Friday, August 28, 2009
Followers of Sony's Playstation Blog were treated today by a lengthy interview with Sony research and development guru Richard Marks.
Marks discloses new information about the origin of the new motion controller as well as pressure sensitivity and rumble feedback:
"Batman: Arkham Asylum" now holds the Guinness World record for "Most Critically Acclaimed Superhero Game Ever" with an average score of 91.67 - sorry "Superman 64."
Now that the world has received perhaps its finest superhero video game, what about other world worthy records in the video game world?
After taking a look at the "Guinness World Record: Gamer's Edition" there are a few video game records that range from the unordinary to the bizarre that you might not know about.
FIRST GAMING CLAN TO LEGALLY BIND THEIR PLAYERS
That's right "Counter Strike" clan "Team NoA" bought our team member "Ola 'elemeNt' Moum" from clan "SK Gaming" for an undisclosed amount of money in 2004. Maybe there is hope for professional gamers to become as wealthy as professional athletes.
LONGEST PRISON SENTENCE FOR PLAYING A VIDEO GAME
In September of 2002, UK native Faiz Chopdat was incarcerated for four months for playing "Tetris" on his mobile phone while on an airplane. I at least hope he accomplished a Tetris for his troubles.
FIRST VIDEO GAME SERIES TO INSPIRE A BALLET
That's right a ballet. "Dragon Quest" holds the honors here. I would have guessed one of the "Final Fantasy" games as well.
FIRST CONSOLE IN A NUCLEAR WEAPONS CONSPIRACY
In 2000, Iraq i dictator Saddam Hussein was investigated for possibly avoiding UN sanctions when a shipment of 4,000 Playstation 2 consoles were sent to Iraq. The UN sanction prohibited the sale of computer hardware to Iraq and it was feared that the Playstation 2 consoles were to be used for a guidance system for long-range missiles. Just think of the damage that could be done with a few Playstation 3's since 8 of them now make a supercomputer.
LARGEST SIMULTANEOUS VIDEO GAME EXERCISE ROUTINE
The EA Burnaby, CAN campus sports field held 605 people who simultaneously "danced," "boxed," and "curled" to "EA Sports Active" for the Nintendo Wii on May 22, 2009. That must have been one sweaty field.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Conventional wisdom is suggesting that the cut will yield a $50 drop on both the Xbox 360 Pro and Elite versions of the console bringing the new total to $249.99 and $299.99 respectively.
This comes just one week after Sony announced the new $299.99 price tag for the 80 GB Playstation 3 and $399.99 for the 160 GB bundle with a copy of "Uncharted: Drake's Fortune."
If the immanent cut price does in fact occur, it would bring the 120 GB Xbox 360 Elite and 80 GB Playstation 3 in direct competition at a $299.99 price match.
Which is the better deal?
The obvious comparison is missing 40 GB of storage on the Playstation 3. However, the same point-counter-point arguments will likely arise in comparing the functionality of the two consoles.
Most notably, the Xbox 360 Elite bundle comes compete with a headset, HDMI cable, Halo 3, Fable 2, and a free trial to Netfilx. However, Elite owners will still need to purchase a $100 attachment for wireless internet access whereas all versions of the Playstation 3 have built-in wireless.
Regardless, the Playstation 3 price cut will be the bigger announcement since this will be the closest the expensive console has ever come to matching Microsoft's console.
Some may ask: what about the Nintendo Wii? The simple and obvious answer is that you will not see a price cut on the Wii any time soon. Why should they?
The Wii is just the front runner in the current console war and consumers are perfectly happy paying $250 for one. The Xbox 360 Pro will soon match that figure, but gamers buying the Nintendo Wii are interested in the hardcore gaming that the Xbox 360 promises.
Those hopeful for a $199 or $149 Wii will have to wait.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Announced today at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany - and to no one's surprise - is an immediate price cut of the Playstation 3 down to $299.
Also, a nameless slimmer version of the Playstation 3 is due to hit retail shelves September 1 and will include a 120 GB hard drive.
Take a look at how the new "slim" model compares to the original PS3.
Check out the announcement from Sony's Playstation Blog:
Another new firmware update for the Playstation 3 is due for release very soon.
