Video Game Quick Hits 11/9/12

Like Tuesday’s early edition, today doesn’t see a lot news, but what we have is about some of the biggest games in the business. Let’s get straight to it:

A new companion is apparently planned for Mass Effect 3‘s “Omega” DLC, coming November 27th ($14.99, 1200MSP). The new character will be a first for the series, a female turian. Shepard, the new turian, and Aria T’Loak will be teaming up to retake Omega from Cerberus’ General Petrovsky. It should be interesting to see the feminine side of the turians. And I can’t help but hope this the “flexible” female Garrus mentioned in Mass Effect 2. That could be an interesting wrinkle in two of my campaigns, as Garrus hooked up with Tali.

Are you a Halo 4 junkie yet? Are you a member of Microsoft Rewards? If you answered “yes” to the first and “no” to the second, better join now. Microsoft is going to be rewarding you with free MSP just for playing Halo 4‘s multiplayer. There are also bonuses for spending points on Halo 4 content. Playing 35 hours of multiplayer will net you an extra 100MSP. They’re upping the ante if you play even more, 70 hours equals 300MSP. You’ll also get a 100MSP rebate for every 1500MSP you spend on Halo 4 content. You can earn 800MSP through the combo program, play 35 hours plus spend 3000 points. Sure, that’s a lot of time for not many points, but if you’re playing anyway….

We’ve been slowly leading up to Game Informer’s big Grand Theft Auto V reveal and the moment is finally upon us. Their newest cover shows not just the two protagonists we’ve been expecting, but a surprise third. The early indication is that you’ll be able to switch between each of the three protagonists on the fly while exploring the vast Los Santos and surrounding areas. You really should read GI’s full coverage, but here’s the short version:

  • Three Protagonists: Trevor (early 40s, career criminal), Michael (early 40s, retired bank robber), and Franklin (early 20s, repo man).
  • Each character is unique and has their own motivations and skills.
  • Vehicles: cars, trucks, bikes (BMX, mountain), dirtbikes, ATVs, helicopters, planes, and jet skis (but no mention of boats?).
  • Los Santos in GTA V is bigger than the worlds of Red Dead Redemption, San Andreas, and GTA IV‘s Liberty City combined.
  • Heists will be a dominant feature in GTA V.
  • Character customization for appearance, but not RPG elements, a la San Andreas.
  • Side-missions include yoga, triathlons, tennis, and golf.
  • Random NPC encounters return with better development.
  • The ocean floor is detailed and can be explored. Submarines? SCUBA suits? Remote-controlled sharks?
  • More fleshed out missions, a la “Three Leaf Clover” from GTA V.
  • Side missions and activities are more complex. Think Red Dead Redemption.
  • Better driving controls. (Great, but they were already top notch.)
  • Improved shooting mechanics. (Also already great, but always room for improvement.)
  • Refined melee combat. (Definitely needed improvement.)
  • Vibrant in-game economy, but no buying property.

Ubisoft reportedly had a net loss of over 32 million Euro in the first half of their fiscal year (ending September 30, 2012). This isn’t unusual for game companies, due to the “summer drought” where virtually no major titles are released. All of the top shelf games are releasing now, in the Fall/Holiday window. Ubisoft’s flagship game for this time frame, Assassin’s Creed III, released on October 30th and has reportedly sold over 3.5 million copies. Still on the block is Far Cry 3, a game that Yves Guillemot (CEO) says is getting their highest play test scores ever. Ultimately, these two titles should more than make up for the early losses this year. The bigger question is why we’re still having a “summer drought” at all. Much like the film industry is slowly noticing that there are 12 months in the year, not just the three during the summer, gaming companies need to learn how to leverage income outside of November.