In-Depth: What The (Game) Papers Say - Jan. 2010, Pt.2
It's January! And, largely, that means the game industry is still recovering from Christmas and hasn't built up the steam to start beating the E3 drums quite yet.
I'm taking advantage of this lull to go on vacation. By the time you read this, I'll be the guy depicted above, dodging trees and scoring all kinds of 1000-point bonuses over in the Sierras. Until I return, magazines will be the furthest thing from my mind!
That's then, however. This is now, of course, and I have a big stack of magazines to recap:
Game Informer January 2010
Cover: Halo: Reach
A very solid issue that goes a further distance toward making GI into the Edge-ish "industry journal" it seems to be angling to become. There's a very good interview with Activision's Bobby Kotick that successfully makes him seem like a decent, intelligent executive instead of the evil overlord some parts of game-dom see him as. The Halo: Reach piece is standard for GI cover pieces, but the bit that follows it -- an overview of Irrational Games -- is straight-on challenging Edge at their own game, and I think they made a decent success of it.
A best-of-'09 roundup isn't quite as enthralling as the 200th-issue spectacular two issues ago, but the vast amount of space given to The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom (5 pages out of 100!) is extremely well-used.
It seems to me that GI has changed their paper stock to something a bit flimsier and less glossy starting with this issue. If it's true (and not my imagination playing tricks on me), they likely did it to lighten the mag and thus save on postage. They wouldn't be the first publisher to do this, either -- Future prints the subscriber editions of the mags in lighter stock than the newsstand versions, and I remember there being all sorts of pressure along similar lines back during my GamePro days. Has anyone else noticed this, or am I hallucinating?
Edge January 2010
Cover: The best of 2000-2009
The cover was washed out a fair bit by my scanner; apologies about that. It touts an internal feature that should've been just another boring game roundup, but shines a fair bit thanks to its choices (World of Warcraft winning "game of the decade") and to the industry folks they tapped for their opinions.
The other main features, including a preview of Metro 2033 (a bit more in-depth over GamePro's last month) and a look at motion-capture tech that's basically a slightly friendlier take on a Game Developer article, are solid if not blockbuster.
It being January, this month's Edge comes with a massive 2010 calendar poster, this year themed around Zelda: Spirit Tracks -- timely, because there's a long interview with Eiji Aonuma between the pages too.
Nintendo Power February 2010
Cover: NBA Jam
Sixty-four pages of this issue are devoted to previews of 2010's Wii and DS games. Is NBA Jam the hottest game to lead with? Well, I think so, but then again I was squarely in the target audience for the original arcade game, so nostalgia's undoubtedly having an effect on me there. The coverage is all great in the feature, remarkably enough, and even includes a cameo visit from Ken as portrayed in the NES title Street Fighter 2010 (timely!).
Folks who can't stand preview roundups like this one may be a bit disappointed by the issue, but don't blame NP -- they've got only four non-downloadable games in the review well this month, requiring them to do stuff like give a full page to The Glory of Heracles.
Official Xbox Magazine February 2010
Cover: Mass Effect 2
It's a slow review month in Xbox-land, too, and OXM makes up for it by devoting 13 pages to coverage of Mass Effect 2 and BioWare -- stuff you'll eat up if you're a fan. The following piece, a speculative article on what Halo 4 may be like, reminds me quite a bit (in a good way) of the way, way early Halo 2 cover EGM did a long time ago.
Otherwise, much of the mag is previews, along with a "2009 game awards" piece that doesn't jump out at me quite as much as Edge's similar feature.
Play January 2010
Cover: Mass Effect 2
Best part of the issue, bar none, is the three-page art spread of old video-game platform mascots, further expanded from what they did in the November edition. In my opinion, anyway. Apologies to Doug Perry, who wrote 10 pages on Mass Effect 2 that goes into a great deal more depth on the machinations of the game than OXM did (although it's not a review).
Retro Gamer Issue 72
I did not realize that the ZX Spectrum port of Gradius was "infamous" -- I thought "bad" would've been a more appropriate term for it. However, Gradius's flyer art makes for a pretty awesome cover, and the full-on look at the arcade game inside is pretty well worth reading. (To answer my question: Among other things, the coders based their port on the MSX version for some reason.)
Beckett Massive Online Gamer March/April 2010
Cover: World of Warcraft
MOG has more pages than Play this month, as much as that fills me with chagrin. I can't argue with success, however (or survival anyway), and this issue has all the usual in-depth coverage of what seems like a million MMOs. And a poster!
Game Developer January 2010
Speaking of which, here's a postmortem on an MMO now! The Aion piece is up to GD's usual level of enthrallment, filled with neat details and tales of woe ("development was part soap opera, part meatgrinder").
[Kevin Gifford breeds ferrets and runs Magweasel, a really cool weblog about games and Japan and "the industry" and things. In his spare time he does writing and translation for lots and lots of publishers and game companies.]