New PSVita model announced!

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Today in Sony’s Japan event the company announced a new PlayStation Vita model (PCH-2000), yes, you read that right, even though it only came out almost a year ago. The new model has:

  • 1GB internal storage for save games
  • A – from what I understood – HD LCD screen.
  • A myriad of colors including grey, pink, yellow, and white!
  • A lighter and thinner profile (20% thinner and 15% lighter)
  • Price: 19,929 yen ($200).
  • WiFi only so far.
  • Extra hour of battery life.
  • New 64GB memory card for 10,479 yen ($105).
  • No word on western availability (yet).

Stay tuned for more information as it’s announced.

Edit: NEW GOD EATER!

Edit 2: Soul Sacrifice Delta! This is not an updated version it’s a completely new game with new items and battles, along with a third neutral force. Releasing March 2014.

Edit 3: Phantasy Star Nova, exclusively for the PSVita in 2014.

Edit 4: Picture up there courtesy of Kotaku.

Edit 5: Terraria for PSVita! Oh fuck yes!

Edit 6: Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 for the Vita!

Edit 7: New (old) PSVita bundle with a memory card that has some games pre-installed, not a lot of other info revealed as far as I can tell.

Microsoft Revoking Online DRM

After an unbelievable backlash from almost every single gamer that has watched or been to E3, Microsoft have admitted their mistake and are now actively trying to correct their mistake, Don Mattrick, president of interactive entertainment of Microsoft had the following to say:

Last week at E3, the excitement, creativity and future of our industry was on display for a global audience.

For us, the future comes in the form of Xbox One, a system designed to be the best place to play games this year and for many years to come. As is our heritage with Xbox, we designed a system that could take full advantage of advances in technology in order to deliver a breakthrough in game play and entertainment. We imagined a new set of benefits such as easier roaming, family sharing, and new ways to try and buy games. We believe in the benefits of a connected, digital future.

Since unveiling our plans for Xbox One, my team and I have heard directly from many of you, read your comments and listened to your feedback. I would like to take the opportunity today to thank you for your assistance in helping us to reshape the future of Xbox One.

You told us how much you loved the flexibility you have today with games delivered on disc. The ability to lend, share, and resell these games at your discretion is of incredible importance to you. Also important to you is the freedom to play offline, for any length of time, anywhere in the world.

So, today I am announcing the following changes to Xbox One and how you can play, share, lend, and resell your games exactly as you do today on Xbox 360. Here is what that means:

An internet connection will not be required to play offline Xbox One games – After a one-time system set-up with a new Xbox One, you can play any disc based game without ever connecting online again. There is no 24 hour connection requirement and you can take your Xbox One anywhere you want and play your games, just like on Xbox 360.

Trade-in, lend, resell, gift, and rent disc based games just like you do today – There will be no limitations to using and sharing games, it will work just as it does today on Xbox 360.

In addition to buying a disc from a retailer, you can also download games from Xbox Live on day of release. If you choose to download your games, you will be able to play them offline just like you do today. Xbox One games will be playable on any Xbox One console — there will be no regional restrictions.

These changes will impact some of the scenarios we previously announced for Xbox One. The sharing of games will work as it does today, you will simply share the disc. Downloaded titles cannot be shared or resold. Also, similar to today, playing disc based games will require that the disc be in the tray.

We appreciate your passion, support and willingness to challenge the assumptions of digital licensing and connectivity. While we believe that the majority of people will play games online and access the cloud for both games and entertainment, we will give consumers the choice of both physical and digital content. We have listened and we have heard loud and clear from your feedback that you want the best of both worlds.

Thank you again for your candid feedback. Our team remains committed to listening, taking feedback and delivering a great product for you later this year.

This comes as a shock to me personally since from the myriad of responses Microsoft have given over these past few weeks, they were pretty stubborn over their periodic online check in, pre-owned games weird resale methods, and everything in between. But I do have to say, Microsoft have re-earned my respect for backtracking that way and righting their wrongs. It’s not everyday you see a big company like that make a 180 degree turn – regardless of the fact that they were about to be crushed by Sony – and change their policies that way even before the console launches.

The most welcomed change in these restrictions though is the region locking, according to that statement made by Don Mattrick, Xbox One will no longer activate only in the 21 countries stated on the Xbox One page, but other countries will be able to enjoy it too.

The only drawback so far for the Xbox One will be the higher price tag, but with all these restrictions removed, I’m personally finding it a bit more justified now.

Let us know if what Microsoft just did will convince you to buy an Xbox One or not.

