Well finally some relief! As of Saturday night the Playstation network had been restored, at least a part of it. You first need to download the new update after which you have to change your password. While online play has been restored the Playstation store was still down as of this writing. We have some news about the Welcome Back program from Sony in this week’s news section.
There were some claims made on Rockstar’s support page this week that the new Playstation firmware update was causing the system to overheat while playing L.A. Noire. It claimed that the issue was primarily with older 60 and 80 GB PS3 models. The post has since been removed from Rockstar’s support page. I’ve had no issues so far but I also have a newer model. Stay tuned on that one…
This week we’ve got reviews of our first 3DS game, Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars from Ubisoft, and Disney’s LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. With the PSN back up I’ll finally have a review on SOCOM 4 U.S. Navy Seals next week.
Call of Duty Modern Warefare 3 Youtube and Facebook pages
Let the countdown to COD: MW3 begin! Check out the following sites with more info on the next entry in the series. The Facebook page can be found here -http://www.facebook.com/MW3
Sony’s Welcome Back program for the Playstation Network.
The North American PlayStation Blog has posted details on the local welcome back program.
Once the PlayStation Store is restored, PSN users will be able to download two of the following PS3 games for free: Dead Nation, Infamous, LittleBigPlanet, Super Stardust HD, and Wipeout HD + Fury. PSP users will get two of the following: LittleBigPlanet, ModNation Racers, Pursuit Force, and Killzone Liberation. Users will also be able to check out some free movie rentals over the course of a weekend; details on that will be coming soon. 30 days of free PlayStation Plus time will be offered to non-subscribers; existing subscribers will get an additional 60 days. Music Unlimited subscribers will get a free 30-day subscription. Lastly, 100 free items in PlayStation Home will be soon released for users to download.
The First Dead island Gameplay Trailer!
Deep Silver has released a new trailer for their upcoming zombie epic, Dead Island. This trailer is called Part 1: Tragedy Hits Paradise and will be followed by a companion trailer debuting at E3. This video will give you the very first look at in-game footage along with some context to set the scenario for what happens when Banoi is turned from a gorgeous island paradise into hell on earth.
Sony CEO Lashes Out at Critics
Well so much for eating humble pie…Sony CEO Howard Stringer has taken exception with those who’ve criticized the company’s response to the attack on the Playstation Network. Stringer feels the company was actually very timely and he questions anyone who says otherwise. "This was an unprecedented situation," Stringer said today, Reuters reports. "Most of these breaches go unreported by companies. Forty-three percent notify victims within a month. We reported in a week. You're telling me my week wasn't fast enough?" Stringer declined to comment on just how much the downtime will cost Sony but Reuters cites an unidentified expert who estimates the cost could turn out to be as much as $2 billion.
Exclusive 3DS Content at Best Buy
Nintendo is teaming up with Best Buy to distribute free content through the system's SpotPass functionality. Nothing specific was announced, but you can expect to get more than just "fun content;" the service "will also include exclusive offers as well as additional entertainment content such as gaming extras and movie trailers." Separate from this, you'll be able to stream Netflix content to the system starting this summer. 1,000 Best Buy stores across the United States will be participating. Besides distributing content, they will also offer "customized, automatic wireless access." This all begins on June 7, the same day as Nintendo's E3 media briefing.
Spike TV to Broadcast Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference
If you’re not attending ES you can still catch Microsoft’s press conference on Spike TV. Xbox 360: The Future Revealed, will air commercial free. This is the event where Microsoft traditionally makes all of its major E3 announcements, so any word about a price drop, new game reveals, or anything of the sort are likely to be shown on TV. The media briefing will also be aired online so that you can watch it on your iPhone, iPad, and so on, according to the show's host, Geoff Keighley. Additionally, it'll be offered on demand through Xbox Live.
Downloadable Batman Game: Gotham City Imposters
Warner Bros has unveiled Gotham City Impostors, a new, downloadable multiplayer first-person shooter. Players assume the role of Batman and Joker wannabes as they side with either The Bats or The Jokerz. Customization plays a key role as you can alter your costume and choose different body types that affect how your character plays. You'll also get to choose from a wide variety of weapons and gadgets. Gadgets are described as "homebrewed," and include things like ninja smoke bombs, glider rigs, grapple guns, and roller skates. Support items include pipe bombs, energy drinks, hatchets, and a trap-in-the-box. A progression system enables you to access new weapons, items, and visual changes as you increase your character's level and, as an extra bit of flair, you'll be able to customize your calling card, which shows up during the kill cam sequence.
