GamesCom: Sony drops PS3 price

ps3-slim-comparison-1It’s old news, at least by Internet standards anyway, but at Germany’s GamesCon, Sonty final made some hardware announcements.

1st, effective immediately (or until online stores make the appropriate changes) the PS3 80GB model has dropped in price $100, to a new attractive price of $299.

2nd, for those that can wait until the end of the month, Sony also confirmed and unveiled the PS3 Slim, 120GB model also at $299! So a few more weeks and 40 more GB for the same price, yeah….I’ll wait.

The PS3 slim is 32% smaller than the oringal PS3 and consumes 34% less power (250W as opposed to current 280W), and supposedly run quieter than it’s big brother. When the PS3 is released in just a few weeks, a frimware 3.0 upgrade will also be unleashed which will have support for Bravia remotes, modified friends lists, tweaked trophies, some interface changes, blah, blah, blah. Linux is dropped from the OS. Wonder if anyone will still use Home or what changes are in store for Home…do you even care?

Well, it looks as if I’m finally going to get a BluRay player….I’ve been witing for a significant price drop for some time. Even though I’m still mainly 360 guy, you can bet I’ll be getting this eventually for movies, and, well maybe Killzone & Little Big Planet.

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Army of Two sequel announced

Army of Two 2

Army of Two 2

EA has announced an upcoming sequel to last years co-op bad-boy romp, Army of Two. 

Army of Two: The 40th Day will reunite players with both Salem and Rios this winter (2009) will find our troublesome twosome amid chaotic events in Shanghai. 

Electronic Arts’ Montreal branch is developing the game for XBox 360, PS3 and PSP platforms and promises many new and expansive co-op tag-team manuevers.

I for one am looking forward to this.  While the first game received medicore to slightly good reviews, I found it very fun and action packed playing solo.  Sure, there was some excessive swearing and confusing environments (meaning many skins/textures/props defied both physics and originality), but I’d really classify the game more as an arcade shooter that I would a tactical simulator that is GRAW or CoD series games.

I hope they make it slightly longer, with a few more interactive or destructible environments (ala Mercenaries 2), and easier co-op play.  My friend and I tried co-op a few times and it was fun, though we didn’t get very far due to scheduling conflicts.

Electronic Arts update.

ea_logo1Seems like a lot of news was dropped yesterday from developer Electronic Arts:

  •  – Sims 3 is delayed until early June, 2009
  •  – Mass Effect 2 has been announced for an early 2010 date across multiple platforms (guessing that means XBox 360, PS3, and PC)
  • – Some 1000+ jobs will be cut including the closure of 12 facilities due to recent economic slow down and under performance.
  • Dead Space will be coming to the Wii.
  • Left 4 Dead has sold over 1M units world wide so far.
  • Boom Blox sequel has been announced and scheduled for a spring, 2009 release.

News from Leipzig Gaming Conference

So, it may be a week late in reporting but there are some interesting stories that are developing over at Leipzig and firming up back stateside.  Only time will tell, but there are a few interesting things to report:

Sony: They promise (unlike all the other promises before it) that the PS3 often delayed ‘Home’ will finally be ready and deployed before the end of the year.  Too bad no official word from Microsoft yet when there new front end will deploy.  Last we really heard was back at E3 and they said ‘later this year’.

Konami’s Rock Revolution: Sources indicate that the initial song set will include 41 songs.  Hmmm….seems a little sparse when compared to Guitar Hero and Rock Band initial offerings.  Could this be too little, too late to compete with Rock Band 2 and GH: World Tour?

Nintendo: Sadly, yet again, there doesn’t appear to have been any big news again from Japan.  There was some mention of third party developers ramping up titles, but nothing major was seen from the house of Mario.

Microsoft: There is a very heavily rumored XBox 360 price drop coming again, possibly as early as Labor Day weekend.

Gearbox Software: Gearbox supposedly debuted some very impressive ingame footage of their upcoming title Borderlands.  Think Mad Max meets Diablo.  What seems to be a very impressive feat is teh fact that an in-game random weapon generator will allow players access of upwards of over 500,000 (!!) variations of guns, promising to be different each time.  Players will have some classic RPG elements that will allow them to level up skills amongst the three available classes of characters.  Also Borderlands seems to have an open sand-box element to it.

Alison Carrollwas on hand as the newest Lara Croft model for the continuing Tomb Raider series.  You know, she’s a Brit to begin with and has been a professional gymnast for 12 years, not to mention a stellar looking model.  Bonus points earned, Achievement unlocked!

E3 2008: Sony press conference – Day 2

PS3

PS3

I’m a little late on this because I am a pretty detailed person with a lot to say and with writing the Nintendo report, I needed a small break to collect my thoughts and also give time to the other things I do as well. 

Even though I don’t own a Playstation, (I do however own a PSP) I was still looking forward to what Sony had to offer and possibly counter with Microsoft’s day 1 press conference.  I also needed something to be excited about after Nintendo’s weak offerings.  And dare I say, there were moments I was excited enough that even I wanted to go out and buy a PS3 just so I could play a few exclusive titles.

So Sony’s events was held at the Shrine auditorium, and clearly since they had this by themselves (Nintendo and MS were at the Kodak theater) they were able to build quite an electronically impressive stage and light show.  They had at least 6 very large screens (possibly more) surrounded by numerous (30+) monitors.  It looked very promising to say the least.

Unlike MS and Nintendo, Sony’s host didn’t seem as scripted (even though he was) and more human and thus more believable….and funny.  Funny in the way his jokes and comments felt genuine, unlike the force fed lame lines that Nintendo’s Cammy and Alex for driveling off.

