Category Archives: Gaming News

PlayStation Home Getting A Bullet In Its Head, Finally

I remember watching the 2007 GDC Sony press conference when they announced PlayStation Home, an ambitious 3D chat room and pseudo-themepark for all things PlayStation. I thought, at the time, “So, this is what it looks like for Sony to take a risk with their online service. Interesting.” Mind you, at the time I was waiting for Sony to challenge Xbox Live’s domination of console services, in spite of the then $50 per annum price. They just lacked the same stability and… frankly… I could never stomach playing an FPS on that tiny DualShock 3.

I saw a lot of potential in that initial presentation. Common areas, a flexible infrastructure to play games in, collectibles. But then it launched to be an absolute mess. Most of what you could do at launch was walk around, text chat, rearrange your apartment, participate in the farce of 3D chat room dance parties, and maybe play some cheapish games that would feel more like the remote control boats at Six Flags. Oh, and ads. Tons of ads. But what really closed the door on PlayStation Home to me was the terribly unresponsive interface. I felt I was playing on a remote PC routed hacker-style through servers in Russia, South Africa, and Uruguay.

Today, I learned that PlayStation Home has it’s head on the chopping block, and the ax falls March 2015.

It’s about time.

PlayStation Home was pushed by Phil Harrison after seeing it’s predecessor, a 2D multiplayer lobby on PlayStation 2 called “Hub”. Imagining potential, he killed the project on PS2 and moved it up to PS3. Today, PlayStation Home has played host to many micro games and even some larger game experiences. Home even ran an alternate reality game (like we haven’t had enough of them). But ultimately, all those experiences were built on the same stilted, unresponsive system, the very system that was supposed to enable all these experiences.

So, for anyone who tried PlayStation Home, this comes as no surprise.

So, to bid PlayStation Home goodbye, we should pay homage to the greatest thing that Home gave us: an epic troll. This should come as a surprise.

Final Fantasy XIV: ARR Pre Re Launch

Not many people know this but Square has a very successful MMO that has garnered attention as being one of the most difficult and unforgiving games in the genre. Not only that but it was built by using the example of the original EverQuest as its base. That game was Final Fantasy XI. Since its initial launch, FFXI has seen a multitude of improvements, additional playable classes as well as general plethora of content. Most of its player base think of themselves as the most hardcore MMO players out there and camping a monster for a whole week only to have a shot at a 1% drop rate item proves this. Now, a few years back, Square released what they wanted to be the successor to FFXI in the form of Final Fantasy XIV.

Needless to say….it failed.

FFXIV tried its best to capture too many people’s hearts but ended up being a broken mess. It incorporated FFXI’s system of one player being able to become any job or class. Basically, if you got tired of healing, you could deal out damage instead. One of the best MMO systems out there but for some reason the classes all felt fairly bleh. Mostly because there was no auto attack at launch forcing you to spam your button over and over again. Anyone who has played an MMO knows that this is not fun at all. In addition to this, there were a multitude of bugs, little to no content, the content they did have for end game revolved around doing obscene amounts of repetitive work for barely any reward and, overall, it just wasn’t really that fun. Graphically speaking, it was the top of its time forcing everyone to either upgrade their PCs or play on low settings which caused the game to become an ugly pile of…I think you get my point..

Since then, a genius developer by the name of Yoshi-P took the reigns of the game’s direction. He began by trying his best to fix the broken game. First he added auto attack, more ways to gain experience, tweaks to dungeons, etc. Overall making the game at least standable. Like being able to stand your ex-girlfriend showing up at every party that she wasn’t invited to…tolerated but not enjoyed. But I digress…. After a couple of major patches, our Dev Yoshi threw his hands up and yelled, “Screw this! I’m blowing it all up!” And blow it up he did. As seen in the video below named appropriately “The end of an era”, the world of Eorzea is destroyed and as a result Yoshi-P was able to craft an all new realm from this shattered failure of a game. Which leads us to…

A Realm Reborn.

So here we are. To give you a little insight into my information, I have been included in every beta phase for this new incarnation so far and currently in Early Access. I was never an adopter of the original but have played this game and bought the collector’s edition simply from going from lvl 1 – 20. This new game is the epitome of what Final Fantasy fans are looking for. But we’ll break it down into small bite size portions so that you can appreciate it a bit better. I’ll only cover graphics, gameplay and, most important for an mmo,  the basic dev-community relationship. Oh, and pretty pictures.

