The big story this week continues to be the outage of the Playstation Network. Now into its third week of being down, there is still no definite word on when the PSN will be back online in full. A Sony spokesman in Japan had given a target date of May 31 however Sony later denied that deadline date. One thing that is known is that when the PSN does come back online, a new firmware update will require users to change their passwords before accessing PSN. A "welcome back" program will greet users with a variety of freebies. (possibly including Free identity theft protection for one year). Nothing for certain has been announced beyond the 30 days of PlayStation Plus time, but users in Europe will be getting their choice of two free games.
The ripple effects of the PSN outage are having a huge effect worldwide. Besides the fact that you can’t play games online or download content from the Playstation store, game publishers are all feeling the pinch. Christian Svensson, a senior vice president at Capcom, has stated that the outage is, “costing us hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in revenue that were planned for within our budget. These are funds we rely on to bring new games to market for our fans."
As far as here at Level Up, we are still holding off on presenting reviews (some at the request of the publishers) due to the fact that we cannot play them online over the PSN. Among those were holding is SOCOM Navy Seals 4 and Brink, to name a couple. It continues to be a source of frustration for everyone. On the positive side of the news this week we have Ubisoft announcing the latest Assassin’s Creed game and new tidbits about the next Call of Duty entry.
Ubisoft Announce Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Ubisoft announced the development of Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the fourth installment in the critically acclaimed and immensely popular video game franchise. Assassin’s Creed Revelations presents the most immersive experience available in the series to date and the culmination of Ezio’s adventure. The game is set to release on the Xbox 360, the PlayStation 3, and Windows PC this November.
In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, master assassin Ezio Auditore walks in the footsteps of his legendary mentor, Altaïr, on a journey of discovery and revelation. It is a perilous path – one that will take Ezio to Constantinople, the heart of the Ottoman Empire, where a growing army of Templars threatens to destabilize the region.
In addition to Ezio’s award-winning story, the acclaimed online multiplayer experience returns, refined and expanded, with more modes, more maps and more characters that allow players to test their assassin skills against others from around the world. The latest chapter in the Assassin’s Creed saga also includes revolutionary gameplay, allowing players to manipulate the construct of Desmond’s memories and the Animus to decipher the mysteries of his past and gain insight into the future.
“Delivering the final chapter of the Ezio trilogy is an important milestone in the Assassin’s Creed franchise for us and for our fans,” said Alexandre Amancio, Creative Director at Ubisoft Montreal. “Assassin’s Creed Revelations includes lots of new features and some significant surprises. We can’t wait to show our fans what we have in store at E3 this year.”
SEGA Reveals their CRUSH
SEGA has revealed details on CRUSH 3D. Redesigned for Nintendo 3DS, CRUSH3D is the unique platform game that gives you the ability to change perspective from 2D to 3D as you try to solve brain-teasing puzzles. Built on the foundation of the award winning CRUSH, CRUSH3D features a host of exciting new features specifically designed for the Nintendo 3DS system, including new locations, characters and an intuitive hint system. Navigate across the surreal platforms of Danny’s mind by ‘crushing’ your way from a 2-dimensional to a 3-dimensional world and back again whenever you need to. Discover how ‘crushing’ takes you to impossible heights, over insurmountable obstacles, and even disposes of dangerous enemies. With full 3D graphics that make complete use of the Nintendo 3DS capabilities, CRUSH3D also sports the possibility to leave gifts for friends to collect in-game, using the innovative StreetPass™ communication system. CRUSH3D will be available on September 6 in North America .
Namco Bandai Announces Soulcalibur V
Namco Bandai has announced SOULCALIBUR V, the newest installment of its multi-million selling weapons-based fighting series for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It delivers exhilarating 3D fighting mechanics, breathtaking visuals, and new characters, as well as expanding the online and character creation modes. SOULCALIBUR V is poised to become the preeminent fighting game experience of 2012.
“The SOULCALIBUR series continues to be one of Namco Bandai Games’ most cherished franchises,” said Carlson Choi, vice president of marketing Namco Bandai Games America. “SOULCALIBUR V will continue to advance the series’ legacy of white-knuckled weapon-based combat, gorgeous graphics and groundbreaking features that will amaze newcomers and long-time fans alike.”
Developed by the legendary Project Soul team, SOULCALIBUR V picks up 17 years after the events of SOULCALIBUR®IV with new heroes and returning warriors clashing in an epic showdown between good and evil. The tale of Patroklos, son of Sophitia Alexandra, unfolds as his family’s destiny intertwines with the Soul swords. With the series’ revolutionary 8-way run, allowing for true 3D movement during matches, a refined battle system, and stunning graphics, SOULCALIBUR V will be the top game of 2012 for anyone looking for a knock-down, drag-out fight. Check out the first trailer.
