Mega Man 9

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If Capcom was so intent in keeping Mega Man 9 in an era of NES classics, why are we paying for downloadable content? All of that work to keep this firmly planted in its roots is wasted if you can unlock secret characters with cash instead of skill. ~Matt Paprocki

Mega Man 9

There’s something wrong with Mega Man 9: It doesn’t fit. That’s not necessarily a knock against the game itself, but purely a poor design call by Capcom. Why have we went back all the way to Mega Man 1 and 2, when the last game was on the PlayStation and Saturn?

MegaMan 9 - PS3

The true 8-bit stylings run deep through this retro revival, in the truest sense. This is a NES game, right down the flicker. The music is phenomenal, the pixel art excellent, and boss design mostly interesting (Galaxy Man looking a little too much like the obscure Japanese monster Guilala).

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Here’s the problem though. Mega Man 9 is hard, and any fan of the series should expect that. However, Capcom has taken that mentality and multiplied it, creating some absolutely absurd level designs that even die-hard masochists will frown upon. While past Mega Man games relied on memorization and precision, Mega Man 9 requires a higher level of both. You can almost hear the level designers laughing at how devilishly difficult certain segments are.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

It’s certainly up for debate whether or not this is an attractive feature or a reason not to buy. Regardless of where you stand, you have to agree that a certain level of fun is still necessary for this game to succeed, and much of the difficulty saps that away.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Part of the problem is the original 8-bit style, and that means true original 8-bit. Even though Mega Man 3 introduced the slide move and Mega Man 4 brought us the Mega Buster, Mega Man 9 has neither of those. If you can get past the graphical downgrade which doesn’t let this game fit into the timeline, not including these classic maneuvers really messes with your head.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

That’s not saying the visuals are bad. In fact, they’re wonderful, especially just to see the style brought back (the dragon mid-boss is arguably the highlight). The problem is in calling this Mega Man 9, it’s following a 16-bit and 32-bit entry. Making a Bionic Commando sequel that looked like this would have made far more sense given that franchise lived and died on 8-bit hardware.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Also, if Capcom was so intent in keeping this in an era of NES classics, why are we paying for downloadable content? All of that work to keep this firmly planted in its roots is wasted if you can unlock secret characters with cash instead of skill. This is such an authentic experience, you can’t switch weapons with the triggers. You need to enter the pause menu. Yet, we need to pay more for a complete game.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

From a pure play perspective, Mega Man 9 is fine. It’s the same game any true gamer should have played numerous times before. The platforming is spot-on, as are the controls. The bosses maintain their own attack patterns, acquired weapons do extra damage to the right enemy, and the final castle stage is an absolute nightmare to pass.

MegaMan 9 - PS3

Had this come out and been called Mega Man 7 on the NES, it would have been slammed by critics for being more of the same with nothing new to offer (much like Mega Man 6 was). However, the passage of time has gave way to warm nostalgia, which Mega Man 9 tried to bring back. In most cases, it does, but it more or less limps its way into your nostalgia-fueled mind instead of Mega Busting it.

Runner 2: Legend of Rhythm Alien

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Platform games will probably always be my favorite genre of gaming.  This is certainly due to cutting my proverbial teeth during the heyday of the NES, the era where every other title had some sort of influence from the brothers Mario and their army of copycats.  Before I picked up Runner 2: Legend of Rhythm Alien I had never played a Bit.Trip title before, and I was only familiar with the main character Commander Video from his cameo appearance in Super Meat Boy, arguably one of the greatest games of the past decade.  Now I’m certainly going back to explore the titles I missed, because Runner 2 is unfiltered platforming bliss.

runner2

Runner 2 might as well be a checklist of how to do everything correctly in a video game.  The gameplay is extremely accessible and enjoyable, coupled with eye pleasing, unique graphics and an amazing soundtrack.  Difficulty in the game gradually scales but is unbelievably fair; you start off with a simple selection of moves and then slowly learn all of the combinations required to be successful.  There’s also some great humor (the hardest thing to pull off in gaming) and some phenomenal references mixed in to the package that I wouldn’t dare spoil here.  Gaijin Games even added hidden retro levels (unlocked by finding golden cartridges) that are extremely challenging and pay homage to those glorious days of the NES and Sega Master System.

runner2

Originality comes with how your character interacts with the soundtrack.  Every jump, slide, dodge, block, and kick corresponds with an intended beat or noise that complements the music.  You can miss these beats with little consequence besides failing a scoring opportunity (thankfully you don’t get a grinding Guitar Hero-esque interruption noise) but the soundtrack simply swells with a crescendo of awesomeness when you hit them on time.  In most modern games (especially first person shooters) I almost never experience what Billy Hoyle and Sidney Dean remarkably refer to as “the zone,” where the entirety of the room ceases to matter and you aren’t even thinking about what buttons you are pushing while conquering every single obstacle on pure muscle memory.  Playing flawlessly causes everything to click into place and you achieve an almost Zen like experience.  Runner 2 just has a magically fluid feel I’ve rarely seen replicated anywhere else, especially in other titles that also employ auto running and rhythm based play.

runner2

I did get frustrated often while playing, but it was the type of frustration that made me want to persevere to perfect the level, not the type that makes you want to place your controller under a rusty jackhammer.  When you make a mistake it’s never the game, it’s simply your lack of skill.  It’s certainly not as difficult as the aforementioned Super Meat Boy, but it still takes impeccable timing and precision to get through some of the harder sections, exactly what you should want in a quality platformer.

If you like platformers, pick this up immediately.  For fifteen bucks on the marketplace it’s an absolute steal, especially when there are sixty-dollar titles (Aliens: Colonial Marines for example) that won’t give you a fraction of the enjoyment contained here.  I realize that it’s barely March, but this is unquestionably the best title I’ve played this year.

Capcom’s Arcade Cabinet Review

Capcom, a staple in the world of video gaming for decades, is celebrating their 30th anniversary with the release of Capcom Arcade Cabinet, a downloadable game pack for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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For 400 Microsoft Points (or $4.99) players can now purchase the initial release pack containing classic shooter 1943: The Battle of Midway, side scrolling Black Tiger and the hardly remembered Capcom arcade release Avengers. Other games will be made available for add-on packs to Capcom Arcade Cabinet periodically, all at a higher price per-game than this introductory release.

Seemingly influenced by the earlier Game Room download for the XBox 360, Capcom’s multi-game set-up doesn’t exactly provide the same arcade-like feel. The majority of the screens are filled with a generic backdrop that is more akin to a plain arcade cocktail table kit than anything distinctive to the original arcade feel. Given how perfectly the ambiance of the arcade was captured in Capcom’s previous Final Fight download, this comes at a bit of a surprise and disappointment.

1942

The emulation of the games included thus far appear to be spot-on, even providing the options for different versions of the game from around the world. Graphics, sounds and music look and sound just like the arcade originals and controls are very responsive.

One of the potentially biggest issues I can see with Capcom Arcade Cabinet, however, will be the depth of game selection. While several early Capcom arcade titles proved popular when new, the average gamer never saw the majority of them. Capcom’s main claims to fame in the 1980s came from it’s successful Nintendo Entertainment System releases, followed by the Street Fighter II series in arcades the following decade. For every Ghosts ‘n Goblins will be a lesser title such as Son Son that most gamers simply won’t remember.

black tiger

This first game pack represents this perfectly. While 1943 was a huge coin-op success across the world, Black Tiger saw far less success and distribution. Avengers seems to be included only due to the name, perhaps trying to capitalize on a familiar sounding name instead of nostalgia. The game has nothing to do with the comic book or popular film, providing players with a weird top-down beat-em-up game that is totally lacking in appearances by Iron Man, Captain America and Scarlett Johansson.

That being said, the early price point isn’t a bad deal for the still-fun 1943, and worth a download at least to have that as a fun way to pass the time. Otherwise, the player’s experience withCapcom Arcade Cabinet will live and die mostly on what they knew or remember from the earliest arcade releases from the now-iconic video game company.

Capcom Arcade Cabinet

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Retro gaming is as popular as ever and this is evident by all the releases of classic games. Capcom recently announced its Arcade Cabinet which will feature classic Capcom games in full HD and you can customize it on your PS3 or XBOX 360. A total of 15 titles will be release from Feb 19th until May featuring titles from 1984 to 1988 and you can purchase the ones you like, but if you order all 15 you get two bonus games for free.

Here is more information from Capcom’s Press release:

Downloading an individual title or pack will also give access to the Capcom Arcade Cabinet ‘platform’ which provides additional features including DIP switch functionality, a music player, and the ability to capture and share screenshots or video. When playing in standard mode, players will be able to access DIP switch-like settings to adjust their number of lives and difficulty, including a Casual Mode which tones down the difficulty level and makes it more attainable to see the end credits. Further features include 2 player online play for certain titles; a global leaderboard; a training mode with infinite lives to hone your strategy and an option to select either the Japanese or international versions of the individual titles.

In order to share their experiences with friends, PlayStation 3 users will be able to capture video of gameplay to post on YouTube, while Xbox 360 users will be able to upload screenshots to Facebook. Further additions include a sound gallery that allows players to listen to the background music of any of the games in their cabinet, and an art gallery which fills with new pieces as players progress through the games.

So in the first pack released this week we have the following:

1942

1943: The Battle of Midway: players pilot a P-38 Lightning over the Pacific Ocean and take on waves of enemy fighters, bombers and aircraft carriers in this vertical scrolling shooter.

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Avengers: It is time to get tough on the streets of Paradise City and as players work to rescue six girls from the clutches of gangland boss Geshita and his henchmen in the vertical scrolling beat ‘em up Avengers.

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Black Tiger: heads to a fantasy realm where a bold barbarian encounters all manner of creatures and enemies in classic side scrolling and platforming action.

Now you can get Black Tiger for free and the packs will range from 3.99 to 9.99 with all 15 plus 2 free game for 29.99. So check it out and let us know what you think.

Skylanders: Giants

Skylanders-Giants

Whoever came up with the concept for Skylanders is a marketing genius.  The recipe is so pitch perfect it’s hard to believe it took this long for someone to execute:  Take the elemental centered and “gotta buy them all” appeal of Pokemon, mix it with the addictive RPG leveling and character progression that almost every game utilizes today, and then pair it up with a plethora of collectable figures that you can transport both between and across consoles.  The results are a franchise that has already grossed upwards of 500 million dollars between two releases with zero signs of slowing down.  But is the game any good or just a flagrant cash grab aimed specifically at children?

Skylanders-Giants

Actually it isn’t half bad.  I spent the majority of this past Saturday playing this with my nephew Jacob (he’s 8) and really enjoyed myself.  The game is akin to many dungeon crawlers like Diablo and Baldur’s Gate except it takes place in the uber-colorful and child friendly world of Skylands.   The interface is very simple and easy to understand; almost anybody could pick it up and play with little instruction.  Character leveling is extremely balanced and it has the familiar “just one more level” appeal as you constantly unlock better powers and upgrades for each of your individual Skylanders.   Jacob spent the better part of our lengthy session saving up hard fought treasure for a battle-axe made entirely out of bees for his favorite giant Swarm, and his joy upon finally earning the weapon was completely palpable.

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Each Skylander represents one of eight different “elements” like fire, wind, technology, or undead.  The levels are divided with multiple gates and hidden areas that can only be accessed by certain elements, meaning in order to fully unlock everything the game has to offer you must own at least one character from every element.  If you are defeated, the only way to continue the level is by swapping out figures on the fly, making the game near impossible with only the starter set, but very manageable with a stable of Skylanders figures at your disposal.  (Defeated characters can be used again on the next level but not before)  The aforementioned starter set only comes with three characters, the game disc, and the necessary Portal of Power; so more characters must be purchased (Hey Mom!) in order to fully experience and enjoy what the game has to offer.  Some Skylanders are also much rarer than others (especially some of the newer Giants) making collecting these things highly addictive.  Again, sheer marketing brilliance.

Skylanders-Giants

Skylanders: Giants is also compatible with all of the toys released for the original game, and the level cap is increased from 10 to 15 for all of your previously purchased characters.  There are also new Series 2 versions of the original Skylanders that have more effective powers and different poses than their original counterparts, a very wise move by the developers to keep fans of the original excited about the sequel.   I’d be absolutely shocked if a third game wasn’t released this holiday season, right now the game has legs, something that Activision is notorious for exploiting on a yearly basis with all of their other major franchises.

Skylanders-Giants

It is also interesting to mention that the first game was titled Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure, featuring popular gaming icon Spyro the Dragon who has appeared in almost twenty other titles.  Spyro never speaks in either game however, and doesn’t give you any sort of advantage over any of the other characters.  It almost seems like the developers were hedging their bets to get the game off the ground with a mascot familiar to the intended demographic.

If you are looking to enjoy some gaming with one of the younger people in your life you could a lot worse than Skylanders: Giants.   The title is certainly geared towards children but contains many of the familiar trappings of an addictive video adventure; I certainly didn’t grow bored playing it as I have with many other games.  Just plan to shell out a lot more than the initial seventy-dollar investment if you want to see everything in the game or actually get through it successfully at all.