 

What Microsoft Did Wrong With The Xbox One

Last generation, Microsoft were the gamers’ saving grace, a white knight, if you will, defending gamers with lesser costing consoles and overall better looking cross platform games. After all, Sony did launch the PlayStation 3 at a staggering $599 price point, albeit with a very powerful architecture that almost exactly three developers were able to make use of efficiently – for the curious, the developers I’m referring to are Naughty Dog primarily, Quantic Dream, and Sony Santa Monica – and it is because of this architecture that almost all cross platform games looked better on the Xbox 360.

This upcoming generation however, it would seem as if the console war has ended before it even started with the Xbox One suffering a crushing defeat, not at the hands of Sony, mind you, but at the hands of Microsoft themselves. I’ll explain my reasoning for this in the following points.

  1. DRM:

Any gamer who has been playing games for the last 6 years at least know that publishers impose DRM, not the console, be it through online codes, activation codes, or any other kind of restriction that may be present. However Microsoft have valiantly went out of their way to mention to the masses and anxious gamers that the Xbox One will have DRM over used games, then went on to correct themselves in saying that they will not impose any DRM themselves, but will leave it up to the publishers – which was already the case since time immemorial – making the very mention of this a moot point, I mean, why mention something that you have absolutely no control over?
That’s one part of the DRM though, what are the others, you ask?

  • Selling used games:

Microsoft have also said that the Xbox One will support the sale of used games, however this won’t work in the common sense of the “sale” word, it’ll involve the individual selling his/her license of the game to a participating retailer (i.e.: Gamestop, Walmart, Best Buy, etc…), in other words, if you’re unfortunate enough to live outside of Microsoft’s scope such as myself, you will not be able to sell your games, ever. Not to mention other restrictions that I’ll mention in a little bit.

  • Lending games:

You will be able to lend your games to anyone on your friends list by transferring the game’s license to them – although this sounds a lot like gifting rather than lending – but they have to have been on your friends list for at least 30 days.

  • Family members:

You can add up to ten people as family members who will be having unrestricted access to your account and its content, or in other words, you can share your games with ten different people, and that’s it.

  • Supported regions:

Here’s where the fun really starts, the Xbox One will only be supported in 21 countries and according to Microsoft’s Xbox One’s website, the games will only be activated in these countries. So if you’re unlucky enough to live somewhere else, well, no Xbox One for you.

  • Periodic connection:

While the Xbox One does not require an always online state to function, it does need to check your game licenses periodically to make sure everything’s in check, which would be problematic to people with no internet access.

  1. Kinect:

Kinect will be bundled with every Xbox One, not bad, really, until you realize that Kinect has to always be connected to your Xbox One in order for the console to function. While some people don’t mind that, others do. So in other words, this is very debatable in the sense of privacy, and no, not because Google or Apple track your location or your phone calls or what have you, gives Microsoft the right to do so, at least in my honest opinion.

  1. Cloud processing:

This is actually something I personally am looking forward to, Microsoft have mentioned that they will use the power of the cloud in order to enhance the visuals of the games. Never mind the fact that if you play offline you might get worse graphics, but the thing is, this gives the console an outstanding shelf life, even though more than one company have tried that concept and failed miserably (I’m looking at you, OnLive).

  1. Price point:

This was the final nail in the coffin for Microsoft’s Xbox One, a $499 price tag was preposterous to say the least, for a console so closed I expected the price tag to be a little bit lower than this, but the reasoning behind the price is that every Xbox One comes bundled with the Kinect, so this supposedly justifies that price tag, somehow.

  1. The game demos were not running on Xbox Ones:

Yep, you read that right, they were running on Windows 7 based PCs (now why on earth would Microsoft not use Windows 8?), moreover, those PCs had Nvidia GTX GPUs inside of them, which is absolutely different to the AMD hardware the Xbox One is built around. This could mean lots of things, maybe Microsoft hadn’t finished a dev kit in order to demo the games on, maybe they wanted to ensure a smooth conference, but that would mean they used far superior hardware, which potentially means the Xbox One will not perform as well as we’ve seen on the demos.

  1. Xbox One’s reveal:

Last but definitely not least, that reveal a month ago. I presumed a gaming console was meant for gaming, but I digress, it’s a multimedia platform, catering to fans of live television (and advertisements) and fantasy football leagues, and Call of Duty’s dog, not gamers!

