The November Recap; GT5, Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed, Need for Speed and lots of movie love
My oh my, what an insanely awesome month just passed. November is always known for being a big one in the gaming world but both the amount and quality of the games that just hit shelves is staggering. In case you missed any of them, we’ve got them all right here in one place. To go along with it, we’ve also got the latest news on several new streaming movie/tv apps in both Europe and North America.
Gran Turismo 5
We’ll start with what is hands down the biggest launch of the month… for us, anyway. After six long and painstaking years, we finally have a brand new full-fledged Gran Turismo title to call our own. That’s right, GT5 has finally hit shelves and with it comes the deepest and most immersive racer you’ll probably ever play.
In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, here’ some facts on Gran Turismo 5. It sports over 1,000 cars, 70 tracks, two separate single player modes, on-line racing, full day-night cycles, every kind of weather you can think of and the most realistic racing physics we’ve ever gotten our hands on.
If you’re a simulation racing fan, GT5 is the game you’ve been waiting on; it’s just a shame you’ve had to wait so long. Regardless, it’s quite amazing. The game was actually so big that we had to break the review down in to two different segments.
Call of Duty: Black Ops
Admittedly, we knew Gran Turismo was going to be the game we put the most amount of time in to for November, but we’re well aware that a larger chunk of the gaming community was more excited by another game. It’s the latest iteration in a small franchise known as Call of Duty… perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Of course you’ve heard of it. Keeping up with its usual schedule, we’ve got a new one to play in the month of November. This one is titled, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and it’s developed by Treyarch, the same studio behind the WWII shooter Call of Duty: World at War. We actually quite liked World at War so we came in to Black Ops excited about what we were about to play. Thankfully, we weren’t let down.
The single-player campaign was all well and good but, like normal, it’s the multiplayer that really shines. Since it went to a yearly release agenda, we’ve become quite worried that this franchise was due to take a big slide with each new game but luckily, that has yet to happen. While we sincerely hope that the standard CoD formula changes soon before it has a chance to become stale, this is truly a remarkable game and one that can’t be missed if you’re a fan of the genre.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
Yet another massive franchise to make its mark on November was Assassin’s Creed. Its latest installment is titled, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood.
A lot like Call of Duty, this is another series that seems to be heading in the direction of a yearly release schedule. We just got AC2 last year, now we’ve got Brotherhood and Ubisoft is already making comments about potentially having another game ready for next fall.
Just like CoD, we were a little concerned. We loved the previous two games and would hate nothing more than to see this become another watered down series that eventually goes by the wayside because they’re pushing them out too quickly. Thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case. We’re not quite ready to bring you our review of it just yet, but the rest of the gaming community has been almost unanimous with their praise. It seems Ezio still had another good run left in him.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit
It’s no secret that the high point of the Need for Speed franchise came back in the original PlayStation days. All of the first four NFS games had us wound up like a top. The arcade-style mechanics and the ability to run from the cops (especially in iterations 3 and 4) made us feel like the outlaws we truly are.
Since then, things have gone kind of downhill, probably hitting its lowest point with Need for Speed: Undercover. EA made a valiant attempt to rejuvenate the series last year by releasing Need for Speed: Shift, their first attempt at a sim racer. While it certainly was an improvement, it still wasn’t exactly what fans were looking for.
Now, with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit, this storied franchise is certainly back on the map. To start, EA went out and put Criterion Games – creators of the much loved Burnout franchise – behind the wheel. Next, they decided to take things back to the glory days. Need for Speed is now once again a game that allows you to take control of a tight handling arcade racer and run from the cops. Or, if you’re the goody-two-shoes type, you can play as the cops and track down the outlaws yourself.
The side of the law you choose to be on is irrelevant. What matters is that this is the game we, and a lot of other racing fans, wanted. We haven’t had time to put together a full review, but if you liked those old school NFS games from back in the day, this one is probably a safe purchase for you.
