concentrated effort to provide full coverage to the series Achilles heel, especially in a game that is already adding ambition to the system thanks to the three man system.

Which actually segues nicely to…

The Three Man Band

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The subject of who will be the next main character in “Grand Theft Auto” is always a hot one, as it usually sets the tone for the rest of the game.

When Rockstar first announced that there would be three main characters who can all be controlled at any time, it was hard not to think of it as gimmicky, and a bit of a reach. The more that’s revealed about it though, the easier it is to see that this is indeed the most exciting change to come to the series, possibly ever.

From unique but intersecting plot lines, to the ability for characters to “do their own thing” while not being under control, to the amazing way that combat and heist scenarios make use of every character individually, this sounds like the first “Grand Theft Auto” in a while that is going to have people re-thinking how they play the series.

Money Matters

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In a misstep so big I still question if it was an error by the designers, money in “GTA:IV” was more or less useless. It didn’t take long to acquire enough dough to keep you rolling in suits and guns for the rest of your days, and even though money was always brought up as a plot point (more on that later) you always ended up with too much of it, and nothing to do about it.

Rockstar must have been aware of this, as they have confirmed that “GTA:V” will require you to have a constant cash flow in order to purchase all of the clothing, vehicles, and (most importantly) properties the title has to offer.

That means that no longer will you be able to buy a $3000 suit you already own just because the store is closer than your closet, and I for one am excited to start earning with purpose again.

A Driven Story

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If I sound like I’m hating on “GTA:IV” here, it’s because I am. While by no means a bad game, it is by far the most overrated game of this console generation, and a big part of that is due to a meandering story that dragged on and on without any real focus, or compelling reasons to keep pushing ahead besides the satisfaction of beating it.

“GTA: V” seems to be resolving this by focusing the majority of its story on a series of high profile heists. The mission highlight of “GTA:IV” is, of course, the brilliant bank job in three leaf clover, and it’s clear that Rockstar thought so too, as this time many missions will revolve around prepping for, or executing, heists as part of your three man crew.

It’s not a guarantee for a greater plot, but it sounds a lot more promising than working for a series of cardboard cutout thugs with vague notions of revenge and some superfluous cash being your only driving force.

…And the One I’m Not

You Can’t Shoot the Paparazzi

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What?

See during the IGN rundown of the demo it was brought up that there is a side mission where you escort a spoiled starlet and try to escape the paparazzi. When the questions was brought up if you could just kill them instead of escaping them, the answer was a surprising “no” as that causes you to fail.

I understand that Rockstar is aiming for a much more cinematic experience than before, but I’m really bummed out that in something so minor as a simple side mission, the game will limit your options for the benefits of that goal.

Games like “The Walking Dead” show that choice can be a huge benefit to storytelling, while titles like “Saint’s Row The Third” exemplify how creating a truly open world lends so much more to sandbox games. I just hope that in a game that promises to be the series biggest and boldest yet, there aren’t a series of similar limits that keep it from reaching that lofty height.

The New “GTA: V” Trailer – What to Expect

After being delayed by Hurricane Sandy, Rockstar has announced today that the new “GTA V” trailer will debut on Nov. 14th.

While previews are upcoming for the game itself, we’ve been teased with screenshots for months, and we’ve already been treated to the debut trailer for the game, if you think about it we know surprisingly little about what looks to be the biggest title of 2013.

However, if the previous second trailers for the series are any indication, that should all change by the 14th. In fact, in viewing the second trailers for the last few “GTA” games (of which both the “GTA: Vice City” and “GTA: San Andreas” trailers are phenomenal if you need a refresher) there are a few things we can expect to see on Nov. 14th.

A Major Music Track From the Game:

 

It may be obvious, but Rockstar loves to show off their incredible video editing skills by using a big name track from the game set against their typically awesome previews. Hopefully they will do the same here and give us some idea of the type of soundtrack we can expect (or at least one major track they’e acquired) , even if it will be typically diverse. I always felt that “GTA: IV” had the weakest soundtrack of the series, so I’ll be particularly interested in this part to really hype me up.

Important Characters in Minor Parts:

 

The first “GTA: V” trailer had a lot of people in it, but it was hard to tell which of them were actually relevant, and which were just there. This should change with trailer #2 as you can expect a barrage of clearly important characters, even if they do not have speaking roles. By the end of the trailer, we should all have a better idea of what sordid types we’ll be working for, and against, in “GTA: V.”

Weapons:

 

This one is a little more debatable, but since the second trailers tend to be more action packed, expect to see a greater variety of weapons then has previously been revealed. The real question here is will Rockstar go closer to the insane weapon range of “San Andreas,” or stick to something more grounded as in “GTA: IV?”

