With 2011 – 2012 the NBA season looking more and more unlikely every day, I felt I needed to get my basketball fix somehow. If I can’t watch the best players in the world play, why not take control of them in a video game? The NBA 2K series has recently set the standard for National Basketball Association (NBA) video games. While EA dominates the hockey video game market, 2K is the absolute leader for basketball simulation. Last year’s NBA 2k11 was absolutely phenomenal. It brought Michael Jordan back into the equation, allowing players to use him in the game to bring back those dominant Bulls teams. The graphics, controls, and overall experience were heads above the competition. It was so good in fact, that EA didn’t even bother releasing their NBA Elite game. 2K keeps upping the ante with NBA 2K12. It takes everything that made 11 so good, and improves upon it.
The graphics in this game are beautiful. Each player clearly resembles their real life counterpart. The arenas are all gorgeous, from the glean off the buffed floors, to the logos on the court floors, it all looks and feels real. It looks so good, my dad walked in while I was playing the game and thought I was watching a real life basketball game. He obviously wasn’t aware of the looming lockout.
The sound and music are equally incredible. The announcing is some of the best I’ve heard in a video game. In some cities, depending on who they have on the microphones, it may actually be an improvement over their real life announcers. I liked the soundtrack a lot too, which is usually good in 2K games.
After the successful introduction of Michael Jordan last year, 2K has added a ton of other greats to the game this year. You can use vintage Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, Scottie Pippen, and more. There are 15 total “Legends” whose terrific careers can be recreated within the game in great detail. Relive the Larry Bird – Magic Johnson rivalries and much more.
One of the most popular features in the 2K series is the ability to create your own player to see how they stack up in the big leagues. 2K sports has built upon this and made the “My Player” functionality that much better. You can now hear Commissioner David Stern call your name on draft night for your favorite team. Enter yourself into the rookie skills competition, earn huge endorsement deals, pad your stats, and ultimately get your name on a huge franchise player contract.
Most of the modes are back, my favorite being Association mode. Take your team from worst to first and watch the fans pack your arena to cheer you on. You can now even take your association mode online to play against your buddies and see how you stack up in the online community. The Playstation Network integration is seamless and a lot of fun.
Overall, this game is fantastic. It takes what made the old NBA 2K games and builds upon it in every way. The graphics, sound, presentation and game play are all the best around for basketball video games, and set the bar extremely high. If EA wants to reclaim the top spot in the basketball video game market, they certainly have their work cut out for them.
For more game reviews check out ubethecritic.com.
Sony has introduced the new ‘PlayStation Vita’ handheld, reports CTV.
The company’s newest portable gaming machine, the ‘PlayStation Vita,’ is a touch-screen and motion-sensitive handheld that allows gamers to connect with one another over cellphone networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. The device can also use GPS location-tracking technology.
Much like the iPad, the device is available as a Wi-Fi-only version for $249, or a cellphone version which will retail for $299 and buyers will have to subscribe to a cellular data plan.
The Vita also has front and back cameras, a touchscreen in front, a touch pad on the back and two joysticks. Gamers can play against each other all around the world.
“PlayStation Vita will revolutionize the portable entertainment experience,” Kazuo Hirai, group chief executive officer of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., told a crowd at the unveiling. “The whole world is really in play.”
The device will go on sale before the winter holidays. This sounds cool, I probably won’t buy it just because I have enough technology devices as is, but I can appreciate its idea.
It’s that time of year again, the start of the new hockey season and the launch of the newest version of the EA NHL Franchise. NHL 11 is the best one yet, and we can say this honestly as we had a chance to play it. To celebrate the debut, the good people at EA had a NHL 11 Tournament with top rookie prospects, including Taylor Hall, Tyler Sequin and Nazem Kadri.
God of War 3 is one of the most highly anticipated games ever. The game follows Kratos on his quest to avenge his family and take down the Gods of Olympus. It completes the God of War trilogy and provides a satisfying and bloody end to Kratos’ quest for revenge. The first two games set the standard for action adventure games and are both Playstation 2 classics. Needless to say, this game had very high standards to meet. God of War 3 lives up to expectations and sets THE standard for action adventure games.
The developers, Sony Computer Entertainment Santa Monica, took what was an already impressive gaming engine and refined it in every which way. The game play and controls from the first two games were already incredible and there was not much to be improved. As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sony polished all of the elements that made the first two games exceptional, and provided new weapons, abilities, and a gripping story to keep players glued to the screen.
While I have played the first two and am familiar with Kratos’ move set, the controls and combo system are simple enough that even a newcomer to the series can begin this game and within minutes be unleashing devastating combos with Kratos’ blades. Tight controls were a staple in the first two games and that remains intact here. Whether you are leaping over chasms, ripping medusa’s head off in a killing sequence, or swinging off a Titan’s back you always feel in complete control of Kratos.
Before I begin my first impressions from the God of War III Preview Event, I will inform you I have never actually played a God of War game.
The only vague recollection I have is when I watched my friend playing God Of War II on the Playstation2 one night for 10 minutes.
Also sadly, I don’t own a Playstation 3, but this is the type of game to make me seriously consider buying one.