Character

Graphics (Engine)

Put simply, this game has become one of the most beautiful MMOs to date from both an art and technical point of view. Currently, I believe the game supports DirectX 9 but DX11 will soon be enabled for those high end pcs. The models move seamlessly with the terrain, taking steps when there are steps and bouncing up and down with a fairly realistic physics engine when on a chocobo. There are a couple of hiccups to the model when you look very close but the dev team explained that to make the game accessible to almost everyone, they couldn’t include certain features that would make the edges and corners smoother. In layman’s, the characters are pretty like a rose but if you look too too close you’ll find some thorns.

Graphics

Gameplay

There are a small group of classes to pick from initially which all branch into jobs. Included in this version is a brand new class called Arcanist who commands the mighty spirit Carbuncle and offshoots into Scholar and Summoner. This class was never included in the original and already it shows great promise to what the devs can do in the future. That aside, all the classes feel very unique this time around and not one class feels overly powerful. A balanced group of classes to pick from makes things that much easier during events like Player vs. Player as well as just general DPS E-Peen measuring contests. Pardon my E-french.

Outside of the classes, the world itself is abundant with quests, beautiful scenery and a new system called FATEs. FATEs are essentially the random world quests that Guild Wars 2 created except it is possible to solo these and actually gain exp from it. A lot of the higher level world quests in GW2 ended up going on into failure because one person could not make much of a difference against a mob of 20 – 30 monsters all targeting you. In addition to this, there are multiple playable dungeons, fights against FF Aeon/Primal/Avatar/Eidolons like Ifrit and they both feature harder difficulties. Yoshi-P in a recent interview commented on a 8 man raid titled, “The Labyrinth of Bahamut” noting that he believes out of every player in the world…no more than 100 would be able to pass it before major patch 2.1 comes out. If you don’t know, I love when games beat me down….so to hear the dev thinking that so few would pass this battle makes me melt with anticipation. Ahem.

Gameplay

Dev <3 Community

Yes, the heart is intentional. GW2 led the way for MMOs really listening to their fans. I don’t mean, fixing a bug or anything like that but actually looking into the things that the community is complaining or gushing about and fixing them. Square Enix was notorious for saying the phrase “It’s working as intended” for anything that the community would bring up as an improvement in FFXI. It got to the point where the fans would start using this term as a joke and never expected anything to happen. During the beta phases and even early access, the dev team for FFXIV ARR has listened and added so many features that they never planned to put in. Not only that but they also release information quicker than most people can complain. Not to mention that up until this point, there were a multitude of pictures and a live Q and A to truly give us some idea of what is going on and answer hard questions. This is something that I wish every game Dev would do for their online games. Listen.

Yoshi

I understand that games are meant to make money for the company but at the same time, each game you create should be a love letter to us. It should make us feel things we’ve never felt and seriously push us to be better gamers and crave your next installment. There are so few game creators to date that show the passion and commitment that Yoshi P and crew have shown in not only fixing but creating a brand new game from a failed project.

That said, I hope you’ve gotten some basic information about the relaunch of FFXIV. In my opinion, this game will blow away most hardcore and softcore fans of MMOs and Final Fantasy in general. However, when it launches on Tuesday August 27th, only time will tell if this game will fall for good….or be reborn.

Call of Duty: Ghosts – Into the Light

At the beginning of May, Activision announced that the newest installment in the COD franchise, Call of Duty: Ghosts, will be released on Nov. 5th, 2013. Along with the projected release date, Activision also released its customary teaser trailer. Call of Duty: Ghosts’ trailer featured men in different war masks, supposedly representing different eras of warriors in the history of the world. While the trailer did not expose any information on the game itself, it has still peaked the interest of people across the world.

The Call of Duty franchise as a whole has shattered sales records across the full spectrum of gaming. So while many COD fans were excited about the release of the teaser trailer, one critical sales and marketing pitch still remains for the world to see; a fully functioning and very engaging demo. Activision is releasing a demo to highlight the new gameplay in Call of Duty: Ghosts. The debut will be featured at the Xbox 720 reveal on May 21st. The live debut can be seen on the Xbox Live network as well as Spike TV. This major gameplay reveal at a premiere Xbox event suggests a renewed exclusivity contract between Microsoft and the COD franchise may be in the works. In 2012, COD agreed to allow Microsoft (Xbox) to have first rights on the release of new DLC and other goodies before Sony (PlayStation). This contract left PlayStation and Sony alone in the rain for 1 month after content release; while Xbox allowed its gamers to level up and prestige before everyone else. If such a contract were to be renewed, that could spell trouble for Sony and the new PS4. This demo release may prove to be an important marker as gaming continues further into 2013.

