Playstation 4 Unveiled

Sony is following Nintendo into the next generation of gaming with its newest console, the Playstation 4.

Sony’s conference showed off a few tech demos that utilized the Unreal Engine 4, and it is obvious that the Playstation 4 means to push into the world of realistic gaming to its brink. The graphics looks crisp, scenery looks well rendered, and the consoles ability to create large scale environments looks impressive.

You have to take the demos with a grain of salt, though. We wont know anything until we are able to see games in real time instead of prerendered demos. While the Killzone 4 demo looked impressive, I’m sure we all remember the hype Sony made when they showed off their Killzone 3 trailer 7 years ago. The game, while looking great, turned out to be an average shooter. Only time will tell as to whether Sony has what it takes to really give the shock and awe feeling from its console exclusives.

The Dual Shock controller will be making a return in the form of the Dualshock 4. It looks like a pretty standard controller for Sony except for having a touchscreen in the middle of the controller, a “share” button,” a headphone jack, and a light bar sensor that will allow games to utilize motion controls.

The coolest thing about the new controller is the touchscreen. Its still unclear as to how the screen with be used in games, but you will probably see it being used by developers to push social media functionality instead of gameplay.

What comes as somewhat of a disappointing surprise from Sony is the controller’s use of a motion sensor. While it was probably a good move to include the ability to use motion right out of the box, its unclear how Sony will use this feature for anything more than cute demos to compete with the likes of the Wii and Wii U. Hopefully developers will use motion on a limited scale in this upcoming generation. We’ve had enough of swinging our arms around while playing games; its time to get back to the roots of hardcore gaming.

Social media seems to be a prime concern for the console as the Playstation 4 will give you the ability to stream videos for anyone to watch live. With “let’s play” styled commentary so popular on Youtube, it could be a very smart push for Sony to allow players to share their gameplay with friends around the world. The power to stream and record video will give people the opportunity to easily create  their own gaming channels online.

Sony is also pushing the PSVita with the Playsation 4. You will be able to stream PS4 games from your console onto your Vita. How useful this will be in everyday life is still to be determined. Sony says that it hopes to have every PS4 title available for play on the Vita. Competition with Nintendo’s 3DS has been tough for Sony, but this kind of creative marketing may be what Sony needs to keep its portable console alive. Then again, by using a second screen it does seem similar to the Wii U’s controller. Either way, it will be interesting to see what Sony is able to do while pairing the PSVita with the PS4.

One small detail that could prove to be one of the greatest decision by Sony is their decision to have a secondary processor which will allow for downloading content in the background while playing games. For far too long gamers have been plagued by having to stop playing while downloading anything. While a minuscule detail, hopefully this new feature will take the hassle out of downloading games in this evermore streaming oriented market.

A negative for the console is that it will not be PS3 games compatible. This seems like a major step back for gaming, but Sony says that games will be able to download from the cloud. Not much information is available about Sony’s cloud, but we can only hope that any game a person has now, whether Playstation 1,2, or 3, will be available for free download on Sony’s network, provided the person already owns the game. We can look forward to Sony giving us some more details about their cloud system in the future.

Now that Sony has pulled the trigger on the next generation it will only be a matter of time before Microsoft does the same. However, many have high hopes that the Playstation 4 will bring Sony back to its former heavyweight champion glory. While Nintendo’s Wii U was able to survive off of cheap motion control gimmicks, the real winner of this next generation of consoles will rely on its games. Sony needs to really unload some major firepower this generation if it wants to get on top of the market. Hopefully they will be the leader in getting gaming back to its roots.

Sony didn’t show the console or give a price, but they say that the Playstation 4 will be available sometime around Christmas. The waiting begins.

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Ubisoft recently announced that additional episodic DLC would be available after the launch of Assassin’s Creed 3, in the form of an alternate history story that would feature America’s beloved George Washington as an evil tyrant who “succumbs to the temptation of infinite power.”

DLC has always bothered me. Why do developers insist on having its customers download extra fluff that should have been on the original game, similar to what Capcom just did with Resident Evil 6. That’s another story though. 

Unlike most game developers nowadays though, Ubisoft has come through with some DLC that should be well worth the time and money. Having George Washington, the first president of the United States, become a kingly tyrant is one of the most unique scenarios that has ever been considered for video games. 

Not only is the idea for the story original, it alters history into a what if scenario that is actually kind of frightening. In reality George Washington had been given the offer to reign as king in the new America, but turned down the opportunity so that the country could become a democracy. How noble of him. I can’t say I would have been able to turn down being ultimate supreme dictator of ‘MERICA. 

But there lies the greatest strength in this DLC pack. The alternate view of history forces the player, especially and American gamer, to reevaluate what the country could have ended up as. No more republic, no more elected officials, possibly no Taco Bell. I for one could not live in such a Dorito-tacoless hell. 

Players will be able to create an alternate, alternate history, when they play through the DLC. It will be interesting to see how Ubisoft ends the DLC with America’s first president presumably dead. Ubisoft could have some real fun making a new America. Maybe they’ll give Benjamin Franklin at actually being president. It’s funny how many people believed he was a president of the United States. 

