Home Upcoming Reviews About
Ethos and Riddles talk about video games...
            Can you handle it?
by Ethos

Handheld Gaming Part 3: The Future of Sony and the NGP (Riddles)

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Alright, so we’re a day late, but a dollar short? I think not. Because if all indications are correct, I’m about to pound out a fairly monstrous article to close out this extended Handheld Gaming Week.

My first two articles, if you haven’t read them, were very casual in nature – rather than attempt in-depth dissections of the past and present states of the portable gaming industry, I decided to merely recall my personal experiences with each. Now, though, I plan to take the groundwork I’ve laid with those two blurbs and leverage into a fairly even look at the upcoming next-generation handhelds from the two big players, Nintendo and Sony.

So, in other words, today I’m here to talk about Sony’s Next-Generation Portable. Buckle in, gents and ladies.

The PSP2 – Ah, the Next-Generation Portable

So I gave Sony first in line today. FAVORITISM?! I don’t know. Not really, at least when it comes to handhelds. I owned a PSP-2000 for a time. I was rather fond of the device, but truth be told, I barely played the thing. We went over this in my previous article, but the only PSP game I ever finished was Crisis Core, which was the game I bought the system for. But my own experiences aside, the PSP may have occasionally struggled in the realm of software support, and it occasionally lost its way – as evidenced by ventures such as the PSPGo – but one thing must be said: it was the first handheld to edge out a share of a market long-dominated by Nintendo and its many GameBoys. And that, alone, is a great feat.

Six years later, its successor is revealed to the world in the form of “NGP,” which you all should know, acronyms Next-Generation Portable – Sony’s working name for the device. It’s big, it’s beautiful, and it looks like it could breathe new life into Sony’s handheld brand – if they do things right.

Uncharted, on the Tiny Screen?

Let’s start by discussing something we can all relate to: Uncharted. There’s an Uncharted game (now simply called “Uncharted” as a working title) oming to the NGP. You can watch a demo for it right here:

Looks beautiful, doesn’t it? Of course we can’t get the full effect by looking at a video of the screen, but even still, it’s easy to conclude that this thing can produce graphics nearly on-par with PS3 quality.

On first glance, the touch-screen controls don’t look terribly appealing. Sliding my grubby finger across the screen where all the action is taking place seems bothersome. It also seems messy; those screens had better be resilient. But, I suppose we’ve had to put up with the same shit on Nintendo DS for some time. And also, I’ll admit it looked less offensive in some areas than others – being able to tap the ledge you want Drake to grab while climbing actually seems fairly intuitive.

Oh yeah, and there’s gyroscope controls as well. Actually, it’s the same sixaxis technology that’s in every PS3 controller, but never utilized. If you recall, the original Uncharted – which was released fairly early in the PS3’s life – utilized sixaxis controls for mechanics like bomb-tossing and tightrope balancing. Both were pretty awful, and sixaxis support was promptly canned for Uncharted 2. But hey, as unappealing as I’m making it sound, remember: gyro controls just might work better on a portable system, where the screen is right in between your hands. The vine-swinging segment made it look super-clunky, but I have to admit, it looked pretty slick for the sniper sequence.

Rear trackpads? Well, if nothing else, they’re an interesting alternative to a second screen. I’m really not sure how I feel about rubbing my fingers back and forth just to shimmy up a vine, though. Of all the NGPs features, it’s actually what intrigues me the least – but, I’ve only seen them on display in the above demo, so perhaps my mind will be changed in time.

And it’s not – no, it’s not – 3D enabled. Can you believe it? Yeah, it seems a little fishy to me as well. Sony’s pushing 3D hard for both the PS3 and their line of Bravia TVs – I mean, shit, did you catch any of their presentation at CES this year? I’d applaud them for not pushing the gimmick for NGP just yet, but mark my words: there will be a 3D-enabled NGP within a year after its initial release.

Tangent aside, I think at this point we can agree: The NGP looks slick. It’s clearly an amazing piece of technology, packing a punch never seen before in a handheld device. It has a revamped menu system, forgoing the Xcross Media Bar for a new, touch-based layout. It has a screen that’s four times the resolution of the original PSP. It has front and back cameras, it has dual-analog sticks (AT LAST) it even has 3G connectivity. Yeah, that’s right. It’s an impressive device. But that’s not enough to tell the whole story.

So Yeah, What’s Sony’s Plan for This Thing?