Midway Arcade Origins

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Nostalgia can be extremely arresting.  Can a gamer ever return to the feeling experienced when first taking out the Death Star in Star Wars, smashing multiple baddies with a single rock in Dig-Dug, or playing a flawless board of Ms. Pac Man?

midway arcade origins

Gamer nostalgia is also conjured by environments and contexts.  I’m sure most middle aged gamers have swapped stories from their youth about visiting the local arcade (remember those?) to plunk some quarters in their favorite machines. In those golden years, we played for nothing but score and bragging rights, and we were fascinated by graphics that were so remarkable that they couldn’t yet be reproduced on our home systems or personal computers.  I used to beg my father to take me to the PX on base (military brat, represent) so that I could play one of my retro favorites—the cartoonish cop chase game A.P.B.  It was my fond memory of this 1987 relic that led me toward Midway Arcade Origins. I do not regret the purchase.  At the same time, some of the classic titles within this trove of 30+ games simply don’t reignite the longing to play arcade games that I fondly remember from my childhood.

midway arcade origins

The first problem with the compilation is that some of the classic control schemes just don’t translate to modern joypads.  720 is a prime example. In my youth, I would eagerly line my quarters on top of the black-and white-checkered plastic control panel assembly, but without the circle-locked joystick on the arcade cabinet, the game is almost unplayable.  Too much die, not enough skate.  The same unfortunately applies to A.P.B., a game that is dysfunctional sans its steering wheel and pedals.  Granted, you can still get some enjoyment out of the titles, but they just aren’t the same without the respective racing wheels and other cabinet specific peripherals.

midway arcade origins

Unfortunately, there is also a lot of useless filler in the compilation.  The less you remember about Pit-Fighter, Xenophobe, and arguably the worst sequel of all time, Spy Hunter 2, the better.   In light of these weak choices, I found myself wondering why Paperboy, NARC, and Roadblasters were left out.  All three were extremely popular Midway titles from my youth, and all three could have easily made the compilation exponentially better, especially since Paperboy is no longer available on Xbox Live Arcade.

midway arcade origins

Thankfully I was able to get a lot of enjoyment out a few of the included offerings.  Joust and Joust 2 hold up extremely well, as do Satan’s Hollow, Robotron 2084, Spy Hunter, Rampage, and both Gauntlet games (just don’t shoot the food!). Two titles I’d never played before, Wizard of Wor and Bubbles, ended up being my favorites.  Smash TV and its sequel Total Carnage also play well with a modern controller, and they still serve as a reminder that most of these games were simply designed to get one more quarter out of the pocket of your Kangaroos.  This is certainly a staunch contrast from the “save anywhere, unlimited lives” mentality that permeates game design today.

Leaderboards are also included so you can still appreciate how badly you perform compared to other hardcore retro gamers.  Further, multiplayer is offered on any title that traditionally supported it.   While the limitations of portable console gaming and the omission of certain titles does make the compilation feel a bit incomplete, the game isn’t a bad purchase if you are looking to scratch that retro itch. Just don’t expect most of the games to play like they did when you were waiting in line behind that skeevy dude in the Iron Maiden t-shirt to get one more crack at Sinistar.

Weird Games: Naughty Bear

Naughty Bear - Gameplay Screenshot

Sometimes you have a bad day and it appears Bears are no different. In this game from 505 Games, we meet a Naughty Bear that does not like being cute and cuddly like the rest of the bears and as a result is shunned and made fun of. Because of being ostracized by the community Naught Bear seeks revenge on his fellow Teddy Bears and you have thousands of different ways to scare, punish and disrupt bear society.

Naughty Bear - Gameplay Screenshot

In Naughty Bear you have an entire island to explore and cause mayhem on. The island itself is divided into four parts with some sections and areas needing to be unlocked. There are a total of 28 levels on the island and tons of different objects to use and obstacles to overcome. Your job is not only to get revenge on the bears who tormented you, but also to avoid the law abiding bears who will try and stop your mischievous ways.

Naughty Bear - Gameplay Screenshot

Now the game is not just about beating up bears. There is a “Mischief Points” system where the more you scared the bears and the different ways you scare them earns you more points. Not all bears will be frightened by the same thing so you have to mix it up. This combination along with the open world model keeps the game from getting stale as you come up with new ways to cause havoc.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfznS5Rw_UQ[/youtube]

You can find Naughty Bear for the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. Long before the movie “Ted” this bear was naughty and the game is definitely weird.

El Shaddai: The Ascension of the Metatron

A Little Bit on El Shaddai’s Developer and Director

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Ignition Tokyo, founded in 2007, is a branch within UTV Ignition Entertainment that developed El Shaddai and interestingly enough, El Shaddai is their first game according to the International Gaming Network. It certainly shows with the game’s originality and creativity which is its strongest feature. Ignition Entertainment has published well known titles like Muramasa: The Demon Blade and various other games for different consoles and handhelds.

Takeyasu Sawaki is the director of El Shaddai in Ignition who is known for being the lead character art designer for Okami and the first Devil May Cry. This was no surprise to me as I played it, seeing similarities that are only positive. In many cases this could be considered a bad case but I digress.

Story

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LKdmChm96A[/youtube]

This is a modern (jeans, cell phones and all), fictional, and somewhat biblical account derived from the the Book of Enoch. It tells of seven fallen angels corrupting mankind and a scribe named Enoch who is sent by God to purify or send them back to Heaven with Lucifel’s help. Grave consequences await man should our heroes fail, including the coming of the second Great Flood.

The story concept has a lot of potential, but I feel that the development of it was El Shaddai’s Achille’s heel. There is a lot of information they could have expanded on from the original tale or not, especially because the game is not very long as it is. I personally did not understand the ending, which created more questions than answers. I felt it was a very simple story even though so much was said and implied that seemed to be ignored. There was a problem, there were hiccups in the hero’s progress, and then it was solved(?). It sounds normal, but suppose I wanted to spoil the ending, I wouldn’t be able to describe it with any kind of sense. I’ll just say I have mixed feelings about a sequel. I want an explanation, but it could also only make things worse.

Characters

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Enoch and Lucifel

Lucifel, the Lucifel we all know but don’t exactly love, joins Enoch in his journey as a save point and is the narrator of the game. It’s interesting he is a Korean pretty boy who speaks to God on his cell phone every time you see him, simply because it’s the opposite of what you would expect from such an infamous figure. Lucifel looks like he’s a club goer and Enoch sports a pair of jeans with his armor which you don’t see in many games. The more damage he takes the less he has on. I found this amusing.

Gameplay and Graphics

In my opinion, they are what make the game. I could go on forever about color choice and creativity. The color black is innovated for use in contrasts with others throughout the game. It works with many other crafty, artistic strategies to create an intriguing and sometimes even abstract environment. The stages are never a disappointment and change almost constantly in color, shape, and structure. This could happen as Enoch is running, walking, or not even doing anything.

Another great aspect of the gameplay is the fact the plane changes back and forth from 2-D to 3-D while keeping Enoch in a third person view. I haven’t seen a game so innovative with its graphics in such a long time, so it was refreshing to experience. Overall it’s no less than visually stunning.

The Battle System and Its Difficulty

El Shaddai has a hack and slash battle system that is difficult at what seems to be random times. Some bosses throughout the game are easy, but the strategy to others can be difficult to find, especially before the discovery of the Veil. It’s a shield that doubles as gauntlets that are overpowered and that I rarely switched out for other weapons. The other two are the Arch, an arrow-like blade, and the Gale which shoots projectiles and is meant for long distance. The latter two weapons make jumping easier and Enoch run at a faster speed but unless you need them for those rare purposes, at least I didn’t find myself using them. Difficulty is important in a game and you’ll find it in El Shaddai, but expect it to come at awkward occurrences.

This video is a good example of the battle system and environment, at least for the start:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owk6VntXfNs&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

Replay Value

The game is a decent length for the type it played out to be and has decent extras like an art gallery and character voice clips you can unlock. From what I have heard so far, they are tidbits to add to the story and possibly elaborate on it. DLC isn’t likely but it certainly is possible. Like many games these days, the replay value is dependent on whether the player wants to collect the little extras and fulfill achievements.

The Audience

This is hard to tell but not everyone will like it, that’s for sure. I appreciate art, creativity, and innovation in the games I play and that seems to be what is emphasized the most. I love El Shaddai’s originality and I can bet money there is no game like it right now. There is no gore or apparent violence so if you’re looking for that, this isn’t where you’ll find it. It isn’t a children’s game either because of its complex storyline and that’s why I agree with the “Teen” rating it has.

The demo is SO important in deciding whether one is going to enjoy the game or not. I know I certainly did.

A Summing Up of the Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good
-Hack and slash battle system but it isn’t noticeably repetitive thanks to the brilliant environment and graphics.
-The environment and graphics. I see colors and images like those in my dreams.
-Original; there is no game like it.
-The art created for El Shaddai is outstanding. I’m waiting for my artbook to come in the mail.

The Bad
-If there is a sequel to be made and it ends up not straightening out the story, not even the graphics and gameplay could save it.
-Difficult at awkward times, but this could vary from player to player.
-Limited audience.

The Ugly
-It’s ending.

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception

General

Naughty Dog has come back with the third installment of the acclaimed Uncharted series and each game that has come out has been better than the last. As amazing as Uncharted 2: Among Thieves(2009) was, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception takes it to a new level yet again with utilizing the capabilites of the PS3 graphics engine and now having only a slight amount of noticeable glitches. There is no question why this is my choice for the 2011 game of the year even with Assassin’s Creed Revelations and Batman: Arkham City in the running.

Nathan Drake
The graphics are some of the best I’ve seen…ever.

Naughty Dog and the History of the Uncharted Series:

Naughty Dog is known for their older, not-as-serious series of Crash Bandicoot and Jak. Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune(2007) took me by surprise with how impressive it was and reminded me Naughty Dog actually existed. It had the God of War properties of real time actions but still somehow ran fluidly like a movie with its unexpected twists, climbs and drops in drama, and action scenes. It had me on the edge of my seat like the other two that had yet to come. Uncharted 2 was the same concept but improved with better graphics and an even more engaging story. Now I need to mention something about the word “same” in the world of gaming. The word “same” is usually more attached to the negative than positive. If a sequel is the “same” it can mean it’s repetitive and who wants to pay $60 for a sequel when the prequel can simply be played again? Assassin’s Creed Revelations (review coming soon, hopefully) seems to be getting the heap by those who aren’t fans of the series for this reason. It plays exactly like the two others about Ezio before it. I don’t think so but I’m also an avid fan.

Anyway, Back to the Point…

Uncharted 3, considering controls and gameplay itself is not unlike is predecessors in any way, but Naughty Dog made that work. The Story is compelling and always moving forward. The lack of side quests could help make this possible but you will know if and when you play it that isn’t the only reason why it has such an amazing narrative.

Specifics on the Story Which Are Spoiler Free, I Promise

It shouldn’t be new, especially if you enjoyed the last two games, that Nathan Drake is our modern “Indiana Jones” type except with a realistic attitude and personality. The adventure our heroes progress through can be considered such as well with its historical legends, grave digging, and treasure hunting. “Nate” is only human which makes the story that much more agreeable. Naughty Dog has mastered the way of taking something no one has done research on or never seen and coming up with their own background with backup which is created or not.

Sounds Amazing. Why a 9 and Not 10?

The satisfaction the last two games brought you may not be there this time around. The game seemed rushed and too short, and the final boss seems to be the easiest part of the game. Otherwise, it’s a wonderful experience.

Could be played by:
New players to the series with a few things to be considered:
-All story with no sidequests
-Glitches though they are few and far between
-Difficulty randomly spikes
-These are hardly problems

Fans of the series:
-Go get it.

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJuyv_ckh98[/youtube]

Notes:
I didn’t mention the multiplayer because I haven’t played it and I can’t considering my copy is rented from Gamefly.

It is rumored Naughty Dog is working on a third person shooting game for 2013.

The soundtrack is impressive but that isn’t a surprise.

Nolan North is the voice actor for Nathan Drake and interestingly enough, Desmond Miles in the Assassin’s Creed series.

 

SNK : NEO GEO Downloads

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SNK Playmore USA has released three more classic games on the Playstation 3 network including:

ALPHA MISSION 

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Pilot the fighter ship SYD and attack both air & ground based enemy targets, collect power-ups and defeat the bosses in this 1985 precursor to the early NEOGEO era sequel! The fate of Earth rests in your hands!

T.N.K. III

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Play as Colonel Ralf, maneuvering your tank and firing its machine guns and cannon. Destroy the enemy army in this arcade classic originally released in 1985, featuring revolutionary controls for its time!

VANGUARD II

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Destroy hostile enemies and their massive base in this innovative sequel to the arcade hit!

Each game costs 2.99. For more information check out their official website.

New NEOGEO Station games released today

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Playstation 3 fans rejoice, today you can download two new games from the NEOGEO station featuring classic NEO GEO games Shock Troopers and World Heroes:

SHOCK TROOPERS

A run-and-gun shooting game featuring 8 mercenaries who face a huge terrorist organization, enlist for action on NEOGEO Station! You can choose between 2 fighting styles: Control one character in “LONELY WOLF” mode, or pick up a team of 3 soldiers you can switch between at any time in “TEAM BATTLE” mode. Run through the battlefield and choose the best routes and strategy!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKYHBAqANDc[/youtube]

WORLD HEROES

The famous versus fighting NEOGEO title with 8 historic characters who have traveled through time to fight each other is available on NEOGEO Station! Featuring two game modes, Normal and DEATH MATCH, where you’ll find merciless gameplay and stages full of traps! Choose your favorite hero from the 8 characters available and become the greatest warrior of all-time!

These downloads will cost between $6.99 & 8.99.

Check out the NEO GEO Station website here – http://neogeostation.snkplaymoreusa.com/na/

Batman Arkham City: Robin Pack

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It looks as if the boy wonder has made his way into Arkham city, at least for those of you who purchase your pre-order through Best Buy. It is confirmed that Robin will be an exclusive playable character in Batman Arkham City and in addition, you will get access to challenge maps if you pre-order with Best Buy.

Here is what it says on their site.

While supplies last, pre-order the game for an exclusive downloadable Robin character. Robin is a fully playable character in the new and improved challenge mode in Batman: Arkham City. The Tim Drake Robin pack is available exclusively to fans who pre-order the game from Best Buy on Xbox 360, PC and PS3.

Robin comes complete with his own unique gadgets and special moves, and will be playable in all challenge maps in the game, as well as two additional challenge maps that are included with the pack: Black Mask Hideout and Freight Train Escape.

The pack will also contain a bonus Red Robin character skin.

A thousand two one this will be available within a few months on XBL and PSN, but still, to have this first is a bonus. Will you be buying it from Best Buy?