Now how did Sony crush Microsoft? By doing absolutely nothing, in a nut shell. What Sony did was simply call out what Microsoft mentioned, and said they were not going to do that. Had Microsoft not mentioned the whole DRM dilemma, Sony wouldn’t have said a word about it, and Microsoft would have maintained their dignity. Sony also announced a lower price point, at $399 you get the console, a controller and a mono earphone, sure you don’t get the eye, but let’s see how much the console would cost if you did buy the eye as a stand alone purchase, currently on Amazon, the PSEye is for $59, which makes the console price go up to roughly $460, let’s say you also want to get a one year PlayStation+ subscription to play online, your total is now $510. Now you want to get an Xbox One with a one year gold membership, you’re going to pay $550, which makes the PlayStation 4 cheaper.

To spare you my ramblings, Microsoft have shot themselves in the foot, repeatedly, and Sony took advantage of that. Repeatedly. Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think of Microsoft’s restrictions, what would Microsoft have to do in order to convince you to buy the Xbox One? Personally I would like to see the periodic checks gone, but again, that’s just me.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta HD (PS3) Review

God of War: Ghost of Sparta marked the second entry for the God of War franchise to the PlayStation Portable, it was released in 2010 and it serves as prequel to God of War 3.

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Ghost of Sparta starts with Kratos on his throne as the God of War, haunted by visions from his past, of a brother that was taken and never found, he goes then to explore why these visions still haunt him, despite Athena’s warnings to just leave the visions be. Kratos is then attacked by Scylla, after killing Scylla, Kratos then finds his mother, Callisto who after a little talking turns into a hideous monster attacking Kratos, after killing her, Callisto’s last wish for Kratos is to search for his brother, Deimos, and save him, and thus begins Kratos’ quest for finding his brother.

During Ghost of Sparta, Kratos will visit, well, Sparta, the only place in the game that is not ravaged by monsters, and where Kratos is met as a god and a Spartan hero (Along with the infamous God of War sex scenes which are present in Sparta). Kratos also goes to Atlantis which gives a good explanation as to why God of War 3 starts off with a battle between Kratos and Poseidon, for the sake of not ruining anything, I won’t explain more of this. Amongst other numerous places Kratos visits of course, the underworld not being one of them, almost for the first time I believe, though Kratos gets close enough to it that I didn’t miss the underworld a lot.

During the game, as per any God of War, Kratos acquires more ways to dispose of his enemies, or, well, dispose of basically anything that moves, And though I personally didn’t find a big use for magic in the game, it is still fun to mash O as you blast away with the Eye of Atlantis and see the hit counter go up, then again, I played this on the second difficulty, which was humiliatingly easy, though spare me, I did try to play on the hardest and the game was so punishing I left it for almost a year until I picked it up again last week.

Aside from magic, Kratos also acquires the Arms of Sparta, or in other words, his old spear and shield, and you can switch out to those by pressing down on your D pad, the Arms of Sparta have their own set of combos and uses, I personally thought they were a bit overpowered when completely upgraded, but they do serve as a replacement for the Bow of Apollo in regards of disposing of ranged enemies, and the combos are fun to do anyway, so no complaints there.

In terms of length, the game is not long, it isn’t too short as well though, it is very well made for a handheld clocking at 5:45  hours exactly on Mortal difficulty WITH exploring, though length aside, the game has tremendous replayability value if you want to get that shiny platinum we all crave, more so that when you beat the game, the artwork and some of the challenges of the gods aren’t automatically unlocked, you have to purchase them with the red orbs you earn in game. I beat the game with 90k orbs and I thought I had a lot, one of the unlockables cost a whopping 250k orbs so you get the picture here.

The HD remake for this game did it justice, so much justice in fact that I barely noticed it was originally a PlayStation Portable game. Everything looks splendid, even the shadows, and that’s a lot coming from me, but one issues with the shadows is that they’re not very consistent, there are no shadows for your weapons or the environment, you only have shadows for the characters, which isn’t too annoying, but noticeable. The game runs at a steady and smooth 60 FPS unlike its non HD sibling making playing the game on the PlayStation 3 even more of a delight.

Sound effects are what you would come to expect from a God of War title, everything is good, the screams of the very few people running around in Atlantis, Kratos’ grunts and dialogue are all very well made, along with all the dialogues in the game, though I felt that it needed a little more back story behind all the hack and slash going on, it is basically a two liner cut scene, then killing anything that moves for a good hour or so, then another two liner cut scene where Kratos screams bloody vengeance (As usual).

All in all, God of War: Ghost of Sparta is a very well made PlayStation Portable title, and a very well executed HD remake giving fans of the franchise who never owned a PlayStation Portable (As me) and don’t exactly want to play the PlayStation Portable game on the PlayStation Vita a chance to experience more of the story for the God of War without any hiccups whatsoever in the gameplay or performance.

