So how does the prospect of not being able to play used games and not having backwards compatibility strike you for PlayStation 4? If you believe a rumor out of Japan this is exactly what Sony is planning with their next console. Limiting or restricting the ability to play used games seems to me to be incredibly short-sighted and downright ignorant on the part of Sony AND any game developers who support that move.
What about video stores who rent games or services like Gamefly? Do Sony and other game developers/publishers think they will increase sales if people can’t play rented games? I don’t think so. I think a lot of people may try a game out for a night and then purchase it if they like it. And even if they don’t, who gives a damn? I mean do they really need to squeeze every last nickel out of gamers? Guess what…Sony, Sega, EA, Ubisoft…they’re not giving gamers a refund when they pay $60 for a crappy game. Want to make a system that can’t play used games? Fine…then you better start selling them for $20.
Let’s get to the rest of the news…
No used games on PlayStation 4?
PlayStation 4, code named Orbis, is still likely a good two years away but that’s not stopping some details from leaking out and its not good news if you like to buy used games as places like Gamestop or off eBay. If reports from a Japanese site are true, downloads through the PlayStation Network would be locked to your PSN account, as would any disc-based games you purchase, meaning they won’t be able to be played on someone else’s console.
From the sound of it, this would essentially be an online pass for all physical games built in at the system level. Many publishers would certainly be happy, particularly if it saved them the trouble of having to implement an online pass themselves. GameStop CEO Paul Raines recently cast doubt on the possibility of the next Xbox (or any system) blocking used games. He may be right, but probably only in so far as used games will be playable, just in very limited fashion. And that’s not all…it also sounds like there will be no backwards compatibility with the PS4 to play older PS games unless downloaded from the PSN. Oh happy days!
BioWare to Address Mass Effect 3 ending
While listening to fans about the controversial ending of Mass Effect 3, BioWare is addressing the issue although not necessarily changing the ending. The following is from BioWare’s Co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka:
"Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics ? but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility," he said.
"I believe passionately that games are an art form, and that the power of our medium flows from our audience, who are deeply involved in how the story unfolds, and who have the uncontested right to provide constructive criticism. At the same time, I also believe in and support the artistic choices made by the development team. The team and I have been thinking hard about how to best address the comments on ME3's endings from players, while still maintaining the artistic integrity of the game."
"Building on their research, Exec Producer Casey Hudson and the team are hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey," Muzyka explained. "You'll hear more on this in April. We're working hard to maintain the right balance between the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we've received. This is in addition to our existing plan to continue providing new Mass Effect content and new full games, so rest assured that your journey in the Mass Effect universe can, and will, continue."
So what does all this mean? Right now, nothing. Muzyka carefully avoids saying the ending will be changed. This is about as good a tap dance as I have seen in a while and at this point we can only wait to see what happens.
Fifth Runes of Magic Chapter coming in June
International publisher Frogster Interactive Pictures AG has announced the upcoming release of Fires of Shadowforge, the fifth chapter to the fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Runes of Magic, for June 2012. The expansion will bring new zones complete with dungeons, as well as a brand new playable dwarf race, offering players a choice between two new original arcane classes -- Sorcerer and Champion.
Chapter V: Fires of Shadowforge sees the reappearance of a race of Dwarves that has lain hidden beneath the ground of Taborea -- Shadowforge Dwarves. Bearing, curious tattoos for distinction, the Shadowforge Dwarves are close relatives of the Fireboot Dwarves and share their unique ability to manipulate dark elements to improve their mastery of blacksmithing. However, after a dispute with their dwarven brethren, they were banished below the surface of the earth to live out their existence.
While founding a new kingdom within the cave systems east of the region, the Shadowforge Dwarves spent their time channeling spiritual energy and perfecting the art of runecraft. The years spent underground out of reach of the sun, coupled with their ardent experimentation with the dark elements, have drastically altered their appearance, making their skin pale and their eyes the fieriest among their kin.
Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two announced
Disney Interactive Media Group today announced the development of “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two,” the sequel to the critically acclaimed and commercially successful “Disney Epic Mickey” video game. “Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two” returns Mickey Mouse and for the first time ever, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Walt Disney’s first cartoon star, to Wasteland, an alternate world filled with 80 years of forgotten Disney characters and theme park attractions. Mickey and Oswald will join forces as true partners – Mickey with his magical paint brush that wields paint and thinner, and Oswald with his powerful remote control that allows him to command electricity.
Nintendo invites you to a Titanic Mystery!
As Titanic's 100th anniversary approaches, Titanic Mystery for Wii and Nintendo DS™ships to stores nationwide on April 3 at $29.99 MSRP. Embark on a new journey to commemorate Titanic's maiden voyage in 1912 and experience an adventure of intrigue and suspense aboard a majestic new ship with all the glory and heritage of the original. In a newly released and suspenseful trailer, see a glimpse of what the future may hold for the glorious new ocean liner, Titanic II. Begin the adventure of solving a century old mystery, save the Titanic II from possible destruction and survive the icy waters of the North Atlantic to reach your destination.