A curious point of interest has arisen about the title choice for this new Call of Duty. The new title seems to suggest a whole new storyline being introduced into the COD franchise. With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, there is a recurring storyline or sequence of events that speak specifically to the MW series. The same practice applies to the Black Ops series. And when the sequels came about for each of those games, they were numbered accordingly (Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3, and Black Ops 2). So introducing this installment with a new name suggests an all new storyline with all new characters. Perhaps with a third storyline, this game will connect the interactions between Modern Warfare and Black Ops with Ghosts. Also, some argue that Call of Duty: Ghost may be an in-depth look at a former character in the Modern Warfare timeline. In MW2, Ghost was killed alongside another soldier. In theory, this maybe a prequel following the life of Ghost before his death.  Only in-depth gameplay will truly tell.

In addition to a different title for each storyline, each series offers a unique element of gaming in the Call of Duty world. With Modern Warfare, we were introduced to survival gameplay as well as co-op missions. In Black Ops, we were given local combat training and the highly acclaimed zombie series. Following the obvious trend, Ghost should provide a new type of stimulating and unique gameplay. Perhaps with the advances being made in video game programming, simulated battles will place players in the thick of the action with the objective to survive or die trying. Regardless of what unique characteristics they bring to Call of Duty: Ghost, gamers are sure to love it.

Call of Duty: Ghosts is set to be released Nov. 5th, just before the winter rush for holiday shopping. Pre-order packages for the videogame differ from one company to another. GameFly is offering $7 in credit for a preorder of Ghosts, while GameStop offers a two sided poster. Best Buy provides the best pre-order package, offering a $15 gift card for pre-ordering the game. This could be used to pay for another game or even a new subscription to Xbox Live. Only time will tell if any better offers are made or added to sweeten the deal for pre-ordering Call of Duty: Ghosts.

The Call of Duty franchise has forever changed series gaming as we know it and Ghosts promises to, “shock and awe” the world again. With competition such as Battlefield 4 and PlayStation in the wings with the new PS4, the battle for king of FPS games will surely rage on through the end of 2013. And we will decide who is crowned the victor.

 

Author: Roger Thomas III

Wii U Direct

[kkytv id=”4MzG6lDA1A0″]

 

Since the launch of the Wii U, sales have been rather slow compared to the launch of the Wii. With 2.5 million Wii U’s sold to date over 2 months, it’s hard to believe that Nintendo needs to worry about showing the merits of its product. However, this Wii U direct released last week shows its faithful as well as unbelievers exactly what it’s looking to.

 

The video starts off with the amazing Iwata-san explaining how surprised his team was with the love that MiiVerse has received and then showcases some very amazing art. I personally was also amazed. I thought at first that these were all from Nintendo themselves but soon found out that this was not the case. Rather, these were all players who adopted the system early and were so excited that they could show off their artistic talent that they have religiously drawn new pictures day after day.

 

The current state of the MiiVerse is that of a large yet close knit family, one that you don’t see on other networks as of yet. Usually it’s all about trolling and trash talk but something about MiiVerse’s limitations, moderation as well as its artistic freedom has made a community that I actually browse through day after day. Iwata warns near the end of his first segment to be careful or you will be caught looking at MiiVerse for hours, he’s pretty right on.

 

Continuing with the video, Iwata begins to talk about ways that they will be making the system better as a whole including “faster software launch” and “faster returns to the Wii home menu”. These are two problems that have pissed many a gamer off, I’m sure everyone is glad to hear that they will be harnessing their 2 gigs of ram to provide a speedy switch.

Continuing on with the video, Iwata talks about the Virtual Console for Wii U. The Virtual Console service that only Nintendo has offered is unbelievable in depth and value. However, the plan to bring it to Wii U has many gamers worried. Let me alleviate that with a few words, optional service. You CAN buy these games again for the Wii U at $1.00 or $1.50 if you already owned them before for the ability to play them on your Gamepad by itself. Or you don’t and simply play them through the Wii button. Easy as that.

 

As for the Balloon Fight “test” game. It works great and runs great. In addition to being able to play on the gamepad, Nintendo has also offered a way to customize controls which was absent from previous incarnations. I will personally be rebuying each of these games so I can have the freedom of playing them without disturbing whoever is watching TV when I stomp into the room demanding video game satisfaction.

