Signs Point Vaguely to a New Bully Game on the Horizon

Original_jimmy

Despite being known for a few distinct franchises (like that Grand Theft Whatsitsname), the fine folks at Rockstar have historically never been afraid to abandon their laurels and attempt to create new, and exciting properties.

While some of those attempts turn into “Rockstar Table Tennis” (which is still fun in its own right), many more become noteworthy, if flawed, titles like 2006’s “Bully,” a game which tasked you with taking the role of a mischievous 15 year old at a pristine boarding school, as he pranks, learns, and generally tries to figure out his young life through a series of misadventures.

It was a cult classic type game that certainly had its fanbase, but didn’t set the world on fire like that other Rockstar franchise. This was mostly due to an overreliance on fetch quest missions, and a general unevenness brought about between a conflict between the games more structured, but enjoyable aspects (such as attending classes, and seeking out side missions) and a determination to force the “sandbox” style gameplay in, though it often felt out of place.

Still though, it had potential, which may be what publisher Take Two thinks, since they’ve filed a trademark registration for the “Bully” property indicating, among other possibilities, a potential interest in returning to the franchise by releasing a sequel.

Now this is far from a guarantee, but it does make since considering Rockstar’s history of reviving franchises with potential once they feel the current technology allows for it with typically sterling results (See: “GTA III,” “Red Dead Redemption,” and “Max Payne 3”). Considering “Bully” had so much going for it initially, then the thoughts of a similar revival on par with those examples is exciting, and is enough to request everybody keep their fingers crossed that this news be confirmed soon so we can all enjoy the results.

Plus, success for a future “Bully” title, could mean the revival of “The Warriors.”

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Because I Freaking Loved That Game

  

What is “Infinite” Minus Two?

News is slowly pouring in today that two of the biggest developers on “Bioshock: Infinite” are leaving Irrational Games.

Director of product development Tim Gerritsen and art director (and designer of the series’ iconic Big Daddies) Nate Wells have both updated their LinkedIn profiles to indicate that their employment with Irrational Games is now done. While no further official announcement has been made, Nate Wells also made a Twitter post earlier that read “New Job…Details to follow.” That tweet has since been removed. For those who don’t remember, “Bioshock: Infinite” was also delayed earlier this year until 2013, in order to give it “specific tweaks and improvements” that would make the game “into something even more extraordinary,” according to lead designer and Irrational founding member Ken Levine.

Now some sites are already panicking about this pretty hard. I’m not quite there yet myself. For one thing, it’s a sad but true fact that developers at all levels will often leave a studio before a project is completed. Moves of this nature traditionally have no bearing on the quality of the final product on any consistent level.

No the real news here is that there is no real news. Ever since the delay of “Bioshock: Infinite” was announced, updates on on the game have gone ice cold. This is okay if you’re a title like “Grand Theft Auto V” (another Take-Two production). It’s “GTA”, and everyone knows there’s going to be a lot of secrecy involved leading up to the release. But “Bioshock: Infinite” didn’t even bother to poke its head in at E3 this year. Plus, even though “Bioshock” was possibly the game of the decade, the fact that the only news on its true successor in the last year has been a delay and the departure of your manager of content creators (Gerritsen) and a 13-year veteran of your studio (Wells), makes even the most level headed gamer start to wonder what’s really going on at Irrational.

Ultimately, “Bioshock: Infinite” will still sell millions, and I don’t believe that its overall quality will have anything to do with these departures. However, I’m curious how Irrational addresses this news. Do they remain silent and let speculation rule, or do they make a move as bold and innovative as “Bioshock” itself and actually shed some light on this situation, beyond the typical PR release?

Simply put, if there’s no fire to report, then why fan the flames?

  

Analyst Ben Schachter thinks GTA may have peaked

Grand Theft Auto logo.Grand Theft Auto is one of the most iconic gaming franchises of our time. Few games have sparked so furious social debate while maintaining incredible sales and garnering legions of followers. One analyst thinks we’ve finally seen the series peak, though. Ben Schachter wonders if the lackluster sales of content like the Liberty City DLC and the handheld Chinatown aren’t the death rattle of Take Two’s little baby.

…we must raise an even bigger question: has the Grand Theft Auto franchise peaked? Given the strength of GTA IV in 2008, the question may seem misplaced, but our concern is that the very highly rated new GTA content for Xbox as well as PSP and DS did not perform up to expectations in 2009. Now, we very clearly understand that these do not represent ‘true’ new GTA titles. However, the fact is that these were compelling titles, attractively priced, and reasonably well-promoted, yet they fell relatively flat. We do not mean to pour salt on an open wound, but this does raise questions about the strength of TTWO’s crown jewel. It is an issue we will monitor closely (we also note that we expect increased competition in the open-world action genre in 2010 and beyond).

He goes on to consider the underwhelming financial report, raising questions about whether or not Take Two can turn a profit without a GTA release. Sure, Rockstar has some strong titles, like Borderlands and Bioshock, but those aren’t the kind of games people are spending as much time in as GTA, making it more likely that you’ll see second hand buyers over the seemingly ubiquitous purchasing of a GTA title.

Source: Industry Gamers

  

Bioshock 2 Gets A Date

Bioshock 2 logo.It looks like Take Two is going to make good on the promise of delivering Bioshock 2 in the early months of 2010. The sequel to the developer’s smash hit got a global release date of February 9, 2010.

For those who have forgotten, Bioshock 2 puts you in the boots of Big Daddy some ten years after the first game ended. Now there’s a monster roaming the Atlantic coast snatching up little girls and dragging them down to Rapture. It’s your job to stop him.

Bioshock 2 will also feature a multiplayer system that works as a prequel. From the press release:

Multiplayer in BioShock 2 will provide a rich prequel experience that expands the origins of the BioShock fiction. Set during the fall of Rapture, players assume the role of a Plasmid test subject for Sinclair Solutions, a premier provider of Plasmids and Tonics in the underwater city of Rapture that was first explored in the original BioShock. Players will need to use all the elements of the BioShock toolset to survive, as the full depth of the BioShock experience is refined and transformed into a unique multiplayer experience that can only be found in Rapture.

I would have loved to see this game come out this year, but at least there’s a little something to look forward to in the wee months after the holidays.

  

Take Two Has Natal Dev Kits At All Studios

Take Two Interactive logo.Looks like Microsoft isn’t the only one thinking Natal is going to be a serious game changer. Take Two CEO Ben Feder had plenty to say about the Xbox 360 periph during today’s Q3 earnings call with investors.

Natal motion-sensors – yes we have dev kits, yes we’re working on them,” he said. “Obviously, we can’t comment on games we haven’t announced. But those dev kits are embedded in all of our studios, or just about all of our studios, and everybody’s working with them to try to figure out new ways in which we can innovate and create the kind of content that this company is famous for. So yes, we’re working on it.”

That’s a pretty serious commitment as I see it. Take Two isn’t just big, they’re huge, and it sounds like they’re dedicating a lot of resources to what is basically a new platform. Of course that could all just be talk, but why say so much when it could have just been, “Yes, we’re working on it.”

Regardless, I’m excited to see what next year holds. As we get closer to hardware release you have to bet developers like Take Two will be showing off their stuff.

  

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