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always had roots in real historical events, and for the creator’s to step out of that safe zone is a great step in giving the consumer creative content. Getting the opportunity to assassinate King George Washington for America, eagles, donuts, and freedom, makes Assassin’s Creed 3 well worth the purchase, even without considering the content on the disc, which is sure to be triple A content.

In addition to the new single player content, the DLC will feature new maps and characters for multiplayer and single player missions.

The extra content can be purchased for $30 with the season pass package. These “season pass” ideas have always seemed like a scam, but in this case the content could justify the extra dough. 

Assassin’s Creed 3 will be available for Xbox 360 and PS3 on October 31st, and the what if scenario, featuring Washington, will be coming out shortly after. 

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Bioware’s Mass Effect trilogy will be sold with varying amounts of DLC content, depending on which platform you decide to play on.

PC and Xbox 360 gamers can expect to get a hold of the trilogy with DLC on November 6th, while the date for the Playstation 3’s availability with DLC is TBA.

The PC version of the trilogy will include Mass Effect 1s Bring Down the Sky and Pinnacle Station. Mass Effect 2 will include the Cerabus Network DLC, unlocking squad mate Zaeed and extra missions and weapons.

Mass Effect 3 will come with the game’s online pass, allowing players to access the multiplayer component.

The Xbox 360 will feature no Mass Effect 1 DLC. Mass Effect 2 will have the Cerabus Network DLC and Mass Effect 3 will come with the online pass.

The Playstation 3’s DLC content will be announced later.

EA has managed to do it again. Its almost incomprehensible how this company can continue to give its customers the short end of the stick again and again, but EA has found a solid method to their madness. Priced at $59.99, the trilogy hardly seems like a good investment, when buying all of the games separately would probably come out to be a equal, if not lower cost. The price of the trilogy, with the little amount of DLC provided, is a pretty poor gesture to the fans, or for those who were waiting out for the inevitable trilogy pack.

There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to EA’s decision to accommodate different amounts of content to all of the platforms. EA simply seems to believe that they have the financial backing to pick and choose how their content is divvied up among recipient consoles. While the Playstation’s DLC has yet to be announced, Playstation owners can rest assure that they will most likely receive extra content as well, though, it wont be anything special considering the Playstation’s lackluster record for DLC content.

What’s particularly odd about this situation is that Mass Effect 1 had originally been an Xbox 360 exclusive title. While the Playstation’s DLC content is still unknown, Playstation owners can be rest assured that they will be able to download the original game from the Playstation online store. The best guess at this point is that Microsoft’s exclusive rights to the first Mass Effect wore out recently, and EA is looking to profit. With Mass Effect 3 being featured as part of the starting lineup of the Wii U, there could be questions of whether the trilogy will be coming to Nintendo as well. 

The Mass Effect series has become a Frankenstein monster, given the amounts of ways gamers will be able to play now. Each platform provides a different version of the same games, substituting and stitching together content to create something that can be sold to the masses. Leave the trilogy alone, and show EA that you wont be putting up with there monstrous distribution of games anymore.

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343 Industries, the team working on the newest Halo, revealed a new trailer this weekend, which showed the remake map of Valhalla, named Ragnark, and a Mech Warrior like vehicle called the Mantis.

The big surprise is of course the large mechanized robot. The gameplay looks cool enough. Everyone loves giant robots, they’re bad-ass. The cool factor of the mech is hardly the issue though. The problem is that we’ve already played games with mechs! Mech Warrior and MechAssault have already been made into great games.

The fundamental problem with Halo 4 featuring mechs is that it strays away from what has made the Halo series, Halo. Sure, there have always been vehicles at the center of combat in Halo, like the M808b Main Battle Tank (Scorpion), but this newest addition pushes it a bit far.

Its no secret that the Halo series has needed an adrenaline shot of originality, but simply adding a mechanized robot is hardly pushing the ingenuity button.

Sadly, the artificial freshness of the mech will wear off as quick as coning, a spinoff of planking. If the poor replication of Mech Warrior isn’t enough for you, just look how Gears of War 3 used a mech last year. Granted, its not quite on the same scale as Mech Warrior or even Halo 4’s Mantis, but it is relevant to the issue of producing new and original content.

The same problem of originality lies with Halo 4’s remake of Valhalla, Ragnark. The Halo series is known for using remakes for multiplayer, and fans love remakes of maps, if only for the nostalgic value, but it comes down to the simple fact that people will replay these maps if only to reminisce in memories of prior games. It’s time to try something different.

I’m sure, just like everyone else, the first thing I do will be to rush to the mech, but after a few days the mech will be forgotten and everyone will realize that they are playing Valhalla all over again.

And yes, in traditional Halo etiquette, I have thought about teabagging my first kill in Halo 4 with the mech.

Check out the new gameplay below and tell me what you think.

As a final note: dubstep in the trailer? I love dubstep, but if I haven’t made my point about originality clear enough, surely the music selection confirms what I’ve been saying. 

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The original Silent Hill helped shape an entire genre in the video game realm. Horror games would not be the same if it had not been for those first claustrophobic camera angles that Silent Hill used. While the recent games have not been quite on the horror scale of the first in the series, Silent Hill still remains a pivotal point in survival horror. 

