Well the major story this week continues to be the shutdown of the Playstation Network due to an outside intrusion, i.e. hacker. The news is getting no better for Sony. While the network was shut down last Wednesday evening, Sony didn’t discover that their user’s personal information such as names, addresses, birth dates, and possibly credit card numbers had been compromised until nearly a week later.
"There's a difference in timing between when we identified there was an intrusion and when we learned of consumers' data being compromised," Sony's Patrick Seybold wrote on the PlayStation Blog. "We learned there was an intrusion April 19th and subsequently shut the services down. We then brought in outside experts to help us learn how the intrusion occurred and to conduct an investigation to determine the nature and scope of the incident.”
Sony’s explanation isn’t going over well with their customer’s or the government. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal demanded answers from Sony in a letter sent to SCEA president Jack Tretton. "When a data breach occurs, it is essential that customers be immediately notified about whether and to what extent their personal and financial information has been compromised," Blumenthal wrote.
Besides the massive hit to their credibility and PR, according to the Ponemon Institute, a data-security research firm, the estimated cost of a data breach involving a malicious or criminal act averaged $318 per compromised record in 2010 (that's up 48% from 2009). Factoring in about 77 million PSN accounts, the grand total of the PlayStation Network breach could be more than $24 billion. "Simply put, [this is] one of the worst breaches we've seen in several years," added Josh Shaul, chief technology officer for Application Security Inc., a New York-based company that is one of the country's largest database security software makers.
IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK
Konami Releases Details for Otomedius Excellent
On the heels of its release in Japan , Konami has released some details for Otomedius Excellent, coming to Xbox 360 later this year. Sequel to the Japan-exclusive hit Otomedius Gorgeous, Otomedius Excellent brings the side-scrolling shooter action made popular by its predecessor to North America for the first time. Also included are local and online multi-player, new artwork and a pulsating soundtrack.
Classic Gradius-style gameplay gets a stunning update. Experience 2D side-scrolling shoot-em-up gameplay like never before.
Brilliant graphics and an excellent soundtrack. Environments are rendered in hi-definition and complemented by thrilling music.
Lovely characters to pilot through an expanded world. Choose from nine characters on-disc to battle through all-new stages of thrilling shmup action!
Three's company! Team up with a friend or two over Xbox Live® Arcade or on one Xbox 360 to have help obtaining hard-to-get items!
Eye-popping Gallery mode. View your unlocked stills and graphics in a new Gallery that grows as you progress through the game.
First Lawsuit Filed Over Playstation Network Security Breach
On the heels of all this we have the first of what is certain to be a swarm of lawsuits to be filed against Sony. A suit was filed on behalf of Birmingham , Alabama resident Kristopher Johns in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California. It's seeking to be a class-action lawsuit and claims Sony did not take "reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users." As a result, it prevented PSN users from being able "to make an informed decision as to whether to change credit card numbers, close the exposed accounts, check their credit reports, or take other mitigating actions." Besides monetary compensation, the lawsuit is looking for free credit report monitoring -- one of the things Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal called for in his letter sent to SCEA president Jack Tretton yesterday.
Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation Pack to Feature Famous Actors and George Romero
Activision and Treyarch revealed that famed horror and action stars Robert Englund, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Michael Rooker and Danny Trejo have joined the cast of Call of Duty: Black Ops Escalation's zombie level, Call of the Dead. The Call of the Dead zombie level and four all new multiplayer maps make up the second content pack, Escalation, for the record-setting game Call of Duty: Black Ops, launching first on Xbox LIVE on May 3rd. Dedicated to creating a Zombie experience like never before, the Call of the Dead storyline is inspired by none other than legendary horror writer and director, George A. Romero, who also stars as himself in the new level.
New Nintendo Console Coming
It looks like the rumors of the next generation Nintendo console are true. Nintendo has confirmed the new console will be revealed at E3 although it will be likely late 2012 before its release in North America . Nintendo president Satoru Iwata commented, “It became difficult for developers to surprise customers with the current Wii.” Add to that the dwindling sales of the Wii and we have our next-gen Nintendo console.
