Marvel Dies, Wolfenstein Lives

Well, hello. I’ve just gone six days without the internet. Cursed steam-age parents. Remind me to never, ever leave my house again.

Clearly, I’ve a lot of news to catch up on, once I’ve finished staring in fascinated horror at some of the angry reader comments on the Eurogamer Top 50 Games of 2007 feature, which all four of us RPSites contributed to enthusiastically. My prediction: by 2009, Halo and Mario fans will have reached such numbers and ferocity that they’ll have formed their own nation, constantly at war with the rest of the Earth.

One story that has caught my haggard post-Christmas eye is another suggestion that Cryptic’s Marvel Universe Online MMO is dead, as originally rumoured back in November.

Chatting speculatively with my fellows on the matter had resulted in a general “bollocks it is” sentiment, given its license-to-print-money nature, and what surely must haven been a stupidly large injection of pure cash from both the Microsoft and Marvel camps in the first place.

Then time passed, and there no was denial. And that was odd. Now, this was always going to be a game bound up in mile upon mile of red tape, thanks to the infamously defensive and bureaucratic nature of the two Ms. So full disclosure of exactly where the game was at and what form it would take was unlikely. A simple “nah, we’re doing fine” shouldn’t have been any problem, however. Two months on, there hasn’t been one. Uh-oh.

Now, generally reliable super-secret games industry mole Surfer Girl’s making a similar claim. She/he/them/Yog-Sothoth is generally on the money, so it seems likely that my secret geeky anticipation for Marvel Universe Online will never be met. Bah. 2008’s already slightly less interesting. No word on the why, though I wonder if it was a result of disagreement on whether/how to let players be yer actual proper Marvel characters, as opposed to lame original creations that rabid Marvel lawyers won’t allow to look or behave anything like Wolverine.

Fortunately, Surfer Girl has some happier news, though on another matter entirely:

Next fall’s Wolfenstein takes place in some large, open hub city where you select missions and go about them. And there are side quests too!

Which is both promising and a little odd, as I’m struggling to imagine that feeling natural in a World War II-with-zombies setting. Between that and Rage though, it does rather seem that id are entirely set to break with their corridor-pounding tradition. (Yes, I know id aren’t developing the new Wolfenstein, but you can damn well bet they’ll stamp their name on the title screen in giant letters).


  1. Thiefsie says:

    Interesting to see you guys commenting on console games in there ;)

  2. Thiefsie says:

    Once again I am shocked to see Halo 3 so high up in the list. Crackdown is an ace choice, as is Earth Defense Force 2017 and God Hand haha.

    Glad to finally see Half Life 2 Ep 2, receiving a placement more befitting of it’s over-polished blandity, and lack of true improvement from HL2.

    My biggest complaints are The Darkness, Pacman and Mass Effect, which should not be as high as they are… and again where is The Witcher?

    If nothing else the voting shows how console-centric Eurogamer is, regardless of it’s good quality as a review site.

    I also still have a rather hard time digesting Portal at number one considering its brevity, probable lack of expansion in the next game (maybe a lack of belief on my part only) and general difficulty level. Not to mention it’s ‘bonus’ pack-in mentality.

    Maybe it’s something to do with it being a year of rather bland (yet extremely polished) and well done titles, that really haven’t done anything overtly revolutionary gameplay wise, thus the ones that do something slightly experimental or at least somewhat original, are doing well.

    TF2 for graphical style and humour, Portal for brevity and humour and puzzleness.

    And crikey, would you look at the amount of ‘casual’ games on there. (Portal included?)
    I love myself some slitherlink and picross too, but hardly are they complex pinnacles of modern day gaming.

  3. Masked Dave says:

    Wouldn’t Pong, Pac Man, Space Invaders et al be considered casual games these days?

    What’s wrong with ‘casual’ games being good?

    Hell. Assassin’s Creed is best played ‘casually’. Since the running and jumping and stabbing-in-the-face are the only good bits.

  4. Dracko says:

    BioShock over Call of Duty 4? Surely you jest.

    And then there is nothing wrong with a game being short. Criticising it on that basis is beyond me. And yes, there’s nothing wrong with poorly named “casual” titles being considered either. I really don’t get the elitist stance in both cases.

    Rather I do, but it’s so amazingly petty one has to ask why we’d want to see games become an “art” or “important” if we’re going to end up with the same sort of pseudo-academic wankery as in any other medium.

  5. Del Boy says:

    If I ever win the ‘lottery’ I will pay you all handsomely to not write for the godawful Eurogamer.

    The site itself is great but utterly ruined by its audience….I love a coherent argument…….I love a coherent argument.

  6. Muzman says:

    You fellas put Stalker in the top ten (using words that sound like mine ripped from another forum) so I’m well plesed about that.
    I love the strange religiosity in the comments “huh, so many FPSs in the list this year! So many former PC developers going console. So many reviewers following them. Coincidence? I think not. There goes the neighbourhood. They’re not like us you know. They stick together, speak their own funny little language. Pretty soon they’ve voted themselves council positions while their kids roam around in gangs and we all have to move to the country!”

