Posts Tagged ‘2K-Australia’

BioShock Co-Devs 2K Australia Closing After 15 Years

So that's why they call it Oceania.

Irrational Games as we know it closed in February, though the BioShock studio lives on in a way with a small group of survivors under Ken Levine at a new team within 2K. Once upon a time, though, there were two Irrationals. A Canberra arm of Irrational was founded in 2000, then later renamed 2K Australia. It mostly worked with Irrational and other 2K studios, on games from Freedom Force to BioShock Infinite, but most recently was behind Borderlands: The Pre-sequel. And now it’s gone too.

Parent company 2K Games have confirmed that they’re closing the studio and laying off the staff. Sounds like it was too expensive for them, and too remote.

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Wot I Think: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

It’s a little tricky to avoid feeling that a review of The Pre-Sequel (!) is superfluous. Surely everyone in the world has had a taste of Borderlands at this point, and have made their minds up about it? This is very much more of that same formula, with zaniness turned up to… What’s that, Steve? You’ve never played a Borderlands game? Wow.

Well then, I’d better explain!

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Interview: Gearbox On Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

With every new release, the Borderlands universe becomes increasingly ridiculous. It’s been happening for a while now, with the puns, the slapstick and the hidden pop culture references that pepper Borderlands 2 and further season its DLC. I’m hardly complaining, because I’ve gradually disengaged from the first-person shooter over the last few years, confronted again and again by far too many po-faced, monochrome military affairs. Borderlands 2 has been a welcome exception.

Like a sudden burst of ketchup from a thoroughly-spanked Heinz bottle, even more of that often unsubtle flavouring is set to season our PCs very soon. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel comes out in two weeks. Developed in conjunction with 2K Australia, the Pre-Sequel is exactly what you’d expect from the series: more jokes, more cartoonish violence, more character diversity and a further expansion of a gun collection that would already make any Tom Clancy fan spurt like… well, like a sudden burst of ketchup from a thoroughly-spanked Heinz bottle.

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Whimper And Crush: Borderlands – The Pre-Sequel

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is called Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which should already tip you off that it’s a game trying extremely hard to out-zany its predecessors. In the press release that accompanies the release date trailer below (it’s out on October 17th on this side of the internet oceans and on the 14th in the US), several characters do a dance on the moon. Crazy, right? I can’t think of anything more hilarious than lunar choreography set to ironically terrible music, except maybe exactly the same thing but with a gun that shoots bees dropped in the middle of the whole show. Borderlands 3 will probably be announced by a troupe of clowns spilling out of a tiny car at your front door and rubbing a cream pie into your face.

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Deep Breath: Lunar Larks In Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel


Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has me interested in Borderlands. So far I’ve found the series a so-so FPS and a so-so action-RPG, and throwing the two together didn’t help either, but the Proquel (I can invent words too, see) at least has some fun ideas, mostly thanks to being set on a good old moon. Low-gravity is interesting to me, after years of server admins turning gravity down for jollies, and so’s introducing oxygen as a resource to be collected, created, lost, and exploited. Watching 15 minutes of it in a new ‘gameplay walkthrough’ trailer doesn’t make me want to play the game, but those ideas have given more enjoyment than playing Borderlands ever has.

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Pre-Preview – Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel

Yesterday I was shown around half an hour of footage from the new Borderlands game, which everyone already knew about as it got leaked on Monday. Here’s what it’s all about.

I’m pretty sure we’re not supposed to take the messy portmanteau ‘Pre-Sequel’ too seriously, given Borderlands’ traditionally derisive-about-everything tone. So while it’s playful rather than the latest ‘expandalone’ or ‘freemium’ or whatever the latest newspeak horror someone’s marketing department has retched up, let’s just hope no-one else is inspired by it and we don’t find ourselves drowning in pre-sequels by this time next year.

Yes, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is a brand-ish new Borderlands game, and due out somewhere around the tail end of this year. More importantly, it’s set on the moon and features jetpacks.
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That Much-Delayed 2k Marin Shooter Is Not An EXCOM

This boy transforms into Cthulhu. Calling it now.