The Nintendo DS Lite Being Discontinued?
While Nintendo has not release an official statement, it looks like the DS Lite will be going away. A memo from Gamestop says the DS Lite has been discontinued and that GameStop will no longer be receiving any further shipments of the handheld. Stores are being instructed to remove any related promotional boxes once their current stock of Lites has been sold through.
Playstation 3 Release of Child of Eden Delayed until September
The PlayStation 3 version of Ubisoft’s Child of Eden has been pushed back until September. It will still be releasing on the Xbox 360 on June 12. The delay appears due to adding PlayStation Move support. The delay is certainly preferable to the rumors that surfaced last month suggesting the game would not be coming to the PS3 at all.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
The Mysterious Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (O-Games) Rated E Nintendo DS
Friday, August 13th, 1886, very early in the morning. The lanes of Soho are depraved and the air is heavy like the minds of the people. No one can foretell what terrifying things happened during the night. The murder of a wealthy citizen with an irreproachable reputation raises a lot of riddles. Was he really murdered here - in Soho ? And, why did he have to die? You ask a good friend and forensic doctor for help. Only he is able to provide the answers you need to solve the case. Hopefully, Dr. Jekyll is really useful for your investigations. Slip into the role of the smart inspector Newcomen and solve this strange case!
Motorstorm Apocalypse (Sony) Rated T PS3
Welcome to the apocalypse, MotorStorm style! The ’Stormers are now bringing the extreme MotorStorm festival to a major metropolitan city that has been ravaged by a gigantic earthquake. With all of its unstable skyscrapers, fiery subway tunnels, twisting bridges and more, the almost completely abandoned city offers the perfect playground for MotorStorm’s electric brand of brutal street racing. And with tremors and aftershocks continuing to hit the city in real-time, you never know where the race will take you.
History Great Battles Medieval (Maximum Family Games) Rated T Xbox 360
History Great Battles Medieval is a Real Time Strategy game set during the Hundred Years' War. It features different conflicts between England and France and allows you to play as either the English or the French. The English campaign is designed for beginners and you have the opportunity to fight as the Black Prince or Henry V. The French campaign is for experienced players and allows you to command Joan of Arc or the King of France.
LEVEL UP’S HOT PICK OF THE WEEK
Thor: God of Thunder (Sega) Rated T PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Ds
Experience a spectacular, epic-scale original adventure in Thor's first standalone game as he battles through numerous worlds of Norse mythology to overcome monstrous foes lifted from the pages of the comics. Wield Mj lnir, Thor's legendary hammer, to fight enemies on an immense scale while controlling the elemental storm powers of lightning, thunder and wind to vanquish foes. Battle against legendary enemies including Ulik, Ymir and Surtur in conflicts that span realms ranging from primal worlds of fire and ice to extraordinary planets inhabited by Frost Giants, Trolls, and other monstrous denizens.
Dynasty Warriors 7 (Tecmo/Koei) Rated T Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Dynasty Warriors has come a long way since it first debuted some 14 years ago on the original Playstation system. Now in its 7th iteration, Dynasty Warriors returns with its trademark hack-n-slash action developed by Omega Force and published by Koei. If you’ve played games from Koei through the years, including Dynasty Warriors, they’ve always been noted for having a large cast of characters. Over 15 new characters have been added to Dynasty Warriors bringing the total number of playable characters to over 60!
These characters are split up over four different campaigns/factions, all based on the famous Chinese historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The novel has inspired literally dozens of videogames over the years including the Dynasty Warriors series. These four campaigns can be played in any order. There is also a conquest mode which dispenses with most of the story elements in favor of straight forward military conquest with literally dozens and dozens of scenarios to choose from. The conquest mode can also be played online.