    (No I don’t really want to talk about Marvel MMOs or anything else yet either)

  7. Phil H says:

    Hooray for EDF2017 on the list :D

  8. malkav11 says:

    Each article really ought to link to the next. Was kind of a pain to read the whole thing (although probably worth it in the end.)

  9. Schadenfreude says:

    Re: Eurogamer’s Top 50; I’m not liable to complain (I’d post there, but most of the commenters don’t appear to be listening in English), opinions are opinions after all; but I’ll weigh in on it for the sake of discussion (and because I’m really drunk again; Happy New Year).

    I’d stick the Witcher in my top 3. Not an RPS favourite I know (Prey’s World loves it though) and that’s their prerogative, but I certainly thought it was a much stronger game than Bioshock. And that’s not ‘backlash’; I’m sure I winged about it within a fortnight of it’s release. The first couple of hours were brilliant; and the Ryan moment was one of my year’s gaming moments but overall the game felt like too much of a chore for me (Akin to Assassin’s Creed wherein I “wasn’t playing it right” no doubt. Probably true; but from where I’m sitting it doesn’t make the games any better). Whereas with the Witcher I was consistently in love with our grumpy Elric rip-off and his adventures.

    As for Mass Effect; Walker’s right. Bioware have been making the same game over and over (Apart from NWN1’s campaign, which was shit; but more than made up for with Hordes of the Underdark). The thing is; it’s a really, really good game they’ve been making over and over and the most minor of changes of setting is enough to freshen it up (Best ending mission ever). Unlike Obsidian; who’ve been trading off Planescape’s reputation for quite a while now but making it worse each time, and it doesn’t help that each time is a sub-quality sequel to a Bioware game. KotOR2 was a poor man’s KotOR and NWN2 was just a knock-off of Planescape; better than NWN’s campaign yes; but they left out the Dungeon Master client (still not finished) which pretty much made NWN one of the most popular games on Gamespy to this day (And the only game I’ve ever spent a consistent five year’s playing).

    How’s that for a drunken, rambling, New Year’s rant? Back on topic. Who’s going to pay to play a Marvel Super-Hero MMOG where you can’t be an actual Marvel hero when you’ve already got City of Heroes/Villians? All the Marvel game is going to do is rub it in your face; whereas City of Heroes/Villians will let you have fun now rather than in a year. No brainer really; no wonder Marvel appears to have gone tits up.

  10. Jives says:

    Isn’t (wasn’t) the marvel one being made the people who made Coh/V?

  11. terry says:

    Damn, you should’ve mentioned Peggle ;)

  12. Homunculus says:

    KotOR2 was a poor man’s KotOR

    Oh, I beg to differ.

  13. Pidesco says:

    @schadenfreude: With the exception of BG2, Obsidian has always, always made better games than Bioware. Furthermore, all of Obsidian’s games have been improvements over their predecessors, which is more that you can say about Bioware, who has been making the same really, really average game over and over again.

  14. Clockwork Companion Cube says:

    Yay Lovecraft references. I wish Surfer Girl was an Elder God. That would make things a bunch more interesting.

    @Homunculus – Thank you for not hating on KotOR II just due to its (lack of) substance. It’s really sad that they let LucasArts take such advantage of them.

  15. Optimaximal says:

    Obsidian aren’t ‘trading’ off Planescape’s reputation because they didn’t make it, Black Isle did…

    Yes, a large deal of Obsidian were Black Isle developers, but it’s not the same company – the lack of new IPs should tell you that.

  16. Kieron Gillen says:

    Optimaximal: I think you’re being over-literal here. Every piece in the press with a brain about Obsidian mentions the fact that Chris Avellone was the lead designer on Planescape. One of the main reasons why people get excited about Obsidian’s stuff is that people *know* that they can be that good.


  17. malkav11 says:

    Obsidian’s twice managed to make games that were better than the Bioware original in the series. Also buggier and less finished. If they can fix that end of things, they have a bright future ahead of them.

  18. Martin says:

    @Del Boy: I find it unfair to call Eurogamer “godawful” just because they have a commenting system that – like many other fine sites – attract dickheads.

    I’ve been reading Eurogamer since it was started and I find it heartshattering to wade into a comment section full of morons, yelling high enough to drown out the few sane voices in the crowd.

    But that’s the price you pay for success on the Internet these days.

    So while there’s a whole lot of jerks over at Eurogamer, it’s not Eurogamers fault and I’d be very sad if any of the RPS members stopped writing for them.

    As for the Marvel MMO; meh. Not a huge comic fan and generally tired of MMO’s right now. We’ll see what 2008 brings but from what I’ve seen so far there’s really nothing that can bring me back to a MMO.

    The idea of Wolfenstein: Grand Theft Zombie actually intrigues me a bit but it’s all in the execution. It could turn out quite horrible if done bad.