Other Notable Releases
A few other good games came out last month but kind of flew under the radar. Of course, with games like GT5 and CoD launching, it’s pretty difficult to get people to take notice. The first of those games was the Sly Cooper Collection. This HD collection includes all three of the Sly Cooper games from the PlayStation 2 era, remastered in high definition and they even threw in 3D support for good measure. While it doesn’t work in the entire game, there are also some mini-games that are compatible with the PlayStation Move.
Another classic title getting the HD treatment in November was NBA Jam. The smash hit from back in mid 90’s got a major overhaul and unexpectedly became EA’s only NBA game to launch this year. With it came updated rosters, new game modes and on-line play. If you’re looking for a simulation basketball experience, this game probably isn’t for you but if you feel like reminiscing, it’ll only set you back a cool $50.
Last but certainly not least was a new James Bond game titled, BloodStone 007. Bizarre Creations, makers of the Project Gotham franchise from the X-Box 360 and most recently, Blur, were behind the helm with this one. Their love for cars and fast paced racing is a natural fit for James Bond, who only drives the best Aston Martin has to offer. Critics have only been so-so on this title but if you wait another short week or two, you’ll be able to read the PS3 Attitude review.
Once you get past the games there were also a number of new apps to hit the PlayStation Store, the first being NHL GameCenter. Like so many things that came out in November, you can expect a full review of this sometime before the new year, but so far we’ve been rather unimpressed. It has the same functions as the MLB app that has been out for a while now, but multiple streaming and connection problems keep this new service from really standing out. Pair that with the fact that it costs a combined $160 to use and you’ve got yourself a real flop. Our only hope is that they fix it through numerous patches in the future.
No, it’s not the strange looking dolls you poke with needles, this is a streaming movie/tv app powered by Wal-Mart. Although hands on time with the app has been limited, we’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen as of thus far. Not only is it a great source for new releases but there’s a lot of information packed away in this app, as well. With every movie and tv show comes a lot of extra stuff that will help lead you to your next selection.
You can see multiple reviews of each movie, you can select the director, producer or actor that’s in the movie and search for other films starring them and you can even watch trailers for pretty much every video you come across. The pricing for everything is pretty competitive, but we still consider it be expensive for digital-only rentals. Look for more news and information on Vudu as it settles in alongside the PlayStation Store’s video marketplace in the future.
LOVEFiLM and Mubi
This month also saw the release of two movie services in the UK – LOVEFiLM and Mubi.
LOVEFiLM is a UK-based disc rental company who have made a good selection of their library available for streaming on PCs and Internet-connected TVs. While not every film is available to watch on-line, the selection is quite extensive and includes a number of current releases among the reels and reels of classic titles.
Available from just £5.99 per month, the service is pretty good value when compared to the PlayStation Video Store. However, that will only get you 2 hours of on-line viewing per month, so it is better to go for the £9.99 package that includes unlimited on-line viewing. These packages also come with the usual disc rental if you want to catch some titles in full HD with all the usual extras.
Mubi is a different beast altogether. Part movie streaming service, part social network, Mubi contains a vast library of classic, cult, independent and world cinema to enjoy, from well-known standards like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ through to the more obscure such as Tiaraju Aronovich’s ‘Wireless’. The pay-as-you-go options allow you to watch a single movie for £2.99 or buy credit for 5 films at £11.96. Alternatively, you can get a subscription for £9.99 per month and watch unlimited movies.
The quality and variety of the films on Mubi is superb if you’re a real cinephile, but the social media aspects take it to the next level. People can follow you and see what movies you like, read your reviews and write on your wall. You can link your Mubi to Twitter and/or Facebook too, sharing your thoughts and viewing schedule automatically with your friends. For movie-lovers, Mubi is a real gem.
Both LOVEFiLM and Mubi stream standard definition titles.
Phew, so there you have it. Quite a busy month but there are a lot of fantastic games and apps that hit the public’s hands, and that is never a bad thing. Look back here at the end of December as we’ll be bringing you another one of these recaps for this month. Just a guess, but we’re assuming December won’t be quite as busy as November. Let us know in the comments what you were playing, watching and using in November.