Unlike some of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms games that relied on turn-based, tactical management of supplies, resources, and troops, Dynasty Warriors is more about button-mashing and your thumbs will definitely get a major workout as you ploy through wave after wave of enemies like your chopping down wheat in field. Combat isn’t overly complex. There is a combo system which can be quite effective against swarms of soldiers but, like a lot of recent game of similar make, you can get by just as easily with your basic attacks. You can now wield two weapons in battle and there are several new aerial combos that have been added. Characters also have a special attack which will vary with most characters. You can also customize and switch weapons during the middle of a battle.
With a huge assortment of weapons, combos, special attacks, and customization, the weapons system is definite plus to the game. However the expansive weapons system also highlights one of the game’s weaknesses…All of these different weapons and combos don’t necessarily look different in the animations. So if two weapons essentially look the same and behave the same, where’s the fun of getting new weapons?
The biggest obstacle in Dynasty Warriors 7 is that all of the campaigns and scenarios amount to the same style of play and it falls into a repetitious pattern rather quickly. Again, is a new level truly different if it plays the same as the previous levels? The game moves smoothly…a good thing considering the sheer mass of characters that are on the screen at every given time. However, the character models look more like they are PS2 instead of PS3. The audio doesn’t impress either, especially the voice acting, although it’s never been a strength of the series to begin with.
Dynasty Warriors 7 is a fun diversion but only for a short while. Replay value isn’t high due to the game repetitive play. It is a solid game but it’s a series in need of a makeover for the next entry. Grade B-
13-in-1 Gamer Pack and Comfort Grip (DreamGear)
So you’ve got your new Nintendo 3DS and you think you’re all set? Well not quite…If you truly want to be complete with your new, hot handheld, you need a couple of accessories courtesy of DreamGear.
First up you need something to protect your new $250 investment. That comes in the form the DreamGear Comfort Grip. This is a two piece case made of silicon and molded to fit the 3DS like a glove, and includes cutouts for the ports, sliders, and camera. The heavy silicone provides protection against drops and bumps without being overly bulky. It fits comfortably in your hands and provides a sense of security. While it fits snugly on the 3DS, its elasticity makes it easy to put on or remove. You do need to remove the cover if you want to place the 3DS in the charging cradle although the direct charging port on the back of the unit is still accessible. The Comfort Grips comes in clear white and transparent black or blue although “transparent” is a relative term. My review sample was black and I’d refer to it more as “slightly translucent” than transparent.
Next up DreamGear has a set of all the accessories you’ll need for your new 3DS with the 13-in-1 Gamer Pack. The pack comes with a Protective Case, 2 Precision Styluses for accuracy, a Car Charger, USB SD Card Reader, Earbuds for clear game audio, 3 Game Cases, 2 Wrist Straps, Screen Protectors to keep your 3DS™ looking new, and a Cleaning Cloth. Of these items the case, car charger, USB SD card reader, and earphones are without a doubt the most important accessories and alone are well worth the $24.99 retail price. Obviously you want a case for the 3DS if you’re traveling to keep it safe from damage. It won’t fit the 3DS with the Comfort Grip attached so you will have to remove that first.
And of course, if you are travelling in the car with the 3DS you’ll need to have a car charger to keep you in the game for the long road trips. The charger has a 4’ cable. You can transfer data from the 3DS via the USB card reader and while I haven’t had a need to use it thus far, this will come in handy in the future. Obviously you need a set of earbuds so you can play your 3DS without disturbing those around you. The earbuds feature strong, clear sound and also have a 4’ long cable.
As for the remainder of the accessories…It’s always nice to have an extra stylus or two and these are the same as the ones that come with the 3DS, i.e., made of metal and have a telescoping ability. I’ve never felt much of a need to use a wrist strap with a DS and so probably won’t gain much use out of the two included here. The game cases store easily into the 3DS case. I found the three piece screen protectors to be a pain to install and ended up ruining both of them. The 13-in-1 Gamer Pack comes in your choice of black, blue, or red. Grade A-
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