Whatever happened to the other XCOM, the 2K Marin-made shooter which was revealed long before last year’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown made everyone, except you, happy? It’s a question we’ve already asked several times here. We ask it because we don’t know the answer, and unless anyone involved feels like getting their Talpidae on and sneaking us some info, we won’t know until 2K reveal all. Which appears to be something that will happen rather soon. There’s a viral campaign of sorts, there’s a mysterious package being sent to games sites which aren’t us, and, well, there’s a blog post. That kind of undermines the air of mystery, I guess.

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2Kick in the teeth

It’s certainly an interesting way to reward a development team for completing what’s looking like a shoe-in for Game of the Year: annihilating their identity. Irrational Games, with their Gold announcement of Bioshock still fresh in the air, are being rubbed out of existence, with their two studios being renamed as 2K Boston and 2K Australia.

Let’s quote a little of the press release.

“Irrational Games is widely recognized as one of the most innovative development studios in the world,” said Christoph Hartmann, President of 2K. “Following their incredible efforts in bringing BioShock to life, we are proud to make the newly renamed Irrational Games studios a cornerstone of our game development family.”

Recognizing the exceptional talent and creative vision that have made Irrational Games one of the industry’s premier developers, 2K Games has fostered the studio’s growth by substantially investing in its people, allowing Irrational Games to almost double in size since the studio’s acquisition by 2K in 2005. With the upcoming release of BioShock – one of the year’s most hotly anticipated titles – 2K Boston and 2K Australia, with the backing of 2K Games, are raising the bar for forward-thinking game design.

This is interestingly timed. While still in production, it’s usual for the actual manuals to have been printed in advance… meaning that the game may be credited to Irrational rather than 2K Boston/Australia (Assuming it’s a relatively recent decision to rename them, which it’s probably not). Which would be nice. Bioshock is something which Irrational have been working towards for as long as they’ve existed. Having Bioshock with that credit would give the Irrational story an upbeat ending. Having it credited to 2k Boston… well, seems a little sad, a corporate body parasitising the work of a mass of talented creators.

Make no doubts – the enormous financial investment which 2K made in Irrational when they purchased them outright is something that lead to whatever qualities Bioshock possesses. Bioshock has had a lot of money spent on it, which as an independent team it’s unlikely Irrational would have been able to match. And – in terms of the support they’ve offered the game, how hard they’ve pushed it and the fact that they even decided that Bioshock was something for them, 2K deserve applause and credit.

Just not the credit.

It’s not really the end of Irrational’s story, of course. If Bioshock’s a success, they’ll be the Golden Children of 2K and have freedom to do interesting stuff. Or, at least, you hope they will – when you’re fully owned by a Publisher, you can always butt into someone in Management just being insane. It’s not the end of Irrational’s Story… it’s just the end of their history. In the same way that DMA Design became a ghost when they were renamed RockStar North (And that’s a very angry rant for another time), Irrational now are the answer to a trivia question for games fans in a “What were the makers of Bioshock previously known as?” sort of way.

With hindsight, the only really surprise is that 2K didn’t press their red-hot steely-brand into their new purchase’s flesh earlier. Irrational is a name which doesn’t actually carry any cachet with anyone outside a certain hardcore of gamer (in short: They’ve never had a MEGA HIT). So while Blizzard keep their name as it serves their corporate masters better to harness their reputation for sales, there’s no profit in allowing someone without that status to have implicit of independence. Even studios did have cachet are annihilated if their star falls after being purchased (Adieu Westwood, Origin, Bullfrog, and even eventually Maxis…).

The value is clear to a publisher. By a developer sharing the publisher’s name, it means that – to a casual audience- all the credit for their best games is applied to *all* their games. This game was made by 2K. Therefore, other games by 2K are probably also quite nifty. Try them! Try them all! It’s a sensible corporate move. But, for the art, for the history, for the humanity of the form, it really fucking stinks.