There is a familiar pattern to media coverage whenever Rockstar publishes a game. There is talk about how the developer has used its newest game to iterate upon and redefine the open world genre. There are almost always articles on how various Hollywood films influenced Rockstar's development process. And there are at least one or two polemics that attack the developer for transgressing established norms about what can and cannot be done in video games. This last type of essay inevitably concludes that video games are bad, and lead to an increase in interpersonal violence as well as the downfall of civilisation.
So what's the score with the new HD version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on Xbox 360? In a move seemingly timed to coincide with the 10th anniversary of the game's release, the emulated Xbox version available through Games on Demand has been replaced by a new version that promises "720p resolution, enhanced draw distance and Achievement support".
Not for the first time that month, Patrick Wildenborg was disoriented. With a one year-old baby in the house he was familiar with the fug of a deep sleep cut short by noise. But this awakening was different. It was prompted not by an infant's wail but the hysteria of a telephone ringing in the night. Eyes still closed, Wildenborg lifted the receiver.
It starts with that high-pitched G-funk siren wail. Even before you've set foot on the streets of Los Santos, Rockstar's obsessive attention to cultural detail has already got you in a West Coast frame of mind, a world of sneaker-clad feet squeaking on tarmac as they run from the five-oh; of helicopters in the night and the snap, crackle and pop of distant gunshots; of sipping a forty with friends, waiting for the noon heat haze to lift.
With Chart-Track's Annual Report now published and available for sale to publishers, Kristan prepares his own annual Statto impression and wades through the facts and figures to offer an interesting picture of UK retail. In part one, we look at the state of the market and the fate of the current generation of console platforms. (Data from Chart-Track's annual report. Used with permission.)
The backdrop of 2005 was one of doom and gloom, with independent retailers in particular feeling the squeeze as all the major high street firms went to war with each other. After years of tolerating online retailers undercutting them by over £10 on a full price title, the high street was seeing their market share steadily eroded and decided to strike back with full force.
Suddenly, with all the mainstream types forced to price-match, UK retailers were making next to nothing on the games they were selling, and putting pressure on publishers to reduce their selling price - something that many under-pressure publishers were extremely reluctant to do.
We were in a hotel room with Rockstar yesterday. "Hot Coffee" was neither served nor offered.
Sometimes the last thing you want to do is have a sneak preview of a game - mostly you're just spoiling things for yourself, ruining the surprise, but, when you're talking about gaming royalty, things are a little different. When the name of that game is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, suddenly your busy schedule opens up like Moses parting the Red Sea. 5 O' Clock Thursday you say? Right, we're there. Running late you say? Not a problem.