The game is out on the PlayStation Network for purchase alone or as the God of War: Origins Collection, and most recently, part of the bundled God of War Saga which includes all God of War games released to date.

Let me know what you folks thought of the game.

God of War: Ascension (PS3) Multiplayer Beta Review

I recently signed up for the God of War: Ascension multiplayer beta and thought I’d give you folks my two cents about it.

God of War: Ascension
First off, you’re greeted with a warrior (mortal) falling down onto a platform, and in the distance you can see Ares, Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon. You walk up the platform towards the gods, and you are asked to choose a god to pledge your allegiance to, I naturally went to Hades but sadly the beta only has Zeus and Ares, so I went for Ares instead. When you go up to the god of your choice, you are presented with the bonuses you’ll claim by allying yourself with said god, for Ares, it’s mainly physical strength, while Zeus focuses on magic based attacks.
You are then presented with a tutorial explaining the various moves you can do in the game, and like the previous God of Wars, you have almost the same attack sequences, to the addition of special attacks that have a cool down, these are mainly the more devastating ones.
Once you’re done with the tutorial, you are presented with your character on screen, and you are then able to choose what game mode you want to join, there’s the equivalent of death match, and team death match, with four and eight players respectively.

Alongside choosing a game mode, you can gear up your character, be it by new weapons or new armor, which are unlocked via levelling up, or achieving certain feats within matches.
I played the death match mode, and all I can say about it is that it was definitely brutal! As brutal as God of War 3 was! You are four characters thrown in a pit with Hercules watching (Pretty certain there are other people/demigods/gods that watch, but for the game I played, it was just Hercules) and every once in a while, Hercules comes down with a huge blow to the ground sending a shockwave that you have to jump to avoid.
One thing I noticed though is that the people in game have definitely neglected the tutorial, I got second place in my first game and I wasn’t even trying.
Visuals, the game is stunning, a definite step forward over God of War 3,. Not attaining the graphical prowess of Uncharted 3, but still go way too damn close.
Sound wise, the game is as competent as God of War 3, the brutality resounds with every sword slash, the sighs and screams of your opponent as they get thrown in the air than stabbed in the stomach with what appeared to be a 30 inch sword, down to the menu music which is very reminiscent of everything God of War.
Since this is a review of the beta, I’ll make sure to update it if I learn new stuff or as I familiarise myself more with the game, and definitely stay tuned for the full game review (And a possible Collector’s Edition uboxing) once it’s released on March 12th 2013.

Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth (Review)

Uncharted: The Fourth Labyrinth by Christopher Golden is the first novel to be written for the Uncharted video game series, and in all honesty, it almost feels like there’s a PlayStation controller in your hand and you’re playing.

The novel starts out with Drake escaping through some jungle as he was hired to retrieve an artifact of some importance to a tribe, and he has a girl he’s saved with him in the jeep he’s driving, and there’s bullets everywhere, normally what you’d expect from an Uncharted title. Moments later, Drake and the girl he’s saved are surrounded by their pursuers and about to die, until some tribesmen come in, save the day, and drake returns the artifact to the tribe, and the girl to her father. Fast forwarding a bit, Drake is going back the the US, when Sully calls him to go to New York with a very vague explanation, Drake gets to New York as Sully meets him and explains to him that his lifelong friend Luka Hzujak has been murdered in the most gruesome way possible, they get to an apartment where Drake meets Luka’s daughter Jada Hzujak, Sully’s god daughter as well, which will explain through out the novel why Sully is so protective of her. Jada starts filling Drake in on more details of her father’s death, as much as she could anyway, they then decide to take a trip to a nearby museum to meet Luka’s friend and the curator of the museum they’re going to, Professor Chenney, only when they get their, he’s dead, and they flee the scene before the police come and ask way too many questions, on the way back to the apartment, they find the entire building on fire, and they’re being chased by a few vans with people shooting at them relentlessly.

In the interest of not spoiling this outstanding novel, I’ll stop there so you get the gist of what to expect. The novel is amazingly well written that it feels like you’re playing another Uncharted title, which is an awesome thing since I can’t get enough of this series personally, even after playing the recently released Golden Abyss Vita game, this novel came as a welcomed addition. Everyone in the novel is instantly recognisable, Drake is just as snarky and sarcastic as he’s always been, Sully’s undeniably awesome ego and sarcasm is instantly recognisable too, and even the new characters are all very well thought out.