From the moment I started playing the game there was blood everywhere- as a gamer that reminisces with the first time I played Mortal Kombat and how shocked I was at the violence – this is a definite plus for me. The controls for a first time GOWIII player were simple enough- I mashed the buttons and Kratos delivered a Baryshnikov style performance of dismemberment and mayhem. By button mashing and using my magic alone I was able to almost beat the giant crab horse thingy that I kept killing and just wouldn’t leave me alone but eventually my n00b luck ran out and I was treated to a screen that bluntly stated “You Are Dead” multiple times. Read more…
Like blood? No… I mean, do you REALLY like blood?
If you answered yes, and also have a fancy for dragons, fantasy, compelling story, in depth character evolution, complete voice acting, and a really really long story that I believe Bioware’s Edmonton office has created the perfect game for you. Read more…
Just when you thought you knew exactly what to buy this holiday, Sony announces a new model of their slim PS3.
The slimmer PS3 has been a runaway hit since its launch in September and has sold more than a million units world wide in a matter of three weeks. The new model is identical to the current slims save for the fact that now it has a larger hard disc drive (HDD).
With 250 GB and a retail price of $349.99 you are getting one sweet deal.
The added hard drive space is quite a nice touch as these days download content has taken off drastically.
I say shell out that extra 50 bucks and get the 250GB it’s totally worth it.
Now on the iPhone and iPod Touch for the first time is FIFA 10, which can be downloaded via the App store. FIFA Soccer 10 can also be bought in store all throughout Europe for the PS3, XBox 360, PC, PS2 and the mobile platform.
FIFA for the iPhone is the only full-licensed soccer games in the App Store. It mirrors the 2009-10 teams in real life from the leagues worldwide. It’s very simple to use and allows the user a lot of mobility and accuracy. Added on is different camera angles and slow motion replay. And if ever in the mood for a good challenge, simply uses Wi-Fi to connect with friends. Read more…
Alright folks, this is the premier review by yours truly on andPOP. This week I’m taking a look at iNFAMOUS, from Sucker Punch Productions.
inFAMOUS follows the story of Cole, a messenger given strange electricity-based powers from a devastating explosion that destroys a good chunk of Empire City and cripples the rest. As Cole struggles to understand and control his new powers, he sets out to discover how the blast happened in the first place, and who’s responsible. He may not like what he finds out.
I’ll start off by saying that inFAMOUS is a lot of fun. This sandbox game is open-ended entertainment. As you travel the length and breadth of Empire City, you can play through the game’s story missions or venture off on side missions and scavenge for extras. But nothing is perfect, and inFAMOUS is not an exception to this rule. There are glitches and oversights that, if corrected, could have made this a potential heir to the PS3 throne (the “throne” being the throne of Awesome).
The control scheme here is sort of a blend of Assassin’s Creed meets Force Unleashed. It’s intuitive and very quick to master, even though you gain abilities throughout the game. The biggest reason that these controls are so easy to pick up is that after you gain a new ability, you are put through a very brief sequence that involves situations relevant to your new power. It’s not too obvious, and it works. The most exciting feature is the freerunning, though. Apparently our hero picked up some intense parkour skills in his life as a messenger/urban explorer, and puts them to use climbing anything and everything in Empire City with a handhold (except for chainlink fences and some stairs, apparently – yes, really). Aside from some invisible walls here and there and Cole’s seemingly uncontrollable need to grab anything in his reach to hang on to when falling or jumping, this freedom of movement is above par for any game that’s come before. Read more…
As you are probably aware by now EA Sports Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 demo is out now on PSN and XBOX Live.
The demo allows players to play two real courses, Bethpage Black and Turnberry, which is where -for those of you obsessed with golf- they will be hosting the 2009 British Open.
The demo allows you to take on the two courses and try out the practice mode if you need to.
A not worthy addition is the challenge mode included in the demo, which takes players to a new course and picks a specific hole with a particular challenge.
The game boasts dynamic weather that will no doubt play a big part of how you take on each course and features updated graphics, rosters, courses, EA Live Tournament, Precision Putting, Tournament Atmosphere and the aforementioned Tournament Challenge Mode.
Naturally I am a bit psyched, especially for the Wii version with its MOTION PLUS GLORY!! It just wouldn’t be summer if there wasn’t a golf game to play.
“Rock Band” is coming to PSP. But don’t worry, you won’t have to carry the drum-set, guitar or microphone.
“Your hands are the ‘peripherals’ in ‘Rock Band Unplugged’ allowing you to take direct control of the lead/bass guitars, drums and vocals,” read a press release by EA Games.
Rock Band for PSP will feature over 40 track for gamers to play. Gamers can also download new songs through the Playstation Network store.
LightBox Interactive announced a deal with Sony today that allows them to create exclusive software titles for PlayStation platforms.
The new software development company, LightBox Interactive, was formed by Dylan Jobe, former Incognito Entertainment Studio Director.
“We are extremely pleased to be working with Dylan and his team in their new endeavor at LightBox Interactive,” said John Hight, Sony’s director of internal development. “Through pioneering many online and community features on PlayStation network with the multiplayer game Warhawk, this team is established as leaders in the online category. I look forward to seeing what kind of further innovations they bring to the PlayStation platforms through this new development deal.”
Resistance: Fall of Man Map Packs (free)
PowerUp Forever ($9.99)
Survive! Assimilate! Evolve! You must grow to survive – and to grow you must destroy! Hunt and defeat enemy Guardians to harvest their glowing energy cores, gaining power to grow your ship and expand your weaponry. As you evolve, you attract the attentions of ever-larger enemies, and your fight for survival goes on.
