Though the full details are still unknown, the basic way the system appears to work is that up to 10 authorized friends can request to access your Steam account and download and play, through the cloud, most games you have available, and vice versa. To prevent abusing the system, if the user whose account you are borrowing from accesses their own account while you are using it, even if they are playing a different game than you are, you will be given a prompt that you have a few minutes to buy the game, or you will be kicked out.
Further details reveal that not every game will be available for sharing, though the specific games are unknown, and that purchased in-game items will not carry over to sharing, though it appears that DLC will. Also actions that can affect reputation in a game that are done by the player borrowing said game will carry over to the lender.
Though a few concerns and questions remain (Can a lender access his account when a game is installing to the borrower? If you’ve installed the game over the cloud and choose to buy it, does it have to be re-installed?) this is a tremendous idea that has been rumored for some time, but is still a welcome and exciting addition to Steam that provides a great opportunity to try out games that don’t usually have demos, as well as revive the borrowing concept, albeit in a slightly limited fashion.
Between the hype, and controversy, around “Bioshock: Infinite”, big upcoming titles like “Grand Theft Auto V” and “The Last of Us,” and Sony and Microsoft’s next gen consoles drawing their initial buzz, there hasn’t been much press from Nintendo, especially considering the somewhat disappointing sales for the Wii U, and how badly they could use some good publicity right now.
However recently Nintendo has unleashed a plethora of news via their Nintendo direct service, that reveals that things have in fact been very busy at the mushroom kingdom.
Among quite a few announcements are a new “Yoshi’s Island,” a re-released “Donkey Kong Country,” a new “Mario Party,” a new “Mario and Luigi” RPG title, a new “Mario Golf,” a sequel to “A Link to the Past,” and, by far the biggest news at all, the long, long, long awaited US and European re-release of the cult classic “Earthbound,” which is now automatically the best game on the Wii U.
I’d say that’s quite a lot of new titles in a short span, but that’s not exactly true is it? Most of the big announcements are sequels, remakes, or re-releases, with nary a strictly new property in sight. For most companies this would be seen as lazy at the least, but Nintendo isn’t exactly most companies are they?
Instead this is not only a satisfying announcement for fans, but a smart one for Nintendo as well. It’s not a stretch to say that the Wii U and 3DS aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, so Nintendo is doing what they always do in times past when they need to spark a system sale or two, and that’s go to the franchise well. Sure they’re drawing deeper from the well than usual (an “Earthbound” re-release pretty much scrapes the bottom), but they’ve proven before that they have the ability to use these franchises to not only boost figures, but show other developers new and exciting ways to creatively explore their hardware (though the Wii U could still use some more Nintendo love).
Whether or not that ends up being case here, if you’re a Nintendo loyalist, you’re about to get a wave of highly anticipated titles that, if history stands true, will be of equally high quality. For everyone else, it’s a reminder that even at this point in the game, Nintendo’s big guns change the focus of any war.
In an age of 24 hour news coverage, it’s nearly impossible to pull a surprise game announcement off anymore, as leaks happen everywhere and many people have become jaded to the point of trying to actively guess surprises, lest they be accused of being caught off guard.
So when Hideo Kojima revealed that the mysterious upcoming release “The Phantom Pain” is in fact “Metal Gear Solid 5,” he pulled of one of the few genuinely surprising game announcements of recent memory, even though there will be a vocal contingent that suggests otherwise.
While seemingly of good spirits about the decision, when questioned if he was even asked to do the role, Hayter responded simply “nope.”
Now there are some possibilities of why this is. Without trying to break down the entire convoluted “Metal Gear” story to this point, there is a possibility that the Snake in this game does not chronologically sync with the Solid Snake Hayter famously portrayed (he could be younger). The only thing is, another character that is almost definitely in the game, Hayter also voiced in the series around the appropriate chronological time, adding some more “Huh?” to the confounding announcement.
Also the, possibly temporary, new Snake actor sounds kind of like a young gravely Christian Bale “Batman”, as opposed to the undisputed bad ass you get from Hayter.
Admittedly I was upset when I first heard this news. Traditionally video game voice actors do not upstage the characters they play, but Hayter became one of the few exceptions. His work is instantly iconic, and completely inseparable from the character to the point of becoming a large factor in many gamers preferring the English audio of the series to the original Japanese, which is a rare occurrence.
Ideally, animation (or computer programming) would give you the advantage of maintaining an iconic actor and not having to worry about the years ruining the physical attributes of the character they play. For instance James Bond needs new actors, while Homer Simpson does not.
Then again this may all be another Kojima ruse to rile the fanbase (if so, mission accomplished). Somehow though, it doesn’t feel like that, and instead sounds like a true goodbye to one of video gaming’s most important voices. Hayter’s work helped not only build one of gaming’s biggest franchises, but also helped show that cinematic video gaming was not only possible, it could excel.
With a wealth of candidates available though, there shouldn’t be much problem finding a suitable replacement, which is more than can be said about the spiritual world in video games where paragons of holy virtue and guidance are few and far between. In fact it’s quite the opposite as some of gaming’s greatest villains derive from the world of religion.
To show you how bad the problem is, here are a few of gaming’s most despicable religious leaders.
Important Note: This is in no way shape or form a commentary on any real religion or religious figures including, but not limited to, the pope or the Catholic church. This is just for fun.
Oh and spoilers. Spoilers are ahead.
Allegro Rasputin of the First Church of LeChuck – “Escape From Monkey Island”
The exact doctrines, words, and many basic day to day functions of the First Church of LeChuck are a mystery to many. It’s origins, however, are very clear as priest Allegro Rasputin was murdered by the ghost pirate LeChuck, and even made to view his still beating pancreas prior to death, while out at sea. Initially upset, the priest came to respect LeChuck for his capabilities and founded a church in his honor.