The novel will take you to Egypt and Greece in search of  labyrinths buried by thousands of years of history, and being an Egyptian, the Egypt part was particularly interesting, while Christopher Golden nailed the description of Egypt down to every detail, he fell short of giving an authentic Egyptian name to Sully’s liaison in Egypt, I mean, seriously, the easiest name that comes to mind would be “Muhammed” or “Ahmad” or anything, instead Christopher Golden opted for a name that I have never personally heard before, and have forgotten because of it’s ambiguity. Greece’s description is wonderful and breath taking, even though I’ve never been there and don’t actually know what it looks like, but Christopher Golden painted a really nice picture illustrating the beauty of Greece.

As I’m not an avid book reader, it took me a while to finish this book, but it is not by any means boring, it is extremely engaging and exciting with the action never stopping throughout every chapter. It’s not a big book anyway, it’s only 322 pages long, and I found Rodrigo y Gabriela’s 11:11 album to be a particularly nice background music to listen to while reading the novel, it captures the essence of Uncharted nicely.

If you folks have read the book, let me know what you thought of it, it is certainly a must for any Uncharted fan!

Gravity Rush (PSVita) Review

Gravity Rush is a charming and unique PlayStation Vita game centred around the idea of shifting gravity and seeing things from another perspective, it is developed by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and the game art really does reflect the company’s taste.

Gravity Rush starts you off as a girl who wakes up in an unknown place to her, she doesn’t even remember her name, and finds a strange looking cat who helps her shift gravity, along with other powers. You then start exploring the city around you to find conversation spots, challenge points that you unlock by using gems you collect throughout exploring the world, and your main missions along. Your first mission is you trying to set up a home for yourself, you start to gather some furniture and you place them in a sewer where you’ll be calling home. Throughout the city you’ll find manholes which you can use to get back to your home to change your outfit or to save your progress. The girl decides later that her name is Kat and her cat’s name is Dusty, she meets a lot of interesting people along the way, including another shifter called Raven who appears to be hostile and consistently wants to bring Kat down. Kat, with the help of Dusty of course, does her best to protect the city of Hekseville from the impending threat of the Nevi, a weird otherworldly creatures that seem to be flocking through Gravity Storms non stop.

Story wise, Gravity Rush delivers nicely in the first 80% of the game, but then it goes downhill from there, leaving lots of unexplained things witnessed throughout the game which is one thing I really didn’t like myself, and it’s not that it leaves these things for a sequel, the ending pretty much shows that there will in fact be a sequel, these are events that happen throughout the game, like a dream Kat has about seeing someone’s true identity, the cinematic reveals the person from their back, and then Kat shocked, nothing later about who that person really was. It’s not full of plot holes as such though, the story for the most of the game really is addictive and has you wanting to know more about everything in this world, you even meet a girl that disappears after you hear her conversation piece, and each piece tells more of her story, so that was kind of interesting.

Gameplay wise, I can honestly say it was solid, the camera controls really well, everything is nicely responsive, you dodge by swiping the screen in the direction you want, you have some special attacks by pressing triangle, or a combination of something and triangle. Gravity Rush also has a nice skill system that makes you spend your gems on levelling Kat up, making her more powerful, you have a lot of things to choose from, and for myself, as of finishing the game I hadn’t maxed out everything as I thought I would, so there’s some nice replayability there. Another shortcoming of Gravity Rush’s though is the combat system, for ground targets, it’s solid enough, the pain comes when you have to attack a flying enemy, any slight shift in movement on the enemy’s part rends your attack useless, even if timed perfectly, enemies move unpredictably and annoyingly since you get to miss a lot of sure hits. The game itself isn’t exactly long, I think it would take around 5~7 hours to finish, it took a lot longer with me since I love to explore, but it is of decent length nevertheless.

Graphics are the game’s most astounding feat! The visuals are absolutely charming, drawn in an anime style, with comic book strip cinematics, and Kat is kind of hot too I might add! I would honestly say that this game really showcases the Vita’s graphical prowess, almost as much as Uncharted: Golden Abyss does. And a friend described the game as dizzying, and I have to agree, in a nice way though, the graphics are really addictive as to how dizzying and charming they are, you’ll find yourself smiling by simply looking at the game.

Audio wise, the game also scores a lot of nice points, the game’s soundtrack is absolutely wonderful, especially Pleajeune’s which is a bit jazzy, at the end, the game takes on a darker mood though, for reasons I will not say as to avoid spoiling any story plots.