Good question. Here’s a key difference between Nintendo and Sony when it comes to this next-gen handheld race: Nintendo has success they can sit upon, the PSP needs to change its game up if S to stay relevant. And, it seems like Sony is trying to do just that – a certain Eurogamer article reveals what Sony’s overarching strategy for NGP might be.

In the article, they quote an anonymous source who reportedly attended a presentation for the NGP that Sony hosted at their headquarters in London. According to their source, “NGP is a developer’s dream – Sony is finally doing the things developers have been crying out for for years.”

Generous words, to be sure. Reportedly, the NGPs dev kits are far easier to utilize than the PS3s. “A PS3 dev station can take three hours to set-up. This looks like it will take under 20 mins,” quoth the nameless Eurogamer source.  ”It just makes everything easier – they’ve really thought about it this time.”

Interesting. Glad to see Sony got that monkey off of its back. But here’s the big one: according to the source, the kits are optimized to allow for cross-platform development between NGP and PS3.

“Any shaders for PS3 stuff will just work,” said Eurogamer’s source. “We won’t have to rewrite. What would have taken two-to-three months before looks like it could take just one-to-two weeks now. The architecture is obviously different, but it’s the same development environment.”

Cross-platform development, eh? What sort of fruits could that yield? Well, according to the source, Sony envisions “some kind of interactivity between the two versions with NGP-only extras.”

Hm. Doesn’t that sound familiar?

Well,  it does to me. Do you remember the days of GBA-to-GameCube connectivity? You bought an overpriced cable from Nintendo, plugged your GBA into your ‘Cube, and either used it as a controller, unlocked goodies, or activated some type of meta-game feature. (Like the Tingle thing in Wind Waker! Where’d he’d like give hints and drop bombs and stuff.) If you remember, games like The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures required GBAs as controllers, and would utilize both screens during gameplay. Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles did the same thing. It was a neat concept, but it wasn’t right for its time – to properly play such games, you needed at least two players in the same room with GameBoys and cables. And to get the most out of them, you needed four. A steep price of admission.

But in this day-and-age of internet connectivity, that sort of console-to-handheld compatibility could potentially take off, and make a sound argument for the necessity of an NGP. Imagine playing Dead Space 3 with the NGP as your controller – Isaac’s menu screen, text logs, and video logs could all occupy the screen of the NGP, potentially making for an extremely refined and intuitive heads-up display. Imagine picking up an audio log in BioShock Infinite, then listening to it through headphones plugged into your NGP. Imagine selecting and assigning plasmids by simply tapping  your NGPs screen. There’s a lot of possibilities there, and I hope Sony sees that.

But there’s so much more that could be done with PS3-to-NGP connectivity – imagine PSN games such as the recent HD Prince of Persia titles, playable either on your NGP or PS3. This could easily hold true for all PSN games – have DeathSpank both at home, and on the go. With synchronized trophies, since the NGP is confirmed to have trophy support. And cloud saving as well, to easily carry saves across both platforms.

PS3 games could ship with NGP-only extras on the discs, accessible by connecting the two systems. For example, you could access a special NGP game mode, or some demos, or a perhaps a portion of the game’s online feature suite, or hell – maybe the whole damn game, just so you can have it on-the-go as well.

“But hold on,” you say. “This sounds like it could cheapen the NGP software brand name.” Well, yes. But that’s assuming Sony even plans to focus on an NGP software brand name, and I don’t think they’re going to. NGP games will be sold in stores, but the physical medium will be flash cartridges. That’s right, no more UMDs. In essence, Sony is doing something rather devious with the NGP: they’re continuing their push towards an all-digital format, but they’re selling it as a physical medium. According to the Eurogamer source, all developers at Sony’s london event were told that “All games at launch available on flash would also be on PSN.”

See, Ethos? You should have just waited for this!

Also, for the sake of pure speculation, let’s cross our fingers and hope that when the NGP is released, Sony will finally give fans what they’ve been clamoring for, and start releasing PS2 classics over PSN. 3DS will have a virtual console store for GBA games, and Sony needs to follow suit. All I know is that Final Fantasy X on a portable sounds pretty damn sweet. And so does Xenosaga. And Dragon Quest VIII. And lots of other I could surely come up with.

The Grand, Sweeping Point

Much of this is yet to be seen, I know, but with the assumed focus on PS3-to-NGP compatibility, it seems that Sony is aiming the handheld squarely at their own userbase of PS3 owners. Which, if you think about it, isn’t a bad strategy. It’s kinda taking a page from Nintendo’s book in a way, and as we’ve already established it could work. If Sony sees this to its potential, and offers real rewards and useful features to PS3 owners who adopt an NGP, they could see great success. However, they do have….

