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E3 2008 – Sony Press Conference

Posted by inpheaux on July 15th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Skipping Nintendo's lackluster conference because I was taking a lovely Automata Theory final exam while it was taking place. So we'll move straight into Sony's.

PS3

  • Resistance 2 - Sony's big focus this time around. Unfortunately, to me, it just looks like more of the same stuff. It's a shooter. There are aliens. Big aliens. Who cares?
  • Little Big Planet - Now a suitable replacement for Powerpoint! Sony's usual "HERE HAVE SOME NUMBERS" section was presented via a Little Big Planet level. It was neat, but I just don't see how it'll be fun.
  • Greatest Hits: They're $29.99 . . but, if you have a PS3 you probably already have all these games. Motorstorm, Resistance, Warhawk, COD 3, Fight Night, NFS: Carbon, Assassin's Creed, Rainbow Six Vegas, Oblivion, Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
  • YET ANOTHER FUCKING SKU. New 80Gb model coming in September, identical to the 40Gb model but with a larger hard drive. Sorry guys, still don't have it right. We need backwards compatibility, Wifi, and a user-upgradable hard drive. Give us that at $300 - or hell even $350 - and we'll consider it.
  • God of War 3, no surprise whatsoever. No gameplay, just a trailer. Still quite a ways off.
  • Infamous. Superhero sandbox, reminds me of Crackdown, but moderately less goofy. Spring 2009.
  • Hilariously named "Massive Action Game", large-scale multiplayer shooter, supports up to 256 players, character growth, ongoing campaigns, squad-based combat, PS3 exclusive. You know, like Planetside, but hopefully not terrible.

PS2

  • LOL 130 TITLES COMING THIS YEAR, CONSISTING OF NOTHING BUT EXCITING SHOVELWARE AND LOW-RES PORTS!
  • STILL MORE SKUs! Lego Batman Bundle coming later this year for $199, features a PS2, Lego Batman, and one of the Justice League DVDs. Who the hell is still buying the PS2 at retail?

PSN

  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Quest for Booty - $14.95 short sequel to R&C Future.
  • lol trophies lol
  • Gran Turismo TV - Racing videos. From PSN. We don't have Gran Turismo 5 for you yet, but we DO have a trip to the Ferrari plant hosted by one of the guys responsible for GT! That's . . sorta the same, right?
  • HOME IS SERIOUSLY COMING GUYS OK. REALLY. SERIOUSLY. IT'S GOING TO BE AWESOME. WE MEAN IT. PLEASE DON'T LEAVE US.
  • Video content: Like XBL, you've got movies, TV, etc. HD, SD, rental options, streaming preview, tons of stuff. Not as amazing as Netflix integration but the content is portable. You can take anything you get from the PSN Video Store and transfer it to a PSP.

PSP

  • Ratchet & Clank pack, $199, includes Ratchet & Clank Size Matters, 1Gb Memory Stick, PSN voucher for Echochrome, and comedy-option UMD of National Treasure 2.
  • Resistance Retribution - Third-person over-the-shoulder portable Resistance, developed by Bend Studios
  • Also coming: Force Unleashed, Madden 09, Loco Roco 2, Super Stardust Portable, Patapon 2, etc.

Non-Game PS3 Stuff

  • PS3 Branded Youtube
  • "Life With PS3" coming later this month. Some kind of . . news . . thing? I don't know, Tretton didn't really explain it.

SOE! HEY GUYS, REMEMBER SOE?!?!

  • DC Universe Online - PC/PS3. BIZARRO AM LOVING THIS INNOVATIVE GAME.

Conference Shockers

  • No showing from Square Enix
  • Only 15 seconds of Killzone 2

E3 2008 – Microsoft Press Conference

Posted by inpheaux on July 14th, 2008 at 3:44 pm

Super-condensed Highlight Reel Time!

Games You Care About

  • Fallout 3 . . . turns out it's Fallout 3. Shocking. I mean, it's good and all, but it isn't really news.
  • Gears of War 2. See above.
  • Banjo Kazooie 3 & Viva Pinata 2. Rare makes sequels, film at 11. Ok, no, seriously they look pretty good. Winter 2008.
  • Guitar Hero 4 - 85 master tracks, lame stuff we already knew about ("make your own tracks!!!"), lame stuff we don't care about ("WHOAAA GUYS! SUPER SPECIAL TREAT FOR 360 GAMERS . . YOU GET 3 REM TRACKS! NOT FREE OR ANYTHING . . JUST LIKE . . AN EXCLUSIVE PACK. TO BUY.") Also the new Metallica album will be available as DLC for GH3 and GH4 whenever it actually gets released.
  • Rockband 2 - 84 tracks on the disc (the leaked list was mostly right), all RB1 content is compatible and transferrable, 360 exclusive at launch (which will be worldwide this time for reals). Shooting for 500 tracks available for RB2 by the end of the year.