All in all, this is a very solid PlayStation Vita release, and yes, it does justify the purchase of a Vita, even if only for this game, the experience is outstanding, it fully uses the capabilities of the Vita (bar the back panel and the cameras), it runs extremely smooth and it is priced alongside the normal Vita games at $40 instead of Uncharted’s $50. Let me know if you’ve played the game, what you thought of it, and whether the ending disappointed you as it did me or not.

Sony to acquire Gaikai!

So as I was idly looking through my twitter feed this morning, I noticed a post from IGN (and Gamespot as well) that Sony has purchased the cloud gaming giant, Gaikai, for, well, 380 million dollars, weird since Sony wasn’t making much in the way of money as of some recent console launch and them losing money and all…

Now this alliance was heavily rumored in the not so distant past, a little before 2012’s E3, now as to why I fear this will cause a LOT of gamers to turn away from Sony should they implement cloud gaming as the main medium in the next PlayStation is this: Basically, not everywhere has internet connections as fast as light, over here in Egypt, the premium is considered the 8 Mbit downlink connection, and while cloud game services such as OnLive state that the minimum is 4 Mbit, I had slight lag in Super Street Fighter 4 on a 20 Mbit connection in philadelphia, now imagine how an 8 Mbit connection can possibly do any better. And that’s the premium, most households here still run on 512 Kbit/s connections – 2 Mbit/s connections which is no where near what is minimum to smoothly stream a video game.

As to why I think Sony might implement this, at least partly (which will be a lot better and I’ll explain why later) is that rumors have been floating around a lot about a block of used games on next generation consoles, wouldn’t this be much easier to implement if the games were bought on the cloud as OnLive does? Certainly! You will never be able to trade in your used games ever again, your friends won’t ever be able to borrow a game of yours, or you borrow one of theirs, and the next gen console makers will reign supreme in their thrones made of money and wasted hopes of game sharing! Okay, that might have been a bit of a stretch, but the point stands. Because of the bandwidth reasons mentioned before, most people in Egypt, and other countries with similar internet issues won’t stand a chance. However, if Sony played this right and just implemented the system alongside the current one, it will prove very beneficial to them. Think of it this way, you get the choice of either buying and downloading a certain PSN game to your PlayStation, OR, you buy the game and stream it instantly! With no waiting what so ever! Wouldn’t that be nice? What would also be even nicer is if you buy a PSN game and you install said game on your console, however, let’s say you sold that console, moved somewhere with a really nice connection, with the same purchase, you can stream the game instead of downloading it! Kind of like getting to versions of the game without actually buying two versions of the game, since it’s essentially the same game, the same price, just a different delivery method! Of course this would also be extended to demos as well.

That’s basically my two cents concerning the issue at hand, let me know what you folks think below!

(Source: http://au.gamespot.com/news/sony-to-acquire-cloud-gaming-service-gaikai-for-380m-6385186)

E3’s first day’s coverage (2012)

First off, I’d like to apologize to all my readers for this rather long hiatus I took from writing, but, well, I have finals, I actually have a final the day after tomorrow, but that’s E3 we’re talking about here, so in other words, screw the finals!

E3 2012 kicked off with Microsoft, they had some interesting things to show off, sadly though, not interesting enough, they started with Halo 4, which I personally thought that it looked impressive, I’ve never played any Halo game before since I don’t own an Xbox, but it did look impressive never the less, the lighting was really nice, and the portion of the game shown was in some jungle, with apparently a new threat, I wouldn’t really know though, leave it to you hardcore Xbox gamers to let me know. Then they showed off the next Gears Of War, which I skipped, along with shamingly Dance Central, with an appearance from Usher on stage, then they demonstrated Black Ops II and I was very underwhelmed, the first trailer got me excited for the game, I mean, Call Of Duty FINALLY taking a new direction! This could be interesting, but the engine underwhelmed me, the whole dynamics of the game did so as well, I didn’t really care for it after the demo to be completely honest. Microsoft then showed off a new service called Xbox Glass, what Xbox Glass does, is simply provide more information on whatever media you’re viewing/listening to on your smartphone/tablet (Android/iOS/WinPhone), it was impressive when they were viewing last week’s episode of Game Of Thrones, and on the Windows 8 tablet a map of the Game Of Thrones world, showing where each character is at the moment, giving additional information about everything going on, it was impressive, but I don’t see it really becoming revolutionary.

Microsoft also had in their press conference a new XBL game called the Recketeers, which is essentially an Angry Birds rip off, yep, they ripped off freaking Angry birds…

The one thing that was interesting in Microsoft’s press conference was the new Southpark RPG game, which looked VERY interesting, it looks a lot like an episode straight out of the series. You play as a new kid who tries to get in the group of Kenny, Kyle, Cartman, and Stan, it’s pretty funny!