ESRB Rated E
File size: 96 MB
Add-on Game Content
LittleBigPlanet Santa Coat and Trousers (free)
Try on our Sack-sized Santa Coat and Trousers and keep nice and warm this holiday.
File size: 1.04 MB
LittleBigPlanet – Zangief of Street Fighter II costume ($1.99)
Dress up your SackBoy as Zangief, one of four premium LBP costumes from CAPCOM’s fighting game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
File size: 1.04 MB
LittleBigPlanet – Guile of Street Fighter II costume ($1.99)
Dress up your SackBoy as Guile, one of four premium LBP costumes from CAPCOM’s fighting game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
File size: 1.04 MB
LittleBigPlanet – Chun-Li of Street Fighter II costume ($1.99)
Dress up your SackBoy as Chun-Li, one of four premium LBP costumes from CAPCOM’s fighting game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
File size: 1.04 MB
LittleBigPlanet – Ryu of Street Fighter II costume ($1.99)
Dress up your SackBoy as Ryu, one of four premium LBP costumes from CAPCOM’s fighting game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
File size: 1.04 MB
LittleBigPlanet Street Fighter II costume kit ($5.99)
Get with the whole collection of premium SackBoy costumes from CAPCOM’s fighting game, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix. This costume bundle includes outfits to dress up your SackBoy into Ryu, Guile, Chun-Li or Zangief.
File size: 1.04 MB
High Velocity Bowling – Tiff’s Big Zero Trick Shot Pack (free)
It’s time to bowl – High Velocity style! Add this downloadable Trick Shot Pack to your High Velocity Bowling selection. The Tiff’s Big Zero Trick Shot Pack gives you another opportunity for a gold star.
File size: 100 KB
High Velocity Bowling – Gearhead Ball Pack ($0.99)
It’s time to bowl – High Velocity style! Add this downloadable Trick Shot Pack to your High Velocity Bowling selection. The Tiff’s Big Zero Trick Shot Pack gives you another opportunity for a gold star.
File size: 7.43 MB
Tom Clancy’s EndWar Escalation Expansion Pack ($9.99)
4 exclusive missions on all new battlefields playable in skirmish mode and 3 exclusive unit upgrades to expand your experience with Tom Clancy’s EndWar. New missions includes the siege of a firebase in Kursk (Ukraine), the assault on Devon beach (England), the raid on Rota naval base (Spain) and the conquest of Dorsey Knob (USA, West Virginia).
File size: 331 MB
SW:TFU Apprentice Mission Pack ($9.99)
The Apprentice Mission Pack contains an entirely new single-player mission set in the Jedi Temple on the planet Coruscant. In this mission Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice turns to the Jedi Temple to learn more about his father, and while searching through the rubble of the destroyed building he must confront his inner demons… Download this mission pack and you’ll also get 6 brand new characters and 3 all new Secret Apprentice costumes.
File size: 995 MB
Star War: The Force Unleashed Character Pack 2 ($4.99)
File size: 238 MB
Age of Booty Map Pack 4 (free)
Download the new “Tell No Tales” and “Port in a Storm” maps! The “Tell No Tales” map will appear in the 2v2v2v2 playlist. The “Port in a Storm” will appear in the 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 playlists.
File size: 100 KB
Age of Booty Map Pack 5 (free)
Download the new “Feeding Frenzy” and “Urban Brawl” maps! These official maps will appear in the 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4 playlists. The Triple Trouble gameplay mode is also unlocked in this package.
File size: 100 KB
Guitar Hero World Tour
For all song credits please visit www.guitarhero.com.
“You Know You’re Right” by Nirvana ($1.99)
“Sliver” by Nirvana ($1.99)
“Negative Creep” by Nirvana ($1.99)
Nirvana Track Pack ($5.49) – Downloadable Track Pack for Guitar Hero World Tour featuring “You Know You’re Right”, “Negative Creep”, and “Sliver” by Nirvana.
“Mama Mae” by Negrita ($1.99)
“Dis-Moi” by BB Brunes ($1.99)
“’54, ’74, ’90, 2010″ by Sportfreunde Stiller ($1.99)
European Track Pack 01 ($5.49) – Downloadable Track Pack for Guitar Hero World Tour featuring “Mama Mae” by Negrita, “‘54, ‘74, ‘90, 2010″ by Sportfreunde Stiller, and “Dis-Moi” by BB Brunes.
File sizes: 22 MB – 41 MB (singles), 83 MB – 98 MB (track packs)
Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2
Expand your Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore 2 library by purchasing these tracks.
Over The Rainbow ($1.49)
How To Save A Life ($1.49)
Waiting For Tonight ($1.49)
Heart of Glass ($1.49)
File sizes: 15 MB – 21 MB
Build your Rock Band library by purchasing these song game tracks. For song credits, visit www.RockBand.com.
“Bathwater” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Don’t Speak” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Excuse Me Mr.” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Ex-Girlfriend” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Hella Good” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Hey Baby” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“It’s My Life” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Just a Girl” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Running” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Simple Kind of Life” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Spiderwebs” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Underneath it All” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“Sunday Morning” – No Doubt ($1.99)
“The Singles 1992–2003″ (Album) – No Doubt ($19.99) – This track pack includes 13 tracks: all of the songs from The Singles 1992–2003 (Album), except “New,” and “Trapped in a Box.”
File sizes: 25 MB – 42 MB (singles) 434 MB (track pack)
Mercenaries 2 Blow It Up Again Content Pack (free)
Mercenaries 2: World in Flames is ready to blow it all up… again!
