All change

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A few years ago, read­ers of the Con­sumerist web­site voted EA the worst com­pany in Amer­ica for two years run­ning. That it beat the likes of Hal­libur­ton, Bank Of Amer­ica and ExxonMo­bil was, ad­mit­tedly, more to do with the abil­ity of large In­ter­net com­mu­ni­ties to mo­bilise than the com­pany’s wrong­do­ings. Yes, it had botched Mass Ef­fect’s end­ing, but it hadn’t com­mit­ted mort­gage fraud or caused the big­gest oil spill of all time.

But EA took the hint, and promised to do bet­ter. And to its credit, it has changed, though change is rel­a­tive. The com­pany seems to have de­cided the most ef­fec­tive way to change your im­age is to do some­thing other peo­ple do, but which you don’t. And so we have Un­ravel (p108), a quirk­ily charm­ing, sidescrolling, physics-driven puz­zle-plat­former made by a small stu­dio in Swe­den. Unique? Not ex­actly, no. But it is to EA, which, of course, is pre­cisely the point.

Ubisoft is at it too, though rather than snap up projects from else­where it has cho­sen to use its in­creas­ingly well­worn brand names in dif­fer­ent ways. Not too dif­fer­ent, of course. Far Cry Primal (p102) moves from the present day to pre­his­tory and re­places a cam­era’s zoom lens with a tac­ti­cal owl. And As­sas­sin’s Creed Chron­i­cles (p110) remixes a 3D ac­tion ad­ven­ture into a 2D stealth game that owes a debt to Mark Of The Ninja and Prince Of Per­sia.

Hardly heart-stop­ping stuff, but EA and Ubisoft are try­ing – and at least they’ve done their re­search. With Street Fighter

V (p98) Cap­com has sup­pos­edly built a live game, one to be up­dated with ex­tra things to do in the months and years af­ter re­lease. Sadly, no one at Cap­com has re­alised you’re meant to do that with new con­tent, rather than stuff you’ve yanked out of the launch-day pack­age. Luck­ily, Con­sumerist doesn’t poll read­ers on the worst com­pany in Ja­pan.

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