Dashboard Refresh
Remember a few months ago when there were leaks from inside Rare saying "Uhhhh, guys, Microsoft is making us rip off Nintendo in a Big Way and it makes us feel dirty." Totally true. The new dashboard coming this fall is all social crap all the time. It's got fake-Miis, fake-photo-sharing-app, fake everything. I would not be surprised if they make us pay a quarter for a shirt like they do with gamerpics right now.

Good news: they're expanding their video stuff. Not only will there be new partnerships for normal video content, but the new dashboard will bring Netflix streaming capability to the 360. It'll work just like That Roku Thing, except you already have one.

Games You Don't Care About

  • Scene It Sequel, bleh.
  • Lame Camera Stuff, bleeh.
  • Partnership with the tools responsible for 1 vs 100, Big Brother, Fear Factor, etc to produce "Live" versions of shows like 1 vs 100, ultra bleh.
  • Lips. It's a Karaoke game. From iNiS, the guys responsible for Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan! and Elite Beat Agents. Unfortunately it isn't innovative. It's just Karaoke.

XBLA Stuff

  • Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved: 2: Colon: The Game: The Sequel: JUMP IN. It's Geometry Wars, with 4-player MP, and extra crazy stuff.
  • Galaga Sequel from the same team as PacMan CE. May be sacrilege. I am reserving judgement until a demo is out.
  • Portal - Still Alive. It's a level pack, and if it isn't being released on Steam I will go on a rampage.

Super Secret Bonus Stuff
Square Enix dropped a bomb: Final Fantasy XIII is no longer PS3 exclusive. Sucks to be you, Sony Defense Force. Also, inexplicably, they are releasing Last Remnant on the 360 and PC. Why? No one knows.

That's all for today, Nintendo and Sony are tomorrow. Get your press conference bingo cards ready.


Blizzard announces Titan Quest 2 Diablo III

Posted by inpheaux on June 28th, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Welp, it looks like the one time I decide to sleep through a Blizzard announcement (I was dead-set convinced all the people saying "NO GUYS LOOK, THE EYES IN THE ICE IMAGE TOTALLY LINE UP WITH THIS DIABLO III BOX ART I MADE" were complete crackpots, and was sure that all the ice was going to mean "aces, more crappy Wrath of the Lich King news"), it turns out to be one worth getting out of bed for. Yes, after eight years of speculation Diablo III is here, ready to consume our social lives and destroy our mice.

Here's what we know so far, mostly condensed from Blizzard's great big Diablo III FAQ:

Diablo III
Genre: 3D Isometric Action/RPG
Release Date: When It's Done
Platform: Simultaneous PC/Mac release

Setting: Still on Sanctuary, the setting of Diablo I and II, 20 years after the vanquishing of Baal in D2X. Only returning character we know of is our good friend Deckard Cain (though he won't be sticking around long enough for us to stay awhile and listen, he's apparently the first casualty of the new wave of hell beasts . . and anyway, shouldn't he be like 90 or something by now? What the hell is the average life expectancy on Sanctuary?). It's unclear right now who our actual enemy will be, but Hell will obviously be involved to some extent. Probably also that glowy bitch Tyrael.

Classes: Five classes total, only returning class we know for certain right now is the Barbarian. The only new class right now is the Witch Doctor, who sounds a lot like the Necro. If they replace the Necromancer outright I am going to get mad on the internet. To make those five classes feel a little less constricting, you'll get to pick between male and female versions, though the difference will be purely aesthetic. This means things aren't looking too good for the Amazon, cause . . uh . . why would you have a male Amazon?

Engine: Brand new engine, fully 3D, features Havok Physics. Will this mean no more randomization, making the game like Titan Quest? We don't really know, they're sorta tight-lipped about that right now, but the handful of screenshots don't look very randomized. Instead they just look like a lot of bridges.

