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During the process of becoming the capitalistic Godzilla of game publishing we know today, Activision inherited numerous titles it had no interest in owning. Whether it be Ghostbusters or Chronicles of Riddick, if it couldn’t be spun-off, annually sequelized or compatible with a plastic instrument, the folks behind Guitar Hero and Call of Duty wanted no part in it. Brutal Legend was axed in the shortsighted purging, in spite of the millions of dollars Activision had already invested in the project and considerable anticipation from people who actually buy games to actually play them.
Luckily, creator Tim Schafer and Double Fine carried on, and the game eventually found a publisher in the form of EA (Ironically, now known in some circles as “The Old Activision”). Even though the company had basically cast Brutal Legend to the wolves to wither and die, Activision decided it was still entitled to its profits and sued to prevent the game from being published… which is sorta like showing up to the foster home of your orphaned child and demanding he mow your lawn. You may’ve knocked the girl up, Activision… but EA married her!
An Activision sweep! Back before we knew the public would respond to turntable peripherals with all the enthusiasm of a USB pottery wheel, Activision purchased the developers of Scratch: The Ultimate DJ, the only competition to its upcoming DJ Hero back in April ’09 before either game was finished. Lawsuits flew this way and that, and just to prove that Activision’s intention was primarily to undermine its competitor, and not to utilize the talent, half the staff of 7 Studios were summarily dismissed last October. Oh Activision, you dicks…
Above: Telling the difference between DJ Hero and Scratch is tricky-TRICKY-tricky-TRICKY!
Everyone is in agreement that being unhealthy is bad. If you spend a disproportionate amount of time sitting on your ass then you're going to get clogged up with fat and increase your chances of an early death. But the Change4Life campaign - funded by the UK Government's Department of Health - seemed intent on singling out video games as public enemy number one in the battle against blubbery children and premature deadness. After a TV ad stopped just short of shouting "GAMES WILL KILL YOUR KIDS," this advert showed up in magazines:
Above: DEAR GOD SOMEONE SAVE HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIM
It's not hard to see why companies like Codemasters, Konami, Sega and Sony (especially Sony given the style of controller) were a little pissed. Not only does the kid look bored out of his tiny mind, but any Average Joe Dumbass taking a cursory glance at the advert would arrive at the ill-informed conclusion that playing games equals death in BIG BLACK CAPITAL LETTERS. Sure, encouraging a healthy lifestyle is well worth promoting, but persistently portraying video games as the villain is complete bullshit.
What better way to stir up a little anti-game propaganda than by naming a newly discovered skin disorder as 'PlayStation palmar hidradenitis'. This is after one 12-year-old girl suffered sore hands caused by prolonged gaming. Inevitably, news sites made the isolated case sound like an outbreak of the plague with predictably sensationalist headlines. Gamers at risk from 'PlayStation rash' / Excessive PlayStation gaming causes new skin condition / Game consoles 'cause skin sores.'
This year we're expecting nothing less than Xbox herpes.
Yes, we’re mentioning Nolan North in our Anti-Awards. A site which consistently bemoans the dearth of good quality story-telling in video games is bringing one of the most talented and charismatic actors currently working in the medium into its official tribute to all that is crap. Why? He’s being worn far too thin.
Above: Please use him sparingly
We can understand why. After the first two Uncharted games it was obvious that this guy was a star. His performance coupled with Naughty Dog’s sharp script made for an immensely likeable hero, so it’s only natural that every game company under the sun now wants a slice of the Nathan Drake magic. But the problem is that while North excels when given a fun and snappy hero to work with, he can’t do anything to make a dull character any better.
In fact, by blindly signing him up for what feels like every game ever made this year, the games industry is merely ensuring that a whole lot of titles get themselves unfavorably compared to Uncharted. He was in 19 games in 2009, and he already has Alpha Protocol and Dark Void imminent this year. That latter one involves him exploring a tropical island, and thus is doing itself no favors at all.
We remember when we first played Gears of War 2’s Smash TV-alike co-op mode. It was great. But we also remember that on that very same day, Cliff Bleszinski joked with us that maybe soon every other shooter would lift the idea, just like they did with Gears’ cover system.
Nazi Zombies. Firefight. Gold Rush. Spec Ops’ sniping missions. And soon we’ll have Borderlands and Aliens vs Predator doing it as well. Co-op killing is great, we get it. But please devs, have a new multiplayer idea.
According to Rolling Stone, Courtney Love’s chief concern about Cobain’s role in Guitar Hero 5 was his appearance. Activision’s Vice President of Music Affairs commented, “Courtney supplied us with photos and videos and knew exactly what she wanted Kurt to look like…she wanted him to have that sort of athletic definition but not overly so.” Either Love isn’t particularly serious about preserving her husband’s memory (shock!), or no one mentioned that Cobain’s likeness would be squawking like a jukebox commanded by a drunk suburban high school girl. It’s possible she didn’t know - she apparently went on a partially-nonsensical Twitter tirade in which she threatened to sue Activision - but regardless, we now get to enjoy watching Cobain cover a song by a man who thinks clocks are ironic.
And then there’s this. It’s funny - No Doubt sued Activision over their avatars singing non-Doubt songs in Band Hero, but the estate of The Man in Black is apparently not miffed by the reverse. Goodnight, sweet prince; and sing Gwen Stefani to thy rest.