Some Potential Obstacles to Overcome

Yeah, that. There are some things we don’t know about the NGP yet; some questions that need answering.

1. The Price Point – Yeah, this is honestly the biggest one. The 3DS costs $250. The NGP needs to stay around the $300 range, but I’m going to guess it’ll end up being around $350. For Sony’s sake, it better not cost any more.

2. Backwards Compatibility – it’s a bigger deal on handhelds, because while it’s practical enough to have two consoles plugged in, it makes no sense to carry around two portables. It’s safe enough to assume that any games released over PSN will be transferable, but what about all those god-damned UMD exclusives? Apparently Sony told Gigazine (via Adriansaang) that they’re working with third-party developers to bring more UMD games to the PSN store. They went on to say that they also plan to re-release PSP games on the NGP’s card-based format. However, there has been no further elaboration on the subject.

3. 3G Connectivity: Paid or Included? – it really needs to be included. Or, at the very least, make it part of a PSN+ subscription. Like a $10 addendum to the current PSN+ fee. My point is, don’t charge gamers an extra $30 per month for 3G connectivity. That would suck.

4. Cloud Saving – It’s gotta have cloud saving. If Sony really wants to market this thing as the PS3 owner’s companion, then Ethan’s gotta be able to carry his DeathSpank save from PS3 to NGP seamlessly. Sony hasn’t denied the prospect of cloud saving, but they haven’t confirmed it either. I’m 95% certain it will be included. If its not, it will have a decidedly negative effect on my desire to purchase the system.

Conclusion

I think the NGP could be a fantastic handheld. If they make it a valuable and useful device to a PS3 owner, offered at a reasonable price, then I’ll buy one. Truth be told, I’ll probably wait for the inevitable second iteration – which I predict will feature 3D. I just hope they don’t split the physical and downloadable games apart; I hope to be able to play all PSN games on the NGP, and I hope it has cloud saves. I hope all games released on flashcards see release over PSN. If they don’t establish a brand consistency between the two machines, Sony’s presence in the handheld market risks becoming irrelevant. They have an opportunity here to extend the reach of the PlayStation brand in some fantastic ways. Let’s see if they can capitalize on it.


Hey! Look! Listen!

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

HLLfinal

It looks like we’re back on a sort of regular-ish schedule here at Riddlethos.com. Aside from the part where the new theme week didn’t start until today.

But hey, at least HLL is here! Right? Everyone loves HLL, right? It’s better than Scatter Storming, right?

RIGHT?

EH?

Before I single-handedly destroy my own ego, we shall get started.

infinity-ward-logoActivision and Infinity Ward Are No Longer Friends

Well, I suppose I should rephrase that: Vince Zampella and Jason West, to two heads of Modern Warfare 2 developer Infinity Ward, are no longer friends with Activision. And, because of that, they’re no longer employees of Infinity Ward. Even more interesting than that, however, is that Activision has filed an SEC suite against Infinity Ward, investigating “breaches of contract and insubordination by two senior employees at Infinity Ward.”

You’ll notice that the above paragraph is rather short on details. This is because there aren’t many details to be had at the moment. What we know for sure is that neither Zampella or West are employed at Infinity Ward any longer (according to their respective Linked In profiles) and that Activision indeed filed the SEC suit. What happened to prompt such a lawsuit, and why did IW’s two big cheeses leave? Nobody knows. Kotaku is currently doing its best to stay abroad of the situation.

ps3fatSay What…? Apparently the PS3 Fat Was Having some Issues, All Better Now

This one kinda went under the radar for me, mostly because it didn’t affect me, because I have a PS3 Slim.

But apparently, owners of the PS3 Fat fell victim to what Sony is calling an “internal clock bug” yesterday, and because of this, many trophy-enabled PS3 games did not function correctly. Or… something.

Here’s the gist of it: the internal clock on many PS3 Fats reset themselves to January 1, 2000. Supposedly, this was because the PS3 fat was programmed to recognize 2010 as a leap year.

Well, after this automatic reset occurred, whenever owners of the Fat attempted to go online, they were greeted with the dreaded “8001050F Error Message.” And, on top of that, certain trophy-enabled games couldn’t even be played offline  - players were given the same error code, along with a message that said “Registration of the trophy information could not be completed. The game will quit.”