File size: 389 MB
Game Videos (free)
Resistance 2 Accolades Trailer
File size: 85 MB (HD) 153 MB (1080)
Xam’d: Lost Memories Release Announcement Video
File size: 232 MB (HD) 398MB (1080)
Xam’d: Lost Memories Exclusive Interviews
File size: 281 MB (HD) 495 MB (1080)
LOTR: Conquest Good to be Bad Trailer
File size: 70 MB (HD)
Movie and Blu-ray Disc Trailers (free)
Batman Tech Video
File size: 321 MB (HD)
Not Easily Broken
File size: 27 MB (SD) 92 MB (HD) 140 (1080)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop Trailer
File size: 32 MB (SD) 112 MB (HD) 170 (1080)
Step Brothers Blu-ray Trailer
File size: 113 MB (HD) 151 (1080)
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc Blu-ray Trailer
File size: 121 MB (HD) 159 MB (1080)
Resistance 2 Americana Theme (free)
File size: 5.93 MB
Resistance 2 Man vs. Chimera Theme (free)
File size: 4.96 MB
Resistance 2 SRPA Team Theme (free)
File size: 4.61 MB
Xam’d Lost Memories Theme (free)
File size: 1.49 MB
PS3 Wallpaper (free)
Mountain Dew Wallpaper
File sizes: 182 KB – 516 KB
PlayStation Store for PSP
Game Videos (free)
*Resistance 2 Accolades Trailer
File size: 14 MB
*Xam’d: Lost Memories Exclusive Interviews Video
File size: 48 MB
*Xam’d: Lost Memories Release Announcement Video
File size: 41 MB
*BRAIN CHALLENGE video
File size: 12 MB
Recently I had the opportunity to attend the Best Buy Game Invasion at Dundas Square. The big game of the event was definitely Little Big Planet for the Sony Playstation3.
The game is receiving so much anticipation because of the fact you can basically create levels from scratch with almost unlimited possibilities. The notion of making your own maps and having them available online to be played gives this game a competitive edge against the fierce plastic instrument and shoot-em up games dominating this holiday season.
The game itself follows the traditional platform genre with keeping game play simple and showing off the PS3’s amazing graphical power with its crystal clear visuals and smooth as butter frame rate. The game reminds me of an older title I played on my PS2 back in the day which was simply called “Cookie N’ Crème” the premise of this game was that both players had to solve puzzles on their side of the map.
For instance one player pushes a box to get to a switch and the second player on the side of the opposite wall walks into the next door beating the level. A representative of Sony told me that the game play becomes increasingly difficult as the game progresses but at the same time provides a fairly enjoyable game experience without too much “ow my brain hurts from thinking too much about this puzzle”.
I was told there is no projected release date for Little Big Planet as recently it was re-called for an undisclosed reason.
After I was done with Little Big Planet I headed out to the main room where I was able to play Guitar Hero World Tour. I had played the game a few times before but it was nice to have some extended time with it to play all the songs I never had a chance to. While the interface in this game provides some problems and the question of “Wait so who failed us this time?” will be asked many many times, the guitar charts are a lot of fun, the drums feel great, and the setlist is extremely varied. Case in point- La Bamba anyone?
Although Rock Band 2 was already out for 360 I still ventured over to try this Rock Band 2 Drumset I had heard so much about. The first thing I noticed was the new material on the drum pads. While it doesn’t compare to the rebound of the Guitar Hero World Tour kit, it’s still a much-needed improvement and the re-enforced metal bass pedal is a welcome addition for anyone that plans on trying to play Painkiller or Panic Attack on expert.
After my hands could take no more plastic guitar I was treated to a wonderful concert by Canada’s Mobile to promote their new album, they even played Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” on Guitar Hero World Tour on stage! Another awesome thing were the covers they did “Baba O’ Reilly” by The Who and “Message In A Bottle” by The Police. I think they 100%’d both songs on expert.
Sony’s flagship racing title has finally come to the Playstation 3 and it couldn’t have been more anticipated by car buffs and simulation junkies alike. Don’t get your hopes up just yet though, this isn’t the treasured Gran Turismo 5 people have been clamoring about and waiting for all these years, this is Gran Turismo 5: Prologue. Too big to be a demo, too small to be the final product – Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is a taste of the future, and something to keep fans of the esteemed Gran Turismo series satisfied until the full game is out next year. GT 5:P is available for purchase both on disc at retail stores nationwide or as a direct download through the Playstation Network.
Gran Turismo titles have always pushed the boundaries not only of racing simulators and realism, but also of detail and graphic capabilities. Once again, Polyphony Digital has succeeded in this with one of the best looking and most realistic racing titles on any platform to date. As I said earlier, GT5: Prologue isn’t the final game, but this title shows us what we can expect. Read more…
What has one eye, smells like Magic the Gathering, and can be played against anyone around the world? Sony Computer Entertainment Studios Japan’s The Eye of Judgment, a trading card with a twist. Utilizing the new Sony Eye camera for the Playstation 3, players can collect and trade cards, create decks and play against a friend, a computer or anyone around the world online in a card duel with visual battles taking place on your screen.