Rising Star Games Releases Teaser Trailer for Akai Katana
The Japanese parallel world of Akai Katana is slashing its way onto North American shelves and to get fans excited, publisher Rising Star Games has created an all-new teaser trailer, which can be viewed below.
Releasing exclusively for Xbox 360 this spring, Akai Katana comes as a stunning HD addition to the shmup (shoot 'em up) arena, set in a parallel world resembling Japan 's Taisho period. Discovering the powerful blood katana, the world's empire has resorted to human sacrifices in order to unleash the swords' immense destructive power against neighboring countries. However, when the bloodshed turns towards the families of a small group of swordsmen, a rebel uprising begins. With new fighter planes and the powered up swords at their disposal, this small band now fights back against the tyrannical empire.
Akai Katana is published by Rising Star Games and developed by CAVE Interactive. Players will be treated to a complete side-scrolling shooter experience, combining intense bullet-hell gameplay with an open and easily accessible mechanic, all presented in HD.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
Devil May Cry Collection (Capcom) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
The Devil May Cry HD collection brings the first three original Devil May Cry titles, Devil May Cry, Devil May Cry 2, and Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Special Edition together in one high definition package for the first time.
Devil May Cry: Originally released in 2001, Devil May Cry introduces Dante, a professional demon hunter driven by the single-minded urge for revenge. Convinced to join the struggle against a demon emperor, Dante's skill, style and attitude will lead to a range of experiences, but many things in life, as well as death are not necessarily what they seem. The game features mission-based leveled combat, that introduces the franchises graded style-based combat, as well as powerful "Devil Trigger" functionality, which temporarily transforms Dante with demonic powers.
Devil May Cry 2: Released in 2003, Devil May Cry 2 centers on Dante and his new devilishly agile partner Lucia in their fight to defeat a man hell-bent on achieving supreme power through the raising of a terrifyingly dangerous demon. In addition to the graded combat and demonic powers seen in the earlier release, the game contains new defenses abilities and upgraded existing abilities.
Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening Special Edition is the definitive edition of Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening. The game is a prequel to the entire series, that explores the shaping of Dante's character leading up to the events of the original game. The game features an updated combat system that allows the player to select from multiple combat styles that can be altered at different points in the game. Along with the original game, this special edition released in 2006 features a number of enhancements, including the opportunity to play as Dante's twin brother, Vergil, and the addition of the Bloody Palace Mode and the Turbo Mode.
Titanic Mystery (O-Games) Rated T Nintendo Wii, DS
Titanic Mystery is an Adventure-Puzzle game that challenges the player to ratchet up their puzzle-solving skills in order to avert a catastrophe aboard the fictional Titanic II luxury liner that could rival that of the original vessel. Features include Hidden Object gameplay containing timeless secrets about the original Titanic, 30 intricate game levels, 30 challenging mini-games and easy-to-use Wii Remote controls.
Titanic Mystery is a game of exploration and mystery in the search for a hidden bomb on the new ocean liner, Titanic II. Join in the journey to try and locate the bomb to save the ship and all the passengers onboard. Along the way players will uncover clues and investigate the ship while learning secrets of the original Titanic. With 30 intricate levels each containing challenging mini-games, players will encounter elaborate twists and turns around every corner. Filled with adventure and suspense, Titanic Mystery is sure to be a game the whole family will enjoy.
Kinect Star Wars (LucasArts) Rated T Xbox 360
Feel the Force. You are the Controller.
“Kinect Star Wars™” brings Star Wars to life like never before. Harnessing the controller-free power of Kinect for Xbox 360, “Kinect Star Wars” allows fans to physically hone their Jedi skills, wield the power of the Force in their hands, pilot iconic ships and vehicles, rampage as a vicious Rancor monster or even dance with iconic Star Wars characters. Using full body motions, players can live out the ultimate Star Wars fantasy to use the Force, battle with a Lightsaber and more -- no controller required.
MLB 2K12 (2K Sports) Rated E PS3 , Xbox 360
Last week I reviewed Sony’s MLB 12: The Show. Now its time for the second part of Level Up’s look at the annual baseball heavyweights with MLB 2K12 from 2K sports. Now would I be less than objective if I gave MLB 2K12 extra credit for having the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, on the cover? Take that Jared Weaver, you big cry baby! Ok ok…back to business.
Unlike MLB: The Show which featured a major overhaul to its pitching mechanics, MLB 2K12 sticks with what has worked for them the past few years. That’s not to say that there are not improvements. In fact there are quite a lot of them. But rather than major changes the enhancements are more fine-tuning than anything else. For example, while the analog pitch control system hasn’t changed, the game’s overall AI has been improved to make pitching more realistic and challenging. Batters are more apt to learn your pitching patterns. If you like to throw a heater down the middle on the first pitch, batters are going to know that and jump all over it. More than ever your catcher is there to suggest what you should throw and you might want to pay attention. He’s not there just to catch the ball but call the game. The ability to work with pitchers and know what to call is a vastly underrated skill of MLB catchers and 2K12 has really made it a point to increase that part of the game.