Anyway. As much as I’m sure that sucked for many people, it’s over now. Sony posted on the official PlayStation blog that it has been “resolved,” and if your time still isn’t right, feel free to adjust it.

Sounds so deliciously exciting. I’m sorry I missed out on it. (Kotaku)

wpid-Verizon-DROID-Eris_PhotoApple Sues HTC For Infringing on iPhone Patents

Perhaps by now, you’ve heard of HTC. They are, after all, the ones manufacturing phones utilizing the relatively new Android Operating System, such as the Droid Eris (the slightly watered-down version of Motorola’s Droid) and the upcoming Nexus One from Google.

Anyway. They’re one of the few players who are challenging Apple’s iPhone right now, so it hardly comes as a surprise that Apple is trying to sue them. Apparently HTC has infringed on over 20 of Apple’s patents, including multi-touch technology and other such nonsense. If you wanna know more of the specifics, check out this article on PC Magazine.com.

For drama’s sake, here’s a quote from Apple’s Chief Executive, Steve Jobs:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it,” Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, said in a statement. “We’ve decided to do something about it. We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

PREACH IT, MR JOBS!

Nah, actually, this kinda stinks of a dominant player in the smartphone market trying to stamp out competition before it becomes competition. And I say that with little to no evidence supporting me. It’s just my gut reaction.

space-invadersPeople are Trying to Make a Space Invaders Movie

No, really. They are. Or, Warner Bros. is, to be exact. They are currently in talks with Taito to purchase film rights for everyone’s favorite arcade classic.

This is so ridiculous that I’m not even going to exert the effort necessary to say that it’s ridiculous.

Except I already did. Fuck. Oh well. If the movie ever does happen, then it will (reportedly) be produced by Mark Gordon, Jason Blum and Guymon Casady. Gordon was involved with Saving Private Ryan. Blum produced Paranormal Activity. I don’t care what Guymon Casady did. His name is sketchy. (Kotaku)

500x_codActivision Has Plans for Call of Duty

Rather than commenting on the juicy Infinity Ward rumors, Activision has taken the sneaky way out, and outlined their grand new business model for their immensely popular Call of Duty franchise.

Activision intends to form a Call of Duty “Business Unit,” which will “bring together its various new brand initiatives with focused, dedicated resources around the world.” The focus will be on “high-margin digital online content and further the brand as the leading action entertainment franchise in new geographies, new genres and with new digital business models.”

Sounds pretty heavy. But they didn’t talk all business jargon – they confirmed that a Call of Duty game developed by Treyarch (responsible for Call of Duty 3, and 2008’s World at War) will be released in 2010. In 2011, another CoD game from an unnamed developer will be released. And, furthermore, another CoD title will be developed by the upstart Sledgehammer Games, a studio headed by Dead Space creative leads Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. Reportedly, Sledgehammer’s take on CoD will “extend the franchise into the action-adventure genre.”

Wait… really? I mean, uh. That could be cool? Iunno. All I can think about is the fact that one of my (newly) favorite franchises is well on its way to being transformed into an Activision cash-whore.

I mean, I guess that’s what it was before. In a way. But you know what I mean. Right?

New Metroid: Other M Cinematic Trailer Looks Dumb

I’m sorry, but it does. I mean, I guess I can sorta get behind this dramatic, story-driven new direction that Nintendo is taking with the Metroid franchise. Really, I can, because it would be great to get to know Samus a little more intimately. (Not that way.)

But if that’s what they’re gonna do, then the writing had better be good. Like, really damn good. Better than it is in this ridiculous, melodramatic, gameplay-devoid trailer.

Anyway. Now that I’ve torn the trailer to pieces. Enjoy it!

And that, as they say, is that. I’m off to play more Heavy Rain. ‘Till next time!

Topic of Interest: PS3 Has Most Successful Holiday Season Yet, Has Plans for 3D Gaming

Friday, January 8th, 2010

ps3slimIn a recent press release, our friends at Sony announced that in the five weeks following the last week of November 2009, the PlayStation 3 sold no less than 3.8 million units worldwide. This represents a 76% increase over the same time period last year, and accounts for the biggest holiday season the system has had since its release in 2006.

Sony intends to keep this newfound momentum going throughout 2010. They already have an impressive slate of exclusive titles on the way in 2010, including God of War III, Gran Turismo 5, Heavy Rain, and (dare we hope) The Last Guardian. However, in addition to that, Sony has plans to step into the largely untested waters of 3D gaming.