  19. Nick says:

    KOTOR2 is better than KOTOR, and NWN2 is better than NWN, I think Obsidian’s problem is that they are less established than Bioware and are held to much stiffer deadlines. I’d like to see what Obsidian could do with Bioware budgets and timescales.

  20. Ricardo the patriot says:

    I always thought Kotor II was the superior of the two by far, and people who think it is terrible compared to the first always puzzle me. In fact, I think it would have been a lot better had it deviated a little more from the original: dull combat, inability to attack whoever, forced “dungeon crawls”, linear “exploration”, combat minigames, dumb character creation/development, etc all could have been eliminated if kotor’s system had been dropped. Kotor II really had some superb dialog (there was a particularly interesting conversation with Atris or somebody), it was lot more morally ambiguous than kotor (about as much as you can be in a Star Wars setting), it had a few interesting ideas (influence), less irritating characters (don’t even get me started on that whiney bitch Carth), better quest situations/more choice&consequence, better feats/better ranged weapons balance (you could actually play a gun slinger), it had gameplay additions (lab/work stations, consequence for bashing containers), I could go on for a while. Not exactly a compelling story, but it’s not like the first one was very good either, and quality narrative doesn’t necessarily make a game a better rpg. The only thing I can really say that the original wins on is the Star Wars atmosphere; the sequel took it self a bit too seriously.

  21. Ricardo the patriot says:

    Oh, and Mass Effect seems pretty mediocre so far, though I aven’t left Citadel station yet (was this ripped from KOTOR II? I seem to remeber that game having a citadel station with indor gardens, a rapidtransit system and similar architecture). Anyway, facial animations are great, voice acting is decent, but unskippable (sorry, its not THAT good, and Iread faster than I listen), film grain is very cool, and the music is very eighties. The pluses pretty much end there though (except for one big thing, I’ll get to that later)

    There’s way to much combat with a sort of mediocre combat system and the repair and biotics classes are basically combat force powers classes so far (maybe they get better further in development), but the non combat sections are kinda dull. I think the sort of story and characters they went for in Mass Effect could have been pulled of with a campy atmosphere (JA2 and Fallout managed pulled of a pretty silly story well because of their atmosphere), but this game seems to take it self pretty seriously, despite the fact that your unit members look like power rangers. The dialog system seems very over rated; I’d hardly call it innovative or revolutionary. I guess the fact that your forced to listen to both your character and the guy your talking to speak is supposed to be cinematic, but it’s kind of a pain, especially since the writing’s hit and miss (the military captain calls some rival a loser). The much touted “real-time” ability to interrupt other people speaking, well, I haven’t encountered it yet. The summarized sentences weren’t pulled off very well, certainly been done better in other games. Often, the choice you pick doesn’t really match what your character says, other times, 3 responses are basically the same thing (“I agree!”, “Great Idea,” “I think Bob is right about that one”). Another returning annoyance from other Bioware games is three seemingly different choices often lead to the same response (yes, I tried it). I don’t really get the “revolutionary part, it’s conversation choices, but in a wheel rather than a list. Cool.

    Actually, there was one thing that impressed me, though. Situations so far are not the black and white morality of previous Bioware games. In one situation, a guy wants his wife’s dead body for burial, but the military wants it to perform tests that could help humanity. It’s the classic good for one vs. good for the whole, but works, even if the situation could be a little more interesting. If there’s more stuff like that, I might actually get somewhere in this game.

  22. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    But KoTor2 has the worst opening hour in the history of videogames. It blossoms afterwards, but that opening scene on the space station is infuriatingly dull and really puts a lot of people off.

  23. Janek says:

    I dunno, I don’t think it was as bad as Fallout 2’s Temple of Tedium.

    I wonder what the consensus is on the worst ever opening section (compared to the rest of the game)

  24. John P (Katsumoto) says:

    Yeah that temple sucked, but if you’d done it once before it was easy enough to rush through in about 10 minutes. That space station though… at the very least an hour, potentially two. Horror!

  25. dr_demento says:

    Eurogamer once more prove themselves the best gaming news site on the intertubes. Personally I’d have Mario Galaxy lower and Halo 3 higher, but that’s just me.

    The anti-Halo vibes are wearing a bit thin, mind, especially after the third one. Sometimes games can just have gameplay, you know?

  26. Janek says:

    Maybe it’s just due to my having replayed Fallout 2 more often than KOTOR2.

  27. malkav11 says:

    The opening section of KOTOR2 is far better than KOTOR1’s spaceship tutorial and, more comprehensively, better than that annoying pre-Jedi planet as well. And yes, better than Fallout 2’s temple, both because it’s more interesting (at least the first time through) and because that temple almost forces part of your character build in a game that’s supposed to be about flexibility of approach.

  28. Robin says:

    Portal getting the #1 slot over SMG is laughable beyond words.

  29. Leeisl says:

    And is the inverse laughable beyond existence?

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