 

RedBox offering Game Rentals Nationwide

redbox

Have you seen the Redbox kiosks when leaving a store? Normally you would find movies in there and they have even begun their attack on Netflix. Now it looks as if they are targeting Gamefly as well. The latest announcement is that they plan to offer video game rentals on over 20,000, kiosks all around the U.S.

The videos games offered will be for current game systems such as X-Box 360 and Playstation 3 and just like the movies. Rentals are $2 a night and they allow you to keep a title for as long as you want and then add up the daily amount until you reach 25 days. If you keep the game longer than that Redbox will charge you $50 to keep the game.

You can check out a list of games available here.

$50 bucks if you keep the game huh, is that not less than what some games cost?

 

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry

Do you feel lucky, well do you, punk? The fans waiting for the Dirty Harry videogame to be released for both the Playstation 3 and X-Box 360 don’t because it actually looked like a really good game. Dirty Harry was developed by The Collective Inc and was to be published by Warner Bros Interactive.

Dirty Harry Game

Clint Eastwood himself was set to reprise his role as Harry Callahan giving authentic voiceover work for the game. As for the story, the game would take place between the first and second Dirty Harry movies and would focus on Harry tracking down a serial killer named Scorpio. The game also hoped to bring more depth to the character with side stories and character development.

As for gameplay, think Grand Thief Auto or a spin-off like The Godfather. Harry would have free roam of San Francisco and would take on missions and fight street crime. While there was no gameplay footage ever shown there was to be an AI for the crooks and cops meaning Harry could walk the line between good cop and psychopath and depending on what he did both sides would treat him differently.

Warner Bros did release a trailer and while it looks like there is gameplay within there is not. What WB did was have the character models sent to an animator to simulate what it would look like. Also, Clint never recorded any voices for the game so what you hear is directly from the original movie.

The game never made the light of day and it is not clear exactly why. We do know there were issues between The Collective and Warner and the ship was sunk. There was word a new Dirty Harry game was to be released, but no word as of yet. However, you can check out the classic Dirty Harry game if you need a fix.

 

 

The Obsolete Gamer Show: Pre-E3 2011

E3-2011

This week we had a full house as we went over some of the things we are looking forward to at this year’s E3. We began first with a few news items that were posted on our Facebook page. One of the news items talked about married men divorcing their wives to play World of Warcraft and the other was about Chinese prisoners being forced to play World of Warcraft, we felt marriage, prison and W.O.W. went together perfectly.

We then talked about the rumor that Nintendo is going to announce the Wii 2 at E3 2011 and that it will include a Blu-ray player and be faster than the Playstation 3. We all could see how good Zelda, Kirby and Metroid would look on the new system. We also talked about Sony apologizing to their fans and perhaps giving us something else to talk about. We also spent a hot minute bashing Call of Duty 3.

All in all a great show and we were happy to have Paul and Mark with us. Next week we will be at E3 2011 in L.A. so look for our full E3 2011 podcast coming soon.

The Obsolete Gamer Show: The Pre-E3 2011 Show

Or have a listen on our official OGS page and let us know what you think.

Or download our podcast from Itunes

The Unsurprising Incompetence of Sony


We all know what’s going on with Sony. For those of you who don’t know, you either don’t game or you live under a rock. The greatest hacking escapade of 2011 has left the company’s loyal consumers hanging on the sideline while they hope to the heavens that their credit card info hasn’t been sold to the highest bidder. If you haven’t cancelled your credit card, asked for a new number, or put out a fraud alert by now it’s best advised you do so now.

What I really wanted to get into with this article isn’t Sony’s time and time again ability to completely fuck up everything they touch. I want to know why anyone would even remain loyal to this colossal abortion of a company?

Because Microsoft is the devil, Umar!

Microsoft can be whatever you want to call it but Xbox Live has provided some of the best online multiplayer entertainment compared to their other console rivals. True, the Xbox live community is immature at best. Again, it is true, most of the games that come out for Xbox are also available on the PC but this isn’t just about comparing PSN to Xbox Live.

I don’t care about the other consoles. Disregard the Wii, Xbox, or the PC in this decision. Why should someone remain devoted to Sony games or devices? If you can’t get past that, you’re missing the point entirely.

What is the point then, you fat asshole?

The point is, as a customer, why should you remain with a company that can’t protect your CC information? Why remain with a company who has been so crippled by the attack they have yet to restart their service? Why remain with a company that markets with an asshat like Kevin Butler? Why remain with a company that barely has anything to show at E3 time and time again and when they do manage to reveal something it becomes an internet meme?

And this is just with their Playstation portion of the company. They recently announced and moved forward with the shutting down of all Sony Online Entertainment games due to this “intrusion”. That means games like Everquest 2, Everquest… and what other games would be affected by this? Didn’t they seize operations on a huge plethora of their games? I know they have DCUO but how many customers can you upset by bringing that game down? Their ten remaining customers? Big deal. If this assault doesn’t put the nail in the coffin for DCUO then its loyal subscribers are used to be being screwed over and over again.

For a company that is already struggling to breathe in the MMO market, this setback is going to draw more players to WoW, LOTRO, and/or Rift. How can they recoup their losses? Offer a free month for the month they’re already going to lose? Give away 700 Station Points?
Thanks for the piece of mind, Sony. I’ll enjoy these small tokens of your appreciation for my loyalty while some criminal abuses the shit out of my credit.

Face it, loyal Sony fanboys. You’re on the Titantic and you can get off the ship and survive or freeze to death in the piercing icy waters of Hell. You aren’t Rose. No one wants to draw you naked. You won’t live through this.

I know a couple of people who are still riding on Sony’s cock. To them I say you’re a complete moron. Enjoy lubing up your ass with olive oil while this company and its attackers continue to fuck you from behind.

Now I want to hear from you, the reader. I want to know why on God’s green and polluted Earth would you want to stay with Sony?

Mega64: Heavy Rain

[youtube id=”dP30WYgYiUI” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Mega64: Heavy Rain

mega64-heavy-rain

These guys make excellent parody videos where they take what you would do in a game and act it out in real life.
Here is their latest video on the game, Heavy Rain.

 

Games coming out in March 2011 for Consoles

Crysis 2 wallpaper

It is March Madness and I am not just talking the NCAA. There are a number of good games coming out this March so I hope you have paid off all of your x-mas debt because it is time to open that wallet or purse.

Dragon Age II – Mar 8th


BioWare is back for the next full chapter in the Dragon Age series. This RPG will feature updated graphics and gameplay and a continuing storyline.

Major League Baseball 2K11 – Mar 8th


I got some feedback for not mentioning sports games so here It is. We know 2K sports does it well and even if you are an EA fan you know 2K will make a good game and it looks as if MLB 2K11 will live up to the legacy.

Homefront – Mar 15th


PS3 fans rejoice because now you have a chance to play this story-driven first-person shooter set in the year 2027.

Top Spin 4 – Mar 15th


I was always a fan of the Top Spin tennis series and it is good to see it back for the next gen consoles. You can select over 25 pros and play in a ton of stadiums around the world and even create your own tennis star. Another hit from 2K Sports.

Crysis 2 – Mar 22nd


Remember the benchmarking game called Crysis? Okay, it was not a benchmarking game, but it did make a ton of people upgrade their computers. For us console owners this first-person shooter returns powered by the CryEngine 3 and looks as incredible as ever.

LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars – March 22nd


You have to give it up to the Lego series, even if you were not a fan of the Indian Jones and Batman Lego games the Star Wars series has always been fun to play. This time we enter the clone wars with overhauled visuals and new gameplay including cooperative action.

Shift 2 Unleashed: Need for Speed – Mar 29th


The unleashed series combines what we love the most about racing, fast cars and crashes. It is this mix of racing and violence that made Burnout fun and looks like it works for the Need for Speed series as well.

 

 

WWE All Stars – Mar 29th


One large complaint from the Smackdown versus Raw series was the fact that you could not play many of the classic stars from the WWE’s past. With WWE All Star the entire game is dedicated to the legends of the wrestling world and you can pit them against todays superstars.

Parasite Eve: The 3rd Birthday – Mar 29th


Yes, this is a PSP game and yes it takes the Parasite Eve series and makes it more like a shooter than an RPG, but there are some redeeming elements including story that makes this game worth the buy if you already own a PSP.

The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings – Mar 29th


The Witcher 2 is a direct sequel to developer CD Projekt’s mature-themed fantasy role-playing game based on the works of author Andrzej Sap.

Back in Debt

There you have it, our list of worthwhile games to check out and perhaps buy. We will be back next month with a brand new list and trailers on games to buy, obsolete gamer style.

 

Games coming out February 2011 for Consoles

Luna Video Game Store
Luna Video Game Store

Ah, it’s February, Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and my birthday. It is also a good month for console gaming. Now keep in mind this list is not very game that is coming out, but the ones we personally think are worth taking a look it and spending you hard or not so hard earned cash on.

Two Worlds II – Feb 8th

This sequel offers not only enhanced graphics, but also a detailed and fun to play combat system that includes customization of attacks, defensive stances, and combat combos that allow you to fight back against the upgraded enemy AI that actually strategizes an attack against you. If you like combat oriented RPG’s this is worth a look.

Test Drive Unlimited 2 – Feb 8th

It is not just about racing it is about living the lifestyle that is the theme in TDU 2. Along with updated graphics, environments and cars you also experience the lifestyle of a Test Drive racer and all the trappings that go along with it. Not only will you have your dream garage, but also your home, clothes and tons of things to do outside of racing including a fully functioning casino. With single player and multiplayer options, this racing title is worth a check out.

Portal 2 – Feb 9th

The cake is still a lie and Value is making sure we do not forget it with Portal 2. This follow-up takes place directly after the events in Portal and we find out that damn computer did not go down for the count. During gameplay you will see the computers attempt to rebuild the facility with all the traps and tricks you were used to. In this version, you will find help from a friendly computer and with the co-op abilities announced it looks as if they have another winner on their hands.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds – Feb 15th

I admit I marked out for this one. I have been a fan of the series since X-Men Children of the Atom and in this new installment expect a lot of the good old with some good new. The stage and background environments have all been updated as well as the attacks, specials and music. There will be a number of new characters to choose from including Dante and Deadpool and old favorites like Wolverine and Spiderman. Point blank, if you liked any of the MvC games you have to get this.

Killzone 3 – Feb 22nd

Squad-based FPS games have been a hit for a while now on PC’s and Killzone has made its mark by creating a great game for the console. In this direct sequel to KZ2 you pick right back up with the team as they take the fight to the Helghast forces. As usual you will be outmanned and out gunned, but that is half the fun right. Guerrilla Games has promised many new features for Killzone 3, support for 3D TVs and Sony’s PlayStation Move controller, split-screen co-op, jetpacks and more.

Trade in Time?

With a number of good titles, maybe it is time to trade in some of those old games, but then again most stores cheat the hell out of you so you might as well keep them. See ya next month.

Konami Announced Silent Hill: Downpour

Silent Hill Downpour logo
Silent Hill Downpour logo

Fans of the survival horror series rejoice the eighth game in the series is set to be released this fall. Silent Hill makes its return to the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 will a brand new story, updated graphics, gameplay, and a soundtrack by acclaimed composed, Daniel Licht. Here is a sample of the music.

Silent Hill Downpour Music Sample

The story follows Murphy Pendleton, a convict on his way to prison when his transport bus crashes just outside the fabled town of Silent Hill. Stranded and alone in the woods just on the outskirts of Silent Hill, Murphy will not only have to find a way out, but fight for survival.

Along with the updated graphics and music, Silent Hill: Downpour reveals a new, expansive environment that is similarly claustrophobic and where the player is never truly alone. In the screenshots below, you can not only see the incredible new graphics, but also get a sneak peek at two new areas in the town, The Diner and the Devil’s Pit.

Obsolete Gamer was able to speak to Konami about the upcoming game.

Obsolete Gamer: Why the decision to go with a convict this time?

Tomm Hulett – At the start of each game we try to consider “what would be an interesting thing to see in Silent Hill.”  Other games have touched upon normal people who have done bad things, or innocent people stumbling on events much bigger than themselves.  But a prisoner is a person you would expect to have a lot of baggage for Silent Hill to exploit.  We felt this was an interesting premise that fans could speculate on as they awaited the game.  I wouldn’t say it was a deliberate attempt to “play a badguy” necessarily, but we did have discussions around whether or not people would/could relate to such a character.

Obsolete Gamer: Can you give us some information on the new gameplay and side quests within Silent Hill?

Tomm Hulett – In previous games, in order to progress the plot you might have to do some elaborate fetch quest puzzle involving artifacts or photographs or what have you.  And the clues involved might tell some side story that had little to do with the actual story (except tying in thematically perhaps).  The side quests could be viewed similarly.

Devin Shatsky – We’ve basically taken that notion that Tomm described above , and expanded it upon it exponentially.  We have this huge city at our disposal, yet in the past, it was comprised primarily of locked doors .  We wanted to give players a bit more incentive to search around, and check those doors without facing a constant barrage of discouraging locks.  This gives the player a greater sense that they are “exploring the town” and then rewarded with these mini-stories.  We’ve been very careful to keep these immersive enough to make the player feel like they’re still a part of the main story, yet separate enough that they aren’t forced into completing all of them in a linear fashion to reach the ending.

Obsolete Gamer: What have you taken from previous Silent Hill games and added to this one?

Devin Shatsky – We’ve borrowed elements from just about every past Silent Hill game in some form or fashion.  During pre-production we did (and still do) a lot of research in the fan forums, review sites, etc. for each game in the series, and we apply what we’ve learned from those past games into certain areas of Downpour as well.  The main goal being to do it in a way that pays respect to the past games and what we’ve learned from them, as well as trying to innovate where appropriate.

DC Universe Online: The Good, The Bad and the Future

DC Universe Online logo
DC Universe Online logo

So much of my time has been spent playing my Superman hating hero, Lineage in DC Universe online, but I had to take a moment to give my opinion on the game. While I had been looking forward to this game since its announcement it was seeing so many of my friends playing it that made me finally decide to buy it instead of waiting a few more weeks. I do not regret my decision, but there are pressing issues and long-term questions about this MMO.