…The company will also vigorously enhance the network content and services, while tapping into a wider audience through the introduction of a new Motion Controller*4 supported with a variety of software titles as well as delivering outstanding 3D experience in homes with 3D stereoscopic games and movies*5, that is possible only on the PS3 platform.

You’ve likely noticed that 3D has become increasingly more prolific over the last year or so, with movies like Avatar making grand (and profitable) arguments for the technology’s relevance. Reports such as this one from the New York Times state that companies are set and ready to roll out 3D capable sets, while cable companies work furiously to create new channels for them.

It’s no surprise, then, that the game industry is following suite. Will we see 3D capable games in 2010? If I had to predict, I’d say yes. Will anyone really care? Well, that’s a different question entirely.

Hey! Look! Listen!

Friday, December 11th, 2009

HLLfinal

Hello, hello, hello, and welcome to the 31st editon of Hey! Look! Listen!

Man, can you believe we’ve put out 31 of these things? I can’t. I say “we” because, shamefully, Ethos has been forced to step in at a few different times in the past. Regardless, it’s a fairly impressive feat. Let’s see if we can’t keep it up.

Introductions! My name is Oliver “Riddles” Motok, and I just got done eating some delicious Chinese food at Chef Wang’s. Silly name aside, that place is standalone proof that there is some culture in Murfreesboro. Or decent Chinese food, at least.

But I tarry. Let us proceed to the odds and ends I’ve assembled today.

New Final Fantasy XIII TV Spot

I figured I’d start today off with something exciting. This TV spot is short, uninformative, and in Japanese. However, it’s also quite pretty, and is composed of almost entirely new footage.

Shitty pop song is… shitty.

ffxiiiFinal Fantasy XIII Is Not Perfect, According to Famitsu

Given how rarely they USED to award perfect scores, Famitsu’s gone a little overboard with the 40/40 rankings in the last few years, at least in my opinion. I think they know it too; and perhaps it’s just my suspicious little mind at work, but I almost feel like that’s the ONLY reason they awarded Final Fantasy XIII the just-short-of-perfect score of 39/40.

Three reviewers gave it a perfect 10, while one fucker just had to go against the tide and give it a 9. Here’s some of what he had to say:

“Unquestionably the highest echelon of event and movie scenes. Moreover, changing Optimas on a dime, the varied abilities and being able to use multiple magics at once bring real exhilaration to the battles. That high quality is unfortunately offset by a story that stays linear until the midway point. The lack of gimmicks during the middle of the game also worried me.”

Maybe we can chalk it up to a poor translation, but his complaint over a “lack of gimmicks” makes no sense. Neither does his comment on the “linear” storyline. Last I checked, FFXIII was a Square Enix RPG. Not sure what he was expecting.

I know it sounds like I’m angry that FFXIII wasn’t given the “prestigious” 40/40. I actually could care less, I’m just a little confused by the above paragraph. Also, I really do get the feeling that a 40/40 was purposefully avoided, for one reason or another. (Final Fantasy XIII.net).

gameinformer - CopyDead Space 2 Details Emerge from Game Informer

My life, people. My stupid subscription expires the month before the only cover story I’ve cared about all year is published. “Sigh” doesn’t even begin to describe it. But while I may not have a copy of the mag, IGN does, and they were nice enough to sum up the more relevant points of the article.

The biggest change, reportedly, will be the location. Instead of a cramped spaceship, Isaac will be navigating a massive space-station, aptly named Sprawl. A change in location is absolutely necessary; I just hope Visceral manages to create the same sense of unease that came with the Ishimura’s darkened hallways.

In other news, Isaac will, in fact, have a voice in Dead Space 2. Like, a voice that speaks lines of dialogue.  ”He’s a little bit more of a veteran, and he’s going to have a voice,” executive producer Steve Papoutsis told Game Informer. “He’s going to relate through dialogue and story, and have more of a take-charge attitude this time around.”

Hm. I tentatively approve of this decision, I just hope Isaac doesn’t spend too much time talking to himself. It could work against the game’s atmosphere.

According to IGN’s paraphrasing, Visceral will be adjusting the pacing of the sequel so that players don’t feel “vulnerable throughout the entire game.” In fact, at times players will feel “superior.”

Maybe, hopefully, something was lost in translation, but that information right there is not entirely welcome to me. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a sense of hopelessness and vulnerability all but defines the survival-horror genre. When I play Dead Space, I don’t want to feel like I can take on anything; I want to feel like surefire death is around every corner. I recognize it’s a little early to get up-in-arms now, though. I’ll wait until I see more from the game.