Update 3.0 will feature graphical changes to the XMB including a new "What's New" function that will automatically upload news updates and videos on your XMB - so your connection can be slowed even further - and icons linking to the Playstation Store under the "video" and "games" tab - so you can accidentally purchase things easier.
For a full look at the update, see below. Also note the date the PS3 displays. Do you think it may have any significance?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Last week Eidos released a new demo for its upcoming Batman title called "Batman: Arkham Asylum."
Batman fans everywhere can officially rejoice at the lengthy and suprisingly well-crafted demo available on the Playstation Network, Xbox Live Marketplace, and the PC which can be downloaded on the game's official site.
The demo begins in similar fashion to how the full game should start with the capture and incarceration of the capped crusader's arch-nemesis "The Joker" in Arkham Asylum.
As fate would have it, The Joker find a way to escape thanks to help of vixen "Harley Quinn" and you immediately find yourself in pursuit of gleeful foe as he instills chaos in the prison for the Gotham City's most demented of villains.
As soon as the images of the demo begins you see the beautifully Gothic visage of the game's visuals.
Every detail from the environment to character models are rendered with a nearly incomparable amount of depth and realism that brings Batman and his villains to life like never before.
Equally impressive is the control layout and mechanics of controlling Batman.
Natural feeling button placement and precise controls make combat feel fluid. To top it off, the game's "FreeFlow" combat system leaves every encounter feeling unique.
The highlight of the demo is how well the cinematic feel of the game transitions flawlessly into gameplay much like in "Metal Gear Solid 4."
Another visual treat is Batman's "detective mode" which transforms the visual layout of the screen into a computerized wonderland of color highlighting objects you can interact with, enemy locations, and even the status of individuals and object in the environment.
When perched on one of the many locals Batman can find his way, he has several options to encounter enemies in stealth. This poses the only drawback to the game thus far.
Encounters with enemies usually result from precisely placed stealth movements. However, if you are spotted by an enemy you quickly find yourself dead. Yes it's more realistic, but the should have a more forgiving system since it is hard to manage the locations of every enemy on screen.
Overall, the demo of "Batman: Arkham Asylum" is instantly gratifying and a pleasant surprise that is bound to appeal to Batman and stealth fans alike.
For a free download, it is well worth your time.
"Batman: Arkham Asylum" will be available for retail purchase on August 25.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Nintendo originally expanded the video game audience with the Nintendo Wii, but now the motion-controlled console may have provoked significant changes for the entire industry.
At the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, Calif, both Microsoft and Sony unveiled new motion control technology for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles. Now Xbox 360 and PS3 owners will enjoy gaming in the same way Nintendo Wii owners have since the console’s launch in 2006.
However, are these the right moves for Microsoft’s and Sony’s core audience?
Microsoft’s “Project Natal” is a camera attachment to existing Xbox 360 consoles which senses three-dimensional movement. This allows players to control the movement of characters and manipulate various gameplay mechanics by tracking body movements.
Despite rumors that “Natal” may rebrand the Xbox franchise, director of product management for Xbox Aaron Greenberg reiterated that “Natal” will be functional with all Xbox 360 consoles and no new console investments will be needed: except for the potentially costly price tag of the peripheral itself.
On the Sony front, its bout into the motion control area was unveiled at its E3 press conference as well.
Sony’s “motion controller” may lack creatively in its name, but was extensively demonstrated on stage.
In what appears to be a cross between Nintendo’s motion controller and Microsoft’s camera technology, the Sony motion control scheme utilizes a Playstation 3 update of the “Eye Toy” in conjunction with an awkward looking controller/wand which includes a color changing sphere at the top.
At this point it appears as if Sony rushed to piece together a demonstration of the technology after the announcement of “Natal” although it is possible Sony has been working on the technology since the original Playstation 2 “Eye Toy.”
What’s most upsetting is that we haven’t heard anything more from what looks to be a less polished venture into the motion controller market.
It is now clear that Nintendo’s success with motion control has attracted the attention of the other two console giants. However it is not simply motion control which marks Nintendo’s success it is its marketing and nonabrasive approach to expanding video game player demographics which has attracted so much attention.