Hybrid Delayed until 2012
Hybrid, the new third-person shooter from 5th Cell, has been delayed until 2012. The game had been shown as recently at this year's Game Developers Conference. It features a unique control scheme, referred to as "combat-focused movement," that sees movement controlled by the face buttons as opposed to an analog stick. The extra development time is intended to make sure the game is of the highest quality, according to a press release. "Hybrid was very well received this past GDC; people really seemed to enjoy it," said CEO and Creative Director Jeremiah Slaczka, "but with an additional year, we can take what we've learned and really drill down on our ideas to hopefully transform this game into something great."
Gears of War3 Tops One Million Pre-Orders
Microsoft has announced that pre-orders for Gears of War 3 have topped one million faster than any other Xbox exclusive to date. In the recent beta test that just wrapped 1.29 million players from 145 different countries participated. In all there were 11 million multiplayer matches played, and over 927 million kills were recorded.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
Dirt 3 (THQ) Rated T Xbox 360, PS3
Dirt 3 is a popular rally racing game for Xbox 360 that combines the feel of fast-paced arcade style racing action across multiple surfaces and environments with realistic features found on real off-road circuits. The third release in the acclaimed off-road racing franchise, Dirt 3 features a range of racing and driving disciplines at spectacular locations, more than 100 routes, the finest selection of licensed action-sports racing cars, multistage rallies set at classic locations, exhilarating snow racing action and mesmerizing Gymkhana race events.
Dirt 3 boasts more cars, more locations, more routes and more events than any other game in the series, including over 50 rally cars representing the very best from five decades of the sport. With more than double the track content of 2009's hit, Dirt 3 will see players start at the top as a professional driver, with a topflight career in competitive off-road racing complimented by the opportunity to express themselves in Gymkhana-style showpiece driving events. As players race to elevate their global standing, Dirt 3 delivers mud, sweat and gears the world over: from the intense weather-beaten rally stages of Europe, Africa and the US, to executing performance driving showcases and career challenges where car control is pushed to spectacular limits.
Dead or Alive Dimensions (Koei) Rated T Nintendo 3DS
Team NINJA is bringing the fast-paced DEAD OR ALIVE action to a whole new dimension. DEAD OR ALIVE Dimensions takes the vivacious characters and locales that have made the DOA franchise a hit with gamers everywhere and presents them in eye-popping 3D. All of the punches, kicks, counters and holds that have defined the series as a top-tier fighter are present for the first time on a portable gaming system - the Nintendo 3DS.
DEAD OR ALIVE Dimensions features some of the best content from the series spanning all of the titles from the original DOA up to DOA 4. Fans will be able to relive some of the classic rivalries, storylines and white-knuckle action from the best points in the DOA history. There's also a ton of new content, so even the most seasoned DOA fan will enjoy fresh material. Players will be able to fight through several modes including classic Arcade and Survival modes as well as new modes like Tag Challenge, Throwdown and more. They'll be able to choose from a wide variety of DOA's signature interactive stages and a robust roster of more than 20 fighters some playable for the first time. Dust off those cobwebs and get back in shape for competition, the fight is back on!
Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale (Atari) Rated T PC, via Download on Xbox Live or Playstation network.
Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale is multiplayer Action Role-playing (RPG) game set within an authentic D&D gameworld that will thrill new and more experienced players alike. In this world players must unite as they quest to stop Rezlus and his Zhentarim from invading and conquering the Dalelands. Game features include: multiple ways to play, including single player support and co-op both in local and online play; pick-up-and-play style gameplay; multiple game modes; and deep character development.
Travel to the Forgotten Realms, where the adventure begins in the Dalelands, nestled in the remote Desertsmouth Mountains . From the sulfuric catacombs of the mines of Tethyamar, to the dizzying heights of the Tower of the Void, Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale combines the depth of Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition with intuitive, action packed combat that will satisfy the most seasoned of adventurers. With compelling hack-and-slash gameplay, fluid graphics, and a choice of play modes, Dungeons & Dragons Daggerdale offers an accessible, thrilling, and unmatched RPG experience.