Finally, the combat in Dead Space 2 will remain largely the same, utilizing the same system of strategic dismemberment. And as rumored, there will be an online component to the game. No details were offered, though, other than the expected – you’ll be able to strategically dismember your friends. And hey, that could be fun. (IGN).

ps3slimPlayStation 3 Hardware Sales Still Unprofitable

We all know that Sony’s doing a lot better in the console race these days than they have in the past, but the question of whether or not they’re turning a profit has remained untouched until now.  And sadly, the answer is still “no.”

iSupply, an electronic market research and consulting firm, recently came out with a report on Sony, their PS3, and all costs involved. And to be sure, what they have to say is largely positive. First, manufacturing costs for the PS3 have been cut down to roughly $336.27 per console, which amounts to a loss of USD $31.27 for each system sold. Now, compare those to numbers from October of 2008, when the PS3 cost $100 more, and Sony was losing $49.72 on each system sold.

“In light of these factors, the PlayStation 3 probably is already at or near the tipping point for profitability,” said Andrew Rassweiler, director and principal analyst for iSuppli. So yeah, Sony’s still losing money on the PS3. But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and they’re shooting for it. (iSupply, IGN).

Arkham Asylum PS3 Sales Surpass 360 Sales

On that note, let’s have some more positive PlayStation tidings! According to the ever-watchful NPD group, the PS3 version of the AWESOME Batman: Arkham Asylum has sold about 10,000 more units than the 360 version has. Apparently the PS3 versions free DLC , which allows you to play as the Joker in challenge rooms, made all the difference. Makes sense, I suppose. I bought the PS3 version, but I never even looked at the DLC. I don’t really count, though, because I buy almost all multiplatform games for the PS3. (IGN).

Dante’s Inferno Gets Special Souped-Up PS3 Edition

Jeeze, the PlayStation 3 is just on a roll in my column today. EA has recently announced that PS3 owners will be receiving a “Divine Edition” of their upcoming action game based on the classic writings of Dante. The Divine Edition will come with developer commentaries, a Wayne Barlowe digital art book, the soundtrack to the game, and a digital copy of the complete Longfellow translation of Dante Alighieri’s Inferno. And best of all, it keeps it’s $59.99 price tag intact. Yes, 360 owners, EA just told you to go fuck yourselves in the most graceful of ways. Be enraged. Oh, wait… I probably don’t have to tell you that. Anyway. Check out the FREAKIN’ SWEET boxart below. (IGN).

dantesinferno

Seriously, this boxart makes me more excited for the game than anything else has.

Let’s End This on a Hilarious Note…

I’m guessing this video was from the late 90s, because if my memory serves me, that’s when every single parental figure in my life was trying to tell me that Pokemon was a craft of Satan himself. Lucky for them, I never really gave a shit about it anyway, but I still found their desperate attempts to make me despise it humorous. ALMOST as humorous as this video. Enjoy! (Everything is Terrible).

That’s all for now, Ladies and Gents. I enjoyed writing, as always, and I can only hope you enjoyed reading. ‘Till next time!

Hey! Look! Listen!

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

HLLfinal

Hello again, and welcome to the Tuesday edition of Hey! Look! Listen!

I know it’s technically Wednesday, but oh well. I’m your host Oliver Motok, and I’ve already pumped ten hours into Assassin’s Creed II. It is just that good. Impressions forthcoming.

For now, you’ll have to settle for a small dose of news.

mw2bannedModern Warfare 2 Banned in Russia… Or Not

A few days ago, reports that Modern Warfare 2 had been banned in Russia surfaced. Apparently, and unsurprisingly, they got pissed over the now-infamous terrorist airport scene, (seeing that it takes place in Russia, and is perpetrated by Russian terrorists) and called for a full-on national ban. All copies of the game were yanked from shelves, and Activision reportedly was told that they had to remove the level from the game before sales could resume.

Anyway. It WAS a juicy story, until Activision stepped forward and claimed that the decision to recall and modify their game was an internal decision. Bah, how anti-climactic. (MTV Multiplayer).

Check Out BioShock 2’s Boxart

That last story was pretty lame, and in my opinion, so is the boxart for BioShock 2:

That is so... not badass.

That is so... not badass.

