Daily updates on video games and popular culture, along with Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast.

Archive for December, 2013

Watch Dogs rose from the ashes of a failed driving game

Posted by Erin Marcon On Tuesday 31 December 2013Comments Off

This shipping container level proves that Watch Dogs is, in fact, a video game.

When you take the first step on a long journey, it isn’t always possible to foresee your destination. When we pitched the Black Panel as a blog about local and imported floor tiles, we could never have guessed that we’d end up talking about video games. Something very similar (minus the floor tiles) appears to have happened during the evolution of Ubisoft’s next gen flagship Watch Dogs.

Believe it or not (actually, it’s not all that hard to believe), this open world blend of action and espionage emerged from the ashes of a dedicated driving game. Ubisoft North America president Laurent Detoc recently told IGN that the Watch Dogs team was originally “working on a driving engine” and confirmed that the final version of Watch Dogs will incorporate “some of the work that had been done” on the earlier project.

Despite this, Detoc views the original game, which was being positioned as a possible continuation of the Driver franchise, as largely distinct from Watch Dogs. “I wouldn’t say that Driver became Watch Dogs,” he said. “What happens is that a game gets cancelled, and then you take pieces of that game to make a new one.”

All good things, etc

Posted by Erin Marcon On Monday 30 December 2013Comments Off

Offline racing is the future.

If you’re still playing Gran Turismo 5 on a daily basis, we have both good news and bad news. Let’s get the latter out of the way first. Sony has announced that it will decommission the online component of the game in May 2014. The good news is that Sony has just released Gran Turismo 6, so you can play that instead. We can only assume that this is a happy coincidence.

The entire Resistance trilogy, including 2011’s Resistance 3, is also going offline in May 2014. In this case, though, there is no new game to pick up the slack, unless, of course, you’re inclined to fire up your copy of the Vita exclusive Resistance: Burning Skies.

Prior to this week’s announcement, Sony had already yanked 18 of its PS3 games offline. With no fewer than four titles deactivated, the madcap Buzz series of quiz games has been the hardest hit.

2013: The year in reviews

Posted by Erin Marcon On Sunday 29 December 2013Comments Off

As 31 December is rapidly approaching, it’s probably a good time to remember the 64 games reviewed by the Black Panel during 2013. It may appear to be a simple list, but I’ve actually ranked them in order of best (at being close to the beginning of the alphabet) to worst.

I’d also like to acknowledge the tremendous contributions of the review crew. My sincere thanks to Jamie Dalzell, Alaisdair Dewar, Stephen Foote, Joel Guttenberg, Chad Habel, Cha Holland, Karen Jacobson, Stevie McDonald, Peter Nickless and Adam Rorke.

A special thanks also to Matthew Hewson, who again contributed a staggering amount of (high quality) content.

 The List:

  1. Anarchy Reigns
  2. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
  3. Antichamber
  4. Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel
  5. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  6. BattleBlock Theatre
  7. Battlefield 4
  8. Beyond: Two Souls
  9. BioShock Infinite
  10. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  11. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
  12. Call of Duty: Ghosts
  13. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  14. The Cave
  15. Cloudberry Kingdom
  16. Company of Heroes 2
  17. Crysis 3
  18. Dead Island: Riptide
  19. Dead Space 3
  20. Defiance
  21. DMC: Devil May Cry
  22. Don’t Starve
  23. Dragon’s Crown
  24. DungeonLand
  25. EscapeVektor
  26. Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan
  27. Far Cry 3
  28. Fuse
  29. Gears of War: Judgment
  30. God of War: Ascension
  31. Grand Theft Auto V
  32. Guacamelee
  33. Killer Instinct
  34. Killer is Dead
  35. Killzone: Mercenary
  36. Killzone: Shadow Fall
  37. The Last of Us
  38. Lost Planet 3
  39. Mars: War Logs
  40. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
  41. Metro: Last Light
  42. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine
  43. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
  44. Omerta: City of Gangsters
  45. Pikmin 3
  46. PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale
  47. Proteus
  48. Puppeteer
  49. Rayman Legends
  50. Remember Me
  51. Resident Evil: Revelations
  52. Rocksmith 2014
  53. Saints Row 4
  54. SimCity
  55. Skulls of the Shogun
  56. Skylanders: Swap Force
  57. Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
  58. Soul Sacrifice
  59. Splinter Cell: Blacklist
  60. State of Decay
  61. The Swapper
  62. Tomb Raider
  63. Total War: Rome II
  64. ZombiU

The Black List 225

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 28 December 2013Comments Off

Welcome to The Black List, your one stop shop for the stories published on the site this week.

SUNDAY PODCAST Black Panel Podcast 75: End of Gen Special > In this (very special) episode of Australia’s grooviest gaming podcast, guest host Matt Hewson and friends say a (mostly) fond farewell to the generation that brought us the 360, PS3 and Wii. READ MORE

MONDAY PREVIEW The Banner Saga > I do love a good turn based combat game. Heroes of Might and Magic, XCOM and Civilization all receive plenty of attention on my PC. It’s just the perfect style of game for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Hours have a way of disappearing as I negotiate tense combat situations that require thought rather than fast reflexes. That’s why the first chapter of The Banner Saga, a new fantasy RPG from three ex-BioWare devs, should appeal to me. Unfortunately, there are a few rough edges to be worked out before it becomes a serious contender for my turn based time. READ MORE

TUESDAY OPINION H-Bombs: Looking back at the last gen > Having just spent a couple of weeks recording interviews with various people about their thoughts on the end of the 360/PS3 generation, I couldn’t help but start thinking about my own responses to the questions I asked. So I am taking this opportunity to express my own opinions about the last generation, and while it is a little self-indulgent, at least I didn’t interview myself for the podcast right? READ MORE

WEDNESDAY SPECIAL Merry Christmas 2013 > Merry Christmas one and all! We sometimes find it hard to express our emotions here at The Black Panel. That’s why we’re incredibly grateful to live in a world in which stock photography can say everything that our words cannot. Be safe over the holiday break and don’t forget to drop us a line in the new year! READ MORE

THURSDAY REVIEW Killzone: Shadow Fall > Killzone: Shadow Fall starts slowly, but builds nicely. The latest chapter in this long-running sci-fi series isn’t terribly ambitious, but it does deliver the basics of the FPS genre at a good standard. Furthermore, the storyline is a little more meaningful than the standard action fare. The multiplayer component may be unimaginative, but it also provides a solid gaming experience. READ MORE

FRIDAY NEWS Flooding hits Hello Games > It’s the most wonderful time of the year unless, of course, you happen to be living or working in one of the many areas of the UK impacted by flooding. One such area, the historic English town of Guildford, is the home of Joe Danger developer Hello Games. READ MORE