 

Moving on with the video, Iwata apologizes saying, “There will be no new titles from Nintendo in January and Februrary.” He continues on to explain that Nintendo would rather delay games and make them good then release crappy games on time. This is very similar to a quote made by fan favorite Shigeru Miyamoto on the same topic,” A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”

 

Iwata then immediately dives into what all you readers really care about, what games are coming in 2013! First, Iwata says that from March until the end of summer there will be a steady stream of games starting with Game and Wario, Wii Fit U, Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, Lego City Undercover.

 

From there, touching lightly on E3, Iwata says that there will be a new Mario and Mario Kart game demo playable this year as well, less exciting, screens of the brand new Smash Bros game will be shown. No doubt, E3 will be exciting.

Next, Platinum Games shows off Bayonetta 2 and talks about their vision for the game. Followed shortly after, they announce the successor to party game, Wii Party. As well as a brand new Yoshi game, a suprise collaboration title from Atlus Shin Megami Tensei called X Fire Emblem, an HD version of Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, an and unnamed project from Monolithsoft which looks a lot like an incredibly detailed and polished Xenoblades.

 

From this writer’s point of view, 2013 will be the proving ground for the big N’s new system and it isn’t looking like it will disappoint fans of both Nintendo and new gamers just getting their hands on this system. My wallet is already crying.

 

Author: Andron Hill

The Phantom Pain: Declassified

It’s been a month since we caught our first glimpse of the trailer for upcoming title, The Phantom Pain. Since then, the gaming community has disected and theorized on what this mystery game from upstart swedish developer Moby Dick Studio really is. To many gamer’s delight, the signs all point to a brand new Metal Gear Solid title.
This article will touch on some of the major theories and facts surrounding the mystery all in this one handy post.

The Vga awards and the phantom studio:

Since its inception back in 2003, the VGAs have gained media recognition and revere making it one of the few award shows only for video games. Because of this, it has become one of the ways big name developers have used to show off their newest games. So imagine everyone’s surprise when a brand new rookie studio emerged on stage to show a very high fidelity trailer for a previously unannounced game.

The developer, aptly named Moby Dick Studios, is headed by a Joakim Morgen whose goal is to, ” deliver an uncompromising, exciting and touching game experience to people all around the globe.” To start, their domain had not been live for more than a few weeks before the VGAs. Second, you can easily discern that “Joakim Morgen” is an anagram for Kojima who happens to be the father of the Metal Gear Solid Franchise.

Finally, at the VGAs, witnesses claim that they saw members from the Moby Dick Studio team relaxing in the Konami booth after their presentation. Suspsicious much?

But what about the trailer?:

Perhaps I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, let’s take a look at the trailer shall we?

First, the trailer is very reminisicient of the previous titles in the series. Lots of gunplay mixed with a touch of supernatural events and beings.
Delving deeper, we begin to see a few more interesting tidbits.

Phantom Pain 1
If you stop the video at ~0:20 then you’ll notice white flower petals floating down as an artificial limb seems to reach for them. Veterans of this series will be able to trace these petals back to MGS3 where a certain Boss was surrounded by these same flowers. This points to it being related to MGS3 and we can guess that the man in the bed may in fact be Big Boss.

Phantom pain 3
Continuing with the trailer, there are plenty of theories of who is what but finally, after the flash of the Phantom Pain logo, we see the protagonist’s face for the first time and he strikes an uncanny resemblance to the series’ hero Solid Snake who we all know is a clone of Big Boss. And if not, spoilers.

Now, for the big one and a bit of a stretch. Let’s take a look at the actual title shot of “The Phantom Pain” At first glance, there’s nothing too glaring but if you look close enough, you’ll start seeing a little something off.
phantom pain 2

See it yet? If not, let this .gif help you out.
phantom title
Yeah, pretty “coincedental”.

So what does it all mean?:
Honestly, at the moment, it’s heresay. Kojima recently came out and informed the media that he was amused that the protagonist of this game looked so much like Snake but he has nothing to do with the development of this title. Now, we know that this is a true statement as he has said before that he wants his team to take the series in a new direction. However, hidden once again in the name Joakim Morgen is the word Ogre which is the major project Kojima has been working on in earnest over the past few years.

Time will tell whether or not this is a brand new MGS game or simply a brand new IP but my money is on the former. I’m sure all will be revealed this June at E3.