Media: Everything's over here. Blizzard's got about 50 concept art scans, 30 screenshots, 3 different trailers (cinematic, gameplay, artwork) and some random wallpapers for you to examine.


Gold Rush finally out, TF2 free this weekend!

Posted by inpheaux on April 29th, 2008 at 9:29 pm

And of course, we're all too busy playing GTA4.

However, if you're one of those few people who isn't playing GTA4, you can enjoy your shiny new medic achievements / weapons and new map for Team Fortress 2. It's out now. Just restart Steam.

Also, if you're one of the like two people who haven't picked up TF2 yet, TF2 is free this weekend starting this Friday at noon PDT. So hop on Steam now and get it preloaded so you'll be ready to go on Friday.

. . but we'll probably still be playing GTA4.


Phoenix Wright spinoff announced: Gyakuten Not Saiban

Posted by inpheaux on April 9th, 2008 at 10:20 am

The latest game in the Gyakuten Saiban / Phoenix Wright series has been announced. After the first DS-from-the-ground-up excursion with Apollo Justice, Capcom is back (like clockwork!) with yet another one. This time you'll get to take on the other side of Magic Super Future Law, since you'll be playing as Miles Edgeworth.

We don't know when it'll be out, or even if it'll be coming stateside, but we do know that you'll be playing as Edgeworth with Dick Gumshoe as your sidekick. Also from the screenshots in this week's Famitsu we can discern that there'll be an even further expanded investigation portion, where you'll be actually walking around crimescenes looking for clues.

We don't yet know if you'll be required to completely botch the case so the charming underdog defense attorney can completely own you in court, but hey, Edgeworth can't suck that much, can he?

Famitsu Article, Page 1
Famitsu Article, Page 2


Electronic Arts in Rock Band PAL Release: The Quest for More Money

Posted by inpheaux on April 8th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

After months of delays (six of them, in fact), EA has finally announced all the details of the PAL release of Rock Band.

You might want to sit down.

Here's the good news: It's actually finally being released! For reals this time! Also you get nine "exclusive" songs, though you might only actually care about one or two.

And the bad news. . well . . damn, where do you even start? The date they've set is 23 MAY 2008, a smooth 6 months after the North American release. Why'd it take so long? Who knows. Probably the stand-by excuse of "TRANSLATING THINGS IS HARD!", but it probably also has something to do with Licensing Hell.

Then there's bundles & prices. Unlike the US release where you had options of "Everything" or "Just the game", Europe gets to pick from a ton of crap. There's an "Instruments" set which just has all the controllers, there's drum and guitars sold separately, and there's just the game.

And then the real fuck-you from EA: the pricing.
Instruments Bundle - GBP 129.99 / EUR 169
Wireless Guitars - GBP 59.99 / EUR 79.99
Drum Kits - GBP 69.99 / EUR 89.99
Game-only - GBP 49.99 / EUR 69.99

This might not have sounded too bad back when the dollar was, you know, actually worth something, but look at the conversion now: 180 GBP is about 360 USD, over twice what the whole shebang retails for over here.

No firm dates or prices are set yet for the PS2 or Wii versions, the best we've been told is that they'll be out "later this summer", which in EA-speak could mean pretty much anything.

Source: Eurogamer


PC Gaming really extra not-dead: Spore dated, 7 SEP 2008

Posted by inpheaux on February 12th, 2008 at 2:34 pm

It's apparently "announce a bunch of stuff" day over at EA. First the Mass Effect PC release slated for May, now this, the first solid release date for Spore.

7 SEP 2008

From the press release:

"The wait is almost over," said Maxis Chief Designer Will Wright. "We're in our final stages of testing and polish with Spore, and the team at Maxis can't wait to see the cosmos of content created by the community later this year."

EA says they've got a simultaneous release lined up, targeting PC, Mac, DS and Cellphone platforms. Well, now that we've got a date, the only questions left are "Will it really get released on time?" and "Will it remotely meet expectations?" Hopefully both answers end up being yes, but with a game that's been so frequently delayed it's tough to have high hopes at this point.


PC Gaming still not dead – Mass Effect coming in May

Posted by inpheaux on February 12th, 2008 at 12:35 pm

Well, ok, I guess it's time for me to eat my words regarding if and when Mass Effect would be coming to PC. Apparently it is, and it's coming far sooner than anyone expected. Like May.