That’s basically what caught my attention in Microsoft’s press conference, it wasn’t all that much.

EA were next, and again, underwhelming, I couldn’t bare watch their entire press conference as I was bored to tears from how little they were bringing to the table, the thing however that got me even more annoyed was how they were trash talking Call Of Duty on twitter, yet what they were bringing was essentially the same thing Call of Duty has been doing ever since their Modern Warfare 3 release, they released Call Of Duty Elite, EA announced Battlefield Premium, which is essentially Elite, you pay $50 and get 5 DLCs, Back to Karkand, Close Quarters, and 3 others. Disappointing to say the least.

Next up was Ubisoft’s press conference, and since I’m a huge Assassin’s Creed fan, I was anticipating this more than any other of the press conferences, and how do they start? Just freaking Dance 4, for all of us core gamers who don’t like (read: want to rid the world of) dancing games, it was shameful that a studio creating games as epic as Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry would advertise Just Dance, but, oh well. Assassin’s Creed was the highlight of Ubisoft’s press conference, they showcased a live gameplay demo of Connor hunting a dear, then fighting wolves, then rushing through a battalion of soldiers firing at him, and taking them all out, it was nothing short of epic!

They also showcased the new Rayman, entitled Rayman: Legends, which is exclusive to the WiiU (Big mistake if you ask me, Rayman: Origins did so well on all other platforms), it was a very entertaining demo, it showed how the WiiU controller plays with the regular Wii controller. And lastly, they showed another WiiU exclusive, a zombie apocalypse game called – Wait for it – ZombiU… I can’t believe the name either, the game looks nice, but the name is ridiculous at best.

And finally, concluding the first day of E3 was Sony, and I have to say, after a series of disappointments, I was really looking up to Sony to cheer me up, and cheer me up they did! Now I want it to be known that what I’m about to say, isn’t because I am biased to Sony, or that I’m a hardcore PlayStation gamer or any of that, what I’m about to say is based on genuine admiration of the lack of any dancing games in their press conference, yeah, it made that big of a difference for me.

Sony kicked  off the press conference with a completely new IP, that of Quantic Dream’s none the less, you all remember that “Kara” video we saw a few months ago? They used that technology to prove to everyone that after six years, the PlayStation 3 is still at full strength, kicking ass! Quantic Dream’s new IP is called Beyond, and I’ll leave you with the demo for the game to see for yourself:

Beyond tells how our world, and the world of the dead connect together, the main character has this friend, who is, from what I understood, dead, and he/she is helping her out, or accompanying her throughout the game. I won’t go further into any details as I didn’t understand much.

Sony later showed Super Bot’s new IP PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, at first I was thinking of this as a Super Smash Bros Brawl rip off, and that thought hasn’t changed, but truth be told, it looks REALLY nice! And, for all you Vita owners out there, you’ll be happy to know that it’s coming out for the Vita as well, and is cross play compatible with the PlayStation 3!

They mentioned a Call Of Duty game for the Vita as well, which will be nice considering how all the reviews of Resistance: Burning Skies were surprisingly low, hopefully Call Of Duty: Black Ops Declassified can bring better FPS action to the Vita, they didn’t show off any gameplay though, or even a trailer.

Now what got me even more happy about Sony’s press conference was their Ubisoft segment, a Vita Assassin’s Creed game! Not only that, it’s with a new female assassin! Which is a new addition to the series, a welcome addition really, and they announced that upon connecting the two Assassin’s Creed games together, you’ll get benefits in the PlayStation 3 Assassin’s Creed 3 game!

After that Sony showed off co-op play in Far Cry 3 which was nice, lots of flame throwers for my liking, but okay.

Sony then showcased a new gadget for the PlayStation 3, Wonderbook! This new book like interface is impressive, it’s basically a book, with the pages like the AR cards from the Vita, it works with the PlayStation Eye, and the Move, and it was really nice, not so much for core gamers though, but a nice educational tool. They showcased a book by J.K. Rowling called Book Of Spells, which puts you in Hogwarts and have you learn spells with the move controller as your wand, it’s an impressive new gadget.

Next they showed off God Of War: Ascension, they showed a nice gameplay demo which made the new game feel very familiar to God Of War 3, mechanics wise, though I would’ve been happier with a story trailer, to understand what the heck is going on. Sony ended their press conference with (Yes, you guessed it) The Last Of Us, a game play trailer of Naughty Dog’s amazing new IP, though there are no signs of the infected we saw in the very first trailer for the game, it plays a lot like Uncharted though, only grittier, humorless, and over all amazingly dark, unlike in Uncharted, where you press square behind an enemy to snap their neck, in The Last Of Us, your enemy struggles, making it all the more realistic, and they emphasized how scarce ammunition is in the game, and how bad it means for you to run out!