The Good

I remember playing City of Heroes and thinking about how cool it was to make my own hero from scratch. Unfortunately, issues such are repetitive missions, level grinds and lack of custom powers quickly turned my love to loathing. With DCUO, I decided not to read all the developers notes or message boards. I wanted to come into this game like a child who received it on day one and make my decision of whether it was good or not based on firsthand experience not what is “coming soon”.

  • Character Design – Sure, it may not be as in-depth as City of Heroes is, but it is a great start. You cannot only make a completely original hero, but if you wish, you can pretty much copy any hero from DC, Marvel and beyond.
  • Power Layout – You have your two primary powers, but you also can choose from Iconic Powers that give you abilities such as Superman’s heat vision or Batman’s batarangs. This allows you to really customize your character whether you are a min/max’er or a concept creator.
  • Into the Fire – What I mean by this is you do not start of fighting purse-snatchers. From the beginning, you are going up against the big names from Scarecrow to Bizarro and everything in between. This makes you feel like a hero not some jerk in a mask.
  • Heroic TeamUp – From the start of the game you team up with well-known DC superheroes and this continues throughout the game. For those that though they only give you missions from police stations and the watchtower are wrong. Sure, often the heroes do not do much, but still fighting alongside them is very cool and I know there is much more to come.
  • Similar but different – Sure, most missions have you go to a location take out a bunch of bad guys and then rinse and repeat. However, there is enough variety in not only the locations and bad guys, but the story layout and endgame (mission wise not complete game wise) to keep you interested and wanting to play more.
  • Dungeon Tile sets – This was one of my biggest issues with City of Heroes, check out my report on it. When I say Dungeon, I mean an instance where only you or your team can enter. In COH it was always an office or a warehouse and sometimes a science lab, but with DCUO every instance is unique even if it is an abandoned warehouse. It makes the game seem much larger than it is and it keeps it from getting boring which is a very good thing.
  • Easy to Play, Easy to Level – There is some risk, but no more than what you will find in World of Warcraft and believe it or not this works for this type of game. You can get your butt kicked, but if you learn your role and play correctly, you can solo or group and succeed. In addition, you can level at a good pace, which COH should have learned does not mean you will quit once you max out. If there is more to do and added gameplay such as PVP, end game instances and other content you will continue to play or role a new character.
  • Voiceover and Cut scenes – They work in MMO’s and DC has given us fans of the Batman, Superman and Justice League cartoons a great gift with their voiceover work. Sure, some of the random voiceover gets repetitive, but the mission voiceover and voices from names we know makes it win win. The cut scenes just make you feel like you are part of the story and they look awesome to boot.

Now there are more good things I can say, but let us move on to the bad.

The Bad

One must always keep in mind that no MMO is going to start out perfect. There will be issues in any game you play and it will take time for the developers to not only fix the bugs, but also tailor the game in a way more people will deem favorable. Many people are spoiled because of games like World of Warcraft that while it still has its issues has been polished after years of patches and expansions. The key is seeing what will happen once the changes are made and if you like it now it will only get better.

Launch Bugs

Here are some of the most annoying issues at the moment.

  • Losing audio after a cut scene – For some people after finishing a mission arc and getting the cool cut scene they lose audio and only a complete restart of the game fixes this.
  • Vanishing Weapon – Sometimes when entering an instance, upgrading, or changing your main weapon even once you equip it the weapon does not take effect. The good news is all you need to do is un-equip and reequip to fix this.
  • Disappearing Power Layout – This one is weird because I am not sure what causes it. Sometimes your power layout, which is the number 1 through 8 keys where you can use your powers sometimes  disappears from the UI. Now you can still use the powers it is just that you cannot see them. Strangely, it will fix itself on its own randomly.
  • Windowed Mode No Save – You can select Windowed mode, but if you log out and log back in it does not save your preference.
  • Alt Tab Crash – Some people say they crash or lose audio when alt tabbing out to their desktop.

Playability

Here are some complaints about general gameplay. Keep in mind much of this is caused by people being used to what they can do in World of Warcraft.

  • Alt Tab Issue – In some cases, Alt Tabbing out to your desktop can cause issues including loss of sound or even a game crash. In addition to those issues if you select windowed mode you still have to alt tab out to use your desktop unlike World of Warcraft where once you are in windowed mode you can seamlessly switch between desktop and the game.
  • Chat and Social Issues – It will take time to get use to different chat interfaces, but with DCUO having to type in commands for inviting people to group, adding friends or joining a guild would be better if one could use their mouse to click within the UI.

Nit Picking

Some of these are good points and others would make Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons proud.

  • In PVP level 30’s greifing low levels – Welcome to PVP servers in MMO’s
  • Blurring of textures in the distance – The word is this is because the game was made for the PS3 and the PC together so while you can up the settings on your PC there will be limitations.
  • Random Bad guys/Good Guys saying the same thing repeatedly – Even with 50 million spent on the game each mob cannot have its own voice.
  • Sharing credit for a kill or having a kill stolen – You take the good with the bad. If you hit Funhouse three times and got the kill even though he would have stomped you into the ground then you have to accept that someone will steal the civilian you were supposed to save.
  • Mission repetitiveness – Welcome to gaming. Think about the best comic book you have ever read, in the end you still have random fights and a mystery and a boss fight. This is how much of gaming works and in an MMO it is a staple.
  • Gold Selling Spam – Welcome to MMO’s ignore and report feature coming soon.

There are more bugs and issues, but my too long didn’t read alarm is going off.

The Future

I have personally seen a lot of launches and some have stood the test of time and many have fallen hard to the bottom of the MMO well. The key to a MMO is not only the launch, but also how fast they can fix issue before the masses leave for another game.

Keys to DCUO’s survival

  • Bug Fixes – It may seem like a no brainer, but bugs can kill it for some people faster than others. Perhaps a PC or MMO vet will expect launch issues, but many ten year olds wont. SOE has to fix these quick or they may see a mass exodus.
  • Content – Since the level cap is 30 and you can reach that quickly the key is giving people a lot to do once 30 to keep playing just in case they don’t want to re-roll. Content at 30 does not have to mean end game. You can add missions and other thing to do that are not necessarily an end game raid, but it has to be fresh and fun and sooner than later.
  • End Game – There has to be big massive raids and fights that you would just not see during your normal missions. It is not always about loot, but about feeling you are on the forefront of the game fighting the big fight and not continuing on like a foot solider. Many people play these games to be the big shot and the end game is the big game.
  • Level Cap increase – It is going to come either way, but the key is knowing when to allow players to move on to that next level or ten as it were. You cannot just add levels for nothing, there must be a reason and all the added powers, gear and content to go with it.
  • Overall Story Arc – You have to keep the overall story going and going in a manner that makes sense and is fun to the player. Sure, we may love fighting against Bane with Batman, but we want to see Brainiac get his brain bashed or have him achieve a small victory that keeps the war going, either is good.
  • PVP – PVP can make or break a game because PVP can effect PVE and in the case of DCUO, PPV can extend the life of a game for those who rush to max level. While it is true the majority of people will PVE it is best not to ignore the PVP player or you might find some of your most loyal subscribers going elsewhere.
  • Intangibles – This includes everything from discovery quests and world events to special offers and give-a-ways. You can never over promote and if you keep your fans interest inside and outside of the game you will have a winner on your hands.

So much more

There is a ton more to say on the subject of DCUO, but for now I will continue playing and asking questions and hopefully get some answers from the developers. If you are thinking about getting this game, try it out. The game has buddy passes so you can try it before you buy it, but I think you will end up buying it. If you already are playing, stick with it, I have faith good things will continue to unfold and your voices will be heard.

I’ll see you in game.

Angry Birds and Tetris to the PS3 and PSP

Playstation Network
Playstation Network

As a follow-up to our review on Angry Birds the game is set to fly onto the Playstation 3 and Playstation Portable Console this week.  The only question that remains is will the addictive puzzle game be a winner on a major console system.

In other news one of the most famous puzzle games out there, Tetris will be making its debut on the Playstation Network this week.

Sara Wendel-Örtqvist: Paradox Interactive

Paradox Interactive logo
Paradox Interactive logo

Name: Sara Wendel-Örtqvist

Company: Paradox Interactive

Profession: Content Designer (scripting, writing and other)

Favorite Classic Game: Little Big Adventure 2

Quote: I played it when it was released in 1997 and I hadn’t even started to learn English at that time, so my mother helped me understand what the characters said. I remember memorising several lines of dialogue and repeating them to my mother so I could get a translation. It is still the best game I ever played, mostly because of all the great memories I share with my mother.

Bio/Current Event: I studied Games Development – Design at the University of Skövde and graduated in 2009 with a B.A. of Media. I currently live in Uppsala with my boyfriend and commute to Stockholm. It takes about four hours every day so I have plenty of time to listen to music and read good books.

Games to Buy: Console Edition: Nov 21 2010

video games store
video games store

A new name and a new way of doing our weekly report on games coming out the following week. With so many games out there the fact is some will be worth the cash and some will not be. Beyond that some games may be worth picking over the others and so we have come up with a dollar sign rating system. One $ means it can wait until it’s in the bargain bin and five $’s means you should be waiting in line to purchase it.

This week we have a good mix of new games and classic games being released, in fact pretty much every game is either a follow up of the old or a remake of an old game. This is just more proof of how important classic games are. So sit back enjoy the trailers and commentary and get your wallet warmed up.

Gran Turismo 5

With over 1000 cars and 71 courses to choose from Gran Turismo 5 is a racers wet dream. Sure, there has been a ton of delays for this game but with the way it looks now it seems to be worth the wait. Of course you will be able to race basic cars from Honda and Ford, but you will also be able to get behind the big boys like the Lamborghini Murcielago and McLaren F1. A ton of brand new tracks have been added including the Top Gear test track and many more tracks offering night driving and the new dynamic weather system. All in all if you are a racing fan or just a car aficionado and have a PS3 then you have to pick up this game.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$

Donkey Kong Country Returns

I have to bow to the Wii on this one because I loved the original DKC and this version looks incredible. Donkey and Diddy are back and you have never seen two apes go through so much for some bananas. The game is as massive as it is beautiful offering various lands including a jungle, beach, ruins, caves and a forest. As with the classic Donkey Kong Country the environment matters from knowing where and when to jump to the assortment of enemies on the screen and in the background.

This game brings back all the love and frustration of the original. Honestly, if you are not a pro platformer or haven’t played DKC before you might have a hard time because this game is tough. The mine cart level alone can drive you as crazy as Ninja Gaiden did me. In addition, even the boss fights will not be simple and it takes timing and recognizing the right pattern to win. However, it is totally worth it and with the visuals, the music and the awesome controls Donkey Kong Country is a must have for fans of the series and platform game lovers.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$

Splatterhouse

If you love beating the holy hell out of demons and monsters then this game is for you. The folks over at Namco Bandai have taken a bit longer than expected to release this game and they have gone through some troubles, but all in all the new Splatter house looks to be a fun game.

The game pretty much is a reboot and you play as Rick who was murdered when his girlfriend Jennifer was kidnapped by the evil Dr. West. As you lay dying a demon mask bonded with your body brining you back and now the two of you need each other. Rick needs the masks power to make his way through the horde to his girl and the mask needs rick to feed it the blood of pretty much anything.

The visuals look really good and the game is more than just blood and guts, though that is most of what it is. There is also a puzzle component to the game and you have to take time moving through some levels. However, what makes the game is the gore and you can pull of spectacular murder moves on your enemies and use the environment to take them out as well.

All in all if you liked the original and have a flair for eviscerating people then this game is worth a pick-up.

Buy Worthiness: $$

Honorable mentions

We have a bonus this week, two classic games that are sure to give you some enjoyment.

Crazy Taxi

The incredibly fun taxi driving game from the Dreamcast is back. Choose your driver and transport your passenger across town in the craziest manner possible. This game is loads of fun and it’s good to see this Dreamcast game coming to the 360.

Worms: Battle Islands

War on an epicly small scale, take control of your worms and battle against your friends using tons of different warfare tactics. Believe me, don’t let the cute voices and visuals fool you. In Worms you have to have some strategy or you will be…err worm food.

Low Balance

So that’s this week’s top buys. We will be back next Tuesday with another rundown on what games to buy.

GAMES COMING OUT FOR CONSOLES: NOV 2nd 2010

vote McCain Obama Super Mario Bros
vote McCain Obama Super Mario Bros

Hey, its election time and you have the awesome choice between spineless yes men and tea baggers, why not skip all that and play some video games instead. Okay, fine. MTV told me to rock the vote so how about you game the vote. While you are out picking up these games stop over at your local voting station and get your democracy on.

God of War: The Ghost of Sparta

I have a love hate relationship with the PlayStation portable. I like the games and all, but why all the remakes and such like Final Fantasy and Parasite Eve being PSP only? Oh, well in GOW Sparta we follow the events of our hero between the story from GOW 1 and GOW2. This story takes place during Kratos visit to Atlantis and if it wasn’t sunk before we now know how it got that way. The game is the second to find its way onto the PSP and has all the brutality it did before and stunning visuals to boot. One thing we know for sure, he really dislikes King Midas.

Golden Eye 007 – Wii

Hey, pop quiz, how do you get people to keep playing the Wii, answer, you remake games that were awesome on previous consoles. Yes, my Wii hate runs read, but my love for Golden Eye never dies. It was one the best console shooters of all time and even ranks up high for all-time best FPS shooters. Now those of you with the Wii gathering dust have a reason to celebrate as a remake of this classic is coming to you Nov 2nd.

Now the game is new meaning new graphics and even a new bond as you play as Daniel Craig, but all the classic gameplay that made it great is still there. You can still decide how you want to finish missions going in Rambo style or playing it like Bond really would being stealthy and cool. Multiplayer is back with a four person split screen tons of modes and support for the Wii and classic remote, nunchuk and even the zapper. Will I be buying a Wii to play this, no. Will I get my friend to buy it and camp his house, yes.

What about the Kinect Games?