Select an in-game race, character class and gender and set off to build your ultimate hero, questing, collecting loot and earning experience points at every turn. As part of this you can select feats, powers, and skills to enhance and customize your hero as you level up. The focus is on pick-up-and-play style action, so players within a quest group can coexist - with new players picking up the game quickly, and more advanced players delving deeper into the feature set. The game features single player and multiplayer modes, as well as four-player co-op support online, and two-player support locally with split-screen functionality.
King Fu Panda 2 (THQ) Rated E Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo DS
Kung Fu is at risk of being gone forever! In an original story, players are plunged into the video game at the climatic end-of-movie battle between Master Shen and Po . Players must help Po, the furious five with the councel of respected masters, Shifu, Croc, and Ox defeat looting wolves, powerful gorillas and clans of barbaric komodo dragons lead by Xaio Dan to save Gongman City , restore balance, and of course...save Kung Fu!
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars (Ubisoft) Rated T Nintendo 3DS
On of the initial 3DS offerings was an entry in the venerable Ghost Recon series but unlike others in the series this is a turn-based tactical strategy game (yay!) that also combines RPG elements to make it one of the better of the first wave of 3DS games. First off, the game is loaded. The Campaign Game features some three dozen missions and with probably around an hour or so per mission (depending upon difficulty level) there’s a lot of gameplay here! In addition there are 20 skirmish missions, which are standalone missions with fixed teams and deployments and 10 multiplayer missions which strangely are played on the same 3DS unit.
The RPG elements come in the form of several different character classes including Commando, Sniper, Gunner, Medic, Recon, and Engineer. You will build these players up and have to select the most capable units for your team based on the particular mission. Completing your missions results in the awarding of stars that can be applied to the team to increase their abilities and unlock weapons and equipment. As in any good RPB you try to strive for balance. Before each mission you select the primary and secondary weapons and equipment for your team and then head off to battle. Each class offers their strengths and weaknesses…the gunner is your slowest character but he can also do the most damage making this class perfect for securing a position. The Recon character relies on stealth and moves faster. Their ability to remain hidden from enemies means they can’t be fired on from distances. Your Medic obviously is there to help your wounded members recover.
You’ll play across a variety of maps and landscapes from rural farms to industrial sites, each with their own unique terrain advantages and disadvantages. As the game is turn-based, where you happen to be on the map determines if you can fire or be fired upon. Walking through open terrain can leave you completely exposed to enemy fire while moving through dense forests or buildings can provide outstanding cover. Turn-based strategy games may be new to some gamers…Your screen keeps track of your units as well as the enemy units, letting you know how far you can move, if they can attack, and how much damage they can do which takes several factors into account. The strategic options available are deep and complex and very different from the usual mad scramble of real-time strategy games. Yes despite its complexity, even turn-based game novices will quickly pick up on the nuances needed to be successful. The multiplayer play is not one of the game’s strengths although it can be fun. You play with a friend and have to pass the 3DS unit back and forth to each other. While this aspect is a pain, the variety of missions, units, and maps keeps the action fresh.
The graphics are average to a bit above average. This looks like a DS game that was upgraded to run on the 3DS and if you’re rolling the slider to turn off 3D there’s nothing that stands out graphically about Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars. There’s nice battle sound effects but no voice acting. These are the only disappointing aspects of the game. Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars offers a truckload of missions, a lengthy campaign, and brilliant tactical strategy. Grade B+
Ferrari Wireless Gampad: 430 Scuderia Limited Edition (Thrustmaster) PS3, PC
When you think Ferrari you naturally think of one of the world’s premier sports cars. But now you can add a premier gamepad to that equation with Thrustmaster’s Ferrari wireless gamepad. Like one of those famous Italian cars, the Ferrari gamepad catches your eye with its glossy red, black, and silver color scheme. A USB interface plugs into the port on your PS3 and the unit has a range of up to 10 meters. The controller handgrips are thinner and a bit more narrow than the usual PS3 controller. This takes some adjusting to as the natural instinct is to grip them entirely in your palm which you can do although its somewhat more uncomfortable than the usual grip. Like me you’ll probably find yourself opening your grip up just a bit.
The main features of the Ferrari gamepad are first its programmability…You can use the 8 programmable buttons to tailor your scheme to whatever game you happen to be playing. The instruction manual provides several scheme examples based upon game types like different sports games, racing games, flying simulators, shooters, etc…The programmable nature means you can go beyond the preset schemes that come with games and virtually have it your way (with apologies to Burger King). Games always have buttons that you are going to use more often than others and now you can place that button wherever you want that is most comfortable and accessible. The programming is maintained even when the unit is shut off and you can quickly switch back to factory settings and erase everything.