Microsoft and Sony are both powerhouses in maintaining the “hardcore” gamer demographic with high-profile video game releases that Nintendo cannot match due to not only the philosophy of porting games which attract a wide consumer base, but due to the Wii’s graphical limitations.
If you noticed at Nintendo’s E3 press conference you saw announcements about games which are supposed to attract “hardcore” audiences such as “Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles” and “Dead Space Extraction.” These are not true games within the series, but watered-down ports of popular franchises in an attempt to appease the “hardcore” demographic.
You will not see “Resident Evil 5” or “Dead Space 2” on the Wii.
Microsoft and Sony need to be careful as to not fall into the trap of trying to attract a wider demographic – which Nintendo now has a stranglehold on – and disappoint hardcore gamers in the process.
For example, my question is how will a first-person shooter going to work on “Natal?”
Will you have to make a gun with your index finger and thumb and pretend like your shooting something?
FPS is likely the most popular video game genre and Microsoft may likely leave fans of the genre feeling jilted if the focus of the “Natal” does not accommodate FPS gameplay.
Nevertheless, Microsoft seems eager to introduce their view on the “future of gaming” and even showcased “Natal’s” potential on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” a week after its announcement at E3. Jimmy Fallon asked an interesting question during the demonstration when he asked “could you put this in your dorm room?” Xbox creative director Kudo Tsunosa carefully dodged the question by saying that it will fit into all types of living spaces.
This is another potentially troubling point since Xbox 360’s core audience is college-aged males with limited living space and is a common complaint with the Wii.
Sony’s motion controller features a must needed controller for such games, but feels slightly tacked-on and looks to be falling too closely in-step with Microsoft and Nintendo. The combination of purchasing an “Eye Toy” and new controller is likely to be pricey as well.
Also, these differences in mechanics may discourage developers who may choose to create games for traditional controllers anyway.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Below is my response to the ever-debated issue that may help others seeking the same question:
Which is better Xbox 360 or PS3? In games, graphics, online, website, accessories and technology. I have a Xbox 360 but I want other peoples ideas.
The answer to that question is strictly based on player preference. However, the easiest signifier (since many games are available on both platforms) is the Blu-ray component. The Playstation 3 acts as an integrated platform via its built-in Blu-ray player and free browser. However, if you already own a Blu-ray player, it might be better to stick with the Xbox 360 since you will be using the console solely as a video game console. However, it may be more convenient for gamers who want more functionality to purchase the more pricey PS3.
Next, I will compare both to each of your categories:
Both the 360 and PS3 have comparable libraries of titles. The Xbox 360 has most notably the "Halo" and "Gears of War" series as well as RPG titles such as "Fable" and "Mass Effect." The PS3 has exclusive titles such as "Resistance," "Little Big Planet," and "Metal Gear Solid 4." It is up to which games most appeal to you.
Despite Sony's "cell processor" in the Playstation 3 it is hard to distinguish between both consoles which is more visually superior. However, since PS3 games are Blu-ray based, there is more leeway for available space in each game which could be used for updated visuals and more detailed environments. Nevertheless, several games are developed for the Xbox 360 and directly ported to the PS3 which nullifies that advantage.
Xbox Live is the more fully established and widely popular of the two online networks. However, there is a subscription fee to use Xbox Live. The Playstation Network is free for PS3 users and the PS3 has a built-in browser - I believe 360 users have to have an Xbox Live Gold membership to use a browser. I would certainly give an edge to the Playstation 3 since it is ridiculous to pay to use your internet connection.
Personally, I care more about the games and not so much on the accessories. I will tell you that you have to purchase "accessories" for the Xbox 360 in order to recharge your controller (otherwise, you are reusing batteries) and you need to drop about $100 for the Xbox 360 to be connected to a wireless network. Both of these options come standard on the Playstation 3. However, Microsoft's "Natal" peripheral is likely to be a game changer since the camera will allow you to control games via movement in 3D space. Check out my source link for a full description on the Natal and Sony's new motion sensor controller.
This reverts to some of my previous comments on what is built into the Playstation 3 and what you have to purchase separately on the Xbox 360. However, if you did not need or want any of these extra features, it might be worth it to opt for the cheaper Xbox 360.
Got a question about video games? Need an answer? Just submit a comment and have your questions answered right here on VGF.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Final Fantasy XII finally is available in the United States.