Yeah, about that, as I said this list is for games I would buy and this week these two are the only ones I would consider. However there is also the new Sonic Free Riders and Dragon Ball Raging Blast 2 that look good. However, I need to be a little more hash and this week you only get two from me. Next, week we will be back for our countdown to black Friday report so stay tuned and until then keep the spending to a minimum.

GAMES COMING OUT FOR CONSOLES: OCT 26TH 2010

Video Game store
Video Game store

There are way too many good games coming out this month. Next week the pain continues so head over to Goggle and search for “Dollar Grocery Store”, cancel the Direct TV subscription and open a window because this is gaming season and we’re just getting started.

Fable III

The revolution will not be televised, but you can be part of it in Fable 3. This time the hero’s goal is to overthrow the evil King Logan who rules with an iron fist. How bad is this guy? Well he taxes people to hell, makes kids work in factories and kills people who don’t agree with him (sounds like the Bush administration am I right folks?) I kid, I kid.

You may be offspring of a great family, but that doesn’t mean you can effect change on your own. You need followers and you do this by completing missions and getting people to join you. Now you can go good or evil and your weapon changes depending on which path you choose. In the end will you be a kind and giving king or will your rule make Logan’s look like a day at Candyland?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

What happens when a cloned Jedi with incredible force abilities lets loose? You get one hell of a game. Star Wars, the force unleashed 2 takes place right where part one left off. Starkiller betrayed Vader and tried to off the emperor but was killed. Vader created another clone of Starkiller and locked him away.

Starkiller is plagued by visions of his former self to which Vader explains it is just a side effect of the cloning process. However, Starkiller doesn’t accept that and breaks out and from there the real adventure and revenge begins.

WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011

It’s all about the gameplay when it comes to wrestling games and every game will be compared to the N64 title which is heralded by fans as the best of the best. This year SvR returns with a brand new physics engine that boasts to be the most realistic ever. This means the chair shots will look more real. The tables will break properly and they are unlimited and the ladders collapse as they should.

It is also about presentation and with the updated character models and grapple moves your focus will remain on the fun not a glitch in the game. Add to that the largest roster on a SvR game and we might just have a contender.

Overdraft Incoming

Now don’t go complaining that I didn’t mention Rock Band 3 or Sim’s 3. Yes, these are fun games, but how much more can be said. We know they have their market and will do will. Also, we don’t want you to go too far into debt there are more games coming out with week of Nov 2nd.

Classic X-Men Arcade coming to XBL and PSN

Xmen Arcade 1
Xmen Arcade 1

Long before I became a crack head for X-Men versus street fighter I fell in love with the X-Men arcade game. I use to spend tons of money (for a kid) on this game because it was just that fun. The large arcade cabinet with multiple screens and six player action was the best and many games followed that lead after its success.

Sure some gameplay elements were strange like the fact you could only do your special attacks a few times. Most of the time you were punching and kicking and taking advantage of a downed opponent, but with the ease of the standard cannon-fodder enemies it wasn’t a big deal. When you went up against bosses (like the Brotherhood of Evil mutants) that was the time to let loose and use your special powers. The boss fights were fun with the little dialog they would say before and after the fight.

When playing with six people the action go crazy. There would be a ton of bad guys on the screen and the bosses were even tougher. In the end you went up against the master of magnetism in an epic final battle.

Now you can relive all that action on your Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. Konami and Marvel will be launching X-men arcade on the Playstation Network and X-box live this fall. The game will support 1-4 players locally and 1-6 players online and best of all just like the arcade people can jump in the game at any time.

All the original characters are there, Cyclops, Colossus, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Storm and Wolverine and the original graphics and sound has been preserved. However, there are new Hi-Def heads up displays, menus and leaderboards. You can create online matches, change the difficultly, choose how many people you want to play and who will be the host.

We should have more pricing information and release dates soon, but since this is the feed if you get the scoop first post it here and let us know.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1: A Mediocre Adventure Begins!

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 title
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 title

It has been sixteen dark years since the last true Sonic game made its debut. Sega ventured on towards 3D adventures with their signature Blue Flash and since then the fandom that followed Sonic slowly converted to Mario or lost interest in the platform genre as a whole. The masses cried out, their faces stained in the salt of dry tears for Sega to remember the past, remember their roots! After witnessing the success of Megaman 9 and 10, Sega’s minds opened up to hope and the prayers of their fans finally fell upon eager ears. Sonic the Hedgehog 4, the continuation of the main 2D adventure line was to be restored! Thousands upon thousands of loyalist creamed their pants at the mere thought of Sonic returning to his true form. Surely, Sega would remember what made Sonic great.

Unfortunately, they didn’t. The return of Sonic is anything but a sequel to Sonic and Knuckles. The developers of Sonic 4 didn’t seem to know what made Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Knuckles stand on their own as epic platforming adventures. All that they remembered was the formula of level design and loops. The game plays like a mix mashed combination of both Sonic 1 and 2.

The first thing I noticed about this game that bothered instantly once I noticed it, was Sonic’s amazing brakes. I remember in the old games that Sonic used to come to a skidding stop. In this iteration of our hero, he just stops. If you want Sonic to stop where you want, he will. Sometimes midair I could just stop moving forward during an initial jump and slide down an invisible wall when all I wanted to do was reduce my jumping speed. The biggest most daunting issue I had with this was when I’d complete a zone with 50 gold rings and attempted to jump into the bonus stage golden ring at the sign post. Most of the time, I’d run right past it and think “Crap!” and try to run back in time as Sonic zooms off screen. As I made the jump toward the ring, autopilot would kick in and Sonic would just collapse like a ragdoll to the ground in front of it and walk away off screen again.

Orbinaut – Sonic the Hedgehog
Orbinaut – Sonic the Hedgehog

Our hero also seems to enjoy walking like a robot because his running animation from start to finish is one of the least inspiring displays of speed picking up I’ve ever witnessed in a game before. His legs stiff up like Al Gore as he slowly walks forward. I seemed to be in top speed during this ridiculous take off as Sonic trudged off with an ungraceful motion due to his lack of kneecaps. Suddenly, his legs would turn into red blurs as he ran at what was supposed to depict top speeds. Regrettably, the robotic movement lacking any fluid shift was already top speed so this animation lacked any real dramatic achievement.

An inclusion to the core game play is a homing missile aerial dash which was introduced in Sonic Adventures. While this attack was a welcome addition to the 3D adventure, its transition to 2D is rather obnoxious. The difficulty of calculated attacks and hitting small openings on enemies vanishes with this ability and takes away from the nostalgia of Sonic. Many menacing old school villains which took clean precision and timing to kill, such as Orbinaut, become trivial obstacles in Sonic’s path with the addition of the aerial assault.

Super Sonic by MRi
Super Sonic by MRi

The tracks in the zone Sonic robotically glides through are lacking any real enemies. Sure a villain shows up every now and then but they are easily bypassed with the homing attack. Most of the perils in the levels are spikes and pitfalls but the track you go by makes these traps seem more like scenery than anything else as most ramps toss you over spikes. Pitfalls can be easily avoided since the levels are set up in multiple tiers and you can go cascading through the air and end up landing on a lower section of the zone. When you do die though from pitfalls, it is a surprise as there are no real warning signs of its upcoming occurrence. 90% of the time you land on something when you fall. 10% of the time there just isn’t anything and the plummet is so stretched you don’t even realize it’s a pitfall until you hear the reminiscent Sonic fatality sound.

Super Sonic makes a return once you manage to collect all the Chaos Emerald in their tilt-a-whirl secret zones. I did mention earlier how the game is mostly comprised of traps, remember? Super Sonic doesn’t seem to really run faster than his blue form and there aren’t many enemies in the way to pummel through. What you end up having is useless invincibility that slowly eats away at your life force. I didn’t find any use for Super Sonic in this game at all since most deaths were instant kills anyway.

Another thing that peeved me about the game was the music. Sonic is known for its memorable songs. I can still remember a few and hum them every now and then when I sit on the toilet seat while reading a book. The musical director for this installment must have been Keyboard Cat as all of the songs use and abuse repetitive keys with a trumpet blaring every so often. I can’t recall a single song in my head right now despite how hard I may try.

The art style in the game lacks any inspiration at all. In fact, most of the zones are just rehashed models of zones from Sonic 1. The backgrounds in the game are bland and look like something found in a free game application on the Android Market. I was reminded of games with a smaller budget and less gameplay like Totemo as I ventured further through the game’s uninspiring scenery. Some of the cogs you were supposed to interact with in Dr.Robotnik’s Lair (Yeah, I said it. Eggman sounds stupid.) seemed to be part of the background because of their dull color and slow almost shuddering movement. There were times I’d be standing around a level wondering what I am supposed to be doing only to realize that the background was actually part of the foreground.

Robotnik – Sonic the Hedgehog
Robotnik – Sonic the Hedgehog

Speaking of the good doctor, he seems to have lost that knack for creativity we had come to know his boss battles for. In each of the four zones, you fight a familiar nostalgic battle with Robotnik. As your heart flutters from your excitement of revisiting these famous bouts, half way through the battle Robotnik changes gears and gets a bit more hardcore. Each of the initial four encounters are pretty easy and Robotnik does his usual fleeing as you free your bunny friends. When you finally reach Robotnik’s space station, Sega decided to pull a Mega Man and have you fight Robotnik again in each of his four forms you battled him in throughout the campaign. The only difference in these battles from the previous skirmishes is that the doctor kicks up his rage a notch. None of his geared up antics were too difficult and are unbelievably forgettable. I just beat the game two hours ago and I can barely remember any of his new antics. To top off the insult of mutilating old battles, they decided to change one of the greatest fights with Robotnik at the end of the game. Robotnik jumps into the colossal robotic version of himself with a jetpack from Sonic 2. The major difference between that battle and this one is that you have a homing jump and there are a ton of openings to hit the suit this time. To say the least possible without ruining the tactics involved in this battle, I didn’t have to think or struggle too hard to end the game.

The game doesn’t stand on its own in the series. Fans who may run for this installment of Sonic’s latest and greatest adventure for scraps of nostalgia will be sorely disappointed and only the most hardcore of Hedgehog fans (Laraque) could find any real entertainment in this game. I, on the other hand, wish I played Comic Jumper instead. It is only the first episode of the Sonic 4 series, and more episodes may add more features but the lackluster experience of Episode 1 has left me with the taste of duran fruit in my mouth, something I never want to taste again regardless of presentation.

Games coming out Oct 10th for Consoles

Video Games funny poster
Video Games funny poster

I hope you either have rich parents, a good job or the unemployment check can be diverted from being used for Ramen noodles to video games because the week of October 10th has some great cash draining games.

Medal of Honor

War is hell; war in Medal of Honor is beautiful. When you have the perfect mix of exciting gameplay and incredible graphics then you have a winner. MOH has come back in 2010 with engaging missions, intense firefights and state of the art sound and graphics that puts you right in the game. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true. Check out the video from the helicopter mission.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode

There is not much more I can say that wasn’t covered in our preview of the game, but while this is a download title, for Sonic fans it’s a slice of heaven. True enough this is not breaking new stuff and some even feel it is nothing more than a Sonic Rush rehash, but the gameplay is fun, the visuals are a prefect mix of classic and modern and the music… well the music needs work, but hey its only fifteen bucks.

Lucha Libre AAA Heroes of the Ring

We got to look at this game while at E3 and if you are a wrestling fan in the very least then this title is worth taking a look at. Lucha Libre is Mexican style wrestling and that means high-flying stunts and crazy insane costumes. Pretty much it’s like playing a highlight reel of the WWE or TNA, on crack. The gameplay is solid and the graphics are stunning so if you need a break from the normal step into the ring with the Lucha Libre’s

So there you are three titles worth checking out next week and since one is a download it shouldn’t break your bank too much. I’ll be back next with a look at the games coming out for consoles the week of Oct 17th. Until then go make some extra cash.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

For fans of the classic Sonic games Christmas has come early. This month you will be able to purchase Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 on the iTunes App Store, Wii Shop Channel, Playstation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in just about a week.

Story

The story takes place right after Sonic and Knuckles. With Mecha Sonic destroyed and Eggman defeated Sonic returns the Master Emerald to Angel Island, but as you can guess the ol Doc isn’t going to take his defeat lightly.

Characters

SONIC:

Sonic is back and retains all his signature moves from the previous series including super speed, spin dash and homing attack. After defeating Dr. Eggman Sonic flies off into the sunset with Tales. Soon after he decides to take off on his own to discover a new territory and so begins the next adventure.

Dr. EGGMAN

Sometimes when you lose you think back on what you did wrong. After his defeat Dr. Eggman decides to go back and revisit and refine the best of what he created in the past. What this means for fans is some of the best areas and badniks from the previous titles with some new improvements.

Zones

Like many of the classic Sonic games Sonic 4 will bring you something old and something new. Some zones will have that familiar feel, but with updated graphics, music and badguys.

Splash Hill Zone

This zone will mirror many of the starting zones from classic Sonic including The Green hill zone. This costal paradise has green trees, rolling hills and bright blue waters, a perfect place for Dr. Egghead to start his mischief.

You can expect a lot of what you saw in Angel Hill with lots of rolling hills, spikes and springs to rocket you across the landscape. You can also swing from vines to get to higher ground and the waterfalls look pretty cool and you can swim up them to get to your destination.

Lost Labyrinth

Some fans call them zone clichés and I guess I have to agree to a point, but there is a reason for the pattern and in this case the old mixed with the new makes a great combination. In Lost Labyrinth the theme is ancient ruins in the vein of Aquatic Ruin from Sonic 2 and Marble Garden from Sonic 3. However, while this zone has the underwater ruin feel of its predecessors it adds a lot more including a Indian Jones style mining cart riding experience and you even get chased by a bolder and yes the water bubbles are still there.

This zone really takes the ruins aspect to the max; it almost has a Tomb Raider feel to it. There are classic areas to the zone including running through a maze, traversing underwater and needing to take in air bubbles. In addition you can ride a mine cart roller-coaster style and try and keep your balance on a metal bolder. If that isn’t enough there are water slides and a part where you have limited light.