And what a church it is. Built into a volcano, and resembling a skull castle, the church has a river of lava flowing through it used in weddings so couples can become ghosts, and live together eternally, at the end of the journey. The rest of the church is a none too subtle tribute to LeChuck himself, and Rasputin’s primary goal is stopping the enemy of his deity, Guybrush Threepwood.
While not gaming’s deepest religion, for sheer tenacity, dedication, and even style, the Church of LeChuck is one of gaming’s most memorable religious institutions, and Rasputin’s devoutness to stopping our hero is equal to his faith
The Prophet of Truth of the Covenant Religion – “Halo”
It was “Halo 2” where gamers discovered that the hard fighting and no-nonsense alien enemies known as the Covenant were actually a deeply religious society with a strong sense of organization and hierarchy.
Atop that hierarchy are a series of prophets, and amongst those prophets is the clear leader, the Prophet of Truth. His mission is to lead his people in seeking out and activating the halo installations of the ancient, yet far advanced, people known as the forerunners. They believe that once the rings are activated, they will achieve a form of ascension and become eternal. They are actually aware, that while they have a slim chance of elevation, that completing this mission will more or less result in the complete destruction of every known thing.
Being a real fanatic is both the reason behind the rise to power, and the fall of the Prophet of Truth. While many villains have promised the end of the world or universe, few did it with the smug sense of satisfaction, and feeling of purpose as the Prophet of Truth.
Craig Markoff of Unitology –“Dead Space”
While the Church of Unitology’s primary figure is Michael Altman, one of the true spearheads of the movement is military man Craig Markoff.
A cleverly veiled allusion to Scientology in many ways, the Church of Unitology plays an integral role in the “Dead Space” series, and revolves around the fabled markers, which are artifacts of mysterious power. Formed in a time of dwindling religious beliefs, the church promoted a message of harmony and peace which caught on quickly and turned them into a real power. One of their principle ideas is not burying the dead, and instead keeping their bodies on spaceships waiting to be re-born. In reality, they are aware of the limited power of the marker to grant new and eternal life, though it often results in creating unspeakable atrocities. These incidents were written off as anomalies with manageable spiritual factors contributing to them.
A true and horrible evil in every way, Markoff is one of gaming’s great villains. He cleverly used Altman as a figurehead of virtue shielding him from the many, many atrocities he would commit, and his tenacity in refusing to waiver from his claims, is nearly unprecedented.
Morpheus of the Children of the Cathedral – “Fallout”
A servant of The Master (a downright terrifying mutant, human, computer hybrid), Morpheus is an old styled southern preacher who is clever, extremely charismatic, and downright volatile. Morpheus doesn’t believe The Master to be a god as others in the church do, but he has no qualms with using the influence of the church for his own means, and is a loyal servant of him all the same.
Much like Markoff, Morpheus is a pure evil as it gets, as his short temper and selfish ambitions only further his insatiable ego. It’s one thing to take advantage of people’s spiritual beliefs to further your own causes, but to do so at the end of world when all other hope has gone? Damn.
Sergius XVII of the Ormus Religion – “Xenosaga”
One of gaming’s greatest and most complex universes is that of the “Xenosaga” games. Fittingly, it also contains one of the deepest and most complex religions in all of gaming, the Ormus religion.
It would be impossible to sum up the religion entirely here, but it is spearheaded by the patriarch Sergius XVII and is actually an evolutionary offshoot of modern day Christianity. Their main objective is to recover the mysterious Zohar artifact, and use it to defeat the equally mysterious, and troublesome, Gnosis. Sergius XVII, also has personal ambitions to use this event to further the Ormus’s reach and influence, which is already considerable as the religion has power in nearly every meaningful aspect of society.
A victim of absolute power, it’s easy to write off Sergius XVII as simply “evil”, but his motives and intentions are instead a mix of the blindingly noble and the sadistically misguided. Because of this, he stands as one of the deepest, most influential, and in many ways the most realistically flawed of all of gaming’s evil religious figures, making him more memorable than the usual snarling types.
Though the development of the “Killzone” franchise is handled by Guerilla Games, and is nearly their sole project, the “Killzone” franchise was originally intended as Sony’s sponsored “Halo killer,” in a time when all other companies were looking for such a thing. The original installment was generally well received, though no one was confusing it with Microsoft’s flagship shooter, and the reaction was almost universally more of a whimper.
It was “Killzone 2” and it’s “is it live or Memorex?” trailer that brought the series into real prominence and, since that installment, the franchise has both evolved into a much superior shooter, and is often referred to as one of the premier Playstation exclusives, along with a title that, much like “Mario,” is often associated with the launch of new Sony hardware (though the PS3 had to settle for “Resistance”).
For all of its improvements though, the franchise is still not a world stopping launch title.
“Killzone” is a fun game to be sure, but it never managed to reach the heights of the “Halo” series, or truly separate itself in the over-saturated FPS market (despite a rabid fanbase). This puts Sony in an awkward position, as a lot of other big name franchises they have available either have a game most likely still releasing on the Playstation 3 (“God of War,” Quantic Dream’s “Beyond Two Souls,” “Demon’s Souls”) or have no assumed plans for a new installment (“Little Big Planet,” “Uncharted,” a true new “Metal Gear Solid”)
It looks like “Killzone 4” is set to be the premier launch game for the PS4 then and, unless Sony has some serious hardware lined up, or a real surprise title in store, all parties concerned should be taking that position very seriously as the franchise is going to have to be the one thing it never was before for this to work, and that is a true killer app.