Un­fin­ished business


This time of year is sup­posed to be a cel­e­bra­tion. It’s a time when months of hype fi­nally re­sult in a game in your hands, when ev­ery week brings with it a glut of high-qual­ity re­leases. Pub­lish­ers have long loved the last three months of the year, and we’ve al­ways un­der­stood. For them, it’s the best slot on the cal­en­dar to re­lease games. For us, it’s the best time to play them.

Un­til this year, any­way. With Drive Club and Halo: The Master Chief Col­lec­tion, the back end of 2014 has shown that Q4 is now too im­por­tant to many pub­lish­ers to miss, with tech­ni­cal qual­ity a sec­ondary con­sid­er­a­tion. This month yields yet another en­trant to this hall of shame in As­sas­sin’s Creed Unity (p108). It has am­bi­tion, scale and great po­ten­tial, then un­der­mines them all be­cause nei­ther the re­lease sched­ule nor the ac­counts depart­ment could tol­er­ate a de­lay. Nin­tendo would never sacrifice qual­ity, although its decision to de­lay the Euro­pean re­lease of Cap­tain Toad: Trea­sure Tracker (p114) into 2015 caused no lit­tle dis­ap­point­ment. This, again, was a business decision. Nin­tendo would pre­fer you to fo­cus your at­ten­tion and your dis­pos­able in­come on Su­per Smash Bros For Wii U (p112). Again, it’s un­der­stand­able, es­pe­cially given that Nin­tendo can’t rely on third-par­ties to fill out Wii U’s re­lease sched­ule any more. But equally, it only un­der­scores the fact that the ex­ec­u­tive in the suit is more im­por­tant than the per­son with the con­troller. Any har­dened suit would surely con­demn This War Of Mine (p118) to fail­ure. A bleak WWII sur­vival sim from an un­known Pol­ish stu­dio has no business suc­ceed­ing in the busiest months of the year. Yet 11 Bit Stu­dio’s game shot up the Steam charts at launch, and is one of our favourite games of 2014. It’s a much-needed re­minder that qual­ity can still some­times tri­umph over mar­ket­ing.

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