Namco Bandai Announces Tales of the Abyss and Tales of Graces f
Namco bandai announced its acclaimed role-playing titles Tales of Graces f for the PlayStation 3, and Tales of the Abyss for the Nintendo 3DS, will be released in North America. Tales of Graces f and Tales of the Abyss will both offer brilliant graphics, a dynamic real-time battle system, and deep, captivating stories filled with exciting quests and hidden secrets.
Tales of Graces f is the latest title in the renowned Tales series and the first North American appearance of the franchise on PlayStation 3 system. Set amidst the conflict of three kingdoms competing for planetary dominance, the story follows Asbel Lhant and his friends as they come to discover in time just how far they will go to protect the bonds between them.
For the first time in the Tales series, the combat system lets the player freely change attack style depending on the battle situation. The characters’ distinctive weapons can be swapped for different styles, and the new combat system is easier to control while simultaneously adding new levels of tactical depth.
Tales of the Abyss, the critically-acclaimed PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system role playing game, is updated for the Nintendo 3DS system. The upcoming title delivers full 3D support and use of the dual screens to bring players closer to the action. Tales of the Abyss tells the story of Luke fon Fabre, sole heir to a family of aristocrats, as he is suddenly thrust into the outside world on an epic adventure. Naïve and spoiled by years of isolation, Luke struggles to learn of friendship, sacrifice, duty and of choice. With the fates of many in his hands, Luke's actions could ultimately save the world or bring about its very destruction.
Tales of Graces f will be available in 2012 and Tales of the Abyss will be available later this year for North America .
Pre-Order bonuses for Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Transformers fans can get special bonus items if they pre-order the game ahead of the June 14 release date. Fans can pre-order Transformers: Dark of the Moon at GameStop to receive an exclusive code to unlock SIDESWIPE or at Amazon.com to unlock RATCHET for use in the game's various online multiplayer modes. The bonuses are only available for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions.
Rumored Details on the next Call of Duty Game
Its being reported that this year’s Call of Duty sequel will be called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. The buzz is that MW3 will continue the story set up in the previous two Modern Warfare titles and will perhaps bring back characters such as Soap MacTavish and Captain Price. The game is also said to feature a "much larger, epic scale" as the potential for World War III looms on the horizon. One of they key changes will be in the game's "large, urban destructible environments". More details are expected to be made official at E3.
Hitman Absolution Announced for 2012
Hitman: Absolution has been announced for a scheduled release in 2012 and will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.The gamewhich again stars series protagonist Agent 47, tells a more personal story than previous games. 47 has been betrayed and is now being pursued by the police as he "finds himself at the center of a dark conspiracy”.
It's been five years since the last new Hitman game, Blood Money), was released. The new game has been built from the ground up on IO's Glacier 2 engine. According to the announcement, Absolution will still be comprised of the same stealth-focused gameplay the series is known for as well as some entirely new features.
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
L.A. Noire (Rockstar Games) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360
L.A. Noire is a gritty, single player detective game set on the infamous streets and in the smoke-filled back rooms of post-war Los Angeles. Designed and developed with a nod to the classic film noire movie genre, L.A. Noire blends crystal clear graphics that bring the iconic look and feel of the era to life, with a combination of innovative technology and unique gameplay that allow you to solve crimes through interrogations and investigation. Additional features include: five LAPD based crime desks to work, the ability to analyze the case as well as suspects for clues, an accurate block-by-block recreation of eight sq miles of 1947 Los Angeles, multiple difficulty settings and more.
Amid the postwar boom of Hollywood's Golden Age, newly minted detective Cole Phelps is thrown headfirst into a city drowning in violence and corruption. Utilizing groundbreaking new technology that captures an actor's facial performance in astonishing detail, L.A. Noire is a violent crime thriller that blends breathtaking action with true detective work to deliver an unprecedented interactive experience. Interrogate witnesses, search for clues and chase down suspects as you struggle to find the truth in a city where everyone has something to hide. Against an overarching plot of violence and betrayal, L.A. Noire challenges players to solve a series of self-contained cases as they work their way through the ranks of the LAPD. Each case features a distinct storyline with a beginning, middle and end, and each successfully solved case brings new challenges and leads Cole closer to the true story at the dark heart of the Los Angeles criminal underworld.
Murder in Venice (City Interactive) Rated E Nintendo DS
Uncover an Incredible Adventure Vera, a young student studying in Italy, witnesses the murder of an unknown man in Venice. Vera's curious nature and innate thirst for adventure plunges her into the middle of a twisted KGB plot that dates back to the Cold War. With the fate of the world at stake, Vera joins forces with a mysterious ex-KGB agent to thwart this deadly plot. But nothing is as it seems. Can Vera trust a former spy? Join her as she searches for clues that will lead her to solving the murder and uncovering the fascinating idea behind the defection of a brilliant Czech scientist.