Five years after its first announcement, three years after the beginning of its development and eight months after its Japanese release, the popular game is available for widespread purchase.
The franchise returns with plenty of changes from previous Final Fantasy titles.
The game begins with a beautifully prerendered thematic cut scene detailing a complicated power struggle between the Archadian Empire and the Kingdom of Dalmasca. There is a battle, a murder, a double-cross and the usual complexities involved in a hostile takeover of a kingdom.
Players begin as a young man named Vaan, whose ambitions include a resistance to the rule of the Archadian Empire over his hometown of Rabanastre. He later joins with other characters to embark on an exciting adventure across the world of Ivalice.
This overbearing and beautifully presented plot is typical of the Final Fantasy franchise and may prove to be too frustrating to newcomers of the role-playing genre.
However, completely new in FF XII is the “Active Dimension Battle” system (ABD) and the ability to revolve the camera in a 360-degree range of motion. Diverging from traditional turn-based battle, the ABD allows for battle in real time with the ability to refocus the camera as characters initiate battle at any direction.
Read the full review at cm-life.com.
Monday, August 3, 2009
"Resistance 2" from Insomniac Games is everything you come to expect from a sequel to an amazing Playstation 3 launch title - and nothing else.
"Resistance 2" begins where its 2006 predecessor "Resistance: Fall of Man" left off. The year is 1953 and the battle against the alien mutant invaders called "The Chimera" wages on. You reprise the role of series protagonist Nathan Hale who was infected with the "Chimera virus" in the previous installment in the series, but controlled by inhibitors which prevent the virus from spreading.
In this bout with "The Chimera," Hale is taken across the United States to do battle his enemies and this time opponents are larger and in greater numbers.
Hence the first drawback in the game.
Whereas, "Resistance: Fall of Man" blended a perfect harmony in the number of enemies thrown at you with amazing visuals, "Resistance 2" maintains excellent visuals but drowns you in a nearly insurmountable number of enemies.
Most clever gameplay tactics from its predecessor are boiled down to a steady stream of aimless fire at either a massive amount of enemies or opponents that are far to large to be defeated alone. Furthermore, when you think you've toppled one of these giant behemoths you are meet with three more just around the corner.
Many surprise tactics from enemies usually yield your certain death the first time around due to the unpredictable nature and shear force of each wave. Eventually you have to memorize where exactly each attack is coming from and how to perfectly utilize your environment and weaponry in a robotic fashion. Thankfully this possibly tedious process is saved by frequent check points so respawn from death is only a few feet away.
The game's average-in-length single-player campaign boils down to this system of trial and error when met with a healthy supply of enemies. Nevertheless, these foes are focused a little too heavily on scare tactics - in one section you will make your way through a pitch black building infested with berserk zombie enemies. This all comes from a unmemorable story which you ultimately don't care about.
Controls in the game are well in-tuned for the Playstation 3 and certainly not as wretchedly clunky as "Killzone 2."
Surprisingly the best feature of the game comes from the online cooperative mode.
This class-based multiplayer mode allows players to select between an infantry soldier, medic, and special-ops sniper as they revisit environments from the campaign with up to eight fellow team members. Each cooperative mode asks players to complete a series of tasks and defeat an onslaught of fire from more powerful enemies than in the campaign. Each mission features some unique variation which keeps the action feeling fresh each time and the class systems adds an element of strategy to each bout.
Competitive mode with up to 60 players in numerous gameplay modes does create an interesting online experience, but often allows for greater confusion since death occurs too frequently from unseen foes. Also, player health seems too large for an online match which sometimes feels unforgiving and unfair when met with more veteran players.
Both online modes feature a wide array of incentives via upgrades, power-ups, weapons, and trophies, but does not feel as satisfying as the "Call of Duty" multiplayer system.
The visuals of "Resistance 2" is another positive for title. Its predecessor was well known for its graphical display and "Resistance 2" meets those expectations. However, the game's visual beauty is not consistent throughout the entire campaign since some environments are obviously less polished than others.
Or it may have something to do with the massive wave of enemies encompassing your entire screen.
"Resistance 2" is a formidable title for the Playstation 3, but is not as enjoyable as its predecessor.