Casino Street

It’s all bright lights and big city, the Casino inspired zone is taken directly from Sonic two and expanded upon with more bells and whistles than a Vegas slot machine. Speaking of which the Sonic slots are back where you can win or lose coins. Also returning is the pin ball themed areas that bounce you around the zone.

I loved the Casino Zone from “2” the slot machines were my favorite and I’m glad to see it back in “4”. I loved what they did with the playing cards being able to ride them and play mini-games with them. The pinball areas are well done and look to be a lot of fun and the over-all theme is presented nicely.

Mad Gear

It is the world Dr. Eggman wants to see, industrial with gears and pistons and I am sure a ton of pollution. This zone is in the same vein of Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant or Sonic 3’s Metropolis Zone. The colors here are not as bright and vibrant and that’s the point.

Every Sonic games has a zone like this which represents what kind of world Eggman wants, the steel and iron replaces the glass and trees of earlier levels. Also often the levels are harder to speed through as you end up spending more time jumping and avoiding traps and pitfalls.

Music

The music still has the melody of some of the earlier games, but a lot more is added to it compared to the tracks of Sonic 2 & 3. In each of the tracks you can hear the slightest hint of the original zone it was created based on and in some cases it is very clear.

[mp3player width=300 height=150 config=fmp_jw_osg_config-xml.xml playlist=sonic-the-hedgehog-4.xml]

Personally I like the simpler themes of the older games. I understand what Sega is doing adding more to their stage themes, but sometimes simple is good especially for those of us who love to remix.

Interview


From E2 2010

Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about Sonic 4:

  • This is only Episode 1 meaning there will be future episodes
  • There will be alternate endings if you collect all the emeralds and the ending will connect and continue with episode 2
  • There will be 4 total zones with three acts per zone plus boss battles and bonus world
  • There will be achievements which will unlock special endings
  • New skills and characters along with zones will be released in future episodes

Some fans are already claiming Sega is milking it with the episodes, but from the looks of it you will get your money’s worth per episode. This is a complete game and while short will give you the bang for the buck, that is if you are a Sonic fan.

Release Info

Now that you have an idea of what to expect here is the low down on when and where you can find it and for how much:

  • Nintendo Wii – Via Shop Channel – Oct 11th for 1500 Wii points
  • Playstation 3 – Via PlayStation Network – Oct 12th for $14.99
  • Xbox 360 – Via XBL Marketplace – Oct 13th for 1200 Microsoft Points
  • Iphone/Ipad – Via iTunes App Store – Oct 7th for $9.99

[poll id=”6″]

Overall

There was a lot of hate over some of the later Sonic games, fans wanted more of the original, but the question remains if this version will satisfy the purists who want their Sonic 2 & 3 days back with those who don’t want to shell out $15 bucks for what some call “New levels for an old game.”

I, like many old school gamers, care about the gameplay over the flashing lights, we rather play a good game that stays true to its roots than a re-envisioningthat ruins the franchise. The idea of updating slightly, but not changing too much is not new, just look at StarCraft 2 for an example. Personally as a fan of classic Sonic this game is a winner for me. Is it groundbreaking and new, no, but we tried that with Sonic and for me it did not live up to the name.

I look forward to this game and once I get my hands on it will bring you a more in depth review.

 

New Console Releases: October 3rd Report

Video Games on shelf
Video Games on shelf

October is a great time, you have Oktoberfest, Halloween and… well that’s about it, but you also have new releases for your favorite consoles. Unfortunately, November is normally a big month for games and because of this October seems to get the shaft, let’s see what we can dig up that might be worth you hard earned (or not) cash.

Just a disclaimer, these are not all the games that are coming out nor are they top picks based on their score from other sites. This is Obsolete Gamers or more correctly, J.A.’s picks for games coming out this month.

October 3rd

It seems as if I misspoke because this week of the month has a pretty hard hitting release line-up. I hope you have some extra cash on hand.

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West

It’s all about team work and in this case that truthisum is taken to the extreme. This action adventure games pits two main characters against, well against everything. You have to fight, run and transverse the landscape to make your way to freedom and if one of you dies its game over.

NBA 2K11

Ah, the war of the NBA games is back and just like the HEAT, 2K has stacked the deck by bringing in Michael Jordan to be on their team. Now the question is will the mix of MJ and the playstyle of 2K win out over Elite.

NBA Elite 11

EA Sports it’s in the name change. NBA Elite takes a different approach by redesigning key features of its game in hopes of bringing a different experience to basketball game fans. There is no doubt the game will be well done, but in the war of the court who will come out on top? Oh did I mention you get NBA Jam with this game and only if you purchase this game?

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow

If the world was coming to an end Alucard is the guy I would want bashing heads with me in those final days. However, I will take a Belmont as well and in this 3D version of the classic Castlevania series we step into a new world that brings a cool and new dynamic to the game. Don’t worry all the classic whipping and Dracula bashing is still there and the environments are beautiful and well done. If you loved any of the Castlevania series this is a must have.

Def Jam Rapstar

It was only a matter of time before we got a Rap version of the karaoke-style games. With the release of DJ hero I knew it would be forthcoming and if there is one company to release a “band” game its Def Jam. Rapstar lets you rap long with a long list of Def Jam superstars including Redman, Method Man and Salt n Pepper. I got to see this game at E3 2010 and it looks like a load of fun partially with two people rapping together. I can’t wait for the YouTube videos.

So we are changing things up and will be bringing you a week by week breakdown of new releases so look out for next week’s review of games being released for consoles. The week of October 10th looks good as well; I hope you get your homework done.

POD: MegaMan Universe

Megaman Universe logo
Megaman Universe logo

Today’s picture of the day comes from Capcom’s upcoming release for Xbox live and PlayStation Network, MegaMan universe.

Mega Man games are beloved by fans all over the world. Since their debut in 1987, Mega Man has remained a videogame icon, having starred in more than 140 titles over the last 22 years. The connection he’s made with pop culture at large has extended beyond games and into cartoons, toys, clothing, comics, kid’s meals, and more. Part of that popularity is driven by the series’ ability to evolve over time yet consistently retain the addictive gameplay experience that sets Mega Man games apart.

 

 

 

As a bonus check out the first gameplay video showcasing three of the playable characters in MegaMan universe and an introduction from creator Keiji Inafune.

 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Fantasy I Want No Part Of

FFXIV online logo
FFXIV online logo

E3 2009 took us by surprise when Square-Enix opened up with the trailer for Final Fantasy XIV. It wasn’t expected to be announced and was rather hush-hush until the presentation. What really blew people away, in my opinion, was its suggested release date. When an MMO is normally announced to be in production you expect 2-3 years from that date or more for the game to be complete and released. Releasing such a big brand name in such a short time made me insinuate that this project must have been in works for quite some time in silence. As with most utterings of a Final Fantasy game being released, high expectations are hoped to be met by their fan base. Can Square-Enix bring out a AAA title in such a short time frame? The company certainly has not released anything close to AAA quality in quite some time and this MMORPG must have occupied many of the company’s resources for its production.

Final Fantasy XI was a highly acclaimed MMORPG in Japan and did moderately successful worldwide. With the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft, a company like Square-Enix seemed like the most powerful competitor to steal some WoW’s players. The time to capitalize on the market of people waiting for the next big MMO was netted in by this announcement. With Star Wars: The Old Republic not ready to debut until Spring 2011, Final Fantasy XIV had a chance to pull in a strong player base of MMO nomads.

As the release date began to draw near, open beta was announced and it was time to check out what Square-Enix was hiding behind the curtain. After getting my beta invite email I decided to follow the instructions. I was taken to a link that I had assumed would have a registration key and login section to get this fixation underway. Instead, the link took me to a portal with the “requirements” to play the beta. There were no links to sign into my Square-Enix account and the page was outright inadequate. Their “System Requirements” section on the page just directs you to another page with the information on the minimum system requirements. This portal page was completely and utterly useless and vague at best.

I finally decided to just go to the Final Fantasy XIV official page to login and see if I can find a registration code. Finding any reference to this code in my account page was impossible and adding Final Fantasy XIV to my service only asked me for a code anyway. When I finally did find the code page, they had closed registration codes for the time being and will release more at a later date. After spamming the refresh button a million times I eventually did get this code for my wife and myself to play.

Finding the download section for the game was another hassle as it wouldn’t open up the torrent file at all. I eventually had to find it off another site to begin the patch. My download time for this nearly 8GB file was 5 weeks. My wife’s download time was an hour and thirty minutes. After some surfing on the internet I saw a ton of people were having a problem with the game patching in a reasonable time frame. I guess we got lucky my wife’s download was speedy. When her download finished I just transferred a copy of the completed files to my computer so we could get started.
Now, onto the meat of this review. The game itself.

Performance: My machine is fairly new so I’m not even going to rate the performance based on that. My wife’s unit is older and has an Intel quad-core clocked at 2.40GHZ, 4GB of DDR2 memory, and an ATI 5870. The game ran beautifully. There was little to no chopping even in the populated cities with the settings set to max. Particle effects offered zero lag and the game probably ran the smoothest out of any next-gen MMORPG we’ve played in the past 3 years. For an open beta, this was highly impressive. Any midrange computer can handle this game at full settings with just a bit of tweaking if a hitch ever came up.

Controls: Developers of this game came out straight and said this game was designed to have the UI revolve around the use of a controller. Just like in Final Fantasy XI, this unrelated sequel of sorts incorporates the use of a controller even for the PC. It is not keyboard and mouse friendly at all. For God’s sake, you can’t even hotkey anything. For some of the most simple tasks you have to take a journey through a plethora of menus for miniscule options. It is ridiculous, cumbersome, and ill planned. Yes, the game is releasing for the PS3 and these controls must be comfortable for them but guess what? They aren’t releasing the PS3 version until sometime next year. What is the purpose of releasing the PC version with this horrid UI and control scheme if the focus of its movement isn’t even releasing until the following year? It makes little to no sense. It seems to me they are releasing this version of the game just to make the deadline “promise” they made at E3 2009.

LOL Wut Pirate Final Fantasy XIV
LOL Wut Pirate Final Fantasy XIV

Sound: Classic Final Fantasy sounds make their appearance in this game. It is clear and sounds great. The music really puts you in that role-playing mood if you’re into that sort of thing. It shoves you into this world and makes it come to life. As always, Nobuo Uematsu knows how to compose some grand and fantastical musical choices. Unfortunately, all this goes to hell the moment the voice-overs pop in. The studio that handled the voice acting must have hired the student’s from Ms.Spifz’s High School English Class. The actors sounded as though they were involuntarily picked to read aloud to the class the next section of The Great Gatsby. The voices are uninspired, bland, and lacking any emotion. The music sets you up for this grand adventure and then the actors from Twilight decide to make an appearance as voice actors and ruin the entire mood. I felt blue balled.

Gameplay: I know this is what you all have been waiting to hear, so here it is. The game immediately tosses you into this adventure to go kill whatever furry monstrosity is waiting for you in the newbie area, the inauguration for every great RPG adventure. If it isn’t stomping on giant rats, its killing boars or bunnies. After going through a thousand clicks to accept the quest, I opened my map to see where I should begin my journey. The newbie zone was right on the edge of town. Guess where they started me? At the OTHER side of this 5 mile city! Not only was it difficult to find my way around but I couldn’t leap down staircases to make shortcuts. And with that we bring up my biggest peeve in anything ever!
I hate games that don’t let me jump.

I don’t care how good it is.

I hate not jumping.

Walls that were two feet high were preventing me from crossing the fastest way possible. I had to trek all the way across the wall just to get around. I can shoot fireballs from my hands and cleave through the sturdy flesh of an Orc but I can’t hop over a small bump in the ground. I hate being bored in groups and not being able to prance around the dungeon as we continue onward. I hate not being able to cancel my spells with a small little hop. The lack of a jumping feature takes away from the gaming experience for me. I can’t even vault over the damn thing like in Gears of War.

Go To Hell Taru Final Fantasy XIV
Go To Hell Taru Final Fantasy XIV

Finally reaching the newbie area was probably the most frustrating part of the game. The mob I needed to kill sparsely speckled the newbie zone and the amount of new players looking to kill this mob were outnumbering its spawn rate. The hotbar techniques only correspond to the number on your NUMPAD. I couldn’t find any other way to map it elsewhere for more convenience. After spending maybe an hour searching for three of these mobs without any luck I decided to uppercut a Dodo bird which kept running by me constantly. Instead of considering its level, I shoved my lancer’s spear into his face and I was quickly dismembered in only a few seconds. As I laid dead on the ground I began to wonder when my release timer would come up so I could respawn. After a minute of waiting I began to realize why I saw so many dead players that hadn’t released their corpse earlier in my adventure. There is no release button. You have to excavate through your menu and find a “Return” button to get released to a spawn point. Nicely done, Square-Enix. Your vague manner really helped me there.

After calming down and letting my heart rate return to a safe set of beating, I decided to return to town and try out the crafting professions. I always liked fishing in an MMO so I decided to take up Fishing as my career choice. I needed some money to buy some of the equipment needed to pursue my profession so I sold some vendor trash and went ahead on my new path. After equipping my pole and bait I went ahead to begin the process of being a bad ass fisherman. After spending 4 minutes wondering how to even begin fishing since the keyboard controls were complete garbage, I got on my way. The whole fishing endeavor was much more complicated than I thought. I had to choose my depth, the quality of the water I was fishing from, and the casting point. When the message that something had bit my line appeared, I had to begin a struggle with the fish to drag it out of the water. You have to constantly “Jig” with the fish back and worth as it tries to take the line till the fish is too tired to struggle and you capture him. It’s basically the combat mechanics of a Pokemon battle. I found fishing way more enjoyable than the actual game’s combat since I spent most of the time running around with my spear trying to find rats to poke. I could easily see someone making their crafting profession their main source of entertainment in the game as it is rather enthralling.