When I first saw this title set up on a small table in the corner of a Sony preview show it piqued my curiosity. Sitting there in between a couple of couches and a TV set was a mat with a 3×3 grid on it, a plastic stand with the Sony Eye camera perched on top and different cards placed in different directions on the mat. What I saw on screen was totally different-ice guards throwing projectile shards at a flaming dragon and that dragon in turn melting the guards. Unfortunately, by this point my mind had been blown and I collapsed onto the couch. A few minutes later, I regained consciousness and began to explore this contraption. Included with the title are the mat (a piece of cloth with a grid, spaces for your deck, graveyard and the camera to stand), the stand (4 tubes, and 3 pieces of plastic to hold the camera which are easy to assemble and come with instructions), the Playstation Eye (a high quality USB camera with a widescreen option and built in microphone), starter deck (30 playing cards, and 4 cards used to perform different procedures in game to begin your battling career), a booster pack (8 random cards to change your deck up), and the game disc.
Basically you set up the camera overlooking your mat, and you take turns with your opponent placing cards, either spells or creatures, on the mat. You start off the game with five cards each, and every turn you receive two mana. Mana is the magical force that allows you to cast spells and play creatures. You may play as many spells or actions as you like per turn, but once you play a creature, it performs its action if it can, and your turn ends. Use spells and creatures to defeat other creatures with the objective to gain grid spaces. You win the game when you control five spaces or lose when you run out of cards in your deck or your opponent controls five spaces. You also regain one mana when a creature of yours is killed. The rules go further with specific spaces having different elements to the benefit or detriment of your creatures as well as a locking mechanism which doesn’t open until at least four creatures are on the mat. Creatures battle based on direction, attack style, strength, health, counter-attack style, element, and ability. If this all seems overwhelming or confusing, the disc comes complete with a very thorough tutorial system that includes everything from how to set up the game to a demo of two awkward adolescents playing the game. I must warn you though, the tutorial can last up to two hours if you want to learn everything and after about twenty minutes, you may want to just shut it off due to repetitive music and dull vocal instructions. I feel it would have been more helpful to have a written instruction manual so players could learn how to play at their own pace.
The camera itself is very cool. Using the many options for The Eye of Judgment, you can change the frequency of the camera, input the type of lighting your room has to help with card recognition and sensitivity and even tell the game what side of the mat you have your camera standing on. If you have another friend with a Playstation 3 you can use the eye to have video chats with them anywhere around the world. On top of all this, if you would like, you could download a little video editing program for free off of the Sony store and create your own movies using the camera.
The concept of the game is really cool. Each card has a special hieroglyphic code on the top and bottom of the card, the Eye reads the code on the card and the creature appears in full 3D on the screen. If you wish to take a closer look at the creatures, there is a profile option in the game, where as you toss cards onto the mat, the creature will pop up on screen. From here, you can carry the card around the mat, higher or lower in relation to the camera and your creature will follow with your hand on screen. You can even interact with your creatures by swatting at them and seeing the little critters try to bite your fingers on screen. The game also includes a little mini-battle option where you place up to four cards on the screen at the same time, press X to have them ‘duel’ and the strongest of the creatures will emerge victorious. Perhaps this game type is a little useless, but still pretty darn cool to see these pieces of paper take life on their own.
Another mode of play is the impressive online battle system. Beginning by registering your deck for online play by scanning in your cards in the deck builder option; this shows the game you actually own these cards. From here you enter the online system where you chose your alliance, see your honor points, rank and title and create or join a game to battle anyone from around the world. The online play mode works a little differently than offline to counter cheaters. The game draws cards for you, telling you what cards you have in your hand, you then fish these cards out of your deck and play with them. You never see your opponent through the camera and they never see you, although you do get the option of chatting through use of USB keyboard or the Eye’s built in microphone. The biggest issue with online play is that of cheating. Yes, the game tells you what cards you draw so you cannot cheat that way, but what’s to stop a player from going online, downloading card pictures and printing them out for use in the game? Offline, your opponent could see you using slips of printer paper to fight, but online with no camera interaction, how is your opponent to know if your cheating or not? I have read articles stating that Sony’s cards hold special codes that cannot be reproduced by scanning and printing cards, but I have also read articles and seen video proof that this can easily be done. The only silver lining I found was that when I searched for scanned cards online myself, I could not find a site providing these pictures.
When these cards come to life, not only is it in vibrant colour and full polygonal 3D, but the animation is fluid and the graphics crisp. When a gang of monsters attack, they don’t always attack the same way twice and there’s always one or two monsters acting differently. The spell animations are fast and flowing and with the Eye’s quick recognition speed, the game can be fast and furious with no feeling of lag, trouble reading cards or choppiness. On an HDTV the edges are clean and the detail in creature and spell animation is amazingly clear with supported 720P. The audio is also very well thought out and clean, for the most part. Each creature has their own battle call, attack sound effects, and grunts. As well, each menu has its own music. The music used in game is full of hard metal guitar shredding and, while it sounds very strong and fast, adding to the pace of the game, there is only one piece of music played over and over again. The exception is when your opponent controls 4 squares-then the music gets harder and faster, adding to the overall intensity.
The overall feel of the game is one reminiscent of a mix between Magic the Gathering, Yugioh, and the card game played in Playstation One’s Final Fantasy 8. I must state before you go out and buy this game that it is not for everyone, and chances are if you want to win games and not resort to foul play, you will probably have to spend some extra cash on theme decks and booster packs at local game or hobby stores. If you are into collectible card games and are looking to buy the Eye camera for the Playstation 3, then The Eye of Judgment is the perfect title to pick up. As a game with no story, no end, plenty of people to play against anywhere in the world, an unlockable ‘campaign mode’, and with updates and expansion pack opportunities, the Eye of Judgment shows no traces of slowing down any time soon.