Throughout the event, they had there requisite slides and graphs and charts that are always questionable to me since every company claims the exact same industry leadership, growth, sales numbers, blah, blah, blah.  But Sony did something innovative here….they used the creative aspects of Little Big Planet to build a presentation and it looked so awesome.  A great way to show off the game and keep people interested in sales number and projections.  Kudos to the person who cam up with that idea.

Okay, onto the meat of Sony’s offerings:

  • Movie Rental and Download service: Actually went live the day of the announcement itself, I suppose is Sony’s answer to MS/Netflix partnership.  Sony will offer both SD and HD versions of many movies and shows with direct partnering with the major studios.  SD rates will be $2.99-$3.99 where HD will be $5.99.  You can also opt to purchase a movie outright for even higher, but I don’t understand this feature for any console (360 included).  What happens if you someday upgrade to PS4?  If you download to the internal harddrive, do you always have to keep the console forever to watch them?  There isn’t an option to burn to a DVD that I’m aware of (is there?).  You don’t get all the cool extras that you would get with a DVD purchase (out-takes, gag reels, making of, etc.)  What if I want to take it over to a friends house some day?  Does that mean I need to lug my PS3 over there?  Seems lame.  One neat aspect I do like though, is that if you own a PSP (firmware 4.05+) you can transfer content via a USB cable and watch on the go.  Same if you have a PC.  That’s cool.
  • Hardware:Sony will not be dropping the price on either PSP or PS3, but instead on the PSP will offer some upcoming specialized bundles for $199, and the PS3 will have an upgraded 80GB hard drive (up from 40) on all new consoles for the same $499.  No other peripherals were shown.
  • Sony Home: Ah, the often talked about and just as often delayed Home was shown yet again.  Did mention it was being tested in Beta, but no street date given (surprise, surprise).  What they did show looked graphically impressive and a cool concept, and not to be critical, but I don’t get it.  I buy a console to play a game or watch DLC, not to walk around a virtual house I can decorate and talk with friends in one large virtual IM chat room.  I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t never use it, but just seems like an unnecessary distraction from hard core gamers, which clearly PS3 is targeted at.
  • PSP:No new models or design changes anytime soon.  I was a bit surprised they didn’t have more apps mentioned like Nintendo did for the DS, especially the rumored Skype or phone capabilities.  Two new bundles by the holidays including a Madden ’09 and Ratchet & Clank versions.
  • Resistance 2: Lengthy hands on demo that was visually stunning and impressive.  It felt as the yang to MS’s ying with GoW2.  One of the games I wish I actually owned a PS3 for.  There will be a Resistance version for the PSP which I’ll probably end up getting.  I recommend seeing the trailer or demo…I can’t really describe how impressive it actually looked and jealous I am.
  • Patapon 2 & Loco Roco 2: 2 PSP offerings where shown in a video montage that should have these niche fans happy.  Though Patapon 2 looked a lot like the original, I’ll probably still get it as I enjoy the first one still and a lot.
  • PS2: They’re still making this platform and if they’re accurate with their numbers, Sony is pretty impressive that this thing is still going strong at $199.  So strong in fact they said there are at least 130 games in the pipeline for PS2….they didn’t mention how many were only to be release in Japan though.
  • Little Big Planet: This exclusive for PS3 just looks incredible.  Here is the second game in which I am jealous that it will not be on the 360 and is tempting me to buy one.  There cannot be enough said on how visually stunning and creative the world of Sack Boy will be.  There will be so much player created content, it will be crazy.
  • DC Universe Online: Wildstorm and comic book artist legend, Jim Lee, was on-hand to show us a sneak peak of DC on-line.  This will be an MMO that crosses over to a PC as well that will allow players to be either established super heroes or villains, or create there own and live out there fanboy fantasies.  I kept thinking it looked like a prettier version of City of Heroes, and some of the moves and powers looked exactly the dame, just re-skinned.  Not to many details on how the game works though and how hero/villain creation will be worked out and if (and how) you level up.  I hope to see more details in the future.
  • Greatest Hits: Similar to Microsofts greatest hits, Sony will be taking many of the older titles and repackaging at a $29.99 price point.  Expect a lot of classics here.
  • Motorstorm 2: Announced and a brief trailer.  Looked cool, but nothing innovative I saw.
  • God of War 3: Probably the big announcement was the trailer for the return of Kratos.  Out next year.  No gameplay footage, just a teaser trailer.
  • Gran Turismo 5 Prologue race channel: There will be a unique PPV channel embedded with GT 5 that players can watch both live and taped events and shows related to various car racing gigs within a separate function of the game.  I’m not sure what to call it, but it’s exclusive here.  I’m not a huge race fan, but it seems strange to me to pay additional money to watch a real taped race or car show within a game itself.
  • Buzz series: Various incarnations of the Buzz game show will be made available on PS3 and PSP with future DLC available.
  • Various montages throughout the event showed regulars like Madden ’09, NBA Live, Tiger Woods ’09, Soul Caliber IV, Force Unleashed, GH World Tour, Rock Band, Sing It series, etc.

To sum it all up, Sony had a pretty strong showing that made up for the Nintendo sleep fest.  They showed or at least announced some pretty good heavy hitters coming up, but clearly focusing on more hardcore gaming as opposed to Nintendos casual style and Microsofts hybrid of both hardcore and casual.  ‘Home’ is still in beta and may debut by the holidays, and Sony has a counter albeit not as expansive video service at the MS/Netflix partnership.  I expect to see more PSP titles in the upcoming year too.  Microsoft and Sony clearly taking this seriously, although Nintendo has the Wii jugernaut behind them (despite crapware right now).