Asynchronous Multiplayer In the Pipe for Miiverse

miiverse_splash

At a recent Nintendo shareholders’ meeting, Mr. Iwata alluded to an update to the Wii U’s Miiverse application, allowing for being able to “send your play data to Miiverse for others to download and play against at a different time.”

What this means, put simply, is that as soon as the update goes live, developers will be able to create asynchronous multiplayer games for the Wii U – if you’ve played any of Zynga’s games on your smartphone, like Draw Something, you’ll be familiar with this style of play. Basically, the game is played in turns, with each player taking their turn on their own time. Once they finish, the results are sent to the other player and they take their turn. This exchange continues until the game ends, the score is tallied, and the winner is declared.

This is an exciting development for Wii U owners, paving the way for a whole different type of game for the system. Given the recent surge of free-to-play games on the Xbox and PS3 (like Jetpack Joyride) and the Wii U’s unique capabilities, it wouldn’t be far off to predict we’ll be seeing plenty of those titles making their way to Nintendo, as well as the possibility of some first-party asynchronous games. The Wii U is a great platform for this style of game, as you can be playing a game, briefly go to your Wii U menu and fire up an asynchronous game, take your turn, and then return to what you were doing before.

Are you excited about the prospect of asynchronous gaming coming to the Wii U? Fire off a comment below and let us know what you think!

“The Last of Us” Has Online Multiplayer; Pre-Order Bonuses Announced

Naughty Dog community strategist, Arne Meyer, has confirmed that The Last of Us will feature online multiplayer. However, the company is not releasing specific information regarding the online details and what it will encompass. Even though the developer is being tight lipped about the multiplayer, they are describing the preorder bonus details.

Those who pre-order The Last of Us at GameStop will receive the “Survival Pack”. This pack will include bonus experience points, a melee attack booster, in-game money, as well as customizable items, and two bonus skins that are unlocked once you have completed the single-player. Additionally, there will be a second pre-order bonus, which will only be available at select retailers, the “Sights and Sounds Pack”. This will contain the official soundtrack for The Last of Us, a PS3 dynamic theme, and two avatars, Winter Joel and Winter Ellie, for your PSN profile. For more news on this or any other topic, be sure to keep it locked onto GamersXtreme, and as always, “Game On!”

Goodbye Call of Duty, the Uncharted 3 Beta Dethroned You

Now, a majority of us have enjoyed the Call of Duty multiplayer at one point or another.  For me, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the first multiplayer online game that I spent months on end playing.  It was fresh, fast-paced and a ton of fun to play on your own or in a party with your friends.  I’ve clocked in over 50 hours just on the multiplayer alone so I’m not exactly a “n00b” when it comes to COD multiplayer.  However, once Call of Duty: World at War was released, I was already played out with the multiplayer and thought, “Wow, this is getting stale already…”  Then, a year later was Modern Warfare 2’s release…and I despised it for it’s entirely unbalanced competitive multiplayer.  Then, another year later was COD: Black Ops, which was, in my opinion, a slight step more entertaining than MW2 (thank you Nuketown), but thanks to Treyarch for slap-dashing the PS3 version (inexcusable seeing that COD: World at War was exactly identical with the PS3 and 360 versions) for me by making the game look muddy, sub-HD and have numerous connectivity issues.  The only reason I still play the Call of Duty titles are for their campaigns, which is the main purpose of the game.

Now, the Uncharted franchise was one of the games I didn’t want to steer toward the “multiplayer” territory.  I’m all about having a fantastic single-player experience and if there is multiplayer, it’s nothing more than a bonus that I’ll occasionally check out nowadays.  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune was one of my favorite titles for the PS3 and I thought how the balance between action-adventure and cinematic themes blended brilliantly.  When Uncharted 2: Among Thieves was announced with the mention of multiplayer, I thought to myself “Are you kidding me?  They’re going to lose their focus on the single-player to make a multiplayer component?”  I couldn’t have been more wrong…

Uncharted 2’s single-player not only stands as one of the greatest single-player experiences I’ve ever played, but also set a new standard with me for the multiplayer aspect as well.  By incorporating the single-player mechanics into a multiplayer style of play, it was unlike any other game out there…and still remains that way.  Everything just worked in such a brilliant form and in a way that I never expected.

Now, the Uncharted 3 Beta was released on the PSN a few days ago, and after clocking in some serious time with it, it’s by far one of, if not, the best multiplayer title that will be hitting the market this year.  Now, I was a serious Uncharted 2 veteran…between platinuming the game…to clocking in roughly over 60 hours with the multiplayer, I knew the insides and outs of that game’s mechanics.  So, what makes the Uncharted 3 Beta better than a full retail version of COD’s multiplayer?  Let me explain.

First off, the lobby system is already mind-blowing.  From the get go, you’ll notice the bottom right corner, which has the “Uncharted TV.”  Uncharted TV allows you to watch behind the scenes footage, trailers, gameplay footage and occasionally live footage of a multiplayer match going on at the same time.  If you want, you can even listen to the Uncharted TV through your headset as opposed to your TV.  I hadn’t even played the game yet and this blew me away already.  Then, you notice that you can customize the way the character looks, from the guns being customized with their own perks, to creating emblems and having “kickback” boosters.  This is similar to Call of Duty’s “Create a Class” system, but certainly feels different at the same time.  Upon inviting my friends into a party, we jumped into a team deathmatch and heard people being annoying on their headsets by either blasting music into it or just talking about nothing important.  Now, I usually mute everyone in a game except for my friends in my party but I couldn’t figure out how to mute each person individually in the lobby…until I pressed the highlighted “triangle” button for “mute all” which not only did what it’s intended to do, but actually didn’t mute my friends.  The game knew that my party should NOT be muted as opposed to those who aren’t in my party.  This is the first time I’ve come across a game that actually has, what I call, a “smart mute all” button.