That being said, it may be time for a new direction. Silent Hill, known for delivering pulse pounding, psychological scares, is ready for reinvention.

During a Eurogamer Expo, Hideo Kojima said that Konami had approached him about being a part of the newest Silent Hill. While Kojima hasn’t signed on to the project, he did raise an interesting point about the horror genre. 

“Honestly, I’m kind of a scaredy-cat when it comes to horror movies, so I’m not confident I can do it. At the same time, there’s a certain type of horror that only people who are scared of can create, so maybe it’s something I can do,” said Kojima. 

Herein lies one of the reasons why Kojima would be, at the very least, a compelling candidate for directing the game. Kojima is a self proclaimed “scaredy-cat,” so he is in touch with what makes an audience afraid. Kojima has the opportunity to bring his own fears into a game, something that great horror icons like Wes Craven, creator of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, do in their work. 

Not only that, it would be fascinating to see what Kojima can do in the horror genre. Known for story like narratives in his games, Kojima has the potential to create a cinematic horror game that would put the player in the center of a highly story and art driven game. After all, Silent Hill is known for his atmospheric environmental scares, so using a director with a strong background in large scale art centered games would be beneficial. 

Of course, after sitting through what seems like millions of hours worth of cut scenes, during Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid series, it could be a worrisome for fans if Kojima were to turn the game into a movie like experience, similar to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. One aspect  that needs to be in every horror game, is the feeling of helplessness and utter fear, and pulling the player out of the experience constantly, through cut scenes, could be a disadvantage. 

However, Kojima could draw inspiration from the highly acclaimed indie game Amnesia: The Dark Descent. One of the greatest horror games of all time, Amnesia suggests that the player completely become immersed in the gameplay, and by doing so, Amnesia forces the player to believe that they are actually in the game, therefore, drawing direct tension from the emotions of the player. The game melds a perfect amount of narrative and gameplay together, creating a sequence that makes the player feel as if their own lives are at stake. 

The point I’m trying to make, by bringing Amnesia into the mix, is that Kojima has the opportunity to create a game that combines his signature uses of cinema and Amnesia’s use of gripping, story-like gameplay, that plunges the player into the world, to create a game that would not only bring Silent Hill back to its roots but also create a new and unique brand of horror games. Horror games are a huge part of video game culture, and by experimenting with key people such as Hideo Kojima, new methods to creating horror games are bound to be discovered and produced for future projects. 

 

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Microsoft unveiled a rewards system that would rebate Xbox Live marketplace purchases, based on the amount of gamerscore a Xbox Live Member had accumulated over the years. The strategy makes sense in the short run. Some people spend ridiculous amounts of time trying to obtain a high gamerscore to show off to their friends. I myself am guilty of wasting away many late nights trying to up my gamerscore with impressive achievements such as the Mile High Club for Call of Duty Modern Warfare, or the Zombie Genocide for Dead Rising (3 days to get that bloody bit of gamerscore) 

However, Microsoft’s new system is pretty much a slap in the face to gamers who have stuck it out with Microsoft. While gamers should in no way expect something back for buying games, Microsoft’s rewards system is just a ridiculous idea.  

According to Xbox.com, gamers can unlock the “Contender” reward if they have a gamerscore of 3000, which allows the member to receive a “special gift” around their birthday  Now, everyone loves getting presents for their birthday, but the website also specifies, in small, fine print, that the birthday gift has a retail value of just $0.25 USD. 25 cents? Is Microsoft so out of touch with its customers that it thinks that people want to get a gift with the monetary value of 2 pieces of gum? 

The more dedicated gamers, who have a score of 10,000 gamerscore, can access the “Contender” achievement, unlocking the “special gift” and 1% rebate on Xbox Live Marketplace purchases every month. I’m not sure how many games the average person downloads on the Xbox Live Marketplace, but I for one am lucky to download a couple games a year, so I can’t see this benefiting a large amount of customers. 

The last achievement, called the “Legend,” attainable at 25000 gamerscore, allows once again for the “special gift” and a whopping 2% rebate on all Xbox Live Marketplace purchases. 

Alright, let’s do some simple arithmetic. If 1600 Microsoft points costs approximately $20.00, a 1% rebate would come out to be a face palming 16 Microsoft points. What the heck can anyone buy with 16 Microsoft points? The only person who would be happy with such savings is perhaps penny pinching Scrooge McDuck, and even he would be scoffing at the idea of only saving 16 points for every $20.00 spent. Perhaps the most brutal part of the deal is that you’re not even saving money, you’re saving points, whose value has already been questioned in several lawsuits. You can’t even buy a hat for your avatar at that amount. 

Even at this ridiculous point back rate, Microsoft has restricted the amount of points back to 30,000. So even those who are willing to spend wildly on this deal will be disappointed.  

My guess is that this is Microsoft’s attempt at giving back to gamers in light of Playstation’s decision to create a PSN plus members rewards system. At least PSN members can get free games back in return for their membership. 

The new system wont be a major issue for any gamer, but Microsoft certainly wont be reeling in any loyal customers with this deal.