The other main feature is the gamepad’s optical wheel, which is a ring that is on the outside of the directional control. The sensitivity of the optical wheel can be adjusted from normal to high and you’ll want to test them out to see what works best. The wheel has its biggest uses in racing games as the wheel allows for far greater range of rotation meaning you have smoother control of your car and can take turns with great precision. Again the sensitivity is important here as high sensitivity takes a more steady hand to control.
The controls are generally tight and responsive. The only weakness I found control wise was while playing SOCOM Navy Seals 4, when I click down on the left stick to make my character run I really had to push down hard. Perhaps it was the game but this was the only action that seemed difficult to pull off. The only other drawback is that the controller is battery operated (2 AAA’s) rather than rechargeable which is a serious drag. The lack of being rechargeable is the only factor keeping me from giving the controller an higher grade. Grade B+
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (Disney) Rated E Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS & 3DS, PSP
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean s the most ambitious game yet in the LEGO series and also turns out to be one of the best. The game takes you through all four films including the upcoming “On stranger Tides”. These four chapters play out in a series of 4 – 5 sub-chapters. If you’ve played any of the Lego games previously you’ll already be familiar with its brick-busting, coin-collecting gameplay. If not, well since the 8-page manual scarcely prepares you for what’s to come, just plan on breaking everything you can break and collecting everything that falls out as you make your way from scene to scene. Like the other LEGO games the characters don’t speak but instead rely on various grunts and other sounds, as well as remarkable animation to convey their emotions. Developer Traveller’s Tales always delights with their clever and humorous character animations. It’s amazing how much of a character’s personality they can capture with facial expressions and body movement. This is especially true with the Jack Sparrow character.
The campaign is enriched by numerous cut-scenes inspired by the films and adding to the game’s flavor and especially its humor. This is one time when you don’t want to skip by the cut-scenes and miss out on the cinematic extravaganza. The game features dozens of playable characters that you can switch to with a press of the triangle button. Holding the triangle button brings up a character wheel to select the one you want to control when you have several in your party. Each of the characters has their unique uses. Sparrow has a compass to find hidden objects, one character carriers a hammer that can be used for building certain objects, another carries a blunderbuss which can be used to shoot down glowing objects, female characters can perform double jumps to grab onto high items, etc…As you make your way across the various chapters you’ll unlock more and more characters and you can even replay scenes you’ve completed to get certain objects that you could not get previously. Let me clarify this is not a requirement to finish the game but if you’re trying to get 100% for each chapter you may need to repeat some scenes.
One problem with these characters is that they can occasionally get in your way and crowd the screen. Between your own party and the NPCs there’s often so many figures lingering about you can lose track of who you are controlling and have to push your way through the crowds to get to your objective. Besides brick smashing and gathering loot, each level has several puzzles to solve. These typically involve a string of actions you need to complete to advance to the next area such as finding a torch to light a cannon to blow down a wall. LEGO’s playfulness shines through here as many of your tasks involve humorous segments like dumping a cold bucket of water on a sleeping character or chasing down a parrot that’s escaped in a family’s home. The puzzles are generally easy although some can frustrate as they become a process of trial and error in discovering just which character you need to complete a task. While you’re sometimes lost on just what you need to do the play area is relatively small so if you get stuck you basically just need to stick to it and keep trying new strategies.
Controlling the characters is precise for the most part although there are platforming segments that can be tricky due to odd camera angles and the inability to judge distance. There are also some technical glitches like standing on invisible platforms or being stuck on a wall (switching to another character can free you). One of the thorns in the feet of the LEGO games is the lack of online play. While you can play co-op in a splitscreen mode, you can’t pair up online and these days that is a real flaw. These are minor annoyances however. LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean excels in its level design that always seems fresh even if you are doing similar things to previous levels. While it has some technical flaws and a few frustrating puzzles, it’s character and charm override the drawbacks. Grade B+
Mania is the premiere online destination for fans of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and anime entertainment. It is the largest community offering profiles, video, science fiction movies, sci fi TV, art, sci fi comics, photos, cheats, blogs, science fiction books, forums and feedback. Mania offers insider entertainment industry info and original content for science fiction, fantasy, and horror entertainment genres including: video games, comics, gadgets, movies, television, toys, music, books, DVDs and more.