With One Announcement, One Company May Just Win the Game Wars

During the Sony press conference on June 10 at E3 2013, the long-anticipated game Kingdom Hearts 3 was announced. A short teaser was shown, and the game’s director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed that it would be exclusive to the PlayStation 4. This revelation gave a serious boost to the console’s game profile, and this exclusivity combined with the potential found in Disney’s (the franchise’s owner) newly expanded universe, offers the PlayStation 4 an early edge in the next-generation console wars.

An Established Fan Base

The Kingdom Hearts franchise has enjoyed wild popularity since the release of the original in 2002, and Kingdom Hearts 2 only accelerated this momentum. Only a month after its release in December 2005, it had already sold one million copies. During March of 2006, KH2 was reported as the highest-selling game in North America, and to date, it has sold over 4 million copies. Together, the first two were Gamestop’s best sellers ever for the PS2, and gamers have been eagerly anticipating Kingdom Hearts 3 since 2006.

Creative Possibilities

The Kingdom Hearts games offer a unique blend of beloved Disney characters interacting within a new universe developed by Square Enix, the creator of the acclaimed Final Fantasy franchise. And while Disney’s appetite for gobbling up creative universes may harken the behavior of the planet-eating Marvel character Galactus (also under Disney control), the possibilities of seeing Marvel, Pixar, or Star Wars characters or settings in KH3 are enticing as well. Nomura has expressed interest in combining these universes, but it is ultimately Disney’s choice whether to allow it. If so, the PS4’s hardware offers tremendous potential for developers to create realistic AI to enable characters that are as true to the source as possible. Imagine Sora teaming up with Iron Man on Coruscant – the possibilities are endless.

The Power of Exclusivity

Sony is already winning the publicity war against its major rival Microsoft, and its brand loyalty among many gamers gives it an additional edge. But when gamers still on the fence decide between next generation consoles, a console’s library of exclusives, particularly those announced early in the console’s life cycle could tip the balance in favor of the PS4.

With more than eleven years of momentum behind it and millions of sales already, the Kingdom Hearts franchise has proved its long-lasting popularity, and its new installment will likely result in a yet another explosion of sales. Disney’s control over some of the most popular media brands allows for unsurpassed creative possibilities, and the hardware of the next generation consoles will likely allow developers to achieve their own vision. And, exclusively published for Sony, the potential inherent in KH3 may just give the PS4 the boost it needs to get an early start on winning the console wars.

Update (June 21, 2013): Shortly following the announcement of KH3’s exclusivity, Square Enix noted that it will NOT be a PS4 exclusive, but will also be published for the Xbox One.

PC Vs Console: Who Will Win the Gaming War?

Online gaming has, in the past, been strictly the domain of the PC gamer. This generation, with the PlayStation 3, Xbox Live and the Nintendo Wii, is really making a dent in online gaming for console owners, but in the past, it wasn’t until the Dreamcast was released with games like Phantasy Star Online that we started to see online gaming take off on consoles, and even then, those early steps into the world of multiplayer were a bit klutzy at best.

Simply put, the framework wasn’t there, yet. The hardware, software and communication technology of mainstream consumers had some catching up to do. If you had the money for cable internet in the late nineties, if you had the money for a top of the line gaming computer, then maybe you could play Quake or Unreal against friends from around the world, but if all you had was a gaming console and a little bit of cash to buy the game? Forget it.

Today, if you want online gaming, you can take your pick. PC and console both have their strong points and their weak points, but both do offer some form of online gaming.

With a PC, even an inexpensive Sony laptop can at least play most recent releases. In the past, you needed a real gaming laptop to do any gaming with it. Now, you can take any old refurbished computers you use for work or at home and load up Half Life 2 or Team Fortress on them. You may have to tweak the performance configuration to get a decent frame rate going, but today’s computers have made it so that, for the first time, high speed PC gaming is available to the masses.

On PC, that a game comes with online features is essentially a given. On console, online playability is typically seen as more of a “bonus”. A game like Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead, then, which are meant only to be played online rather than solo, are the kind of things that are definitely of the PC gaming scene.

Multiplayer games released primarily for PC are typically a lot better designed in terms of their playability as competitive games. A game like, say, Stranglehold, which is primarily single player, features a multiplayer mode which is severely unbalanced, allowing the first player to grab the biggest power-up Godlike abilities, regardless of skill. A game like Counter Strike, on the other hand, which is designed as a multiplayer PC game, is geared towards serious, fair, competitive play. If you stink at Counter Strike, no power up will save you.

Console gaming offers you an all-in-one package. No upgrades necessary. PC gaming, on the other hand, offers a much more robust and complete approach to multiplayer.

The Lord of the Rings: War in the North

A few years ago The Lord of the Rings was the talk of everyone, regardless if you were a gamer or not. People all over the globe had the Lord of the Rings on their minds regardless of what time of day or night it was. Theaters were raking in huge profits and the book was selling like wild fire. When the LOTR games arrived every platform jumped on the cash cow. Finally, something new came to our screens and LOTR was placed on the back burner.

Peter Jackson decided to re-ignite the blockbuster and his new film is in the making. Now a new game War in the North has taken the world by storm just as its predecessor. This one promises more bite as it is unleashed onto the World.

If you enjoy RPGs, then War in the North is the ultimate. This game is best played co-op to enhance the excitement. The three warriors unite to form a band of blood brothers in a new and exciting adventure. Broken armory can be repaired in the town. The sword and axe combine to form some of the most brilliant action scenes to date. The violence in this game is extreme so be warned.

Now everything so far may sound perfect. Action lovers may be dying to get their hands on the game, but there are a few flaws. The fighting is pretty standard. Basic RPG elements are present in the game, nothing spectacular. The strategy is based on staying safe, rather than taking real risks. The storyline is mediocre and the graphics and music is just like any other tower defense game. This game doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

You and your two friends embark on a journey to wage war against a Lieutenant in Sauron’s army. If you don’t have two friends to play with, the game’s A1 will assume that role. During the last episode players were totally immersed in the well being of their comrades. When Gandalf fell to the Balrog and the part when Boromir was killed by the orcs people cried real tears. Such was the depth of the emotion portrayed in the movie and game. However, War in the North, there is no such closeness between friends.

The three friends are only interested in the mission. There is no emotion attached to each other’s personal well-being and happiness. It’s as if they are colleagues working together only to achieve one defined result. The conversations are restricted to the storyline and again no personal interaction is present.

You will enjoy the combat of which there is plenty. One is good with the axe, the other a master in sword fighting and the third warrior is a robin hood with his skills in bow and arrow. They can however, use a variety of other weapons at their disposal which is often necessary in the many skirmishes they fight.

The killing does get brutal and many moves are a combination of brilliant play, but again, it won’t move you like the very first game. You will see the rating M has been assigned to War in the North so there are pretty gruesome graphics present. You will kill orcs by slashing off their arms and heads and the blood letting is not for the faint hearted. But you won’t see any sexy elves this time and that’s a pity.

Sometimes the game can become boring, especially since you’re fighting the same hordes of enemies over and over. Regardless of the small faults, the game is pretty much solid and if you liked the first one, War in the North, isn’t all that bad.