Call of Duty: Black Ops Launches
In what may be one of the premiere video game industry events of the year, Call of Duty: Black Ops was officially released for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and PC at midnight Monday evening. Black Ops was the fourth Call of Duty title to be released by publishing giant Activision Blizzard in the past three years and took the popular first-person shooter franchise into the Vietnam and Cold War era.
The arrival of Black Ops was highly anticipated for two reasons. The first was due to the infamous firing of Jason West and Vince Zampella, co-heads of Activision’s Infinity Ward studio, the developers behind Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Activision was roundly criticized for its handling of the situation and the outflow of key employees from Infinity Ward following the debacle led many to believe that the publisher had lost the talent behind its multi-billion dollar franchise. When it was announced that Treyarch Corporation would be behind Call of Duty: Black Ops (as the studio handles Call of Duty games in alternating years with Infinity Ward), many were skeptical that the developers of Call of Duty: World at War could match the legacy created by the Modern Warfare developers. This became Treyarch’s chance to prove itself as an elite video game developer.
The second reason for anticipation was due to the expectations that Activision had set. The launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was considered the biggest launch of any entertainment medium in history. Yet despite this and launching in a year in which it would have to face Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Halo: Reach, and even general Call of Duty fatigue, Activision boldly proclaimed that the launch of Black Ops would top that of Modern Warfare 2‘s. Those lofty expectations may very well have turned out true. Many retailers have substantiated these claims based on their pre-orders and research analysts such as Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities expect it to be the best-selling game of the year.
Krome Studios Struggles to Stay Afloat
Krome Studios, once thought to be dead, continues to bleed in its struggle to keep its doors open. Reports began to surface in August that the studio was prepared to make major layoffs due to economic issues and its troubles have only become more apparent in recent months. Recently, Krome Studios CEO Robert Walsh confirmed that layoffs would occur but that the company is continuing to work on its projects on a day-to-day basis. Krome tried to form a deal to integrate with Gamebryo Engine maker Emergent, but that deal failed to materialize and so the company continues to consider its options. Krome is an Australian game developer that once employed 400 employees but has since reduced that size to around 40. It is best known for its work on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger series.
Donkey Kong Country Returns to Feature Super Guide
Donkey Kong Country Returns, set to release in North America on November 21st, will feature a version of the Super Guide option that has recently been adopted in other Nintendo titles New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Super Mario Galaxy 2. In Donkey Kong Country Returns, if a player dies on a level 8 times, he or she will have the option to use a Super Guide function, which will let the gamer or the computer play as Super Kong, a white, invincible version of Donkey Kong. The catch is that none of the bananas, banana coins, puzzle pieces, or KONG letters will be added to the player’s collection while playing as Super Kong.
The implementation of a Super Guide has become a common mainstay in recent Nintendo titles and has generated minor controversy as a result. Some argue that it continues to point to Nintendo’s softening of difficulty in its titles while others argue that it provides a way for Nintendo to appeal to broader audiences.