The fatigue system was something I didn’t really experience as I gave up just way too soon on this game from sheer lack of enjoyment. From what I’ve been told by friends and from other sources, you can’t barrel through the game. Powergamers will not find any euphoria in this game as the fatigue system penalizes you for using one class for too long. After 8 hours of gameplay, your character will hit a block in progression that will offer them no experience points. They will have to change classes and try something else for another eight hours. Each week the debuff is cleansed and you are allowed to continue on with the class that was previously penalized. What does this sound like to me? It sounds like this game is probably two-thirds complete and they are putting roadblocks so they can successfully complete their endgame. By the time the PS3 version of the game releases, I prophesize that this system will be scrapped since the game will be officially completed.

Final Verdict: This game falls short in so many places. It is beautiful and quite breathtaking. It isn’t as user friendly as one would hope. Newer gamers to the Final Fantasy Online universe can easily get lost in the complexity of its interface and mechanics. It does require a bit more patience than most MMOs and getting the hang of it right out of the box isn’t something that will come easily. A small fraction of brain power is needed to solve the puzzles of the menu and to get used to some of the mechanics for the crafting professions. If you’re looking for something to dive into right away, this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for a powergaming experience, this game isn’t for you. If you enjoy excelling in one area, this isn’t the game for you. If you’re looking for beautiful graphics and dream inspired settings with an enjoyable RPG experience filled with the wonder and adventure of killing large rats and Dodo birds, this is the game you’re looking for! Overall, the game failed to grasp my attention for longer than five hours.

For something that was expected to take the MMORPG genre a step forward, this title took two steps backs and one step forward. What was expected to be a monsoon of intrigue and JRPG adventure ended up becoming nothing more than a minor swell lost in a sea of upcoming MMOs.

Why am I still paying for Xbox Live?

Pool Balls XBL – PSN
Pool Balls XBL – PSN

So, as everyone knows by now, Xbox Live got that wonderful price hike of $10. It’s not too big of a deal I guess, although nobody likes a price hike. It is just $10, but it’s brought up two interesting points for me. People keep saying that Playstation Plus isn’t worth it, and Xbox Live is. This interests me because I am attracted to things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever. For this segment, I will refer to the whole of PSN (as opposed to specific PS+ things) and the whole of XBL. Now with that in mind, the two points I have are, essentially, 1) Why do people think Xbox Live is better than PSN? and 2) Why in God’s name am I still paying for Xbox Live?

I’m not saying Xbox Live isn’t bad, it’s great, if you only have an Xbox. If you have both, ultimately it should come down to where your friends are (most of mine are on PSN, just as a disclaimer) but even for the actual services, what you get is mostly different. So lets look at the new breakdown:

Playstation Plus Logo
Okay, I will admit this peggle-looking ad is a bit much…

PSN(+):

  • $50 a Year or $20 for 3 months
  • Timed 60 min game trials, (option to purchase after)
  • Qore
  • Free PS1 games every 2 weeks (as long as you have it)
  • Free PS Minis every 2 weeks (as long as you have it)
  • Discounts on DLC, Downloadable games, essentially everything but full games
  • Access to Betas that they keep out of the hands of the free customers
  • (Free already) Online multiplayer
  • (Free already) Video Chat

I didn’t make any of that up, it’s everything i’ve gotten so far being a PSN+ member. Maybe because popular opinion is so far in Xbox Live Gold’s direction that they feel that they have to practically spoil PSN+ customers in order to get them to pay (and given the opinion of most so far, it’s probably true) but that is a lot of stuff for $50 a year. With Xbox Live Gold, I get:

Xbox Live
Xbox Live

XBL Gold

  • $60 a year, $10 a month or $25 for 3 months
  • Online Multiplayer
  • Facebook & Twitter
  • Parties/Cross game Chat
  • Last FM
  • ESPN
  • Video Kinect
  • Demos that they keep out of the hands of the free customers

I didn’t bother putting anything about video or Netflix, because they both can do them, and besides anything the Wii can do technologically isn’t up for discussion here. Thats all I can find for both PSN+ and XBL. This list speaks for itself. Essentially it’s more money for less features. If we take the “it’s where my friends are” out of the equation (because it’s circumstantial) the better service is the one with the better features, and honestly, that’s Playstation Plus. There just aren’t many (if there are any at all) discounts of games on XBL, and there’s absolutely nothing free ever unless there’s a large cutoff of Xbox Live, and even then you get a free game like “Diner Dash” that nobody plays anyway.

Be honest, how many times do you use this?

I don’t see this as a rant against XBL so much as I see it a rant against the people who say that Playstation Plus is “not worth it.” Be honest, didn’t you just use Facebook & Twitter that one time just to see if it worked, then never use it again? Of course you did, because you use Facebook and Twitter on your computer and phone, because that’s where it’s easiest to use. And even Facebook on Xbox Live doesn’t work as well as Facebook on PSN. On XBL, you can edit your status and see your friends status updates and all that fun stuff you can already do on your computer, only now with the added frustration of using analog sticks or a keyboard the size of a pack of gum to type it. The Playstation 3 has a web browser if that’s what you’re really into. (Or you could, you know, just use a f**ing computer) So when we see things like the Playstation 3 posting your trophy accomplishments and things you’ve purchased to Facebook in order for your friends to comment on them, that’s what I want to see out Facebook. Give me a reason to use Facebook on my PS3 specifically, not just a game console port of it.

Speaking of that sentiment, there is XBL’s ESPN service, which is exactly what I was just talking about. Now there’s a reason to watch ESPN specifically on your Xbox. Ratings, Video on Demand, all those wonderful things will probably make it a blast to use on XBL, and that’s the point.  It’s better than the service we have now, so it compels users to use the console version rather than the everywhere else on the damn planet version.

Now the last part of this is simple: it’s why I wont be using Xbox Live Gold anymore, because it’s a waste of money for me personally, for several reasons:

First off, my Xbox 360 is not currently connected to the internet. It can be, I just have to run my 100ft ethernet cable from my room all the way to the living room where my computer’s internet connection is, literally on the other side of my house. it barely makes it. Seeing as that’s absolutely ridiculous, I really don’t want to do that every time I turn on my Xbox. It’s obvious that my 20 gig system doesn’t have wifi, otherwise this wouldn’t be a problem. But it is. It’s a huge problem. Honestly, it matters most because I need a bigger hard drive, and since Microsoft only uses proprietary hard drives that are practically Netbook expensive, I figure I might as well combine the two and just get a whole new system. Maybe with that ugly grey controller with the better D-Pad. Another $300 to replace a working system I already have? Sure Microsoft, got that right here for you.

I didn’t want to talk about it in the actual fact based part because it’s so circumstantial, but now that i’m talking about myself I can say I really have no friends on Xbox Live. All but one of my friends are on PSN, and frankly, he’s not worth it. If he was reading this right now, I’d tell him that unless he wants to split the cost of XBL with me, i’m not paying $50 a year to be able to play Modern Warfare 2 with him. Left 4 Dead 2 was the game I played most on online multiplayer, and that came in a whopping 5 times. Why am I still paying for this?

I do of course, buy XBLA-exclusive games, because every so often someone releases a puzzle game that will scare the ever loving hell out of everyone that lives here, and probably some of my neighbors and me in a past life. But I can do that on Silver, which isn’t $60, it’s free. I’ve heard that certain demos or games come out a week later on Silver, but okay I can wait a week for that much money.

Here’s a huge difference. With PSN+, I get a lot of “free” stuff. Yes I know it’s not free, i’m paying $50 a year for it, but as we’ve seen with XBL, they don’t have to give it to me. But they do. And I’ve had a lot of fun with it. Mortal Kombat II was half off, some of the Minis are fantastic (Age of Zombies mostly) and the other discounts make it so that for that $50, I’m getting actual games. It’s allowed me to play things I’d never even consider looking at before, just because my subscription brings them to the forefront.

XBL is $60, and PSN+ is $50. In my opinion, PSN+ does a lot more to warrant my money than XBL does. But tell me, when looking at all the things both services offer, regardless of which console your friends are on, which service would you go for?

Games Coming Out August 2010 For Consoles

PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii
PS3 vs Xbox 360 vs Wii

It use to be August was the last change to get out and do what you really wanted to do for the summer before school started up again. Today, many of us stay inside because the sun burns. (It really really burns) Good thing the console market knows this and releases a ton of great games for the last summer push.

Castlevania: Harmony of Despair – Aug 1

It’s like multi-player dungeon crawling. True in this version of the famous Castlevania series you do see the entire map, you know where the traps and enemies are and you know where the boss is, but the fun it making your way to it. HOD received mixed reviews original and now in its XBL form it’s still receive mixed reviews, but even with the gameplay changes it still has the heart of Castlevania and is still a fun play.

Earthworm Jim HD – Aug 1

If you don’t know who Earthworm Jim is turn in your classic gaming card. This remake of the 1994 side-scrolling classic as been updated graphically and in its gameplay including a four player co-op mode. It still has all the cow loving, earthworm eating fun of the original with a fresh coat that will bring a smile to any XBL arcade fans face.

 

 

Madden NFL 2011 – Aug 8

Full disclosure I never liked the idea that EA had a monopoly on the NFL gaming franchise, but with that said it looks as if the simpler, quicker, deeper plan behind Madden 11 might bring in the few fans that aren’t playing it. Some may think it a step back, but let’s face it people don’t want to need a degree to play a game and in our instant gratification world the fast we get to the good parts the better. The improved online play and animation is also a nice touch and really shows that EA wanted to make important changes and improvements to their game. As I said I prefer competition as well, but Madden NFL 2011 looks pretty good and even I might give it a go.

Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days – Aug 15

Guns, bullets, a girl and a dog it seems. Dog Days is the sequel to the original and features improved gameplay over the original as the boys are on a mission to save a loved one. I agree with what Kane said; “She better be worth it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Mafia II – Aug 24th

As one person put it; “It’s GTA4 with class.” Mafia II immerses you in the world of the 1950’s criminal underworld with an open world map meaning you can go pretty much anywhere you want at any time. However, by sticking to the storyline you move your way up the ladder as you complete missions from drop offs to raids on rival gangs.

Metroid: Other M – Aug 29th

One of the best games of all time is back and fans of the Wii couldn’t be happier. Samus is back and she brought some cool additions with her like the morph ball and her visor which can scan the new lush environments found in this latest game. Everything fans of the series love is still there from careful puzzle solving to menacing boss battles. Simply put, if you have a Wii you have to get this game.

False Start

ps3 slim
The race to the next generation of consoles may have already started, but how certain are the predictions? First it was David Reeves of Capcom with his suggestion of two to three years. Now Murray Pannel, head of marketing for Ubisoft has predicted a similar time scale.

To a large extent this would make sense. Previous hardware generations have been about five years, and there has often been an advantage for the machine to launch first. However, once the design of a new machine has been started, technology can overtake what has been put together.

There is a very large counter-argument that the next generation is further away, and that is the strategy of both Sony and Microsoft to produce new add-ons for their current consoles. The “slim” SKU’s for both were a stop-gap, a way of improving the quality of the base machine, although for Sony fans the removal of backwards compatibility is a sharp pain that can only be eased by the rumoured “HD Classics” range. But Kinect and Move are both aimed at expanding the potential audience and creating a new wave of software that will last for years.

Sony confidently predicted a ten-year lifespan for the PS2, and that has come to pass. They are now suggesting a similar tenure for the PS3, and it could be to their advantage. This year has been a strong one for Sony with exclusives and good sales on the back of the PS3 Slim, and another good Christmas with interest in Move could push it further. Meanwhile, Kinect is going after the Wii’s audience to a large extent. Microsoft still has the edge in online gaming for many with Live, but the gap has narrowed. Moving on from the 360 may not suit Microsoft either, now that is making good profit and building its user base.

So where does Nintendo fit into this? The 3DS is clearly one important part of its strategy, but rumours of an HD Wii or Wii 2 refuse to go away. Could the big N once again pull a surprise out of its sleeve, continuing its “disruptive” policy? And will the familiar franchises keep the hardcore gamers satisfied alongside the new and expanded audience?

There is another joker in the form of the cloud gaming systems, OnLive and Gaikai. While OnLive has now launched in the USA to a mixed response, the news that games from Electronic Arts will be available on Gaikai is a major coup. These devices will, however almost certainly be fixed technology with frequent updates of the firmware, relying on a fast broadband connection to provide both the data and much of the processing power. It remains to be seen how they cope under the huge stresses of multiplayer gaming.

Whatever, the outcome will be good for gamers. Competition promotes development and innovation, whether it’s the mobile games on the touchscreen of an iPhone or the complexities of a PC strategy game. Next year, or maybe the year after, the real race will start.

Obscure Gamer – False Start

Playstation 3
The race to the next generation of consoles may have already started, but how certain are the predictions? First it was David Reeves of Capcom with his suggestion of two to three years. Now Murray Pannel, head of marketing for Ubisoft has predicted a similar time scale.

To a large extent this would make sense. Previous hardware generations have been about five years, and there has often been an advantage for the machine to launch first. However, once the design of a new machine has been started, technology can overtake what has been put together.

There is a very large counter-argument that the next generation is further away, and that is the strategy of both Sony and Microsoft to produce new add-ons for their current consoles. The “slim” SKU’s for both were a stop-gap, a way of improving the quality of the base machine, although for Sony fans the removal of backwards compatibility is a sharp pain that can only be eased by the rumoured “HD Classics” range. But Kinect and Move are both aimed at expanding the potential audience and creating a new wave of software that will last for years.

Sony confidently predicted a ten-year lifespan for the PS2, and that has come to pass. They are now suggesting a similar tenure for the PS3, and it could be to their advantage. This year has been a strong one for Sony with exclusives and good sales on the back of the PS3 Slim, and another good Christmas with interest in Move could push it further. Meanwhile, Kinect is going after the Wii’s audience to a large extent. Microsoft still has the edge in online gaming for many with Live, but the gap has narrowed. Moving on from the 360 may not suit Microsoft either, now that is making good profit and building its user base.