Seriously? Seriously? Does anyone disagree with me here? It looks like a cartoon. I am not impressed. (Kotaku).

deadspaceDead Space 2 To Have Multiplayer?

Seems that way, if this job listing is to be believed. Here’s the description:

Seeking a highly motivated Senior Online Level Designer for the Dead Space franchise on Xbox360 and PS3. This is a major opportunity to contribute creatively to an exciting new franchise.

Responsibilities:

• Conceptualize, script, direct, and build online levels for the game.
• Own the level design for the online game, be able to work collaboratively with Creative Director and Online Producer to create extremely fun, satisfying and polished multiplayer levels.
• Drive online design by taking the initiative to bring all parties together to execute on the overall vision for the levels.
• Be a collaborative member of the design team, and contribute to reviews, feedback, and playtest sessions.
• Hands on contributor

That makes it clear enough to me, and it certainly comes as no surprise. BioShock did it, Uncharted did it, and now Visceral has decided that Dead Space has to follow the trend and take on a completely superfluous multiplayer mode.

Uncharted didn’t suffer for it. BioShock 2 is yet to be seen. If Dead Space 2 suffers for it, I will seek revenge. (Kotaku).

ps33.10PS3 Firmware 3.10 Coming This Week

That’s right! Soon after its existence was leaked to the internet, Sony has officially confirmed that PS3 firmware 3.10 will be released this WEEK. Why should you care? Because this one integrates Facebook. How AWESOME is that? Well, for all you facebook stalkers at least.

But it’s actually more than just a Facebook app on your PS3. According to network operation director Eric Lempel, players will be able to share trophy updates on Facebook, for all their friends to see and laugh at. Also, future games will feature the ability to update your facebook.

Again, just so everyone who isn’t as nerdy as you are can have a hearty chuckle.

As you can tell, I’m not super-excited for this. Who knows, it could be neat; I just really have no need to use Facebook on anything other than my computer. And I have no desire to broadcast my trophy acquisitions to the world. (1UP).

square_enix_logoSquare Enix Collaborating with Eidos Montreal on New Game

The headline is essentially the news story, but this is interesting enough to bring up. This marks the first time Square Enix has worked together with someone in their own holding group to produce a game. (Remember, Square Enix acquired Eidos some time ago.)

Speaking at the Montreal Games Summit, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada said that the project would be the company’s first “truly global game.” Absolutely no other information was released. I’ll be on the lookout for it, though. Interest = piqued. (1UP).

Man, I would really love to play some more Assassin’s Creed II. Sleep? Who needs sleep? Seriously though, it really is a fantastic game. I’d love to say more, but it would ruin my forthcoming impressions!

‘Till then, readers!

Hey! Look! Listen!

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

HeyLookListenLogo

For some reason, I have a serious lack of motivation tonight. In fact, I suffered the same problem last night. However, I’ve determined the best way to overcome such lethargy is to actually open a text file and start typing.

So far, it’s working just fine.

Welcome to Hey! Look! Listen!, everyone. As always, it’s your darling Riddles here to bring you industry news as seen by ME. But enough faffing about; let us get down to BIDNESS. (That’s the cool way to say “business”).

Isolation is the word of the day...

Isolation is the word of the day...

Follow Up: IGN Won’t Drop the Citizen Kane/Metroid Prime Thing
Ugh. Perhaps you recall the segment from ABC I linked you to in my previous HLL, in which IGN’s Michael Thomsen compared Metroid Prime to the immortal Citizen Kane. I found the comparison rather odd, to say nothing of useless, and figured that was the last time we’d ever hear of it.

Well, I was quite wrong. Michael Thomsen has now followed up his brief appearance on ABC with a meaty article on IGN, exploring so-called similarities between Metroid Prime and Citizen Kane.

Regardless of the fallacies, the article is a fantastic read. However, the vast majority of it seems to focus on why Metroid Prime is such a definitive interactive experience. Why or how it supposedly translates the passive viewing experience of Citizen Kane into an interactive sci-fi action game is still somewhat unclear to me. I suggest you read it for yourself. Perhaps it will make more sense to you; if it does, I’d love to hear your opinion in the comment section below.

Michael Pachter Thinks the PS3 May Dominate the Holidays
Funny, I’ve been thinking this for some time. But now Michael Pachter, one of the more well-known industry analysts, agrees with me. Just listen to what he has to say:


“We believe that the recent round of price cuts may benefit the PS3 the most in coming months, given that unit sales last year were only 1.5 million for the September – December 2008 period. The Xbox 360 has outsold the PS3 for the past 13 months, likely due to a higher perceived value proposition (the Xbox 360 “core” model was priced $100 lower than the PS3). We think that the PS3 will outsell the Xbox 360 in September, and may continue to do so for the rest of the year.”