My thoughts about the first day of E3? Sony saved the day, it was very disappointing until Sony’s press conference, Microsoft lacked a lot of things, new IPs mainly, if there was ever a company in desperate need of new IPs, it is without a doubt Microsoft. Let me know what you folks thought of E3’s first day press conferences, and have a nice day!

PlayStation Vita review

So I went to GameStop last week and got myself a little treat, actually, it was a treat with a marvelous 5 inch OLED screen, and I can’t stress that enough, but I’ll keep rambling about it some more in the review here, I got myself a PSVita!

 

First off, I bought the Wifi only version, though let me assure you, by the time I’m writing this article, the launch edition is still available for sale, or at least the box was still up for preview in all GameStops I went to, for those of you that don’t know what the launch bundle is, it’s basically a 3G/Wifi vita + an 8GB memory card + a month of free 3G from AT&T I think, and a free PSN game, though a little research will show you that the free 3G month is only redeemable after you pay for your first 3G month, and the PSN game is redeemable after a month of activating the card, all of that was for $300, which is the price of the 3G/Wifi alone, now I don’t know what possessed me and kept me from buying that one, but I just didn’t, the Wifi only version costs $250, though how can it be Sony’s without some hidden charges here and there! Well, my dear readers, those charges are well present, you NEED to buy a memory card since apparently Sony cheaped out and didn’t implement a small amount of memory on the device for game saves, which is very stupid in my book, but anyway, I bought the 4GB card for $26 I think, a starter kit, which comes with a carrying pouch for your vita, a case for your games which can carry up to 32 game cartridges, a screen protector, and a tissue to wipe the screen with, I also bought the Mad Catz Armor Shell, which is really nice, albeit being a bit of a snug fit, as well as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and Rayman Origins.

The first thing you notice when taking out the Vita from its box is how big it is, but it’s not inconveniently big, just big enough to have you notice it, the screen responds very well, the new operating system is really nice and intuitive, Sony decided to take a step back from the PSP’s and the PS3’s XMB and go with a bubble based OS (not literally, I just can’t think of a better description off the top of my head), but it suits the whole “Touch screen” theme so well, oh, and you can only use the front touch pannel while navigating through the menu, it’s annoying, but you get used to it. Another interesting thing that Sony did was making a few applications for normal PSN functions, like for example, to view your friends list, you have to launch the friends app, to send a message, the messaging app, to see your trophies, you have to go jump through three hoops of spike and fire whilst singing killing me softly well, you get where this is going. You can’t be playing a game, pause it, and open your browser, it won’t work, the multitasking works mainly with group chatting and gaming, not all games though, if I understand this well enough, Uncharted won’t allow it, since Uncharted is one of the few Vita games (not that there’s many right now anyway) that closes all network connections while being played, saves more resources for the game, but I’m not complaining, the game looks phenomenal on the 5 inch screen.

More into tech specs now, we’ve covered the 5 inch OLED, though not HD, but rather qHD, same as the iPhone’s resolution (960×544), an ARM Cortex A9 4 core processor, a SGX543MP4+ GPU which is roughly 4 times as powerful as the iPad 2’s SGX535 (I think, just taking a swing here, correct me if I’m wrong), 512 MBs of RAM with 128MB of VRAM which makes it handle the whole “multitasking” nicely, and of course either Wifi or 3G and Wifi capabilities.

Now as far as how the handling of the handheld goes, the rear touch pad gets in the way, a lot, but I personally haven’t had any issues except for some mild discomforts while zooming in/out in Uncharted, but the place where you’re supposed to keep your hand doesn’t really help, I found my hand slipping to cover up the entire back of the vita as I was playing, thankfully, Uncharted offers traditional controls alongside touch ones, since I’m not the biggest fan of touch screens (or 3D for that matter, way too much of a gimmick in my opinion).

To all of you who have already bought a Vita, what do you guys think of it? do you think it’s worth the current price tag? and for all of you wanting to buy a Vita, I (personal opinion here, not trolling) would suggest you guys wait a bit for a price drop, or if a new vita comes out with onboard memory, though this won’t be happening anytime soon, since Sony usually gets out the “Slim” version of their consoles in like 4-6 years. If you can’t wait to play the new Uncharted, it IS a console seller, that you can be sure of, also Rayman is epic.