So where does Nintendo fit into this? The 3DS is clearly one important part of its strategy, but rumours of an HD Wii or Wii 2 refuse to go away. Could the big N once again pull a surprise out of its sleeve, continuing its “disruptive” policy? And will the familiar franchises keep the hardcore gamers satisfied alongside the new and expanded audience?

There is another joker in the form of the cloud gaming systems, OnLive and Gaikai. While OnLive has now launched in the USA to a mixed response, the news that games from Electronic Arts will be available on Gaikai is a major coup. These devices will, however almost certainly be fixed technology with frequent updates of the firmware, relying on a fast broadband connection to provide both the data and much of the processing power. It remains to be seen how they cope under the huge stresses of multiplayer gaming.

Whatever, the outcome will be good for gamers. Competition promotes development and innovation, whether it’s the mobile games on the touchscreen of an iPhone or the complexities of a PC strategy game. Next year, or maybe the year after, the real race will start.

GAMES COMING OUT JULY 2010 FOR CONSOLES

Ah July, the time for weddings, bbq, fireworks and general outdoor fun or you can skip all that and just play some video games because a number of good ones are being released for consoles for the upcoming month.

Crackdown 2 – July 6th

Crackdown 2 Xbox box
Crackdown 2 Xbox box

There’s nothing better that powers and a badge except being able to mow down zombies all night long. In Crackdown 2 one of the coolest new features is the “Night mode” where the zombies or “freaks” come out and bring a whole new challenge to our super cop.

Need for Speed World – July 20th

Need For Speed World box
Need For Speed World box

If you haven’t already check out Obsolete Gamers interview with Jean-Charles Gaudechon from EA Blackbox on Need for Speed World. In NFSW you will be able to race online with your friends and build your collection of cars all for free up until level 10. Combining online play with a social structure that connects you to sites like Facebook and Twitter all in the world of Need for Speed is defiantly a winning combination.

Arc Rise Fantasia – July 20th

Arc Rise Fantasia Wii box cover
Arc Rise Fantasia Wii box cover

For fans of Japaneese-style role-playing games Arc Rise Fantasia coming to the Wii might just make your summer. Arc was released about a year ago in Japan and is now coming to the U.S. The game looks pretty good on the Wii and offers two CG cut-scenes and tons of voice acted dialog. The turn-based fighting is also well done with vibrant colors and animation.

Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games

Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games Wii box cover
Chuck E. Cheese’s Party Games Wii box cover

Look honey, you can have all the fun of Chuck E. Cheese in your own home on the Wii! Now all you have to do is order some pizza and you can relive your thirteenth birthday. What do you mean you want to go live with your father?

Alright so console wise July is a little weak. Perhaps it is because they want you to get outside and do some exercises or something. Maybe Honorabili will have something better to offer with his review on PC games coming out in July, if not there’s always the new seasons of Futurama and Entourage.

CDW Playstation 3 Final Fight: Double Impact

Final Fight Double Impact box art
Final Fight Double Impact box art

The Playstation network checks in with its contribution to the classic download watch with its release of Final Fight: Double Impact. Now you can’t call yourself a classic gamer if you don’t remember the Capcom fighting classic, Final Fight, but in case you need a refresher you can check out my Classic Gaming Profile on it.

Final Fight Double Impact screenshot
Final Fight Double Impact screenshot

Now as with most rereleases there have been some upgrades done to this classic including:

Online MultiplayerRelive these classics all over again with your friends. “GGPO” network technology creates a frame-accurate arcade experience across the internet, and with online voice chat and the ability to join games in progress, it’s just like playing in the arcade. Thanks to a toggle-able open invite system, other fighters can jump right in and donate their fist or sword to the cause.

Remixed MusicSoundtrack adapted by the highly acclaimed composers responsible for Bionic Commando: Rearmed. Or if originals are your thing, hit the switch and take a blast down audio past.

High Quality Visual EnhancementFinal Fight and Magic Sword have never looked so good! By utilizing our proprietary graphic algorithm, both games now shine in crisp and clear HD glory. For the purist pixel junkies, toggle it back to play through in its classic original format.

Vault & Achievements/TrophiesA plethora of unlockables! Earn original game art, full motion video (including a long forgotten epic Final Fight cartoon), manga chapters from Udon, and fan-art for completing in-game feats! Play through in different ways to unlock everything.

LeaderboardsBring your A-game, as Final Fight and Magic Sword tracks your scores to compete and compare for bragging rights.


Now it’s called Double Impact because you also get Magic Sword, check out its own Classic Gaming Profile. Overall for the price of $9.99 the combo pack is perfect for any classic gamer looking to play some of their favorite classic games with a fresh updated look.

Power Pyramid Supreme

Power Pyramid Supreme
Power Pyramid Supreme

Originally written J.A. Laraque for Evergeek

While controller recharging solutions abound, Konnet is one of the few vendors to cater to tech heads and core gamers that happen to own two new-generation consoles, namely a PlayStation3 (PS3) and an Xbox 360 both, each with a couple of controllers.

The Power Pyramid, as the name suggests, is a charging station shaped like a miniature Egyptian tourist attraction… well, a post-modern, nouveau-technologieartistic interpretation of a step-pyramid with a pair of prongs sticking out of two opposing sides, anyway.

It’s available as either a four controller cradle for PS3 or Xbox 360, or as a two-each cradle for both controller types in one unit, dubbed the Power Pyramid Supreme (reviewed here).

Powered through an AC adapter that snakes discreetly out of the base of the unit, the Power Pyramid will charge each controller from empty to full in a couple of hours, all at the same time, if need be. With Konnet’s “Intelligent Protection System,” moreover, it will stop trying to charge fully charged devices, so no worries of “Vampire” power drains or overloads, with the Pyramid simply storing the controllers openly like so much tech-deco art.

An array of LED lights, meanwhile, glow red when charging, blue when done, completing the Egyptian sci-fi motif.

In an odd take on “console wars,” but really for symmetry’s sake, presumably, the docking cradles hold a PS3 controller on top of the Xbox 360 slot on both sides. Seeing as the Xbox 360’s controllers are bigger than the PS3’s, the thing would look lopsided if four controller were mounted head to head.

Being a pyramid-shaped Pyramid, the device’s natural sturdiness is augmented by four slim rubber feet so it doesn’t slide around if shoved or knocked accidently. The out-jetting prongs that hold the controllers are similarly reliable, holding them firmly if jostled but not ferociously, if you just want to yank one out to play with.

Konnet sells the Power Pyramid Supreme for $50 online, but some dealers are selling it for less – about $40 if you shop around. Either way, it’s a pretty good deal considering you get a double duty charger taking up the space and power consumption needs of one.

There have been reports on some units where the PS3 docking ports stopped working, though Konnet’s customer service asserts that the fault was with a specific batch of units and will replace any defective Pyramids as needed.

Otherwise, the Power Pyramid Supreme is a solid, stable and efficient charging solution that will also cradle and display your double whammy gamer gear with a little bit of style.

PS3 HDMI Cable Review

HDMI cable
HDMI cable

Have you ever heard the saying “there is no such thing as a better cable”? Well here is the skinny, HDMI cables are rated by their bitrate per second or bandwidth capacity so the higher the Gbps or Gigabits per second the more data can pass through at a faster rate.

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and your HDMI cable transfers high-quality audio and video signals from your media device (in this case a Playstation 3 game console) to your HD television set.

With a HDMI cable offering 340 Mhz (megahertz) at 10.2 Gbps such as the 6 FT. PS3 HDMI Cable we tested you will notice increased visual and audio clarity from your PS3 to you HDTV. The PS3 HDMI cable Supports 480p, 720p 1080i, 1080p, 1440p including 1080p Blu-Ray which will bring you the best movie watching experience on your console.

The Triple Shielded cable also supports Lossless DTS 8 Channel Audio. DTS stands for Digital Theater Systems and like Dolby Digital gives you 5.1 channels of digital audio. DTS uses less compression and as a result some feel it provides a more accurate sound.

Lossless surround soundtracks can be found on many Blu-ray Discs. What makes Lossless better is it provides an audio experience that is identical to the original studio recording. Other surround formats have to be compressed so it can be stored on smaller media such as a DVD Disc, but lossless surround are not compressed in that manner and therefore offer a more detailed audio experience.

The 28 Gauge cable itself is very sturdy and features gold plated connectors. The strength of the cable really comes into play when bending and flexing the cable during installation and moving your unit from one place to another. When I connected it to my PS3, I played a few different games and Blu-ray movies and the difference in clarity is noticeable especially on 1080p HD television sets.

Now let’s talk warranty and price. Many outlets offers an unconditional lifetime warranty on every cable they sell which means if the cable ever fails you can return it for a replacement cable of equal specification. However, the warranty does not cover cable damage due to accident, misuse, abuse or negligence and you will need to contact them to try and troubleshoot the issue before sending back the cable.

The 6 Foot cable we tested MSRP’s for $34.99, but here is the thing, you should never pay over $20 for a cable 3 to 6 feet. A number of sites must know this rule as well because their 6 Ft. cable is currently only $10.99 with free shipping in the continental United States and if you order before 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time your item will ship the same day. Not bad, not bad at all.

Bottom line is at the price and with the specification and durability of these cables it is definitely worth checking these out. Several sites offer PS3 HDMI cables in 1,3,5,10,25,33 and 50 feet. Don’t believe that there is no such thing as a better cable, quality matters and the right cable can give you a better gaming and movie-watching experience.

Game releases in March for Consoles

final fantasy xiii box artwork
final fantasy xiii box artwork

So Honorabili brought you some of the top PC games coming out in March, now it’s my turn and I pulled consoles duty so let’s do this.

Final Fantasy XIII – March 9th

Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition – March 9th

Mega Man 10 (XBL PS Network) – March 11th

God of War III – March 16th

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening – March 16th

Supreme Commander 2 – March 16th

Red Steel 2 – March 23rd

MotoGP 09/10 – March 23rd

Prison Break: The Conspiracy – March 30th

Final Fantasy XIII – I’m not a fanboi, honestly I did not like the way 12 played and the MMO had a lot in it I did not like, having said that the folks over at Square Enix have come back with a pretty awesome looking game with a battle system that looks really fun to play. We know it will have the great graphics and music, but the story and gameplay elements are what looks to be a excellent as well. Is it perfect, no, but I think XIII will be a winner for not only square but fans of the series.

Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition – Yes, this game came out already but this gold edition will bring you not only the full game, but all the downloadable content as well as new playable episodes. If you haven’t played this game now is the time to get it. The single player is well done from story to action even though I personally felt the aiming speed was a bit slow. However, the mercenary’s game is excellent and is almost worth the price alone. Overall this is a five star game and with the added content it is a must play title.

Mega Man 10 – Keep in mind this is a XBL/PSN game and is the old classic style gameplay. Then again it is mega man and if you don’t like mega man or have beaten at least part 1, 2, or 3 you are not a real gamer and should be (threatening words towards our fans removed)

God of War III – Ever since Kratos unleashed his bloody beat-downs on the PS2 fans have been hooked and when the PS3 was announced the calls for a new God of War game came pouring in. If you played GOW 1 or 2 you have to get this game and if you never played the series before then come on in the blood is warm. They did the game right, they kept the things people loved from the series and added cool new features like using enemies as a battering ram and switching weapons on the fly. The graphics are incredible, the gameplay is bloody as ever and if you have a PS3 and you don’t pick this title up, you suck, there I said it.

Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening – This is an expansion to the popular monster slaying game and like God of War the BioWare gang decided to give the fans more of what they wanted and none of what they didn’t. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and instead kept to what they did best by bring you a good story and characters you care about. What you do get is a ton of new items, an expanded level cap and new members to join your party. In Awakening you can import your old DA character or start as a totally new one. A solid game and what looks to me to be a solid expansion.

Supreme Commander 2 – Supreme Commander is RTS and if you played Total Annihilation you will see the evolution of full-scale, full-size high tech war. In SC2 the strategy comes even more into play as you tackle the three different game modes, assassination where your goal is to kill the opponent’s Supreme Commander, supremacy which tasks you to wipe your enemy off the face of the planet and infinite war which lets you fight it out until you are sleepy and turn off the console. In face infinite war is good because it lets you try out various skills and tech trees without a time constraint. The game will feature 21 multiplayer maps and you can play with up to four people on the 360 along with XBL support for ladders and stat tracking. If you like futuristic RTS games then Supreme Commander 2 should be on your buy list.

Red Steel 2 – We have talked about how some games kept to what they did best, in Red Steel 2 the Ubisoft team decided to totally remake the game and not just because it is a Wii title. No longer are you in a modern day world, in RS2 you find yourself in a wild-west type world mixed in with ninja’s and computer hackers, if this sounds crazy well it is. This game is pretty much a hack and slasher with some pretty nice combos thrown in. Using the Wii remote you can swing to your heart’s content slaying anyone stupid enough to step in your way.

MotoGP 09/10 – Maybe motorbike racing isn’t for everyone, but Moto GP is a long running series of great racing games and with Monumental Games taking over they have the task of giving fans the greatness of the classic games with an updated feel. Some of the changes we will see in 09/10 are a time attack arcade mode and 20-player online matches. One of the biggest changes is incorporating the full 2009 and 2010 seasons into the game. There will be tons of customization from your bike to your gear and of course downloadable content for new bikes and features. Honestly if you like racing games in general then this is a game to check out.

Prison Break: The Conspiracy – Look I’ll be honest I put this game in the list because I liked the show (well the first two seasons anyway), but really this game doesn’t look to bad. It runs parallel to the first season of the show where you play Tom Paxton an agent of “The Company” and your job is to follow Michael Schofield into Fox River prison and find out what he is up to. The game mixes stealth and good old prison fighting and best of all it is voiced by all the original actors except the sexy Dr. Sara Tancredi (awe), but hey we get to hear T-bags awesome accent. The game price is worth that alone am I right?

So there you have it, now keep in mind there are more games coming out than what I listed and I am not saying that the ones not on the list aren’t good, but these are the ones that I believe will be fun to play and worth at least a rental. (yes, even Prison Break)