If by a man's work shall ye know him, Tomonobu Itagaki is a smashed Xbox 360 control pad. In fact, he's a special kind of smashed Xbox 360 control pad. He's the kind that was desecrated in a frenzied tantrum of bile and frustration, its destruction soundtracked by a stream of vitriolic swearwords so extreme any senior citizens within earshot would spontaneously combust.
Treyarch goes big for its blockbuster sequel.
The developers at Treyarch must be feeling immense pressure right now. They have to be, when one considers the environment Call of Duty: Black Ops is about to land in. To start with it's the latest instalment in what has now become a world-conquering franchise. Its predecessor broke international sales records and also placed itself firmly on the mainstream's radar with the "No Russian" level. Talk to 10 people who have no interest in videogames and it's likely that, along with GTA, Pac-Man, Mario and Sonic, they'll have heard of Call of Duty.
As heroes go, I don't feel much cop at the moment. In fact I feel absolutely ridiculous. This is because I am dressed as a giant chicken. It's hard to feel heroic when you have a bloated feathery stomach, a floppy red comb and knobbly yellow knees. The fact that I have a flintlock strapped to my back and a giant hammer in my hands doesn't help.
Pacific City has seen better days. It once was a thriving metropolis filled with sleek skyscrapers, a booming oil and gas industry and highways buzzing with traffic. Now it lies broken, destitute and for the most part eerily devoid of pedestrians. Things were hardly better when the place was run by three massive crime syndicates, but at least you wouldn't get shot by terrorists who claimed they were fighting your corner, and you could go out at night without being stomped on by a mutant.
As obvious as it is to say so, given its title, the first thing that hits you about Blur is how fast everything seems. As I hurtle around the first circuit in the opening stages of my hands-on with near-finished code, I'm experiencing sensory overload.
FIFA 09's Ultimate Team downloadable expansion was something of a surprise hit last year. According to EA, downloads numbered in six figures and there were reportedly around 35 million in-game card packs purchased, either with real money or in-game coins earned by playing the mode. This means that not only did those hundreds of thousands of players invest £7.99 in Ultimate Team, but a large portion of them either sunk a ton of playing time into it or opened their wallets and spent.
Sam Lake grins as I set up my dictaphone in the basement lounge of Remedy's Helsinki offices. He knows what my first question's going to be before the interview starts.
Remedy's Sam Lake wants us to understand that Alan Wake isn't a horror game. Alan Wake is "a psychological action thriller that contains elements of horror". I don't want to split hairs, but it takes a little time to get comfortable with Lake's definition, because initially at least the "elements of horror" are pretty dominant: an axe-wielding madman, a satanically creepy landlord, and a wife who disappears with a blood-curdling scream all feature during a white-knuckled hour at the controls.