Customization:

 

Another major aspect missing in “GTA: IV” from “San Andreas” was the customization options for your main character. Looking back at the early previews of “San Andreas,” you could tell differences in the main character’s clothing and hairstyles, hinting the expansion of this aspect. Considering how much this has been talked about, I believe Rockstar may do something similar here.

Counties:

 

So we know the game will take place in the pseudo-LA city of Lost Santos and, based on the country side moments from the first trailer, the surrounding areas. The question is, what surrounding areas? The best idea I’ve heard in relation to this is the theory that we will be exploring various counties in the area. The easiest way to tell this would be to look out for changes in weather, or general geography of the areas shown. Perhaps with a little help from eagle eyed Californians, we should have an idea of the layout.

The main character…s?:

 

I’m fairly certain I’ve heard every theory regarding who the main character was from the first “GTA: V” trailer, and I’m confident that I don’t want to hear anymore. I will say that the one that does intrigue me the most is the idea of multiple main characters. While this could prove tricky in an open world game, it would certainly be a new direction for Rockstar in a game that is a true “GTA” sequel. Nevertheless, we should soon know the answer to this.

Choices:

 

Keep an very sharp eye out for this one. “GTA: IV” hinted at giving you choices in the game via some very minor decisions. If the series gameplay is going to expand, I’d look for this to be the first place it does so. Look for a careful line of dialogue, or a visual of two people at gunpoint, or anything that might just give away if the game that revolutionized open gameplay truly gives players real options. If Rockstar does go this way, they may be tempted to tease it here.

Tone:

 

Maybe the most important, but sure to be most overlooked, aspect of the new trailer will be the tone of it. It was hard to figure out for sure from the first trailer, but looking back on the old “GTA” previews, it’s easy to see in retrospect that we could tell a lot from the tone of them. This particularly applies to “GTA: IV” where the darker, grittier vibe was immediately apparent. Will Rockstar stick to that same style, go back to the more lighthearted nature of the originals, or give us something in-between?

The plot:

 

Usually by trailer number two we are left with little doubt about the overall game. The first trailer gave a pretty big hint to this in what would appear to be a criminal trying to retire, so what we should look for here are the circumstances. In other words, the who, what, when, where, and why. With “GTA: V” drawing ever closer, we should expect these large points to be covered.

Gameplay:

 

We end with what should hopefully be the biggest given for this trailer, the gameplay. Considering how beautiful “GTA:IV” is and was, you couldn’t easily tell what was real gameplay from the first “GTA: V” trailer and what wasn’t. We probably won’t see what the game looks like during the actual gameplay, but I would be shocked if we don’t get snippets of missions, distractions, or something equally tantalizing that will actually show us the most important part of the game…the game itself.

 

Also, as announced today, you can now officially pre-order “GTA:V.” Considering the franchise this still is, this is one time I’d recommend doing just that.

2K Sports to the Rest of the Industry: “If You’re Having Executive Producer Problems, I feel Bad for you Son…”

Apparently rap mogul Jay-Z just can’t resist the hard knock life, as he looks to start a new endeavor to add to his 99 problems, and feed his empire state of mind.

I’ll stop now.

But there’s no stopping Jay-Z these days, as evidenced by his recent partnership with 2K Games on their next basketball game,” NBA 2K13.” According to reports, Jay-Z will work on the game in an executive producer capacity. What this means, exactly, no one knows, as executive producer is about the vaguest job title there is in the entertainment industry. In this case, though, it’s probably safe to assume that he won’t be handling the programming duties, or reshaping the foundations of the popular series with exciting, and fresh gameplay concepts and artistic directions. Of course, considering that the last two NBA 2K games make a strong case for being some of the greatest sports or basketball titles of all time, the promotional and soundtrack work Jay-Z will more likely be involved in is probably going to be enough in the way of contributions to insure that this celebrity involvement doesn’t disenfranchise any of the series regular fans.

Of course, a Jay-Z hidden character “NBA Jam” style wouldn’t be out of the question either. I’m also not ruling out the possibility that the Brooklyn Nets (of which Jay-Z is part owner) are probably going to be slightly better than necessary in “NBA 2K13.” Like Michael Vick in “Madden 2004,” or Brock Lesnar in “Smackdown: Here Comes the Pain,” unnecessarily good.

Still though, I wish that just once we could get a celebrity tie in to video games that actually generates excitement. Like Alan Moore working on “Fallout 4,” or Quentin Tarantino producing “GTA: V.”

Or, better yet, Bill Murray.

 

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