Overall it makes pitching more strategic. Even Verlander has learned that you just can’t go out there and try to overpower every batter with 100 MPH fastballs. It’s the reason he was both the CY Young and MVP award winner for 2011. You have to change up your pitches, locations, and speeds, just like a real life MLB pitcher, especially when playing against the computer. The batting mechanic in 2K12 tends to be a little less forgiving than in The Show. There’s more of a challenge for proper timing and getting your bat in the right zone and I can’t help but feel there’s more of a “by chance” nature to the batting system. New this year to the fielding side of things is a throw meter that more accurately reflects having to make the tough throws when you are out of position such as diving for a ball or running in to field a bunt. Again this adds a great sense of authenticity to the gameplay.
MLB 2K 12’s franchise mode and My Player mode, where you develop and play as a single player, have returned with little changes from last year’s version. Even the menus look identical. One new mode is MLB Season Today. This is basically a single season mode that allows you to play your games along side your favorite team’s. This mode has more depth as far as game day as you literally make all the moves for your team but unlike Franchise mode you can’t play more than one game per day and once the season is done that’s it. Honestly I don’t see the point. If you want to play a season you’re likely going to want to play a franchise.
The broadcast trio of Steve Phillips, Gary Thorne, and John Kruk return to call the games with hundreds of new lines of dialog. I’ve always preferred this livelier team to The Show’s rather bland team of announcers. Overall, MLB 2K12 has a more refined look with crisper, brighter graphics, and beautiful stadium models. Unfortunately while not offering any major new gameplay enhancements, 2K also didn’t clean up a lot of the bugginess and glitchiness that has plagued the game. Hitters don’t tap their bats on home plate, they tap through it. Foul balls go into and often right through the stands and the crowd doesn’t react to them until they’ve already landed. The camera angles can be problematic as well. AI players can often be badly out of position or worse, just sort of stand around rather than react. The bugs aren’t enough to ruin the game but they more than cancel out my Verlander extra credit. Grade B-
Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2 (Rated M ( NIS America ) PS3
Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2 is the sequel to 2010’s Hyperdimension Neptunia (oddly enough) and is an odd blend of RPG and sexy anime action with a little bit of old school console gaming tossed in. The storyline is a continuation of the first game which I admit to not having played although I didn’t feel it hindered being able to jump right into this one. You have to come to the rescue of the land of Gamindustri (okay, say it with me Game Industry) and save the CPUs (Console patron Units) from the evil group known as ASIC (Arfoire Syndicate of International Crime). Ya…there’s a lot of that kind of stuff in the game. But at its core it’s a nice little smirkish take on the gaming industry as a whole so I give credit to the developers Compile Heart and Idea Factory, and the publisher NIS America for employing a good sense of humor about the whole affair.
IF and Compa arrive in Gamindustri to find Neptune . IF represents Idea Factory while Compa represents Compile Heart. With me so far? They manage to free Nepgear and together they must locate the mascots of the landmasses, who can provide the power to assit the captive CPUs. They, along with the other CPU candidates eventually join Nepgear's party, and together attempt to free the captive CPUs. Silliness of the plot aside, and it is seriously silly but also a lot of fun, HN MK2 is an interesting little hybrid RPG.
You move about the world through an old-style map that might take you back to the days of the original NES system, visiting various cities and exploring dungeons. Cities are where you can buy and sell weapons, armor, and items for any character in your party. As you progress through the game, even more items become available which can aid your characters in a variety of important ways such as increasing your defenses, attacks, HP, movement. I was surprised at the level of item options that were available.
Chirper (a play on Twitter) is your communications system. This basically allows you to listen in on conversation between NPCs. These can often be pretty mundane and tend to slow the game down but it’s a necessary evil to discover random events that can help your party. Guilds are located in each town that offer quests for the party that involve actions like defeating a certain monster or foe or collecting items. Successfully completing the quest nets you a reward.
The combat system is also an ode to RPGs of days gone by. First of all combat is turn-based. Yep you head me right, turn-based RPG combat. Told you it was old school! When its your turn your party members can move about the area up to the max of the movement points or perform a range of varied attacks. These take the form of combo attacks that are performed with different button presses, attacks that can reduce the opponents guard meter, as well as finishing attacks. On top of that, characters also have an SP gauge, which increases whenever they deal or take damage as well as when they end their turn. SP is used to activate special skills, such as healing spells and damaging techniques. Combat is a lot of fun although quite easy. Honestly the challenge is minor league at best.
HN MK2 excels in its cartoon/Anime style graphics. The game definitely earns an M rating with its skimpy costumes and highly suggestive comments, but it’s all more cutesy and mature when it comes right down to it. This isn’t a game for everyone but certainly if you’re an Anime fan or fan of RPGs from days long past, Hyperdimension Neptunia MK2 can offer a solid 20 – 30 hours of gameplay. Grade B