This week in video games, October 30, 2017: EA closes Visceral Games and moves Star Wars game to Vancouver

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      This week, there's no way there's enough time in the day for you to play all the games that have just arrived. Assassins' Creed Origins puts you in ancient Egypt, while Wolfenstein II has you resisting Nazis in America, and Mario goes on an epic quest. Plus, 13 of the best Xbox games are now compatible with the Xbox One, just in time for the release of the Xbox One X. But first, the latest on the Star Wars game that EA just moved from Visceral to EA Vancouver.

      Electronic Arts' Burnaby studio taking over lead development on Star Wars game

      Electronic Arts surprised the game industry last week when the company revealed it was closing developer Visceral Games.

      The studio, which created the outstanding Dead Space franchise, was working on an "action-adventure title set in the Star Wars universe", according to a post from EA executive vice president Patrick Söderlund, who is in charge of the company's development teams.

      Amy Hennig (pictured above), was the creative director on that Star Wars project. She created the Uncharted series for Sony while with Naughty Dog, and it was expected that she was doing something similar with the Star Wars universe.

      Söderlund explained that the game was "shaping up to be a story-based, linear adventure game" that needed to "pivot" to respond to "fundamental shifts in the marketplace" so the game would "deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come".

      Development on the game will now be led by a team at EA Vancouver, which is based at the Burnaby campus.

      EA Vancouver would not divulge any further info at this time.

      Gamers and video-game media have been speculating on what really happened at Visceral and what it means, with some speculating that EA is no longer interested in developing expensive single-player games that gamers play once and set aside.

      On the Waypoint Radio podcast, former employee Manveer Heir, who worked on the Mass Effect franchise developed by Bioware for EA, claims that the company is focusing on open-world games that can be monetized.

      13 Original Xbox games now playable on Xbox One

      Backwards compatibility is a hallmark of the Xbox gaming systems, and last week Microsoft announced a list of 13 games originally developed for the first Xbox that are playable on the Xbox One.

      Among my favourites are:

      • BloodRayne 2
      • Crimson Skies
      • Ninja Gaiden Black
      • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
      • Psychonauts
      • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

      These aren't remasters, so online modes from the original games are not supported, but all offline co-op and system-link play will work as they did more than 10 years ago.

      Most of these games were developed with old-timey aspect ratio of 4:3, so they will display with black sidebars on your nouveau HD screen.

      You simply use the disc you already own. Some of us held onto those original discs and cases, but if you didn't, you can purchase digital versions for a pretty low price. These games are worth it.

      This is all part of the lead-up to the release of Xbox One X, of course. These 13 games will look better on all Xbox Ones, but they will look even more impressive on the Xbox One X, up to 16 times more pixels than what was displayed on the original Xbox.

      Four Xbox 360 games will also have enhanced visuals when played on the Xbox One X:

      • Assassin's Creed
      • Fallout 3
      • Halo 3
      • Oblivion

      Take a tour of Ancient Egypt, the setting of Assassin's Creed Origins

      The new Assassin's Creed game came out on Friday. Origins—available for PS4, Windows, and Xbox One—is set in ancient Egypt, and to give players a sense of the historical detail that developers have built into the game, Ubisoft is giving you a chance to experience the world.

      There are three online tours on which you can embark. Extreme Egypt puts you in a sandstorm and on the side of the Great Pyramid. Into the Nile shows off the wildlife in the game as well as the different ways you'll navigate, including by boat and on horseback. And Mysteries of the Ancient Kingdom takes you deep into the tombs.

      As on any good tour, you can take pictures that you can save to a travel diary and share on your social networks.

      Wolfenstein II's alternate timeline has players resisting Nazis in the United States

      With what's been going on in the United States you could be forgiven for thinking that Wolfenstein II is a contemporary game, but in fact The New Colossus is actually set in an alternate universe in which the Nazis won the Second World War and are running America.

      It's 1961, and as BJ Blazkowicz, it's up to you to resist and liberate the small towns and iconic cities.

      Available for PS4, Windows, Xbox One, The New Colossus is not for the faint of heart. It's unabashedly violent, encouraging players to equip intense weapons in order to "kill every Nazi in sight".

      Games released or releasing

      • Play a free trial of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, a new role-playing adventure set in the world of the adult cartoon. You can play the first hour of the game for free on PS4 and Xbox One, and if you choose to purchase the game at that point you can keep your progress.
      • Destiny 2, the outstanding shooter from Bungie and Activision, is now available on Windows.
      • Super Mario Odyssey, for the Nintendo Switch, is a delight.