Graphics: 4.0 / 5.0
Gameplay 5.0 / 5.0
Sound 3.5 / 5.0
Replay value 5.0 / 5.0
As the Playstation 3′s first big title and some would say, Sony’s Halo killer, Heavenly Sword offers up everything it said it would bring, and more. Developed by Ninja Theory (of Kung-fu Chaos fame) and published by Sony Entertainment, this title has a lot riding on it for the PS3′s first upcoming holiday season and as such; every little detail in this game has been given the most care in creation and development. When this game hit shelves on September 12th, the PS3′s future was no longer in doubt. Created in a very similar style to that of God of War, Heavenly Sword is by far one of the most cinematically sophisticated games to date. This title was originally supposed to be a PC game and has been in development since 2003, but when Sony picked up this title it became an exclusive for PS3, and in my opinion this was a very nice purchase.
When you first pop this game into the console, the first action it takes is to install 2gb worth of data onto your hard drive. From here it gives you a total of 2 options, continue or start new game. Immediately you’re thrown into the fray on a dry wasteland battlefield. Just you, the heavenly sword and about 100-500 bad men wanting to do you harm. A quick tutorial of ‘push square or triangle to attack’ flashes on the screen and after sending legions of men to their deaths, a cut scene emerges in which you die. For those into these types of games, you may remember a very similar intro in Sony’s God of War for the PS2. Same type of intro, but it then cuts to a scene in which Nariko (the fiery redhead commanding the bladed monstrosity) is in a purgatory type setting staring the player down and monologuing like no tomorrow. After about 10 minutes of gameplay and storytelling the main menu appears and the adventure begins 5 days before you meet your demise.
The story behind Heavenly Sword begins as a clan of warriors are burdened with guarding the ancient sword sent from heaven against evil doers and misuse, as the sword eventually kills anyone who uses it in battle. With its undying thirst for blood, the sword must never be used. Nariko (daughter of clan leader Shen) was supposed to be the son prophesized to free her people from a constant war. While in birth Nariko’s mother dies and for this she is shunned and a constant disappointment to her clan, although she is strong in mind and body and the bravest of warriors, she is still looked down upon by her fellow clansmen. The game begins as the clan is being chased by the evil King Bohan (played by Andy Serkis AKA Gollum of Lord of the Rings fame). The Raven king, hell-bent on getting his creepy little mitts on the most powerful sword in existence, in hopes of ruling the lands with sheer power. Bohan captures the majority of your clan, including Shen just minutes after he entrusts the Heavenly Sword in Nariko’s care. There’s only one choice for her-to save her friends and family, she must sacrifice her own life and take the sword in battle to defeat the evil king’s massive army.
The story telling in this game might very well be one of the greatest assets it has going for itself as you could easily imagine seeing it as a movie. The plot is unique enough to warrant interest, yet familiar enough not to confuse you too much, and the dialogue, both in the cut scenes and during the game itself, is so good you’ll want to quote it at the most inopportune moments in real life. Andy Serkis is not only the face and voice of King Bohan, but he’s also the dramatic director in Heavenly sword and as such, you get a slight feel of Serkis’ work in each character and cut scene. Characters throughout the game are unique, and each bring their own aspect and style to the story; from Kai, Nariko’s spunky little side kick with a big crossbow and a couple of screws loose in the brain department to Flying Fox, the second-in-command in Bohan’s army who even gives the king himself the heeby jeebys. The characters each have their own personality and attitude and you truly feel a connection with them as you progress through to the very end, erupting in a very emotional conclusion. Heavenly sword’s plot is something to drink in and enjoy to its fullest. Coupled with the amazing banquet for the eyes this smorgasbord of pleasure has to offer, Playstation 3 fans are in for a feast.
This game is VERY pretty. Lighting effects, smooth and detailed animations, beautiful surroundings and such intricate facial expressions, from intense motion capturing, make Heavenly Sword easily the best looking game out for the PS3 to date. The creation process began so long ago that when Ninja Theory actually began putting the game together, they did so on computers not yet capable of running the actual product. Once the Playstation 3 development kit was in their hands however, the end piece was stunning. The ability to see for miles without the need for fog or other objects to limit sight, having large amounts of characters on the screen at the same time with little signs of slowdown, and the fluid movement from the hundreds of animations each character possesses makes this game by far the most visually impressive I have played on the PS3. Looking closer at the characters faces in cut scenes, mid game window boxes (like the show 24 or a comic book style shot), you see each movement of the brow, each small detail you might not even catch on a human’s face creating such a realistic impression of emotion that as a player, you know the exact feelings Noriko has as her father shouts orders. The only downside to the graphics this game presents is that of hair. Kai, Noriko, Shen, Flying Fox-pretty much every character that has hair is a little off as the hair itself randomly jumps and flickers wildly as if to simulate wind or movement. The hair animation is more like that of WWE’s Smackdown for Playstation 1 in 2000, choppy and awkward. Supporting HD up to 720p, this might be the title that makes you go out and buy a new TV just to enjoy it to its fullest. The only issue I had was the constantly similar splatters of blood that came out of the drones time and time again, a little more animation or variety would have been nice there.
