We will all remember the absolutely iconic music that Martin O'Donnell produced which added so much to the Halo games. From the famous theme to the grand orchestral swells during cutscenes, it added so much to the production value of the games and gave them more largesse and refinement in my mind. I say this in contrast to Gears of War, which had a pretty uninspiring soundtrack, insofar as I can't remember a single piece from that game. But the more important part is not that I just remember it, it's that I wanted to. In my mind, it took an above average shooter and elevated it above the rest, starting right from the menu screen.
I've already gotten over the grief regarding Marty's firing, so let's get this out of the way: When a company usually terminates someone without cause, it usually means that the employee is being fired not due to actions relating to misconduct. Rather, it's more along the lines of the company saying "We're running out of money, so since you finished your job, we're going to have to let you go. No biggie." Those involving misconduct usually fall under Termination WITH Cause, which mostly involves the employee doing irreplaceable harm to the company itself, which in turn will be mentioned under the reasons behind being fired. Case in point, Infinity Ward, where co-founders Vince Zampella and Jason West were fired for "breaches of contract and insubordination." Needless to say, Activision had nothing to do with Marty's firing, so you guys can stop blaming Kotick now.
Having played through Halo 1-4, I can fully understand the massive following of Marty's work and the hive mind that emerged when this news was announced. I do understand what Jonathan says about the difference between being fired with and without a clause, but it's still troubling to fathom the fact that if is, in fact, the former—that they're running low on money—it could spell trouble for the project. Regardless, whatever happens in the near future, everyone reading wishes the best of luck to Marty in creating brand new worlds with his breathtaking music.
Apologies for the clickbait title. I despise them as much as the next guy, but the Forbes article had a nice projection chart that I felt was useful. Anyways, we know the story. Xbox is down right now in a bad way. The stubbornness held out for a while. Microsoft thought Titanfall would be their saving grace, but a few weeks went by without the absolute blockbuster numbers that were necessary to pull an upset from behind, even bundling it with the console to take out some of the extra cost. A few weeks went by without enough of a result, so they finally bit the bullet and took the full hit on it by having all retailers discount it $50, including their own stores. But as the chart shows, it's not about the frankly unimportant 2 million unit gap now. It's about what the picture looks like at the end of the year. Alex has already started facepalmed in annoyance... but here it is: network externalities! If the PS4 gains a critical lead, others will simply jump on for a better multiplayer experience. To their credit, Microsoft have been as on top of fixing bugs and releasing updates with more functionality as regularly as possible. But it's still digging out of a hole.
It's strange seeing the PlayStation 4 dominate the next-gen charts; in a way, it feels like the complete opposite of what happened when the Xbox 360 first came out back in 2005. Microsoft has already felt the sting of losing to Sony, and they need to win big come E3 if they want to win back some of their long-time customers. Meanwhile, both companies also need to pay more attention to the looming threat of mobile gaming, especially following Amazon's release of the Fire TV. If both companies don't play their cards right, they could end up losing to someone as big as Apple in the war on gaming.
I think one of the biggest factors that has led Sony on the current winning streak is the way they spoke to gamers as individuals—people who are sensitive about contentious philosophies and the like. When the news came out long ago that the Xbox v. Next would be always-online and would be a diskless console, they saw that and said, "People don't like that. Let's avoid doing that to grab the audience's attention." And you know what happened? It worked. The PS4 is currently (at the time of writing) the top selling console between the two. And, as Simon wrote, if there is indeed a moment where a massive convergence occurs that draws more people into buying a PS4, it could be a massive upset for Microsoft.
Firstly, if you haven't seen it yet, see the trailer almost seamlessly integrated with The Final Countdown. Now, it has always bugged me when I got to 2135 in a game of Civ, and am stuck on Mechanized Infantry with the world being slowly eaten away by desertification and radiation zones from Gandhi's nukes, researching Future Tech 52. I've always wanted to go further, which is why Beyond the Sword was kind of cool in its day with giant mechs and biodomes, but this takes it to a new level. I still want it to be grounded in a global-warmed Earth that's basically Elysium, and not too much from science fiction; it shouldn't be Starcraft II in turn-based mode.
I used to play Alpha Centuari back in the day, so I am quite excited that Firaxis is going to be revisiting that concept with Civilization: Beyond Earth. In case some of our readers have never actually played Alpha Centauri, the game was essentially an updated mod of sorts for Civilization II, actually going as far as to use the former's game engine as well. However, despite the fact that it was well received by the gaming community, it didn't really garner enough sales to warrant a direct sequel...until now, that is. Here's hoping Beyond Earth manages to keep some of the original themes from Alpha Centauri, especially the ones regarding the Gaia Philosophy.