Beyond a doubt, the “higher perceived value” benefit of the Xbox 360 is gone. I was once convinced that the 360 was the definitive gaming console of this generation. The main reasons, of course, being the robust software library, and the competent price point. But unless you’re a zealot (and I know there are plenty of you out there) it’s clear that neither of those reasons apply today. The price points are identical, and the software battle, in my opinion, is at a dead heat. Can you point to a single notable 360 exclusive this holiday season that doesn’t have Halo in the title? And don’t forget, one of the two consoles sports a fully functional Blu-Ray player. (Kotaku).

ODST
Halo 3: ODST Sells 2.5 Million
Of course, that’s NOT to say the 360 is down and out by any means; not if the Halo franchise has anything to say about it. Within two weeks of release, ODST has pushed a staggering 2.5 million copies, despite it’s utter lack of Master Chief. (Kotaku).

On that note, if you’re worried about the Chief, don’t be. Microsoft’s Frank O’Connor is pretty sure you’ll see him again:

As for Master Chief, odds are he will be seen again. “I think that (his) fate, Cortana’s fate and the identity of that giant, dark planet at the ending (on the game’s hardest skill level) – that’s a spoiler – are probably big mysteries that would be irritating if they were just cliffhangers,” O’Connor says. “We do have a plan that goes out at least six years,” he says. “Eventually, it will become very apparent that there is a plan for the way the canon all ties together and the way the comic books and the novels all tie together.” (USA Today).

So, worry not Halo-Heads! Your beloved franchise isn’t going anywhere soon.

This is So Fucking Stupid: University Student Surveys “Gaymers”
A student at Full Sail University (essentially a game design school) has created a survey asking homosexuals what they would like to see in their video games. His name is Paul Nowak, and here’s his explanation:

“Ideally, I want to learn what exactly it is that gaymers want from their games and how that differs from their heterosexual counterparts. I’ll take that information to develop guidelines the industry can use when trying to make gaymer inclusive games that don’t become offensive or insulting to any gamer regardless of sexual orientation. If someone had done the same kind of research when the industry was trying to reach out to female gamers, girls wouldn’t have had to suffer through the wildly unsuccessful attempts of games like “Mary Kate & Ashley’s Winner’s Circle” pony racing. I’m hoping to help the industry avoid the same mistakes as it reaches out to gay gamers.”

Here’s a little tip to oppressed minorities everywhere: if you wish to achieve the acceptance you (supposedly) seek so desperately, stop trying to segregate, differentiate, and otherwise set yourself apart in EVERY POSSIBLE WAY YOU CAN.

Tell me, because I’m confused: what exactly would a homosexual want from videogames that a heterosexual wouldn’t? If this is about eliminating negative portrayals of homosexuals, I highly doubt we need a survey to accomplish that. Nowak says he’s attempting to avoid the mistakes the industry has made in reaching out to female gamers, and I applaud him for that. But what he doesn’t seem to realize is that those attempts failed on account of their very principle, not in their execution. Producing games that are “female-friendly” or “gay-friendly” is a sexist act in and of itself. This survey is utterly pointless, and if it accomplishes anything at all, it will be contrary to what Nowak is hoping to achieve. (Kotaku).

uncharted2
Quickie: Uncharted 2 Demo Sees 27+ Years of Playtime
Nope, I’m serious. Apparently everyone in the world except me has downloaded and played the Uncharted 2: Among Thieves demo. Naughty Dog co-president Even Wells has gone to the trouble of tallying up the stats, and here they are:

Total Number of games played – 1,217,424

Total Number of Kills – 92,110,787

Total Number of Treasures Captured – 1,860,645

Total Amount of Money Earned – $38,841,367,350

Total Time Played – 9,905 days (or 27+ years!)

I have a feeling that when the game actually hits stores, the numbers are going to be something to gawk at. Or maybe everyone will just be a cheap-ass and keep pounding away at the (seemingly quite robust) demo.

Well, my lack of motivation was seemingly replaced with an almost unprecedented strain of verbosity. It felt good to write all that, and I can only hope you enjoyed reading it. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a Dead Space: Extraction review later tonight. But I’m not gonna promise anything, especially after writing all that. My creative juices can only go so far in one shot.