Apart from being ported to the PC where, you know, you might not experience as much terrible texture pop-up, the announcement over at VoodooExtreme mentions the following updates, which I assume were made solely to piss me off, as they fix my main complaints with the game:

  • Optimized controls designed specifically for the PC.
  • High resolution visuals – Mass Effect for the PC features highly detailed textures, characters and environments.
  • Fully customizable controls – PC gamers can re-map the control scheme any way they like.
  • Run & Gun Control – Players can assign biotic powers or skills to ‘hot keys’ allowing them to play Mass Effect with a heavier focus on action.
  • New decryption mini-game.
  • New inventory screen GUI and functionality – The enhanced inventory system makes it easier for players to equip and modify their weapons and armor.

So lets look at that list a bit more in-depth:

1) Better prettier pretties (and probably less popup). Hopefully the PC will be able to handle the U3 engine better than the 360. It sucked - a lot - to walk into a building and have everyone skinned in super ultra low-res shit because the 360 just couldn't keep up. It really distracted from the fact that otherwise the game was beautiful.

2) Better controls. The radial menu was neat, but it meant that without pausing the action you couldn't switch what power you were using. The 360 just plain didn't have enough buttons, and now that's not a problem.

3) New Decryption mini-game. Anything (seriously, anything) will be better than the "press this button when we tell you to" crap that was in the 360 release. Mass Effect had the hands-down worst unlock/hack/disarm/decrypt/etc minigame I've ever seen in any RPG ever. With stuff like the pipe-dreams clone from Bioshock out there, "LOL PRES BUTAN WIN OMNIGEL" was just pathetic.

4) New Inventory UI. To go along with the completely inexcusable decryption minigame, the inventory UI was also one of the worst in the history of videogames. Major problems? No sane sorting of any matter, lag (Yes, lag. I'm not joking. It would lag between selecting each item because it had to load and skin what the item looked like, even though it was effectively just a crate.), cryptic submenus, a hard-limit on how many items you can hold, no collapsing of items (Shit, guys. Final Fantasy has had this forever. Why do my sixteen Rail Extension XVII's have to each take up their own slot?), I could complain about it for a long-ass time. Since you couldn't - for instance - sort by type, it was incredibly hard to tell what lame stuff you should be selling. And since modding stuff was hidden in a sub-sub-menu, I've heard reports of people making it through the entire game without doing any modding because they simply couldn't figure out how.

No word on if the PC release will include the content from the March DLC, but it probably will, since the content is pretty much in the can right now, and it wouldn't make sense for them to release it as a separate expansion.


GTA IV dated: 29 APR 2008, for real this time.

Posted by inpheaux on January 24th, 2008 at 1:55 pm

Take 2 issued a pretty short press release today announcing that the super mega anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV will debut on the 360 and PS3 on April 29th. Yes, that's three months from now.

I will wait a moment for that to sink in.

Got it? Alright. As for why it got delayed, well, it's our good old friend and favourite whipping boy the PS3. Back in August when the delay was announced, the justification was "technological problems", and in a recent interview with MTV Games, Rockstar dev Jeronimo Barrera clarified that, stating "It's really no surprise to anybody that the PS3 was definitely a contributing factor to that." He goes on to explain that it's all cool now, but still. Delays.

But hey, who cares about delays? Game's going to be out in three months.

Right, Take 2? Right? Please? No takebacks this time.


How we spent our long weekend: Hardware Hacking

Posted by inpheaux on January 21st, 2008 at 8:56 pm

We had a productive long weekend here at Directional Pad.

A few weeks ago Andy picked up the Nintendo Wii Zapper and was - as we assume many people were - completely dismayed by the fact that it wasn't compatible with Resident Evil 4. The problem stems from the fact that the zapper and all other third-party gun-type attachments for the Wii Remote all depend on either a mechanical switch that presses the B button, or on opening a hole for you to be able to press the B button on your own. That's all fine and well for games like Link's Crossbow Training, but RE4 uses the A button as "shoot" and the B button as "draw weapon".

So, of course, Andy took things into his own hands, got himself a toy electronic gun, and started soldering.

The result was the RE4 Gun, a wonderful ugly mash-up of a toy gun and Wii Remote, which can work just as well for A-Trigger and B-Trigger games.

Interested? Check out the detailed post-mortem he wrote up over here: Hardware Hacking for a Better Wii Zapper.




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