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

We haven’t seen The Last of Us

Posted by Karen Jacobson On Tuesday 22 July 2014No Comments

Joel and Ellie prepare for the painful remastering process.

There are rumblings of a future sequel to the critical and commercial success story of 2013 The Last of Us. In an interview with VideoGamer, community strategist for Naughty Dog Arne Meyer stated, “We’re just starting to explore ideas of what more could there be in this universe and starting that decision process. That doesn’t mean the end result is guaranteed.”

For those who were asleep in 2013, The Last of Us was a survival horror game widely praised for its rich story and characters. The potential of a sequel would certain excite many, including those at The Black Panel. Meyer and Naughty Dog don’t seem to be eager to churn out a quick sequel to cash in, stating “It really comes down to is there something interesting in this universe we’ve created that we want to continue to explore?”

An enhanced version of the game, known as The Last of Us Remastered, is due to hit PS4 later this month.

Ubisoft still under fire for dropping female characters

Posted by Erin Marcon On Monday 21 July 2014No Comments

A scene from October’s Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Ubisoft may be impressively progressive when it comes to hiring parkour experts, but the company has again been targeted for failing to include playable female characters in the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Last month a spokesperson for the French publisher claimed that such characters were dropped from the game because of the additional work associated with creating the in-game models. Given the overall scale of the production, some industry observers found this claim to be dubious. Now a prominent video game voice actress has weighed into the debate.

Ashley Johnson, who delivered an acclaimed performance as Ellie in The Last of Us, told Videogamer that “I was like, give me a fucking break! It’s 2014!” The BAFTA award winner went on to emphasise that “it would be nice to see stronger females in a game that are not just the damsel in distress, the love interest or she’s oversexualised. She doesn’t even necessarily have to be a badass. Just like a normal female character.”

Ubisoft released a statement to Kotaku in June alluding to the presence of a major heroine in Assassin’s Creed Liberation and claiming that Assassin’s Creed Unity will still feature “strong female characters”.

Phantom Pain to question US worldview

Posted by Erin Marcon On Sunday 20 July 2014No Comments

Is there anything worse than a close talker?

For all its outlandish characters, bizarre plot twists and questionable depictions of the female form, the Metal Gear saga has always been peppered with serious social commentary.

Previous games have tackled hot topics such as the proliferation of seemingly amoral private military companies and the tragic role of child soldiers on the world’s battlefields. The recent Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes took place in a brutal detention camp in Cuba, a fictionalised location with obvious parallels to Guantanamo Bay.

It now seems that the next game in the series, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, will continue to challenge audiences with it weighty themes. As relayed by CVG, series creator Hideo Kojima recently told The Guardian that “Hollywood continues to present the US army as being the good guys, always defeating the aliens or foreigners. I am trying to shift that focus. These movies might not be the only way to view current affairs. I am trying to present an alternate view in these games.”

The Black List 254

Posted by Black Panel Staff On Saturday 19 July 2014No Comments

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

SUNDAY NEWS Early access could be coming to PS4 > Sony’s Adam Boyes has confirmed that the company is seriously considering introducing an early access program. Speaking with Gamasutra, Boyes suggested that such a program is “on the top of my mind every day.” While mainstream titles continue to adhere to traditional release models, the early access concept has taken off in a big way in indie circles. READ MORE

MONDAY NEWS Blizzard responds to diversity concerns > Blizzard has taken further steps to address the perception that it isn’t listening to feedback about a lack of diversity in its character line-up and a tendency towards overly sexualised depictions of its female characters. READ MORE

TUESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Tekken 7 > In what seems to becoming standard, a leak has forced a game to be announced early. In this case it is the latest iteration in the long running Tekken franchise. Tekken 7 was officially announced at the weekend’s EVO fighting game tournament where producer Katsuhiro Harada was forced to unveil it ahead of schedule. As reported by CVG, the original leak revealed that the game will be running on Unreal Engine 4 and that it will be released on last gen systems. READ MORE

WEDNESDAY JUST ANNOUNCED Gigantic > Motiga has announced its first title. Gigantic is a free-to-play online battle game within a fantasy setting. Motiga may be an indie operation, but the budget for Gigantic is certainly not small, as the studio raised $20 million dollars for the project. Motiga VP James Phinney, is the former lead designer for Blizzard Entertainment’s StarCraft and integral part of the team involved in Gigantic. READ MORE

THURSDAY NEWS Ubisoft finally appoints a Chief Parkour Officer > Every so often a story comes along that risks transforming relatively straight laced gaming sites into something vaguely resembling The Onion. Ubisoft’s announcement this week that it has hired a ‘Chief Parkour Officer’ presents just such a danger. As reported by Joystiq, Ubisoft has secured the services of noted free running expert Michael ‘Frosti’ Zernow and it has immediately put him to work. READ MORE

FRIDAY NEWS Former CoD developers form Reload Studios > Two years after a group of Infinity Ward staffers broke away and formed Respawn Entertainment, another batch of Call of Duty developers have struck out on their own. Also home to a handful of former EA and THQ developers, Reload Studios this week announced itself to the gaming world. While the Californian team is yet to reveal full details of its debut project, co-founder James Chung has indicated a strong interest in virtual reality based experiences. READ MORE