Spongebob Squigglepants (THQ) Rated E Nintendo 3DS
SpongeBob SquigglePants for Nintendo 3DS is a single player family game that provides players with a unique SpongeBob play experience via the game's fast-paced gameplay and its 3DS inspired drawing abilities. The game contain 100+ nanogames designed to be played in rapid succession as well as never-before-seen SpongeBob art styles from the Nickelodeon vault.
In SpongeBob's most crazy, creative adventure yet, be prepared to laugh your SquigglePants off as you tilt, flick, tap and draw through more than 100 Nanogames set in six zany worlds. SpongeBob SquigglePants puts you in the driver's seat for a dizzying series of lightening-speed Nanogames, giving you mere seconds to finish one before moving right on to the next. Within this rapid-fire succession of challenges, SpongeBob SquigglePants exposes players to never-before-seen SpongeBob art styles from the Nickelodeon vault. SpongeBob SquigglePants also lets players digitally draw, paint, color and choose from dozens of SpongeBob-themed stamps, to create a masterpiece worthy of a place in Patchy's own collection of SpongeBob Art. The entire game is hosted by SpongeBob's biggest fan, Patchy the Pirate, in a never-before-seen live action experience for an added level of under-the-sea silliness.
Hyper Fighters (Zoo Games) Rated T Nintendo Wii
Master the danger of the skies and launch aerial assaults in Airhunter. Pilot lightning-fast jetfighters and maneuver stealthily as you destroy bombers, kamikazes and more! Dominate enemy operations with impenetrable armor and strong firepower as you minimize collateral damage and become the sole pilot responsible for a successful mission!
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters (EA Sports) Rated E Xbox 360, PS3, Nintendo Wii
The first thing you’ll notice about the cover of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2: The Masters is that Tiger Woods is nowhere to be seen…Oh there’s a golfer far in the background who may or may not be Tiger Woods but its obvious even in the fact that the word “Masters” appear far larger than Tiger’s name, that EA Sports has distanced themselves from the troubled golf star. Of course, they haven’t distanced themselves too far so as to hurt the sales of their venerable golf franchise. Still, even when you start the game up the entire presentation focuses on the Masters theme so much so that it seems like a Masters game starring Tiger Woods rather than Tiger Woods Golf featuring The Masters.
And isn’t it amazing that this is the first time the Masters tournament has been featured in the game? EA Tiburon has banked so much on the Masters theme that the old career mode has been replaced by Road to the Masters, with your goal being to develop your golfer’s skills and experience to a degree that you are able to participate in golf’s most prestigious tournament. If you are playing Tiger Woods for the first time the shot tutorial should be your first stop after creating your golfer. There you’ll learn the basics of driving, putting, approach shots, reading greens, the different types of spins and pitches you can put on your ball, etc…If you’re not new to the series then you can pretty much skip through the training mode as the controls are basically the same as last year’s game. Should you be playing on the PS3, the game offers support for the Playstation Move.
The course selection for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions are the same and include such famous courses as TPC Sawgrass, St. Andrews, Pebble Beach , Greenbrier, and Royal Melbourne. There is a slight difference in courses available on the Wii version and the PS3 Collector’s Edition also features several other courses including a couple of fantasy courses. There are or will be several other DLC packs with additional courses that bring the total to some three dozen in all.
A notable edition this year is “Caddie Advice”. The caddie will assist by providing his advice on how you should play the hole and gives you a couple of different ways to attack the shot. The advice is always useful as your caddie can become better as he gets more experience on a given course. The caddie feature is especially useful for newbies. Three new Pro golfers are included: Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, and Zach Johnson but overall the roster of golfers isn’t overly impressive at just over 20. What is impressive is the look of the courses, especially Augusta National itself. EA has laser scanned every inch of the course to make it look 100% accurate and the result is breathtaking. You practically smell the grass of the fairway. This attention-to-detail is what will lure in the golf fanatics as it is the closest most of us will ever come to playing Augusta National.
One of the unique gameplay options is the “Masters Moments” which allows you to take on the challenge of playing historic moments from past Masters tournaments. You try to equal or even better the original historical achievement. CBS’s Jim Nantz joins the broadcast team this year, paired with David Feherty. While Nantz’ commentary doesn’t necessarily wow you, his voice provides a familiar tone that makes the Masters seem that much more authentic. This is one of those games where if you’re a fan, then you’re going to want to get it. While it doesn’t offer a great amount of improvements or additions, its authentic gameplay and the chance to play in the Masters makes one you’ll want to own. Grade B+
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