As stunning as a game is, it can only be compared to that of its audio quality and Ninja theory again did well in this department. The music depicts the struggle of Noriko and Kai very well, with a solid supply of traditional eastern war drumming, really suiting the game. The drums and subtle stringed instruments don’t overpower the screams and metal clashing of the game. However, during cut scenes in which Noriko gives a speech or something dramatic along those lines it is sometimes hard to hear what she has to say (this is corrected with an option to turn music volumes down and dialogue volumes up). The voice acting (which is performed by the same people that do the motion capturing for each character) suits the personalities well and it feels believable and acceptable when watching them in action. Heavenly Sword is presented in Dolby Digital and with a surround sound setup, the amazing variety and quality of sound effects will not leave you bored of the same clashing noises over and over again.
As often as it happens, a game that is remarkably stunning and has large production values usually falters under its control issues. Fortunately, this is not the case with Heavenly Sword as it provides you with a control schemes that is easy to understand. To begin with, the sword you wield is beefy and has 3 modes of use. If you hold down the L1 button while playing you enter the Heavenly Range stance where your two blades are connected to chains and you whirl them around your body in a mix of what looks like nun chuck movements and God of War style attacks, creating a little whirlwind around your range and doing weaker but farther reaching attacks. When the R1 button is pressed, Heavenly Power stance is activated in which both blades come together to create a big heavy strong sword that, while slower, inflicts more damage when it connects (this is the blade you see on the cover of the game). Finally, when neither L1 or R1 are being pressed you use the default Heavenly Speed stance in which you hold 2 blades and attack with moderate range, speed and power. As you progress through the game, new combos are unlocked, the standard square, square, triangle type of maneuvers, but the more complex combos include different stances and can create some pretty unique attacks. As well, certain enemy attacks are colour coded and can only be blocked or countered by certain stances which lead to even more creativity and split second decisions when fending off attacks. The mechanics of this game leave it up to the player. You can play as a simple button mashing game (there are 2 buttons for attack and no block button) or you can play as technical as you like, making use of the combos, countering with the right stance at the right moment and dodging every which way with the right analog stick. Not to forget the Sixaxis motion sensor control. Heavenly sword makes use of the ‘after touch’ ability in which you grab any item that’s throwable (from watermelons to dead bodies) and you can control its path of travel by tilting the controller in that direction. This also happens with Noriko’s cannon and Kai’s crossbow.
The game itself, while pretty short and could be criticized as a God of War rip off, is still a very satisfying title to play through. At times it feels like you just travel from a room full of bad people to a room full of even more bad people until you get to a boss battle, but this isn’t entirely a bad thing. To break up the repetitive battle sequences sometimes there are little puzzles to complete (even though there are few puzzles in the game and they usually consist of hitting a target using after touch) as well, before a number of battles, you have the opportunity to play as Kai and shoot off a number of enemies before they get to Nariko for the actual battle. This gives a new sense of variety as well as lessens the toughness of the battle afterwards. The boss battles, while there aren’t many, are extremely gratifying due to the character development. You feel like you know the thought processes of these characters, and with the facial and voice acting, feel as if they are real people. The boss battles are usually broken up into stages, which makes them last very long, giving a chance for a series of mini-battles with a few nice little cut scenes in between. Like God of War, when you defeat the boss, as well as in other areas of the game, there are action sequences in which you push the corresponding buttons as they show up on the screen, leading (more often than not) to very gruesome and painful looking kills. While playing Heavenly Sword, almost every object on the ground can be thrown or kicked into enemies and on top of this, the after touch sensors makes it a little more unique than other games in this genre. The object detection while throwing objects or shooting arrows is like nothing I have ever played before; when shooting through a gate for example, tilt the controller left slightly and the arrow passes through the bars and into the enemy’s neck. Tilt to the right and the arrow sticks into the bar or bounces off (depending on if it is wood or metal). In putting all these small and fun details into the game it feels as though they didn’t worry too much about every other bad guy you fight. In total there are about 8 or 9 types of enemies (besides the bosses) and they quickly get boring and repetitive.
Once you beat this game, is it worth keeping? It all depends on how well you play the first time through. As you execute combos, deal damage and avoid getting hit you earn ‘glyphs’ and the more glyphs you have, the more special features and combination attacks you unlock. Of these special features you can view two of the five (available on the Sony Store) animated cartoons that act as a prequel to this game and shed a little history on the Heavenly Sword. Also unlockable is an art gallery, cut scene gallery of videos you already saw in game, and a very sweet set of “making of” videos explaining in great detail everything from sound creation to motion capturing. You do have the ability to go back to specific levels and retry them to collect more glyphs, but once you have all of them, there isn’t much else to do. This game lacks any multiplayer action, which would have been amazing. One player being Nariko and the Heavenly Sword, with the other supporting as Kai with the crossbow. The lack of online play or even an option for any online content seems a bit strange considering even games like Lair have some form of network aspect to them.
If you’re looking for a quick game to beat on a weekend, or are a fan of the God of War series or sharp objects in general, I recommend Heavenly Sword as a good diversion to everyday life.
Graphics: 5.0 / 5.0
Gameplay 4.0 / 5.0
Sound 4.5 / 5.0
Replay value 3.0 / 5.0
Sony’s Playstation Store this week added Blast Factor Advanced Research, an add on pack for the downloadable game Blast Factor on Playstation 3. The store will also feature demos of The Darkness and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2.
· Blast Factor Advanced Research Add-On Pack ($5.99 CDN): Download the new add-on pack now available for Blast Factor on the Playstation Store. The fierce microbial war against deadly viral swarms continues with seven new specimens, 11 new enemies, seven new bosses and seven new high-adrenaline music tracks.