This never gets old...

Starting off the match, we were treated to a cinematic cutscene of my team preparing for a shootout on a cargo plane and as the hatch opened, we saw trucks with villains (the opposing team) on them ready to take us out…then the match began.  As opposed to most games where you just start in a spawn point on a map and just blast each other for no good reason, this gave it a more cinematic approach.  It actually reminded me of the “Operations” mode of Killzone 3.  As we were jumping from the moving cargo plane (that was ready to take off from the runway at any second) to the trucks, I was enticed in how cinematic the multiplayer felt…something that sparked my appreciation for multiplayer again.  Even the fact that you can blow up a truck (that has the opposing team on there) that’s following the cargo plane on the runway completely awed me and made me forget I was even playing a multiplayer component.  Afterwards, the cargo plane hatch closed and a timer showed up on the screen counting down the seconds until the cargo plane took off.  Once it hit zero, you see the plane take off and then you continue the rest of the match in a new section of the map.  Then “power plays” come into effect where you may have to protect a specific teammate, or another team might have “double damage” that they can deal to you.  It’s at these moments where Uncharted’s outstanding soundtrack kicks in and further enriches the experience.  Multiplayer games need music…without music, the multiplayer is usually a tad boring.  When the music kicked in for “power plays,” I couldn’t help but sit at the edge of my seat and really pull off some insane actions in the time window that it played.  The “kickback” booster is really sweet as well.  Instead of earning “killstreak” rewards as in COD, you’ll earn “kickback” boosters which are achieved by completing certain “medals” or collecting “medals” placed at random throughout the map.  Currently, my “kickback” is the “RPG!!” which allows me to pull out a…you guessed it, RPG to take down enemies.  However, it only carries two rockets and if you die with it, you lose your kickback until you earn the medals again.  The other new mechanic is the ability to “sprint” now.  Now sprinting is used in essentially every game, but I never would’ve thought how much of a difference it makes in the Uncharted universe.  Unlike COD where you’ll sprint away from a bullet, turn around the corner and only find out that the bullet somehow hit you despite clearly turning the corner of that hallway or building (the soldiers in COD must know how to “curve” bullets), in Uncharted 3, you can ACTUALLY sprint away from bullets and not have to worry about Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy coming after you, curving bullets around corners.

Yes...this is the multiplayer.

In short, Uncharted 3’s beta blew me away within a single match.  I loved Uncharted 2’s multiplayer, and was a pro at it (not trying to gloat) but Uncharted 3’s Beta not only shows how incredible the multiplayer is going to be for the full retail version, but the fact that a “beta” actually feels more “complete” and “polished” than a full retail version is quite a feat.  If you haven’t downloaded the Uncharted 3 Beta yet, get off the “COD” bandwagon, and check out an innovative multiplayer experience.  You will never go back to COD with the same mentality.

WHY FPS ONLINE MULTIPLAYER IS RUINING THE INDUSTRY… (AND WARPING THE MINDS OF YOUNG GAMERS)

1) Players are ignoring the single player campaign

While FPS multiplayer can be fun to play at times, it should not be the main reason for playing a certain game. Multiplayer is nothing more than an addition to the main single player campaign. Keep in mind that developers use their time and energy in creating an experience containing solid gameplay with interesting stories and characters, yet many gamers today skip the single player campaign to rush online and blast their friends to smithereens without giving the game itself a chance. This is a disservice to both the makers of the game, and to the gamers themselves, as they will most likely miss out on an incredible journey that the main character must trek through in order to save the world or some diabolical corruption. If compared to a DVD purchase, the single player campaign is like the movie itself, while the multiplayer is nothing more than just extras that you can find on a bonus disk. So do yourself a favor and play the game first before rushing in to mindlessly shoot enemies to bits.

2) Players are spending months on one game

One of the cool things about the current console generation is being able to see what your friends are playing online when you sign into your account. I like seeing what types of games other players are interested in as they cycle through their games library. However, there are a growing number of people who are sticking with one FPS game for months playing only the multiplayer portion of the game. While I understand that a game can be fun to play, gamers should venture out and try out other amazing titles that have been released to the world. There are many other genres to explore that are just as immersive (if not more so) than the standard FPS game.

3) Poor morals

Just recently, I watched my eight-year old nephew playing an FPS (I believe it was one of the Call of Duty’s – they all look the same, run around and shoot people with a gun). As I sat there watching him kill other “human” beings by using a number of different firearms, and even slitting enemies’ throats using a combat knife, I thought to myself how an eight-year old child should not be playing these types of realistic games. Now before people start lecturing on how most games have ways to kill off enemies, it has just been in recent years that they are made to look more realistic. Defending your planet from aliens, killer robots or goombas is one thing, but intentionally killing other humans is no way to have young children express their imagination. Look at most superheroes in comic books and you’ll notice that they have a moral responsibility to defeat an enemy without killing them. Games used to have more characters with a similar mentality, and while there still are a few, many games today are looking for a grittier look with more realistic graphics, leaving us with images that could confuse us between make-believe and reality. You don’t have to look far to find news reports of young members in our society creating harmful acts due to their fascination with realistic games that “teach” us to kill. When it comes to certain FPS games, morality is something that gets thrown out the window (especially in homes that don’t have parents to teach their kids values). Most, if not all, FPS games are built around war, and yes, war can be violent, yet war is also political, and most people who play these FPS games don’t know the meaning behind this fact. They just think it’s fun to kill people in as many ways as possible. Games are supposed to show us how to be hero, not a killer. With the overly abundant first person shooter games being released each year, I’m hopeful that this is just a gaming fad, and that we can revert back to more creative and meaningful game experiences.