Black, the first-person shooter from Burnout studio Criterion, is now available as part of the EA Access games vault.
The boss of Criterion Games has indicated the studio is moving away from racing games.
This Sunday's opinionated retro rant is about Black, the Criterion-built shooter that graced the last generation of consoles towards the end of their shelf life. During the following, somewhat feverish discussion of its impact, or tragic lack of impact, at no point shall we mention that a game released in 2006 cannot be considered retro.
Microsoft has announced three more original Xbox games will soon be available for download from Xbox Live.
In December 2007, Microsoft launched the Xbox Originals platform. Part of Xbox Live Marketplace, it allows you to download Xbox 1 games for 1200 Microsoft Points (GBP 10.20 / EUR 12.00) apiece, with the likes of Halo, Psychonauts and Fahrenheit among the launch titles.
Following an exceptional chart run with Need for Speed: Most Wanted, EA's reign has survived yet another challenge, as the publisher returns to the throne with its first all-formats number one based on original IP in almost a decade.
Criterion's Alex Ward has shot down speculation that an Xbox 360 version of BLACK will be made, following the news that the EA-published title (out tomorrow in Europe, 28th February in North America) will not be compatible with the new Microsoft games console.
As Nigel Tufnall so memorably uttered in the legendary Spinal Tap 'rockumentary' "It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black."
He wasn't, of course, referring to Criterion's manic first-person shooter, but it's likely he'd have given the same deadpan assessment all the same. He'd have also reasoned that this one most definitely goes up to eleven.
But BLACK rarely needs that 'extra push over the cliff', because for most of the eight hours (or so) it lasts, the needle is throbbing so far into the red that you'd swear your humble, ageing games console is in danger of melting at any moment. No word of a lie, but at about 5pm on Monday there was a power surge in the office during a particularly intense part of the fifth level.
"We think this is the best shooter that anyone's ever made."
EA's released a brand new 90MB trailer of Criterion's frantic PS2 and Xbox FPS Black, showing off the destructibility of the game's opening lobby section, as well as a selection of brand new screenshots.
The trailer, which you can nab from Eurofiles, sees the player blowing chunks out of pillars with grenades and showering the area in clouds of dust by raking the scenery with automatic gunfire.
Rather like Monolith's excellent F.E.A.R., Criterion's paying its respects to the "shooter" bit of "first-person shooter", concentrating on the fun you can have with big guns in a gorgeous game engine, shunning stealth, squad commands and other distractions, and drawing inspiration from Hollywood action films from the '80s and '90s.
If happiness is a warm gun, pure unadulterated ecstasy is a really massive gun that's so hot from the relentess BLAMBLAMBLAM of its neverending stream of bullets that before you can pick it up you have to put on oven gloves. Made of the stuff they put on the outside of space shuttles.
That's our opinion, anyway, so we've been very much looking forward to Black, the forthcoming first person shooter from Burnout developer Criterion - and now we're even more excited having watched the new trailer.
Black is set in a near-future Eastern Europe and sees you playing as a former member of the mysterious Black Operations division. When your old Black Ops chums disappear, it's down to you to head into enemy territory and bring the troops home.
Having followed Black's progress since Criterion first invited us to see its tech demo over a year ago it's been blindingly obvious that the Guildford-based developer had something very special in mind. A year on the team put together one of the most impressive technical demonstrations at E3 2005 which you can see our thoughts on here.
Ever since we first clapped eyes on the tech demo for Black about a year ago it was glaringly obvious this would be a game to watch. A game where the central concept was about "being able to have fun with a gun in an empty room," where "the gun is the star," and one that was "going to do for shooters what Burnout did for racing games". Or in other words, the most insane levels of destruction your eyes have ever seen outside of a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster. When Criterion's Alex Ward talks about recreating the famous lobby destruction scene in The Matrix you nod politely. And then you see it for yourself and your eyes don't even blink for about four minutes.
"Black is about shooting stuff and blowing s**t up," screams Criterion's creative boss Alex Ward in a closed off room at E3. A few years ago, Ward told Eurogamer that Burnout was about "driving fast and crashing cars". Simplicity in concept, Ward explained then, was key to his brand of high impact console game. Criterion's not rubbish any more, Burnout's sold millions and a few minutes with Black last week left us terrified, so we're in no position to argue. Frankly, heaven forfend.