· The Darkness demo (free): Play as Jackie Estacado, a mafia hitman who comes into an unexpected inheritance on his 21st birthday, in 2K’s latest first-person shooter, The Darkness. Developed by accomplished developer Starbreeze and based on the comic book created by Top Cow Productions, Inc, The Darkness delivers extremely intense, cinematic action in this gritty FPS with a horror twist.
· Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2 demo (free): The year is 2014, and the soldier of the future returns to encounter a new and more imminent threat along the recently completed wall on the US/Mexican border. The Ghosts are more powerful, but will have only 72 hours to assess the threat and stop it before it reaches U.S. soil.
· Movie Trailers (free): Download movie trailers for the upcoming releases, Michael Clayton, Get Smart, and The Game Plan.
PS3 launch title, Resistance: Fall of Man is Insomniac Games’ attempt at getting everyone excited for the future of the Playstation 3, a sign of things to come. If this is just a glimpse of what this machine has to offer, then the gaming community is in for an amazing future.
Insomniac, know for such games as Ratchet & Clank, created this FPS (first person shooter) not only to expand their genre base, but also to showcase the capabilities of this machine right off the bat. The difference between this game and the slew of other recent FPS’s is that this company did their research and tried to gather the best aspects of all others of the same genre out there and put it all into this ultimate launch title.
The game takes place in the 1950’s. WWII never happened and instead a monster race known only as the Chimera (not to be mistaken for the Greek mythological creature made up of different animals) have invaded and taken over Russia, Asia and eventually the UK. You play as Nathan Hale, an average American soldier sent into England to battle off the Chimera scourge and liberate the world from this unknown terror.
With creative weaponry (alongside the average wartime arsenal), extremely enjoyable artificial intelligence (the Chimera will actually fall back and reform their strategy depending on how you proceed), and co-op mode (offline only); if you were to buy only one FPS at launch time, this would be it.
The graphics in this game are what you would expect from a next generation launch title, pretty and shiny… for the most part. The weapon and character designs are out of this world (no pun intended) with such detail that one could spend an hour easily just admiring every little facial movement and bullet effect. At a constant 30 frames per second, there is never a skip or a stutter no matter how much carnage and mayhem are on screen. Any number of AI players battling, tanks rolling by and planes crashing overhead will not slow this beast down. That being said, the environment, although it gets the job done, does not really impress the player as one can shoot a tube off a Chimera’s back with satisfaction, yet a grenade will barely move a lid off a garbage can or a corpse on a table. This game supports HD output at a decent 720p, which although makes it look great, is not as impressive as other shooters on the market today.
In terms of sound, it is again what one would expect from a great shooter – explosions and screams from every direction. With a good sound system, the player can actually hear the bullets whizzing by Hale’s head and the ground shake as a tank pulls by. The voice acting when available (Hale is the strong, silent type), is acceptable and in sync with the mouth movements. As with most games where cinematic presence is not as crucial as game play or control, the music suffers. It is what it is, generic war music that pipes up at especially critical moments that serve more as a warning then to set the mood. Not that this is bad, just not particularly memorable. Resistance is presented in THX so don’t forget to plug in that big subwoofer, turn the volume up and let the noise of war take over.
Control is a key factor for high speed first person action, and Insomniac knows when to be creative and when to keep it simple. The controller set up for Resistance is very similar to most other FPS and are just as tight and quick as the rest. What was interesting about Resistance was the ways in which they chose to manipulate the PS3’s Sixaxis motion sensor. At certain occurrences in the game you must shake the controller in your hands to do certain actions such as putting out a fire on your back or freeing yourself from a deadly Chimerian love hug.
The length of this game is quite substantial, netting around 12 hours from start to finish. On top of the story duration there are also extras to unlock and secrets to find throughout the campaign mode giving you plenty of reasons to play again and again. Perhaps a second time through with a friend in the offline co-op mode might make things more interesting. The most impressive aspect of this game was the online multi-playing action. At a constant speed with no signs of lag, up to 40 players can play together (or against each other) at the same time as either the evil Chimera or the brave Americans, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.
In the end, however, it’s all about fun, and Resistance: Fall of Man delivers on that front. There are a few negative aspects of the game, the biggest being the lack of interactive environment. It just seems odd that one can see bullet blurs as they whiz by, but cannot shoot a single hole in the wall of a building. The story and character development themselves are a bit fuzzy and not too deep, but again, this game is about fun and a good story is hard to find in a first person shooter. If you’re looking for a fun pick up and play game or a staple for multiplayer mayhem, Resistance: Fall of Man is the way to go.
Replay Value: 5.0/5.0
At the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas today, Sony announced that the Playstation 3 gaming console has sold more than one million units in North America. It took only 6 weeks to hit this milestone.
Plagued by delays, the PS3 was released on Nov. 17, with units selling out in minutes. Those looking to buy one may have been forced to pay more than twice the unit price through online auction site EBay.
“Reaching the one million mark for PS3 is the first of many major milestones for us as we head into a new year. Even more impressive, is that we were able to accomplish this feat while successfully managing two other platforms-PS2 and PSP,” said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment.
“With three PlayStation platforms now available to users, 2007 will be about software and delivering innovative, new experiences and award-winning franchises to consumers, both through retail and through our online Playstation Network.”
If you’re attending CES, Sony has a handful of games and new products available on display at their booth.